Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, African History. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 05 March 2021

Transport in Tanzaniafree

  • Katie Valliere StreitKatie Valliere StreitDepartment of History, Franklin College


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.

Precolonial Era: Caravans and Dhows

Geography and climate have continually impacted the history of mobility and transportation in Tanzania. Tanzania’s ecosystems range from coastal plains to mountain ranges, the Central Plateau, the Great Rift Valley, and the Great Lakes of Victoria, Tanganyika, and Nyassa. The climate similarly varies according to altitude and the annual Indian Ocean monsoon winds. Heavy rains fall from March to June as the winds flow toward the northeast. Little rain falls from June to September until the winds shift to the southwest in October. The far western regions of the nation depend upon the moisture produced by the Great Lakes as the eastern mountain ranges limit rain from reaching the Central Plateau.1 Unequal resource distribution amid the diverse ecosystems encouraged commodity production and regional exchange as early as the second millennium ce.2 Animal transportation was limited to a few regions due to the prevalence of tsetse flies. The insects killed livestock by transmitting trypanosomiasis and spread sleeping sickness among humans.3 Communities throughout the mainland, therefore, traveled by foot to attain needed resources and desired commodities from neighboring peoples. These precolonial trade networks were unconstrained by the artificial borders that colonial administrations would create in the late 19th century, and thus flowed across modern-day Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique, and the Congo. Wajiji boatmen and Wanyamwezi porters in western and central Tanzania served as vital middlemen linking local and regional trade networks in Central-East Africa that centered on the exchange of staples, such as dried fish, salt, palm oils, copper, and iron.4 In southern Tanzania, the Wayao became experts in organizing large-scale porterage caravans that linked overlapping trade networks with neighboring Makonde speakers, Makua speakers in central Mozambique, and Maravi communities near Lake Malawi.5 Participation in and control over exchange networks facilitated the formation of power centers and political networks, including the Hehe, Ngoni, Shambala, and Karagwe states.6

Monsoon winds and ocean currents, meanwhile, drew the East African coast into maritime exchange with populations from across the western Indian Ocean. Since at least the 1st century ce, dhow traders used annual south-southeasterly monsoon winds to access the East African coast from November to March. Sailing ships returned to Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and western India when the winds shifted to the northeast from late March through September. Scarcities in timber, cereals, and other resources in southern Yemen and Oman initially drove seaborne contact with the Horn of Africa and East Africa.7 Several different types of African, Arab, and Indian sailing vessels—collectively known as “dhows”—helped to create a “fully articulated commercial system” by the 9th century that distributed East African, Arabian, Indian, and Chinese commodities across the western Indian Ocean.8

Figure 2. Dhow sailing off the shore in Dar es Salaam.

Photo by Katie Valliere Streit, 2014.

Of the towns and cities that emerged along the East African coast, Kilwa Kisiwani in southern Tanzania rose to prominence in the 13th and 14th centuries. Resting on the edge of the monsoon range, Kilwa Kisiwani served as an entrepôt for dhow traders eager to access gold from Sofala and additional commodities originating from Mozambique Island, Angoche, and Madagascar.9 As trade goods circulated throughout the western Indian Ocean, an ethnically diverse coastal population formed along the East African coast that gradually converted to Islam and came to share a common language and culture, known as Swahili.10 By 1500, an integrated, cosmopolitan world was flourishing in the western Indian Ocean wherein commodities, languages, technological knowledge, social and religious ideas, and people freely circulated across open sea lanes. Swahili coastal communities, in turn, increasingly engaged with the extensive trade networks operating in the interior. Ironware, ceramics, and food staples were important commodities that encouraged and sustained a multitude of east- and westward-oriented commercial networks operating across Central-East Africa to the Swahili coast during the early to mid-second millennium (1200s–1500s).11 By the time the Portuguese arrived in East Africa during the 16th century, they would have observed material evidence (clothing, jewelry, tools, and decorations) of “several generations of exchange” between local Swahili and interior communities.12

The arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century marked the first major disruption to the mare liberum, or free sea, which defined the western Indian Ocean.13 Portuguese forces occupied important commercial centers and strategic ports including Sofala, Kilwa, Mombasa, Muscat, Ormuz, and Goa in an effort to monopolize the maritime trade through military might. They instead “superimposed themselves on a pre-existing trade system without changing it very much.”14 Omani forces eventually allied with coastal populations to expel the Portuguese from Kilwa and Fort Jesus, Mombasa, by 1698. European and American merchants took advantage of Portugal’s weakened position to intensify their participation in the Indian Ocean trade networks during the 18th century. Aiming to profit from the growing international demand for East African slaves and ivory, Sultan Said ibn-Ahmed of Oman relocated his capital to Zanzibar in 1832. The island offered an ideal harbor and geographical position for the Omani to control trade between the East African interior and overseas markets. Zanzibar boomed as the premier entrepôt in the Indian Ocean during the 19th century as American and Western European nations entered into formal trade relations with the sultanate. Zanzibar supplied industrialized, capitalist markets with raw materials and luxury goods produced in East Africa, as well as consuming and distributing the imported manufactured goods to communities in the interior.15

East Africa’s integration with global capitalist markets impacted the caravan and dhow trades differently. Dhow traders faced unprecedented competition from European vessels. Steamships gradually replaced dhows in supplying commodities central to the caravan trade—particularly imported cottons and beads.16 Dhow traders, however, adapted and embraced opportunities to serve as middlemen. They ferried import and export commodities between Zanzibar and the mainland. Dhows also continued to dominate regional transportation in the western Indian Ocean—supplying coastal populations with dates, dried fish, salt, ghee, coffee, dates, and shark oil.17

Figure 3. Dhows anchored off the coast of Bagomoyo.

Photo by Katie Valliere Streit, 2014.

Professional porterage, meanwhile, thrived in East Africa as commercial ties between the coast and interior intensified. Financed by Asian creditors, three caravan corridors operated in what would become Tanzania and generated immense profits.18 By the early 1880s, porters transported an estimated twenty thousand slaves to the coast from the Lake Malawi area per annum.19 Zanzibar supplied approximately 75 percent of the world’s total ivory market by 1891 due to the caravan trade.20 The porters themselves were not slaves, but highly organized professional laborers who created unique labor cultures. Stephen Rockel argued that the Nyamwezi caravan porters operating along the central trade route were at the forefront of East Africa’s engagement with mercantile capitalism and international markets in the 19th century. According to Beverly Brown and Walter T. Brown, urbanization was a significant consequence of the enhanced integration of coastal and interior trade relations as “small upcountry settlements developed as major caravan depots and populous polyethnic communities.”21 Located directly on the lines of transport, Tabora and Ujiji thrived as residents continued to engage in “traditional” regional trade networks while also participating in the “new” businesses of supplying long-distance ivory and slave trade caravans. In addition to facilitating the exchange of commodities, caravan traders also helped to spread Swahili culture and Islam to these mobile-based urban centers.22 Brown and Brown described the tensions that emerged in Tabora and Ujiji as “traditional” political authorities, patronage ideas, and religious beliefs tried to coexist with new elites, wage and slave labor systems, and the Islamic faith.23 Influxes of immigrant settlers, slaves, and transient porters generated new social pressures that occasionally resulted in unrest. Issues of overcrowding, epidemic outbreaks, famines, theft, murder, drunkenness, invasion, and warfare further threatened the stability and profitability of the urban centers throughout the 19th century.24 Some existing states (such as the Ha and Zinza kingdoms) ultimately collapsed due to increased violence and slave raiding, while elsewhere new “big men” and merchant rulers arose due to their ability to control portions of the caravan routes and absorb populations displaced by violence.25

Figure 1. Map of the United Republic of Tanzania. Derived from a United Nations map, 2007.

