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Title:East Africa's Gorée: slave trade and slave tourism in Bagamoyo, Tanzania
Author:Fabian, StevenISNI
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies (ISSN 0008-3968)
Geographic term:Tanzania
Subjects:slave trade
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00083968.2013.771422
Abstract:A tourist visiting Bagamoyo, Tanzania, today would be hard pressed not to come away with the impression that this idyllic, seaside port was once the centre of the East African slave trade. Local museums, interpretive signposts, and amateur tour guides throughout the town claim that tens of thousands of enslaved Africans were brought to Bagamoyo each year before being shipped off across the Indian Ocean. In 2006, the Tanzanian government applied to UNESCO to have Bagamoyo recognized as the exit point of the Central Slave and Ivory Trade Route that reached as far west as Lake Victoria. This paper investigates this application by assessing claims made to prove Bagamoyo's reputation as a major slave entrepôt against archival evidence. Similar to the case made by Phil Curtin in 1995 on H-Net regarding the memorialization of the West African island of Gorée, the author demonstrates that enslaved Africans did not constitute a significant portion of local exports and that numbers have been highly exaggerated; instead, the trade in ivory is what placed Bagamoyo on the map. The paper also considers the implications of this case study for the controversial debate between tourism and historical context; between symbolic representation and academic integrity. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]