Bagamoyo UNESCO World Heritage Side?

On 20/2/2006 the government of The United Republic of Tanzania has applied to UNESCO for status of World Heritage:




Bagamoyo UNESCO World Heritage Side?

The United Republic of Tanzania 


Date of Submission: 20/02/2006
Category: Cultural
Submission prepared by: Antiquities Department
Coordinates: From Bagamoyo S 6 26 - E 38 54 to Ujiji, Kigoma S4 54 - E 29 40
Ref.: 2095



Until, not even 150 years ago, millions of Africans had to bear a cruel fate. They were captured by slave hunters, chained together and forced to walk some times hundred of kilometers to be sold for example to planters who used them as cheap labour in their fields. Central and East Africa was one of the main areas where the slave hunters and traders, most of them Arabs made their shade deals. They caught their victims e.g. in some areas which is today parts of Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Western and Central parts of what is today Tanzania. The Slaves were brought to the coast and from there to the spice island of Zanzibar and many were sold further to the Arab countries, Persia, and India, Mauritania and Reunion. Officially, the slave trade was forbidden in 1873 under British pressure, but it went on secretly for several years.

One of the routes that were used by the traders’ caravan started in Ujiji at the shore of Lake Tanganyika. It went over 1200 kilometers and ended in Bagamoyo just opposite of Zanzibar on main land Tanzania. Many experts view this as the main route of mainly three that were documented for East Africa. By now the list includes the Ujiji-Bagamoyo route as a whole. The idea is not only to protect the still visible reminds of the dark past like Arab Forts and other historic buildings or parts of the route that are existing, but also to intensify the research around the topic, to document the memories about the era and to preserve the culture and the traditions of the communities living along the route.

In this regard, there are possibilities of Trans-national Nomination with neighbouring countries like Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique. This possibility will be investigated during the nomination process.

Six centres have been identified along the central slave route to include Bagamoyo, Mamboya, Mpwapwa, Kilimatinde, Kwihara and Ujiji


Due to its location along the Indian Ocean and being a major harbor and town along the coast of Tanzania that played a key role in the East Africa Slave trade; Bagamoyo is a “place of memory” for human suffering and humiliation caused by Slavery and the Slave trade and the imposition of European colonialism. The population of Bagamoyo groups is the result of the interaction and fusion of different ethnic groups from the interaction and fusion of different ethinic groups from the hinterland and immediate coastal built especially the Wazaramo, Wadoe, Wakwere and Wazigua and the interiors especially Wanyamwezi and Wamanyema. Bagamoyo serves as the terminal which starts from Ujiji. From Bagamoyo, slaves were shipped to Zanzibar where the slave market used to be Important slave trade evidence include slave and slave descendants, buildings such as Caravan Serai, Von Wissman block, Old market, Customs house and the Old fort. Also the freedom village at the R.C. Mission premises and the RC Museum that has enough documentation


Located in Morogoro Region; Kilosa District is a very old settlement. Historical landmarks include mango stretch plantations, slave and slave traders descendents, graveyard for the Wanyamwezi, remains of Anglican Church and an area where the house belonging to one slave trade was built. Cards, coins and domestic utensils are available as well.


Located in Mpwapwa District, Dodoma Region in central Tanzania Important landmarks include part of the path at Vinga’we Village still visible and in use. Others include the Anglican Church built at a place where the first church was as evidence of missionaries who fought against slave trade. Descendants of slaves and slave traders are also part of the present community.


Located in Manyoni District, Singida Region. Kilimatinde is another important place on the route where caravan rested at a well. The village with Arabic house, market and late the seat for the German administrative is an important place for information along the route. There existing small Arabic houses that are abandoned.

Kazeh (Tabora)

Kazeh was established by traders involved in the East Africa slave and Ivory trade on the area given to the traders chief Fundikara of Unyanayembe in rapidly development into a key market centre located as it was at an interaction between the trading routes to the coast and those further inland to the Congo and north to what is today Burundi. By 1871, it was estimated to have a population for 5000, by the 1890s the population had grown to about 20,000. The only building of significance that has survived is the Kwihara Livingstone Tembe.

The Tembe was built by a wealth Arab Slave trader in 1857. The owner gave it to Dr. Livingstone. The building contribution continued to be throughout the colonial period, and was pronounced historical monuments one hundred years later, in 1957 when also major repairs were done on it. Other evidence is a mosque and residence near the Tembe, a Well, Mango trees, and coconut and date tree plantations.


Ujiji was the last major trading center of the central of Caravan Trade Route located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. It was a trading centre for slave and ivory coming from different parts of Lake Tanganyika, including Eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. By 1876, Stanley estimated that Ujiji had a population of 3,000

It is located within Kigoma Township, 5 km west of Kigoma Railway station. Important land marks are a site of formal port (no longer existing) coconuts and Mango Tree Avenue, Usagara grounds where slaves used to be held and auctioned and a site where the house of the former slave trade by the name of Tippu Tip used. A path running between Ujiji seminary and Kaluta Primary school through Kagera village to Luiche and beyond is clearly seen and improved by big historic Mango trees on both sides.