Colonialism and the Pitfalls of “Modernization”

An underlying ambition and consequence of European colonization in the late 19th century was the (re)construction of physical and social spaces across Africa. Maps and geographical surveys demarcated imperial borders and internal administrative boundaries, while censuses filled in the bordered spaces with inhabitants that were perceived as supposedly inferior and immutable “others.”26 Imperial powers then delineated “natural” spaces into exploitable economic units—food staple cultivation, cash crop production, mineral extraction, labor reserve, and so on.27 According to Gregory Maddox,

Just as colonial states externally defined areas as different colonies, they internally imposed a vision of spatial demarcation, dividing land into provinces, districts, chiefdoms, and tribal areas. Land use mirrored supposed ethnic divisions. Colonial officials tried to spatially segregate resource use, designating regions as “game reserves” and “forest reserves,” alienating some areas for immigrant use and pairing them with native reserves.28

Transportation infrastructure and artifacts also fulfilled important roles in the colonial space-shaping and -defining processes. As the British and Germans seized control over Zanzibar and constructed the borders of Tanzania (then German East Africa) in the late 19th century, railways and steamships were the preferred tools by which Europeans aimed to penetrate the interior, enforce and consolidate colonial authority, and maximize profits by efficiently exporting raw materials to capitalist industries and markets in the metropole.29 “Traditional” or vernacular modes of transportation—that is, dhows and porters—were antithetical to European visions of efficiency, progress, and modernization.

Between the 1860s and 1920s, the British conducted campaigns in Zanzibar aimed at replacing dhow traffic with state-subsidized steamships. Asian and Arab traders, however, continued to rely upon their well-established, personal relationships with dhow traders to transport the most valued cash crop in the new colonial economy—cloves. In comparison to the impersonal bureaucracy of the steamers (with their fares and rigid schedules), dhow traders offered reliable, cheaper, and more flexible transport that could access areas lacking formal ports.30 Dhows not only dominated inter-island transport of cloves but they also helped to sustain Zanzibar’s commercial ties with regional markets in Arabia and the Persian Gulf by transporting mangrove poles originating from the East African coast. An “international shadow economy” operated “almost entirely outside colonial control” thanks to dhow traffic.31 Erik Gilbert explained that the dhow trade remained vibrant until the 1960s when the oil economy of the Persian Gulf fundamentally transformed the socioeconomic structures and patterns of the western Indian Ocean trade. Zanzibar’s Revolutionary government further undermined the dhow-centered economy by isolating Zanzibar from regional networks and the global economy.32

Figure 4. Dhow passing a cargo ship in Zanzibar Port.

Photo by Katie Valliere Streit, 2014.

On the mainland, the German colonial state sought to “modernize” the transportation infrastructure by constructing railways. European imperial powers and private investors across Africa favored railways as a tool by which colonial officials could more easily access communities in the interior, thus better enforcing colonial laws and controlling the extraction of commodities destined for the metropole and international markets. Railway lines were often superimposed on existing trade routes in an effort to reduce export costs and maximize profits.33 The Central Line, for example, followed the major caravan route from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma with the hope that the railway would stimulate “the economy of the western plateau, improve military security, and recapture the trade of the interior,” which was being redirected north to the British-controlled Uganda railway.34 Railways also provided justification for colonial rule by serving as powerful symbols of the Europeans’ alleged technological and intellectual superiority.35 Railways were contradictory symbols for African men. Thousands associated the technological artifact with the injustices of colonial rule as they were forced to construct the lines and witness hundreds dying in the process.36 For other men, colonial infrastructure schemes opened new avenues of individual wealth accumulation. Thousands of migrant laborers voluntarily accepted temporary wage employment on railway, road, and port construction projects.37

Ironically, the process of constructing and operating the railways benefited porterage rather than eliminating the centuries-old practice. Porters served as feeders: transporting construction supplies, imports, and exports between production sites, railways, ports, and markets.38 According to Thaddeus Sunseri, “every new economic pursuit created a demand for more porters and workers.”39 African porters and migrant laborers leveraged the rising labor demands to attain desirable working conditions. In regions lacking railways, porterage remained essential for the transport of virtually every commodity. Sunseri found that “an estimated 100,000 porters left the coast annually for the interior [by 1907], making porters by far the most numerous of all wage workers at that time.”40 Europeans repeatedly attempted to disarm, regulate, and replace professional porters with deskilled laborers, but porters continued to employ a variety of tactics—including desertion and collective action—in order to defend and maintain control over their labor conditions and customs.41 The Germans had no choice but to continue relying upon the vernacular mode of transportation to fulfill their economic and administrative objectives.

