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Dar es Salaam  

Eric Burton

Dar es Salaam, a major urban center in early 21st-century East Africa, was founded in 1862 as a mainland outpost of the sultanate in Zanzibar. From its very beginnings, the town was a cosmopolitan, polyglot, and multiethnic space. Following colonial conquest, the Germans used Dar es Salaam as their capital of German East Africa from 1891 onward, as did the British administration of Tanganyika, as the territory was renamed after the transfer of power following World War I, until independence in 1961. Colonial rule shaped the city’s geography according to racialized zoning, yet both colonial and subsequent postcolonial governments often found themselves reacting to dynamics (particularly immigration and informalization) rather than initiating them. Since the late colonial period, social and political dynamics in Dar es Salaam—such as the growth of nationalism—have had repercussions in all of Tanzania. In the 1960s and 1970s, the city became a transnational revolutionary hub at the crossroads of Pan-Africanism, anticolonial currents, and Cold War rivalries. At the same time, at the national level, the government tried to peripheralize Dar es Salaam and announced the relocation of the capital to Dodoma in 1972. Despite the antiurban bias of Tanzania’s policies of African socialism ( ujamaa ) and neoliberal reconfigurations from the 1980s onward, both of which put a brake on state investments in urban infrastructures and services, Dar es Salaam remained a commercial, cultural, and diplomatic center. With a population that grew from 22,500 in 1913 to 5.4 million inhabitants in 2022, it has become one of Africa’s major metropolises.

Article

Heritage and the Use of the Past in East Africa  

John Giblin

This article outlines historical and ongoing uses of the past and academic heritage research into those activities within eastern Africa. The use of the past will be discussed as a deep historical practice in the area that is the EAC in the 21st century, demonstrating how political elites have constructed versions of the past to suit contemporary and future aims for hundreds of years. Then there is an outline of the colonial introduction of formalized Western heritage institutions and legislation in the early 20th century, the subsequent nationalization of these in the mid-20th century, and the late-20th- and early-21st-century internationalization of heritage. These overviews are followed by a discussion of different approaches to heritage research including early studies of museums, traditions, heritage management, archaeological introspections, and more recent “critical heritage studies,” which interrogate the use of the past as a form of cultural production.

Article

History of Higher Education in Kenya  

Michael Mwenda Kithinji

The history of higher education in Kenya is defined by a struggle for domination by the various forces that have sought to influence the country’s social, economic, and political trajectory in the colonial and postcolonial periods. During the colonial period, the church had a major interest in education, which they viewed as an important tool in their evangelizing mission. However, the colonial government regarded education as an agency for social control as it attempted to mediate the competing interests of the missionaries, white settlers, and African nationalists. Similarly, the postcolonial governments saw education, especially at the higher level as significant due to its role in forming the elite class and as a mechanism for ideological control. Consequently, Kenya’s higher education landscape has witnessed a striking transformation as it served as an arena for powerful competing interests from the colonial period to the present. The period between the inception of higher education in the late 1940s until the early independence period in the late 1960s was dominated by the colonial inter-territorial policy that severely limited the opportunities to access higher education. While the first postcolonial government of President Kenyatta largely upheld the colonial elitist ideas on higher education, this approach changed when President Moi came into office in 1978. President Moi wanted to leave his mark on education by increasing access to higher education. Many students were thus able to access university education, previously a preserve of the privileged few. University expansion remains an enduring legacy of President Moi’s administration, which the succeeding government of Mwai Kibaki inherited and enhanced.

Article

History of Mozambique  

Eugénia Rodrigues

The peoples of early-21st-century Mozambique underwent different historical experiences which, to a certain extent, were homogenized when Portuguese colonialism encompassed the entire territory from the late 19th century onward. However, all of them had common origins, rooted in successive Bantu migrations. These peoples were organized into small chiefdoms based on lineages, but those located in the central region of Mozambique were integrated into states with some level of centralization, created by the Karanga south of the Zambezi and by the Maravi to the north. The interior regions were articulated into mercantile networks with the Indian Ocean through Swahili coastal entrepôts, exporting gold and ivory. From 1505 onward, the Portuguese sought to control this commerce from some settlements along the coast, particularly Mozambique Island, their capital. During the last decades of the 16th century, projects emerged for territorial appropriation in the Zambezi Valley, where a Luso-Afro-Indian Creole society developed. From the mid-18th century onward the slave trade to the Indian and Atlantic Oceans became increasingly important, with different impacts in the respective regions. Modern Portuguese colonialism was established by means of military campaigns: having limited capital, Portugal granted concessions for part of the territory to companies. When these concessions ended in 1942, the colonial state developed a direct administration throughout the territory, headquartered in Lourenço Marques (Maputo). Nationalist ideals developed during the 1950s among various movements, of which three organizations united to form the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in 1962. From 1964 onward, FRELIMO unleashed an anticolonial war in northern and central Mozambique. After the 1974 revolution in Portugal, negotiations resulted in the recognition of Mozambique’s independence on June 25, 1975, and a FRELIMO government. Armed opposition to the Marxist-Leninist government and the civil war continued until 1992. During the 1990s, Mozambique adopted a multiparty system and liberalized its economy.

