A troubled past: Slavery in East Africa is a subject that is not talked about often enough. Typically, conversations about slavery only discuss slaves that were taken to the Americas but slaves were also taken in East Africa throughout what is now Tanzania, Congo, and other modern-day countries in the region as well. Many slaves were taken from the area around Lake Tanganyika - forced into servitude by Arab slave traders who raided villages or sometimes sold into slavery by kings, The slaves were then forced to walk from where they were captured to Bagamoyo, on the coast. This journey would take months and many slaves died along the way.
The slaves were often forced to carry the other valuable commodity of the region with them: ivory (see top picture) and were chained together, 50 or 100 at a time for this long forced-walk to the coast (see bottom picture). Slavers such as the infamous Tippu Tip - who was supposedly named after the noise his gun made if you were too exhausted to walk - made a fortune off of this trade and up until the colonial period, these Arab slave traders had a big presence in the area. Not that colonialism was any better though; it’s true slavery was used to justify slavery but was the system or forced labor where colonial subjects would pay ‘tax’ to the state through forced labor an improvement? It’s difficult to qualify such matters but I just wanted to put things into context.
As you travel to the West of Tanzania, you can still see the effects of slavery today. Though the Waswahili people and others who lived on the coast had a positive interaction with Islam, many on the interior very much did not because of slavery. Thus, as you travel more and more west in Tanzania (and finally into Congo), you see less and less mosques because of this. So, though this history was over a hundred years ago, it’s certainly not something that can - or should - be forgotten that easily.
Pictures were taken, top to bottom, at the National Museum of Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and the Holy Ghost Mission in Bagamoyo, Tanzania.