European dependence upon porterage in mainland East Africa had disastrous consequences during the East African Campaign of World War I (1914–1919). As the warfront shifted southward and farther from the railways, the Allies and Germans encountered a landscape devoid of all-weather roads and prevalent with tsetse flies. Both sides of the conflict depended upon human porterage to move their food, ammunition, weaponry, and baggage. While the exact numbers remain unknown, well over a million Africans labored as porters for the European armies during the course of the war. Michael Pesek found that the majority of porters were not professionals and therefore lacked the skills and social networks to protect themselves from the dangers and exploitation experienced under new colonial bureaucracies.42 No fewer than one hundred thousand carriers died due to starvation, exhaustion, exposure, disease, and in conflict during the course of the war in East Africa.43 Scorched earth tactics and the forceful conscription of the African male populations devastated Tanzania’s physical, social, and economic landscape. Crops were left unsown, leaving regions already stripped of their food and cattle susceptible to starvation and disease.44 In Ugogo alone, an estimated thirty thousand people died of famine between 1917 and 1920.45

The British and Motor Vehicles (1920s–1961)

After the war, Great Britain gained authority over the mainland as a League of Nations Mandated Territory—renamed the Tanganyika Territory. The central administration initially perceived railways as the “mainstay of the transport system” and concentrated its limited resources toward the more profitable cash crop–producing regions serviced by the Tanga and Central Lines.46 Motorized road transportation, however, gradually gained favor in Tanganyika (and throughout the continent) as a more flexible and cost-effective technology to stimulate trade and labor markets beyond the rigid “corridors created by [railway] tracks.”47 Whereas railways required substantial capital to maintain and operate, low-costs motorable roads offered colonial officials the means to consolidate their administrative authority, regulate migrant laborers, and control the movement of raw material exports more efficiently.48 By monopolizing the ownership and operation of motor vehicles, European officials attempted to reaffirm colonial racial hierarchies in which the supposedly technologically and intellectually superior Europeans operated vehicles and the allegedly inferior, subordinate Africans lined the roads as passive spectators.49 Europeans also assumed that automobiles would have a “civilizing” and “modernizing” impact on rural populations. Joshua Grace noted that colonial development planners followed a logic wherein by “change the material infrastructure across an entire territory and Africans will be become modern, hygienic, and controllable colonial subjects.”50

As with railways, roads and automobiles came to embody colonial racism and oppression as well as the agency and entrepreneurship of Africans and Asians. The brutality of colonial rule was laid bare for those forced to construct roads and march along them as carriers and soldiers during the First World War. The use of forced labor for infrastructure construction continued in the interwar era despite Britain’s pledge to end all forms of compulsory labor as soon as possible under the Slavery Convention of 1926 and Forced Labor Convention of 1930.51 Colonial officials often found themselves overburdened with maintaining hundreds of miles of main, district, and village roads in addition to a myriad of administrative duties and public works projects. They, therefore, relied upon private contractors, Native Authorities, and Native Treasuries to amass the necessary labor (paid and unpaid) to fulfill the territory’s road maintenance and transportation needs.52 Chronic shortages in funding, manpower, and supplies throughout the colonial era prevented the construction of new roads, improvement of existing roads to all-weather standards, and the completion of year-round maintenance. By the end of World War II, there was an estimated 16,400 miles of motorable road in Tanzania, yet an integrated network still did not exist.

