Kilimanjaro is a stratovolcano, meaning it was built up in layers over a long time. As time passed, eruptions would not always occur at the same place, so today Kilimanjaro has three peaks in a long east-west line –
- Kibo (in the middle) is the highest at 19,341 feet above sea level.
- Mwenzi (to the East of Kibo) is the next highest at 16,893 feet.
- Shira (West of Kibo) is the runt of the litter at 13,140 feet.
Mwenzi and Shira are extinct but Kibo is merely dormant, with a magma chamber estimated to be only 400 feet under the surface of the caldera.
In 1961 Tanganyika merged with Zanzibar and declared themselves to be the United Republic of Tanzania. When Tanzania gained its freedom from British Colonial rule, they made a show of formally renaming the highest peak of Mount Kibo from Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze (it was originally under German rule before the British showed up) to Uhuru Peak, Uhuru being the Swahili word for “freedom.”
This big news event must have still been fresh in peoples’ minds around the world in 1965 because the writers of the original Star Trek series named the Enterprise’s communications officer, Lt. Uhura – but that’s a story for another day.
“The Peak of Freedom” is a good name for a mountaintop because people often climb mountains to gain something intangible or to be free from something ineffable.
“Chasing angels or fleeing demons, go to the mountains.” ― Jeffrey Rasley