Bagamoyo World Heritage Site

Bagamoyo eyes place on Unesco list

Bagamoyo District authorities in Coast Region say they are committed to ensuring that the former Bagamoyo slave trading post is listed as a world heritage site.

Bagamoyo District Executive Director Peter Kamtunda said plans to have historic areas in the town recognised as world heritage sites were on despite the transfer of a number of government officials who were spearheading the campaign.

Speaking through the District Lands Officer, Juliet Mtobesya, Kamtunda said the Department of Antiquities of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in collaboration with the University College of Lands and Architectural Studies (UCLAS) were working to revitalize Bagamoyo and maintain dozens of ruins in and around the historic town.

He said the department was charged with the task of following up the former slave trade route leading from Ujiji near Kigoma to Bagamoyo and maintenance of Bagamoyo ruins before a nomination file is sent to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) for listing at the heritage site.

Construction of a new bus terminus with the financial assistance of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) would begin in September this year, according to Kamtunda.

He said his office was going through applications from four contractors who had applied to undertake the construction work.

Plans to list Bagamoyo as a Unesco World Heritage Site came up at an international meeting held in the town recently and sponsored by Sida.

Bagamoyo was the major slave trading post in East Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The name Bagamoyo was derived from the Kiswahili words bwaga moyo, which can be loosely translated into "lay down your heart", and was given to the town because it was the last place slaves would stay in Tanzania before being shipped off to foreign lands, according to legend.

Early this month, the ruins of the great sea-ports of Kilwa Kisiwani and of Songo Mnara situated off the coast of Lindi Region were inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger by the 21-member World Heritage Committee.

The committee took this decision in response to threats directed to the integrity of the site, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981.

The ruins, which date from the 13th to the 16th century and testify to the portsâ?? position as a hub of the Indian Ocean trade in gold, silver, pearls, perfumes, arabian crockery, Persian earthenware and Chinese porcelain, are particularly affected by sea erosion, lack of maintenance that is leading to the collapse of buildings, inadequate management and demographic pressure.





Case Study: Bagamoyo

Bagamoyo is a small coastal town with a natural harbour, 70 kilometres north of Dar es Salaam. It is located on the Zanzibar Channel, just opposite the Island of Zanzibar. The relation to Zanzibar was very strong in history, because most of the slave trade, ivory trade and expeditions of traders and explorers from and into the interior of East Africa were organised through Bagamoyo. Bagamoyo was at that time the most important city of mainland Tanganyika and the most important harbour in East Africa. When the colony of German East Africa was established in 1888, Bagamoyo was chosen as the capital. But in 1891 the capital was transferred to Dar es Salaam, due to better harbour facilities.

The heritage of Bagamoyo consists of a mixture of German colonial buildings, buildings and facilities related to the slave trade and slave route, and buildings of the merchants and financiers of Indian origin. One outstanding example of the built heritage is the Old Boma of Bagamoyo (â?~Bomaâ?? meaning â?~Fortâ??, administrative headquarter). It was built by the colonial administration and finished in 1897. The building served as the regional administrative headquarter for both the German and the British colony. After independence, it served as the seat of the District Commissioner. The original roof construction was altered in a questionable way, which created maintenance problems. The pitched roof with a long roof overhang was removed and a flat roof introduced. The building is constructed with thick walls of coral stones with lime mortar and lime plaster, very similar to the Arab-Islamic buildings in the Stone Town of Zanzibar. However, the slabs are of a specific German type: I-beams with vaulted stone slabs. All the iron beams are now corroded and the slabs have to be renewed completely. The building style is a unique blend of Islamic-Arabic and European elements, monumental symmetry and arrangement of the rooms and spaces (U-type floor plan). The site is close to both the town centre and the beach, with a splendid open public-park and landscape between the building and the beach.

Due to neglected maintenance, part of the slab collapsed in 1998 and the building has been abandoned since then. Several attempts to save the structure were initiated by the Department of Antiquities, but have not shown any positive results so far - the building is too big, complicated and costly for the Tanzanian Government. Foreign assistance is needed, but foreign donors are very reluctant to assist in financing the project, most of them giving priority to programmes such as health, education or infrastructure. Additionally it takes time to establish a well-organised project concept with the government. Also private investors may be reluctant to be involved in such a big investment. It is an open question as to whether or not the building can be saved before it is too late, the speed of deterioration being so fast.

It would be a big loss to the heritage of Bagamoyo if this building with its history, its outstanding architectural and aesthetic qualities, its supreme location at the sea front, were to disappear. The possibilities for re-use are very good, with the potential for use as a hotel, conference centre, museum or cultural centre. The public land in front could be re-established as a botanical garden or used for agricultural production.

Not only this building, but also the entire heritage of Bagamoyo is threatened. Many owners of the residential buildings, mostly of Tanzanian-Indian origin, are absent and have lost interest in their property, leaving poor tenants, often without water and electricity and with leaking roofs. Until it is understood that the buildings have a cultural and commercial value, especially with ongoing tourism development, it will be too late for many buildings unless emergency repair is undertaken soon.

D.M.K. Kamamba & U. Malisius
ICOMOS Tanzania


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