Sumbawanga is a city located in western Tanzania. It is the capital of Rukwa Region. The regional population is approximately 150,000 based on a 2002 census. Sumbawanga lies in the territory of the Wafipa Fipa tribe and so many people speak Kifipa, as well as Kiswahili, the most widely used language of Tanzania. The name of the town literally translates as "throw away your witchcraft", thought to be a warning from local spiritual "healers" to any bringing in superstitions and practices relating to spiritual healers from other areas; there are still some healers who practice both in town and in the surrounding smaller villages on the plateau. The town has the largest hospital in the region, Rukwa General Hospital, which is government funded, as well as the smaller Dr. Atiman Hospital administrated and run by the Catholic Diocese of Sumbawanga.
The town acts as a supply and commercial center for the Rukwa Region and some governmental agencies are to be found there, notably the transport department for the region. Sumbawanga has both Libori and Moravian conference centres. A modest-size market is in the town centre where local produce may be found. This includes maize, rice, fruit, poultry and fish (from Lake Tanganyika and Lake Rukwa). Many imported plastic goods and electronics are available as well as bicycles and spares. Although there are several fuel outlets, supply can be quite erratic because of the difficulties of transport from the coast.
The local economy is largely dependent on agriculture and small locally owned businesses. There is very limited industry or production in the town. Significant improvement could be expected if the road to Mbeya was sealed to enable reliable all-weather access year round. This road, and its continuation north to Mpanda and Tabora or Kigoma, can become impassable at the height of the wet season (Feb-Mar). The Tanzanian government does have contracts in place for upgrading large sections of these roads. The town can be reached by flights operated by Auric Air or by bus from Mbeya which lies to the south with train links to the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia, to Dar es Salaam. Rail is also available through Tabora from Mpanda in the north. Mpanda also has an airport with a 2km sealed runway.
Sumbawanga has many schools and colleges, including Chem Chem Secondary School, Sumbawanga Secondary School, St. Aggrey Chanji High School, Mazwi Secondary School, St. Aggrey Teaching College, Musoma Utalii College, and Chem Chem Teaching College.
Twin towns/sister cities
Use in popular culture
- In the fictional Harry Potter universe, Sumbawanga is the hometown of the professional Quidditch team, the Sumbawanga Sunrays.
- The town was included on the route taken by Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman on their 15,000 mile north to south Long Way Down motorcycle adventure in July 2007.