Article

History of the Mount Kilimanjaro Area  

Matthew V. Bender

Mount Kilimanjaro is perhaps the most recognized geographic feature in sub-Saharan Africa. Rising to a height of 5,895 meters (19,340 feet), it is the tallest peak in Africa, the world’s tallest freestanding mountain, and the highest volcano outside of South America. The massif extends 95 kilometers from east to west and 65 kilometers north to south and is at least 30 kilometers away from the nearest peaks. Owing to its tremendous size, it gives rise to five distinct climate zones—temperate forest, rainforest, moorland, alpine desert, and ice cap—that emerge from the surrounding arid Maasai steppe. Its numerous rivers, arising in rainforest, provide surface water resources to the lower slopes as well as the surrounding watershed, which extends more than 300 kilometers to the Indian Ocean. Kilimanjaro is perhaps best known for its white cap, consisting of both glaciers and seasonal snowfall, that makes it unique among mountains in Africa. As an island in the middle of the steppe, Kilimanjaro has long been important in the lives of African communities. It has been most important to the Chagga-speaking peoples who have made it their permanent home. For more than five hundred years, they have developed agricultural societies on the southern and eastern slopes of the mountain, featuring intensive agriculture of bananas, yams, and other crops as well as an extensive system of surface irrigation. The mountain has also long been a spectacle for outsiders. In the mid-19th century, Europeans became enamored with the snow-capped mountain in Africa. A flood of explorers, missionaries, and mountaineers gave way to European conquest and colonization that lasted from the 1880s to the 1960s. Colonialism not only transformed life for Chagga peoples but also made Kilimanjaro into a symbol with broad-reaching importance across the continent and beyond. For more than a century, the Kilimanjaro area has been the focal point of contestation, debate, and struggle that, in many ways, makes it a microcosm of the colonial and postcolonial experiences of Africa as a whole. Colonialism introduced new political, economic, social, and religious structures, embedded in a context of coercion and violence, that not only generated debate and resistance but also opened new opportunities for some. These dynamics have remained to a large extent in the postcolonial period, as outside actors ranging from the Tanzanian government and nongovernmental organizations to the International Monetary Fund and climate scientists have attempted to control and harness the mountain’s resources, often at the expense of local interests. Yet for the Chagga, the mountain very much remains their home, and they vehemently defend their right to control its valuable resources. As the threat of climate change looms, these clashes between local and outside interests will likely become even more fervent.

Article

Italian Settlers in the Horn of Africa  

Antonio M. Morone

Colonial settlement, understood as the emigration of Italians to the colonies, was an essential element in the history of Italian colonialism, for both the political planning and the socio-cultural processes that settlers from the mother country triggered in Africa. This was not a linear process. At the end of the 19th century, the intention of founding colonization on pre-existing migratory networks and communities in the Mediterranean was thwarted by the shift of Italian expansionist efforts to the Horn of Africa. When fascism attempted to organize a state colonization in the 1930s, it was the poor living and working conditions of many new settlers that forced the regime to bring those who ran the risk of “insabbiarsi” (literally being quagmired), that is, falling to the level of colonial subjects, back to Italy. In the post–Second World War period, Italy based much of its efforts to reclaim its colonies on the labor of its settlers in Africa but ended up politically ditching them and blotting them from historical memory. By 1949, any chance of returning to an old colonial policy was irrevocably gone. The settlers helped impose colonial order on the basis of the supposed racial and social superiority of Italians to their African subjects. It was precisely the end of colonialism and the departure of many settlers for Italy that called into question their own identity construct as champions of Italianness when they found themselves being discriminated against in their homeland for not being completely or sufficiently “Italian.” For those who decided to remain in Africa, the only thing left was to reshape their relationship with Africans and seek a space of economic and social action with the new postcolonial leaders. On the other side of colonial society, colonial subjects were not just subordinated to the colonizers but also became intermediaries in both their public and private relations, pursuing their own paths of social mobility. For this reason, the history of the colonial subjects is in many ways the other side of the coin from that of the Italian settlers.

