Arab slave-traders, Catholic missionaries & German colonizers, Bagamoyo has housed them all.
As part of the study abroad program, we take cultural excursions. One of which is to the ancient city of Bagamoyo. The town’s name translates to ‘lay down your heart’. That was the advice given to the slaves that were taken from inland Tanzania destined for the huge slave market in Zanzibar. The town has served as an important port for Muslim Arab traders, Catholic missionaries, and German colonizers. During the 13th century, Muslim Arab traders settled here and built what is now known as the Kaole Ruins. Originally know as Shirazi, this settlement holds two mosque and 30 tombs. During the 19th century, Catholic missionaries came to the area. They established the first Catholic Church in Tanzania as well as opening a boarding school to serve would-be slave children. Several years later, German colonizers established Bagamoyo as the capital of German East Africa.
When I came to Tanzania in 2011, I also visited Bagamoyo. During this trip I visited some of the places I had previously gone as well as additional places. Being in here again was full of nostalgia. I recall having feelings of animosity towards the Catholic missionaries after visiting the museum in 2011. Fortunately, this trip allowed me to reshape this perspective. While I still hold strong feeling against many of the practices the nuns used with the locals, I am can appreciate that they did at least provide an education to the children. Besides, if it weren’t the Catholics forcing their beliefs on the local population, the Muslim would have eventually done it. So it’s all the same and just a part of colonization.