Tanzanian history

Brief history of Tanzania summarized

A brief overview of the history of Tanzania, a country in Africa.

Ancient Tanzania

Early humans in Tanzania lived by hunting animals and gathering plants. Agriculture in Tanzania probably began around 1,000 BC, but farmers still made tools out of wood and stone.

However, in the 4th century AD the Bantu began to migrate to Tanzania. They brought iron tools and weapons.

Meanwhile, people on the east coast of Africa had contact with Mediterranean civilizations. The Persians and later the Romans sailed to Tanzania.

Later, in the 8th century, Arab merchants sailed into the area. The Arabs brought Islam and since then many Tanzanians have been Muslims. Many Arabs settled along the coast, and eventually traders came from as far away as India.

In the 11th century AD, the ancestors of the Maasai began to migrate to Tanzania from southern Sudan. Most of them arrived between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.

The first European to reach Tanzania was a Portuguese explorer named Vasco Da Gama who arrived in 1498. However, Portuguese rule did not extend inland. At first the Portuguese were peaceful, but not for long. In 1503 a ship commanded by Rui Lourenco Ravasco arrived at Unguja Island.

The Portuguese captured 20 dhows (Arab sailing ships) and killed about 35 people. Zanzibar’s ruler, the Mwinyi Mkuuu, was forced to submit. He had to grant the Portuguese access to Zanzibar and had to agree to supply food and water to the Portuguese ships. He also had to pay tribute to Portugal.

In 1505 the Portuguese captured Mombasa and in 1056 they captured the island of Pemba. In 1510 the inhabitants of the islands of Unguja and Pemba rebelled, but were crushed by the Portuguese. During the 16th century the Portuguese took control of the coast and built forts. In 1560 they founded the city of Zanzibar. The Portuguese also introduced two plants from Brazil, cassava and cashew nuts.

However, the Portuguese only controlled the coast of Tanzania and in the 17th century they were expelled by the Arabs from Oman. The Arabs captured Unguja in 1652. The last Portuguese were expelled from Pemba in 1695.

Finally, the last Portuguese stronghold in Tanzania, Fort Jesus in Mombasa, was taken in 1698. The Arab victory ensured that Tanzania did not become a Portuguese colony like Mozambique. Instead, from the end of the 17th century, the Arabs were the dominant power in the region.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, Arab slave traders took large numbers of Tanzanian slaves and exported them from Tanzania. The slaves were sold to Arabs or to European colonies in the Indian Ocean.

In 1812 a man named Saleh bin Haramil introduced cloves to Zanzibar. Cloves soon became a major export. The clove plantations were worked by African slaves.

Colonial Tanzanian

In the 19th century, Europeans began to explore the interior of Tanzania. In the 1840s, two Germans, Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann, reached Mount Kilimanjaro. In 1857, the British Richard Burton and John Speke reached Lake Tanganyika. In the 1860s missionaries arrived in Tanzania.

Then in 1885 the Germans began to take over the region. The Germans were led by Karl Peters. He formed a company called the German East Africa Company (Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft). Peters persuaded African chiefs to make treaties with his company. Legally, Peters acted independently of the German government. However, his government approved of his actions.

Meanwhile, the British had taken control of the island of Zanzibar. In 1890, Great Britain and Germany signed a treaty dividing the area between them. Britain took Zanzibar and Germany took mainland Tanzania. Then, in January 1891, the German government took direct control of Tanzania.

However, from the beginning, the Germans faced resistance in Tanzania. The first uprising was the Abushiri revolt of 1888. People on the Tanzanian coast resented German interference and rose in revolt led by a man named Abushiri bin Salim al-Harth. However, the Germans eventually crushed the revolt.

From 1891 to 1898 the Germans waged war with a town called the Hehehe. Ultimately the Hehehe were defeated and their leader, Mkwawa, committed suicide.

