Kilimanjaro, with its three volcanic cones, Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira, is a dormant volcanic mountain in Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania. It is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the World .The origin of the name “Kilimanjaro” is not precisely known, but a number of theories exist. European explorers had adopted the name by 1860 and reported that “Kilimanjaro” was the mountain’s Kiswahili name.But according to the 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopaedia, the name of the mountain was “Kilima-Njaro“.
Johann Ludwig Krapf wrote in 1860 that Swahilis along the coast called the mountain “Kilimanjaro“. Although he did not support his claim,he claimed that “Kilimanjaro” meant either “mountain of greatness” or “mountain of caravans”. Under the latter meaning, “Kilima” meant “mountain” and “Jaro” possibly meant “caravans”.The term Kilima-Njaro has generally been understood to mean the Mountain (Kilima) of Greatness (Njaro). This is probably as good a derivation as any other, though not improbably it may mean the “White” mountain, as I believe the term “Njaro” has in former times been used to denote whiteness, and though this application of the word is now obsolete on the coast, it is still heard among some of the interior tribes. Either translation is equally applicable…. By the Wa-chaga, the mountain is not known under one name, the two masses which form it being respectively named Kibo and Kimawenzi.
“Kilima” is an ancient Kiswahili word for “shining”.Similarly, Krapf wrote that a chief of the Wakamba people, whom he visited in 1849, “had been to Jagga and had seen the Kima jaJeu, mountain of whiteness, the name given by the Wakamba to Kilimanjaro….“More correctly in the Kikamba language, this would be Kiima Kyeu, and this possible derivation has been popular with several investigators.Others have assumed that “Kilima” is Kiswahili for “mountain”. The problem with this assumption is that “Kilima” actually means “hill” and is, therefore, the diminutive of “Mlima”, the proper Kiswahili word for mountain. However, “t is … possible … that an early European visitor, whose knowledge of was not extensive, changed mlima to kilima by analogy with the two Chagga names; Kibo and Kimawenzi.”
A different approach is to assume that the “Kileman” part of Kilimanjaro comes from the Kichagga “kileme”, which means “which defeats”, or “kilelema”, which means “which has become difficult or impossible”. The “Jaro” part would “then be derived from njaare, a bird, or, according to other informants, a leopard, or, possibly from jyaro a caravan.”In the 1880s, the mountain became a part of German East Africa and was called “Kilima-Ndscharo” in German following the Kiswahili name components.
When on 6 October 1889, Hans Meyer reached the highest summit on the crater ridge of Kibo, he named it “Kaiser-Wilhelm-Spitze” (“Kaiser Wilhelm peak”).That name apparently was used until Tanzania was formed in 1964,when the summit was renamed “Uhuru”, meaning “Freedom Peak” in Kiswahili.