Article

Mountain History in Africa from the Earliest Times  

Christopher Conte

Over the long haul of geological time, the natural history of Africa’s mountains is a story of the lithosphere’s rise and fall. For hundreds of millions of years, tectonic forces have heaved up layers of metamorphic and igneous material while wind, water, ice, and gravity combined to open basins, scour valleys, and obliterate rock. The most recent phase in mountain building in Africa began in the Miocene (twenty-three million years ago) and continues today. Some mountains, like the volcanic mountains Kilimanjaro and Cameroon, are only a few million years old. Other highlands, like Tanzania’s Eastern Arc Mountains, derive from crystalline rock formed more than thirty million years ago. As they appear on the landscape today, Africa’s mountains present a mix of old and new landforms covered by a biosphere of resident plants and animals that evolved in the countless niches provided by elevation, slope, temperature, rainfall, and aspect. Human beings, relative latecomers to mountain history, have altered the highlands dramatically. In Africa, mountains attract people. Africa’s mountains do not constitute a discrete subject of study in the discipline of environmental history, though important studies of individual mountain zones do exist. Nor is the historical scholarship limited to the humanities. In studies that are essentially historical in approach, the natural sciences use empirical evidence to reconstruct mountain landscape change under human use. What follows is an attempt to knit together coherently a messy, multi-disciplinary scholarly literature.

Article

Nampula  

Daria Trentini

The city of Nampula is the capital of Nampula Province, an agricultural region situated in the Nacala Development Corridor connecting Malawi and Zambia to the coastal port of Nacala. Founded at the beginning of the 20th century by the Portuguese army, Nampula was located at the crossroads of trading and migration routes that had connected the interior of Southern Africa to the Indian Ocean for centuries. Under colonial occupation, Nampula served as a military garrison for launching military operations to subdue and occupy the interior of northern Mozambique, the last undefeated region of the Portuguese empire. The subsequent construction of infrastructure and the advent of commercial agriculture transformed Nampula into the main economic and administrative hub of the northern region of Mozambique. Following independence in 1975, the demographic and territorial expansion of Nampula was informed by socialist governance as well as by a prolonged civil war that brought thousands of refugees from the surrounding rural areas. The economic liberalizations in the 1990s and the mineral discoveries in the northern region of Cabo Delgado in the 2010s consolidated the role of Nampula as a commercial and trade center for national and international capital. The economic boom—alongside increasing rural poverty and ongoing internal and external conflicts—has continued to attract migrants from the rural regions, as well as from across the country and continent, making Nampula the third-largest city in Mozambique, with a population of 743,125 and an area of 404 square kilometers.

Article

The Ottomans in Northeast Africa  

A. C. S. Peacock

In the mid-16th century, the Ottoman empire expanded to encompass parts of the modern Sudan, Eritrea, and the Ethiopian borderlands, forming the Ottoman province of Habeş. The Ottomans also provided aid to their ally Ahmad Grañ in his jihad against Ethiopia and fought with the Funj sultanate of Sinnar for control of the Nile valley, where Ottoman territories briefly extended south as far as the Third Cataract. After 1579, Ottoman control was limited to the Red Sea coast, in particular the ports of Massawa and Suakin, which remained loosely under Ottoman rule until the 19th century, when they were transferred to Egypt, nominally an Ottoman vassal but effectively independent. Politically, Ottoman influence was felt much more broadly in northeast Africa in places as distant as Mogadishu, at least nominally recognized Ottoman suzerainty.

Article

Transport in Tanzania  

Katie Valliere Streit

Tanzanian men and women have embraced, adapted, and innovated various transportation technologies over the centuries as part of their survival and wealth accumulation strategies. During the precolonial era, dhows and porterage caravans helped to draw mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar into ever-widening trade networks with Central-East Africa, the western Indian Ocean, and the capitalist world economy during the 19th century. The onset of colonialism brought attempts by German and British administrations to replace these “traditional” forms of mobility with “modern” railways, steamships, and motor vehicles. Europeans expected to use these tools to conquer and subordinate African populations according to the demands of the colonial economy. Europeans also perceived these technologies as material manifestations of their alleged intellectual and moral superiority. Colonial administrations, however, continually lacked the necessary resources to construct and maintain new transportation infrastructure amid challenging climates and terrain. Dhows and porters successfully competed with railways, motor vehicles, and steamships throughout the colonial era and remained integral components of the colonial economy. As new transportation systems gradually became integrated into Tanzania’s physical and socioeconomic landscape, ordinary Tanzanians utilized the technologies of mobility to pursue their self-interests. Throughout the process of building transportation infrastructure and using automobiles, dhows, railways, and airplanes, ordinary Tanzanians created identities that challenged discriminatory racial and gender social orders constructed by colonial governments and the Tanzanian nation-state.