Bagamoyo 2011

Grade 4 Visits Bagamoyo

Last week, the grade 4 students went on an overnight trip to Bagamoyo. This trip serves as the provocation for their next unit called “Children’s Rights and Responsibilities”, where students explore more about Who We Are. Moreover, it solidifies their understanding of the effect resources have on migration, which was a key understanding in their previous unit, “Karibuni Tanzania”.

Why on Earth would we go to a tiny town north of Dar? In the 19th century, Bagamoyo was an important trade center for East Africa with Arabian, German, and British forces staking claims to the area. Bagamoyo was a significant port largely due to its proximity to Zanzibar, which was famous for its spices. Unfortunately, exporting these spices took a lot of manpower, which was solved by importing enslaved people from all over East Africa.  These captured people would walk more than a thousand kilometers from Lake Tanganyika, stopping in Bagamoyo before moving to Zanzibar where they would be sold as slaves. It was a terrible journey and many people died before they could make it to Bagamoyo. Many more died on the sea voyage to Zanzibar.

In response to the cruelty of the slave trade, a mission was established in Bagamoyo. Members of the mission would buy enslaved people from the markets with the little money they had. They would then teach them different trades to ensure that they could survive in Bagamoyo, which was far from their original homes. The mission also created an orphanage and a school for the children who had been enslaved.

In addition, many famous explorers made their way through Bagamoyo including Richard Burton and John Speke. David Livingstone, whose body passed through Bagamoyo after his death, was appalled by the slave trade and did what he could to help put an end to it. Even though the slave market was closed down in 1873, the slave trade continued to flourish for many years afterward, and Bagamoyo was heart of this trade. Both the Germans and the British opposed the slave trade and there were clashes with local businessmen. Eventually, the slave trade collapsed.

IST students toured the historical sights of Bagamoyo. First, we stopped at the Caravan Serai where traders stayed after their long journeys from the west. Next, we drove by the Customs House near the fish market to see where enslaved people would have been tied up awaiting their voyage to Zanzibar. From here, we moved to the German bomas which were the official buildings of German East Africa. Our next destination was the Old Fort. This building represents the history of this time period in Bagamoyo. It has functioned as a private home, a storage unit for enslaved people, a German fort, a British prison, and a Tanzanian police station. IST students also went to the Catholic mission to learn about how the mission helped enslaved people. They also saw where David Livingstone’s body was kept for a night before being moved to Zanzibar, and ultimately to Westminster Abbey where he was buried.

Our students learned a lot and managed to have some fun despite the somber lessons learned. Here’s what a few of them have to say:

I enjoyed listening to the slave trade book about Siwema. It was fun to act out.

I learned how the slaves were captured and how their lives were.

I enjoyed seeing the Kaole ruins. They were so old but crumbly.

I learned that the slaves had chains around the necks and on their ankles. They were attached to each other. If one fell down they would probably all fall down.

Of course, what they all really enjoyed was being able to spend a night with their friends in a new place. They loved swimming in the pool and seeing their friends’ rooms. Each class had a slightly different experience in Bagamoyo, but they all bonded with one another and their teachers.




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