Tanganyika's Early History

First, TANGANYIKA as a geographical and political entity did not take shape before the period of High Imperialism; it's name only came into use after GERMAN EAST AFRICA was transferred to Britain as a mandate by the League of Nations in 1920. What is referred to here therefore is the history of the region that was to become Tanganyika.

It is widely assumed that East Africa's coast had trading connections with the ancient world, the land of Ophir, mentioned in the bible, believed to be located in Zimbabwe.
By around 900 A.D., much of inland Tanganyika was settled by BANTUS, while the islands and coastal region had seen the settlement of traders from India and Srivijaya (Sumatra). Later in the 10th century, Persians from Shiraz, the SHIRAZI, arrived and established their rule over the trading centers along the east coast, among them KILWA and ZANZIBAR. Over centuries of intensive contact between these ethnic communities, the language of SWAHILI emerged, combining mainly elements of Bantu and Arabic language; it became the lingua franca of Eastern Africa. In the coastal region, Islam became the dominant religion, while the inland region remained animistic.
IBN BATTUTA visited Kilwa in 1331. Commercial contacts extended as far as China; in the 15th century, the region was visited by a Chinese fleet under Admiral ZHENG LE. Major trade goods were ivory, fur, beeswax. Slaves were also sold.
In 1502-1506 the Portuguese established their control over the East African trade, having sacked Kilwa in 1505; the city continued to be the major trade hub on the East Coast. By 1587 it's population was around 10,000. In 1698 the Omanis expelled the Portuguese from the area. The Portuguese came back in 1725, but were expelled again the same year. The Omanis were to succeed the Portuguese as the dominant force in East Africa's trade.
Meanwhile, plantation economies had been established by European colonial powers on Mauritius and Reunion, as well as in Brazil and the Caribbean. These plantations depended on a constant influx of African slaves; slave trade was among the most profitable trades. Demand thus turned African slaves into a major trading commodity traded at places such as Zanzibar, which as a trading place grew in importance at the expense of Kilwa.

History of Zanzibar, from Zanzibar.net
History of Tanzania : Early History, from United Republic of Tanzania
Articles from Infoplease : Zanzibar, Tanzania
Zanzibar History Page from Zanzinet, detailed subfiles
History of Tanzania, from geographia.com
Islam and the Catholic Crusade Movement in Zanzibar, by Khatib M. Rajab al Zinjibari
Kilwa, Past and Present, from swahilicoast.com
DOCUMENTS Medieval reports from visitors of Kilwa, from University of Minnesota, Dept. of History
Hans Mayr : The Voyage and Acts of Dom Francisco 1505, from Modern History Sourcebook, long paragraph on Kilwa
Lists of rulers of traditional states within Tanzania, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon (lists until 1962)
List of the Sultans of Kilwa, 957-1513, from Regnal Chronologies, scroll down for Kilwa
Kilwa, by M. Kudrati (trilingual Swahili - Arab - English; on Battuta's visit, has list of rulers)

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on January 1st 2007

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