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Back You are here: Home Reports from Real Life Oh, The Things We've Seen! Travel Writing Six's Top 6 Vacation Destinations: Tanganyika
Saturday, 11 December 2010 20:40

Six's Top 6 Vacation Destinations: Tanganyika

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Currently known as Tanzania, Tanganyika is a prime vacation spot that lays between the Indian Ocean and three of the largest of the African great lakes: Lake Victoria, Lake Malawi, and Lake Tanganyika.

The basin of Lake Tanganyika is rife with colorful cichlid, shrimp, jellyfish, and the man-eating crocodile Gustave (who, at a recorded 1 ton, remains the largest crocodile ever spotted in Africa. Which is to be expected from a reptile that's digested over 300 complete human beings.)

Formerly a territory of German East Africa, Tanganyika was granted internal self-government and remained an independent state from December 9, 1961 until April 26, 1964. During this time period the nation responded appropriately to it's newly formed freedom and first presidential election: by means of mass hysteria.

At the tail-end of 1962 at a mission run boarding school in a small village called Kashasha, three young girls began uncontrollably laughing.

While complete hysteria in middle schools might not seem all too uncommon, without explanation, this fit of laughter spread quickly and contagiously to 95 of the 159 pupils of the boarding school within one week. The school promptly closed, and when reopened for a short while found 57 more students newly stricken with uncontrollable laughter, crying, and random bouts of screaming.

Within a week of the school closing, the laughing sickness was reported having infected residents of the village of Nshamba, home to the three girls with which it began. Within 10 days, 217 villagers were infected.

Consecutively, another outbreak was documented at a middle school for girls in Bukoba, a village close to the homes of other infected students. 154 students were affected here before mid-June.

20 miles further, in Kanyangereka, a family began convulsing with laughter and screaming, which without delay spread to two more villages and local schools. While it's commonly thought that for the entirety of two years the nation of Tanganyika did nothing but smile and laugh, other symptoms of the illness include incapacitating pain, fainting, respiratory problems, and exhaustion.

In 1964, shortly after joining with neighboring Zanzibar to form United Republic of Tanzania, Tanganyika's hysteric illness began to fade, having affected more than 1,000 people and causing the closure of 14 schools. The illness remained highly contagious, and quarantine of those villages infected remained the only successful method of preventing further spread of the contagion.

Though theories have been formed as to the origin and cause of the laughing illness, it has yet to be explained. But if you’re in the mood for a good laugh, maybe try your luck, head to a small fishing village in Tanzania and shake the hand of someone with a crooked, unexplainable smile. 

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Last modified on Thursday, 15 March 2012 18:31

Six is a creep. She has no biography and only knows two jokes.

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