Bagamoyo was recently designated as Tanzania’s seventh world heritage site and is the oldest town in Tanzania. Bagamoyo’s history has been influenced by Arab and Indian traders, the German colonial government and Christian missionaries. Although Bagamoyo is no longer the busy port city that it once was, Tanzania’s Department of Antiquities is working to revitalize the town and maintain the dozens of ruins in and around Bagamoyo.
Bagamoyo was the major slave trading post in East Africa. Bagamoyo, which means ‘lay down your heart’ in Swahili, was probably given this name because Bagamoyo was the last place the slaves would stay in Tanzania before being shipped off to foreign lands. Although the slave trade officially ended in 1873, slaves continued to be sold and traded in Bagamoyo through the end of the nineteenth century.
During the slave trade, it was not uncommon to see hundreds of slaves walking through the streets of Bagamoyo chained together by the neck. Slaves were collected from the interior by capture, purchase or trade and then shipped to Zanzibar or Arab countries.