In addition to being forced to build roads, Africans also faced government efforts to monitor and control their mobility. Colonial officials were particularly concerned with controlling the movement of migrant laborers. Labor recruiting and forwarding agencies, such as the Tanganyika Sisal Growers’ Association Labor Bureau (SILABU), tried to entice men to give up foot journeys to distant plantations for free motor vehicle transport instead. According to James Giblin, the men who accepted SILABU’s offer were stripped of their bargaining power, personal autonomy, and sense of mutual responsibility with fellow migrant laborers.53 Laborers in the Southern Highlands were subjected to medical examinations and classification before being loaded into guarded lorries destined for plantations for a fixed term where they lacked the traditional ability to leave their jobs in search of better wages and conditions.54 In regional towns and cities, like Dar es Salaam, streets became part of a racialized urban landscape, demarcating the boundaries between African, Asian, and European exclusive zones. The few bus routes that existed in Dar es Salaam reinforced the racialized urban landscape, “confining most African movement to designated spaces of work and residence.”55 Colonial officials made no attempt to improve either the public transportation services or the unsurfaced, impassable, and poorly lit roads in the African sector because the colonial state refused to recognize Africans as “urban or modern subjects.”56 The state instead imposed legislation aimed at restricting African rural-urban migrations and strictly controlling African mobility within the city.

State efforts to control and restrict African mobility in rural and urban spaces failed as migrant laborers, porters, itinerant traders, drivers, and mechanics took to the roads to pursue the socioeconomic opportunities made possible by new motorized economies. Some migrant laborers in the Southern Highlands retained their autonomy by continuing to walk to plantations.57 In Dar es Salaam, Africans freely walked between the racial zones in blatant opposition to colonial policies.58 Men and women also found work on the very roads and streets that aimed to exclude them from urban citizenship—as porters, water carriers, street traders and hawkers, and rickshaw-pullers. The colonial state criminalized and attempted to purge these “disrespectable” and “undesirable” laborers from Dar es Salaam, yet street entrepreneurs continued to carve out spaces for themselves in the city.59 Walking and working along the streets helped to bind Africans to the city and create a sense of ownership as urban citizens.60 Within the formal economy, African men from various social and educational backgrounds pursued new, prestigious careers as drivers and mechanics. Becoming a driver for a private firm or the Public Works Department served as a vital “bridge from daily wage labor to monthly salaries, paid leave, and ultimately, a new kind of colonial citizenship.”61 The profession offered men opportunities to create valuable networks of reciprocity between drivers and their apprentices, known as turn-boys. In return for teaching their apprentices technical skills, drivers elevated their professional rank and created dependents that they could rely upon in the future.62 Apprenticeships among mechanics similarly provided young men with “a flexible set of technical skills they could use for a variety of trades as well as social networks that provided the human and material resources necessary for different stages of their lives.”63 As young drivers and mechanics employed their technical knowledge and skills to pursue high-paying, high-status employment, they countered colonial racial narratives of African inferiority and ineptitude.

Motor vehicle ownership similarly offered South Asian entrepreneurs the means of amassing independent wealth and cultivating identities as respected businessmen and civil servants. South Asians had long played a prominent role in the Tanzanian economy. They not only dominated the commercial and financial sectors in 19th-century Zanzibar but also established networks of shops along the interior trade routes with the help of Arab and Swahili intermediaries.64 The Indian population became entitled to new economic privileges denied to Africans as their legal status changed from “native” to “non-native” under British colonial rule in the 1920s.65 Prominent business firms and families invested their wealth in the transportation sector—amassing control of an estimated 80 percent of the territory’s transportation services by 1939.66 South Asian entrepreneurs were among the first to invest in motor vehicles as a more efficient and effective tool to expand trade networks into rural communities. In the railless south, for example, the Amin family owned and operated one of the largest and most successful private, interregional passenger and cargo transportation firms in the territory—the Tanganyika Transportation Company or Teeteeko.67 In addition to amassing individual wealth, the Amin family built a “reputation as a respected capitalist entrepreneur providing essential and beneficial state and public services.”68 Contrary to colonial designs, roads and automobiles offered Africans and Asians the means to pursue socioeconomic opportunities and cultivate identities as modern, successful men.