In 1905-07 came the Maji Maji rebellion. Africans were forced to work on cotton plantations, and eventually southern Tanzania revolted. The rebellion was crushed after the Germans adopted a ‘scorched earth’ policy. At least 100,000 people died as a result of both the fighting and starvation.

Between 1909 and 1913, 250 tons of dinosaur bones were discovered at Tendaguru, north of Lindi. The bones were sent to a museum in Berlin.

In 1914 came the First World War. In Tanzania a small German force was led by Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck. He was a very capable man. When a British force landed at Tanga in November 1914 they were defeated and fled leaving many weapons in German hands.

The British invaded again in 1916, but were unable to defeat the Germans. However, by 1917, the Germans in Tanzania were running out of food and ammunition, so they resorted to guerrilla warfare. They continued to fight until Germany itself surrendered in November 1918.

After the war, Tanzania was handed over to the British. It was called Tanganyika. In 1925 Sir Donald Cameron became the first Governor. In 1926 a legislative council met. Under British rule, Tanzania exported cash crops such as cotton. Much was grown on European-owned plantations. However, some were also cultivated by Africans.

Meanwhile, the Africans began to organize. In 1929 they formed the African Association in Dar Es Salaam. However, in Tanzania, the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s were fairly quiet. However, things began to change rapidly in the 1950s.

In 1953 Julius Nyerere was elected president of the Tanganyika African Association. In 1954 it was renamed the Tanzanian African National Union. He campaigned for independence with the slogan Freedom and Unity (Uhuru na Umoja). The National Union participated in the elections for the Legislative Council of 1958 and 1959.

However, two-thirds of the seats were reserved for non-Africans. In 1960 this restriction was removed and in one election the TANU won almost all the seats. The move to independence was unstoppable and Tanzania became independent on December 9, 1961 with Nyerere as Prime Minister. On December 9, 1962, Tanzania became a republic and Nyerere became president.

Modern Tanzania

Unfortunately, in 1967 Nyerere adopted a socialist policy. He made the Arusha Declaration in which he outlined his vision for a socialist Tanzania. However, in Tanzania, as in other countries, socialism proved to be a complete failure. The cornerstone of that policy was called Ujamaa (family bell).

Nyerere planned to create large collective farms. He encouraged the population to move to large villages where food and other goods were collectively produced for the entire community. However, the policy proved disastrous for Tanzania. Agricultural production plummeted and the Tanzanian economy sank.

Furthermore, in 1973 only about 20% of the population had moved to the Ujamaa villages. So Nyerere forced people to move and by 1977 around 80% of the population had been resettled. Meanwhile, in 1975 Tanzania became a one-party state.

At that time Uganda was ruled by the tyrant Idi Amin. In October 1978 Amin invaded the Kagera region of Tanzania. In January 1979, a Tanzanian force counterattacked and quickly invaded Uganda. The Tanzanians withdrew in 1981.

Meanwhile, Nyerere was re-elected president in 1980. However, the Tanzanian economy was in shambles and corruption was endemic. In addition, Tanzania sank heavily into debt. International donors demanded reform in exchange for help, but Nyerere was unwilling to change his policies. So in 1985 he resigned.

He was replaced by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who spent the next 10 years trying to repair Tanzania’s economy. Mwinyi privatized the business and tried to purge corruption. He also encouraged foreign investment. As a result, the Tanzanian economy began to grow steadily.

In 1992 Tanzania became a multi-party democracy and in 1995 Benjamin Mkapa became president. In 2005 Jakaya Kikwete was elected President of Tanzania. Meanwhile, in 2001 tuition fees were abolished in Tanzania and as a result school attendance increased considerably.

Tanzania still relies on agriculture, and there are many plantations growing tea and coffee, tobacco, cotton, and cashew nuts. Tanzania also has considerable mineral resources. Tanzania is still a poor country, but it is developing rapidly. Along the coast of Tanzania fishing is important.

Tanzania also has great potential for tourism. It has several national parks with animals such as lions, leopards, crocodiles, giraffes and hippos.

Currently, the population of Tanzania is 53 million.

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