The town of Bagamoyo was one of the most important trading ports on the East African coast and the penultimate stop of slave and ivory caravans traveling on foot from Lake Tanganyika on their way to Zanzibar. Missionaries active in abolishing the slave trade made Bagamoyo, whose name means ‘bury my heart’ in KiSwahili, a center of their activities.
These days, Bagamoyo is now a center for dhow sailboat building on the Tanzanian coast. A quiet village with a few German colonial buildings still standing, In the past, the town of Bagamoyo was one of the most important trading ports on the entire East African coast. Its port was the penultimate stop of slave and ivory caravans that travel on foot all the way from Lake Tanganyika. Once the caravans reached Bagamoyo, the slaves and ivory were shipped by dhow to Zanzibar, where they were then dispatched all over the world. These days, Bagamoyo is a center of dhow building in the region and along the Tanzanian coast.
Places to visit:
Kaole ruins: The oldest ruins of an Islamic mosque in the region, dating from the 13th century, a few km south of Bagamoyo near Kaole, possibly the oldest mosque on mainland of East Africa at all.
The Bagamoyo Church: It was built in 1868 and considered to be the first church on East Coast of Africa . There is also cemetery, where the early missionaries were buried and a small shrine which was built by freed slaves in 1876. “We are told that between 1934 and 1991, 35 Dutch priests worked here” The last of this long line of priests from the Netherlands was Father First Versteijnen who stayed in Bagamoyo for 30 years and started the first museum in the old Fathers’ House in March 1968.
The second Fathers’ House in Bagamoyo, constructed close to the Mother of all Churches in East Africa. This church has also fallen victim to the corrosive effects of the coast region’s relentlessly humid climate. Its ground floor was built in 1873, the first floor in 1877 and the second floor in 1903.
Boma: Built in 1895-1897 as residence and offices for the German colonial governor. In 1998 the roof collapsed and pulled the balcony down during the El Nino rains. The building up to now was a fascinating structure but due to damage is considered dangerous to explore.
Chuo cha Sanaa (College of Arts): Is the only major arts college in the Tanzania, teaching various fields: dancing, music, drama and painting. It is situated along the Kaole road, close to Kaole ruins. During the weekends student give free performances allowing visitors to acquaint themselves with traditional dances. It is also possible to learn to play various local music instruments with the college, but this has to be arranged and negotiated in advance.
Bagamoyo Museum: It is a small museum, which displays Bagamoyo history in relation to its contact with foreigners. It has old photographs, documents and relics from slave trade. On the same compound there is a small chapel know as Anglican church of Holy Cross. The church is famous for being a place where the remains of David Livingstone were laid before taken to Zanzibar en route to Westminster abbey for burial.