Postcolonial Era Struggles and Innovation

Similar to its colonial predecessors, the Tanzanian national government struggled to both rectify the infrastructure problems gripping the nation after independence and control a highly mobile population according to the state’s development vision. In order to encourage economic growth in one of the poorest countries in the world, the Tanzanian government prioritized infrastructure development. By the 1970s, most of the major northern population centers were linked by rail. Two links united the Kenyan, Ugandan, and Tanzanian rail networks. Travel speeds, however, averaged less than twenty miles per hour.69 From its humble origins in 1914, domestic and international air travel expanded from the 1930s onward due to the efforts of Imperial Airways, Wilson Airways, and the East African Airway Corporation.70 In the case of road transportation, the Tanzanian government invested approximately TShs. 740 million to improve the nation’s trunk road network and construct a nationwide system of “low-costs roads” between 1961 and 1970/1971. State objectives were hampered by chronic shortages in funding, trained personnel, and mechanical equipment. With only six fully qualified regional engineers on staff, international creditors required that the state hire foreign consulting firms to conduct feasibility studies of major infrastructure projects. As during the German and British colonial eras, the Tanzanian government hired private contractors to conduct all major construction projects.71

Dependence upon foreign funding and technical assistance left Tanzania susceptible to Cold War politics. Plans to construct a railway between Dar es Salaam and Zambia, in particular, became embroiled in rivalries between the East and West. The Tanzanian and Zambian governments proposed the TAZARA railway as a means of alleviating Zambia’s dependence on southern routes through apartheid South Africa. According to Jamie Monson, national leaders imbued the technological system with symbolic significance.72 The governments of Tanzania and Zambia envisioned TAZARA serving as a “post-colonial railway of liberation” that would help dismantle colonial boundaries, foster pan-African solidarity, and resist neocolonialism.73 The Chinese state funded and provided technical staff for the project as a means to increase their influence on the continent and legitimize their place as a major Cold War player. Chinese officials tried to obscure their ambitions through political rhetoric that emphasized the railway’s role in fostering “brotherhood” between the nations and their laborers. Chinese claims that the railway would serve as an anti-capitalistic and anti-hegemonic alternative to Western development programs inspired animosity among Western nations. The United States of America, in particular, perceived the railway as a dangerous symbol of communist China’s increased political and economic influence in the resource-rich region. The Americans responded by assisting with the construction of a rival road from Zambia to Dar es Salaam. In the postcolonial, Cold War context, infrastructure schemes became a source of intense international tension as representations of socialist or free-market enterprises.

The railway not only became a contested space in the imaginations of rival nation-states but also between the Tanzanian government and its citizens. As the railway neared completion in 1973, the Tanzanian government was launching a massive, nationwide resettlement project as part of President Julius Nyerere’s policy of ujamma. Nyerere and his supporters promoted communal rural development as the pathway to national self-sufficiency and self-reliance. To make this vision a reality, the Tanzanian government began compelling rural communities to resettle into planned ujamaa villages. Monson, however, found that large rural communities began flourishing along the TAZARA corridor due to individual initiative rather than “centralized government planning.”74 Traders, famers, and entrepreneurs seized the economic opportunities that the railway offered by connecting rural and urban markets. Tanzanians could pursue wage-labor more efficiently, sell goods to passing trains, and/or ship their specialized products to diverse rural and urban markets. Ordinary citizens also used the train, tracks, and stations according to the basic necessities of their daily lives—as pedestrian walkways, temporary shelters, and water supply and bathing facilities. Social conflict unexpectedly emerged as established lineage groups accused new settlers of exploiting local land and violating sacred customs in their quest for profits. As people and goods circulated across the railway, ideas of “identity” and “belonging” were contested, and a central question as to who owned the railway went unanswered—the state, its operators, or its consumers?75

