In the winter of 2019, Henderson Productions took a small group to Tanzania for a 14-day adventure. This blog series tells the story of the trip and our fellow travelers. Using our network around the world, we curated a tour to give us local connections and experiences beyond the normal tourist choices. For more information about our upcoming trips, subscribe to our newsletter.
On Monday morning we once again waited for Freddy’s drivers – over a half hour for our start to Bagamoyo. Unacceptable. I asked Aman if he had a schedule and he told me he waits for Freddy’s call. So, I gave both drivers a copy for the week plus confirmed the absolute requirement for 8:15 on Tuesday.
We spent the 2-hour drive to Bagamoyo watching the City glide by. At 11:30 the kindergarten and primary schools let out, allowing us to watch various school districts let out by the color of their uniforms. All white shirts with coral, wine, hunter, cerulean, navy, sienna, khaki shorts or skirts. Most were wearing or carrying brightly colored backpacks. They skipped, dawdled, communed and played their ways home as we asked Aman about them. Many take public buses which they pay for every ride meaning a five-year-old has the presence to hold onto belongings and two bus fares plus know which bus to board on a very busy thoroughfare. They appeared very comfortable with it.
In Bagamoyo we hired Ibrahim as our official guide with the first stop being the infamous Pizza Restaurant all the ex-pats had recommended. And, CLOSED on Mondays. Quickly sorted to Pau Pau Pub which likely was better. We sat in the front room with a view out into the alleys of historic Bagamoyo while kids skipped and played and shared a chunk of jackfruit with each other. Lunch was great. N had tomato soup and toast, while I had skewered beef cooked to perfection. Three of us came in at $10 + tip.
Ibrahim walked us around for over an hour beginning with the current fish market where small fish, prawns and medium (3 lbs.?) catch of the day are brought in for women to batch fry them in charcoal pits under canopies. With the ocean breezes one didn’t notice the heat until directly next to them. I would have sampled any of it if I had watched them dump out of the hot pot.
We walked around the ruins of the Arab slave markets and German/British official buildings. When the abolitionists (more on that later) started targeting ports further south that supplied the Zanzibari sultanate with slave trade, ambitious traders picked up the slack in Bagamoyo making it the last great exporting location in East Africa. From roughly 1840-1870, thousands at a time were force marched from interior kingdoms to the sea. Initially, in the late 1700s, the main use of slaves was to carry ivory tusks. By the time Bagamoyo peaked there were equal size warehouses for ivory and slaves.
The Arabs first grabbed slaves for their own households then for the grand spice plantations of Zanzibar and then for sale to other lands. The US and UK were the largest external destinations. But first they had to survive the 5-day trip from Bagamoyo to Zanzibar. They might just stay there or wait as much as 70 days before being moved on.
We toured the fort and various parts of the town on foot before driving to the Roman Catholic Church were the Spiritan Mission set up a Freedom Village in 1868. Ultimately, they purchased thousands of slaves, taught them skills and gave them safe-haven until complete abolition was agreed between the British protectorate and the Sultan in 1873 effectively ending all slavery in East Africa. The Mission continues its work today on behalf of all enslaved persons in the region.
Got stuck in a little traffic on the way home but in plenty of time for M and me to make a pasta/chicken dinner. We had bad pans, a handle-less knife, no real utensils and only 2 electric burners but we tossed together a sauce of peppers, tomatoes, garlic, fried the chicken and added it in. Used penne and garlic bread as carbs and even had some grand Padano to sprinkle on top! For 12. With wine, beer and gin and tonics. Oila!
We have fallen asleep earlier and earlier and our 9 PM collapse seemed perfectly reasonable. We opened Tuesday morning with an 8:15 bag drag to make our ferry reservation. We made omelets and drank the awesome pineapple/spearmint juice we took a grocery risk on. Score!