Road transportation similarly became embroiled in debates about wealth accumulation, modernity, and citizenship within the new socialist nation. The automobile, in particular, generated intense debate within government circles. State officials could not agree as to whether buying a private car was an ostentatious and irresponsible use of resources, or a mark of modernity and the promises of independence fulfilled. Laura Fair found Nyerere’s campaigns against private car ownership conflicted with the growing number of civil servants, business people, and members of the middle and working class who collectively “viewed car ownership as symbolic of their drive for modernity, and thinking of oneself as modern was an important first step in being recognized as such.”76 Second Vice President Rashid Kawawa, the National Development Corporation, and business tycoon C. C. Patel collaborated to open a very successful socialist drive-in theater in Dar es Salaam in 1966.77 It offered a “space of encounters” where men and women, rich and poor, old and young, Asians and Africans could express their urban citizenship and feel a sense of national unity.78 Fair contended, “the drive-in was a place where its citizens could see themselves as one: a heterogeneous community whose members had something tangible in common.”79 Joshua Grace similarly observed in Dar es Salaam that the expansion of public busing services operating across the old colonial racial zones helped to redefine the city “as a post-colonial space where neither race nor class denied individuals access to a defining right of urban citizenship: mobility.”80

Not everyone was welcomed on the road. Government officials continued campaigns to purge “undesirables” from the streets of Dar es Salaam. Automobiles and roads also remained gendered and racialized spaces. East African Indians struggled to maintain control over their private transportation businesses and urban women faced violent backlash while commuting for work. Private transportation companies owned by South Asian businessmen strove to continue their profit-seeking enterprises and retain their identity as respected public servants in the postcolonial era by assisting the state with its transportation needs.81 After Nyerere instituted the socialist policy of ujamaa with the Arusha Declaration of 1967, private wealth accumulation became antithetical with the new values of the ujamaa nation. Tanzanian citizenship was increasingly redefined according to an individual’s commitment to combating economic exploitation. State criticism of entrepreneurial capitalism often became entangled with racist rhetoric that stereotyped East African Indians as privileged “others,” “economic saboteurs,” and “bloodsucking capitalists” who threatened the socialist nation.82 The private profits that Indian businessmen continued to accumulate were “antithetical with the new values of the ujamaa nation and could instead unintentionally validate stereotypes of Asian exploitation and greed.”83 The Tanzanian government ultimately chose to Africanize and nationalize the major road transportation firms to the detriment of Indian businessmen and their families. Female entrepreneurialism and mobility were also targeted, especially in Dar es Salaam. Andrew Ivaska explained that the growing number of working women in the city coincided with rising resentment and anger among young urban men.84 These women were perceived as taking away male employment in the formal economy. Many suggested that women succeeded by “exploiting sexual liaisons,” thus conflating female autonomy and wealth accumulation with prostitution and exploitation. The act of independent women commuting to work further tapped into colonial-aged anxieties about female mobility and its association “with promiscuity and suspicion of illicit gain.”85 The deployment of Operation Vijana in 1968 (a campaign against indecent dress that quickly focused on women wearing miniskirts) offered men the opportunity to act out their frustrations and grievances. Bus stations, bus routes, and downtown streets became the most common spaces where male animosity boiled over into physical violence against women. Groups of men attacked women disembarking from buses or chased women down streets and stripped them naked. Ivaska insisted that men were enacting “sexualized performances of power over those women in the very spaces that were deemed to provide the conditions of possibility for female accumulation, mobility, and occasional autonomy.”86

The new era of state-run automotive transportation that emerged in the early 1970s ultimately coincided with a decade of economic decline in Tanzania. Buses and cars became technologies through which Tanzanian citizens critiqued and contested state policies and visions of the ujamaa nation. Grace found that African passengers who used Dar es Salaam’s nationalized buses associated their everyday experiences with long queues, rude and reckless vehicle operators, and bus breakdowns with their growing disappointment and anger toward the state.87 Buses were not solely tools of transport but also “transformative spaces that rallied strangers into daily conversations about their collective experiences and frustrations as residents of a socialist city.”88 Outside of Dar es Salaam, the dearth of reliable transportation infrastructure became a rallying cry in some areas of the country against the broken promises of the state. Citizens in southern Tanzania, in particular, demanded more resources to improve the sole road linking the region to Dar es Salaam—a road that closed annually for five to six months during the rainy season throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The dilapidated infrastructure propagated stereotypes of the region’s supposed “backwardness” and lack of modernity, while also serving as a physical manifestation of the citizens’ “literal and symbolic exclusion from substantive national membership.”89 According to Priya Lal, “being left out of the new nation-state in terms of spatial integration was inextricable from a sense of being left behind the rest of the world in developmental terms.”90

Tensions between the state and African drivers intensified during the course of the 1970s. Drivers and mechanics responded to the national economic crises by utilizing their technological knowledge and networks of reciprocity to pursue economic opportunities outside of state control and the formal economy. An illegal bus network operated by private citizens developed in Dar es Salaam in response to the failure of the nationalized bus service to fulfill the transportation needs of the growing urban population.91 Elsewhere in the nation, drivers smuggled agricultural produce past police roadblocks and checkpoints that aimed at enforcing government restrictions on unauthorized interregional trade.92 Participation in parallel markets offered drivers unique opportunities to earn the profits needed to enter adulthood—getting married, purchasing a home, and sustaining a family.93 As nationwide food shortages, inflation, and illicit trading worsened in 1979–1981, the state no longer perceived drivers as “modern men who contributed to national development by putting things in motion.” Drivers were instead criminalized as “economic saboteurs” who enabled parallel markets while spreading HIV/AIDS.94

Figure 6. (a and b) Truck used for a privately owned road haulage business in Lindi, Tanzania, c. 1980s.

Picture taken by Katie Valliere Streit of Husein Mohamed Mzaina’s vehicle, September 2015.

Following a series of economic crises during the 1970s and early 1980s, the government gradually liberalized the economy and transportation sector. Numerous African-owned and operated road haulage and passenger transportation businesses emerged with the financial assistance of Indian creditors operating in Dar es Salaam with globally connected capital.95 Consumers could choose from a variety of private dala-dala (buses), taxis, lorries, bajaji (auto rickshaws), piki-piki and boda-boda (motorcycles), and other automobiles operating in major towns.

Figure 7. (a) City bus operating in Dar es Salaam, and (b) bajaji operating in Mtwara, Tanzania.

Pictures taken by Katie Valliere Streit, 2013 and 2014.

Small businesses struggled to remain afloat due to an oversupply in transportation services coupled with skyrocketing prices for imported spare parts and new vehicles following the devaluation of the Tanzanian currency between 1983 and 1996.96 A further consequence of the privatization and deregulation of the transportation sector has been the worsening of labor relations. According to Matteo Rizzo, casual workers employed in Dar es Salaam’s public busing sector endure exploitation by employers, who typically do not offer written contracts and fixed wages. Faced with the threat of unemployment if they fail to meet daily quotas of passenger fares, drivers and conductors routinely overcrowd buses, deviate from prescribed routes, and ignore traffic laws to meet their daily returns.97 Traffic congestion, rising fares, and high rates of lethal accidents remain unresolved issues gripping Tanzanian urban centers in the early 21st century.98

Figure 8. Road closure sign due to construction in Lindi, Tanzania.

Picture taken by Katie Valliere Streit, 2015.

Figure 9. Pedestrians navigating road construction in Dar es Salaam.

Photo taken by Katie Valliere Streit, 2015.

Despite the chronic problems with Tanzania’s transportation networks, men and women of all socioeconomic backgrounds continue to utilize rails, roads, and shipping to improve their livelihoods. In addition to formal transportation networks, individuals remain dependent upon informal sectors to fulfill their mobility needs. Ubiquitous bicycles and pickup trucks piled high with agricultural produce, kitchenware, mattresses, and a wide assortment of goods navigate narrow paths and dirt roads across the nation. Urban passengers squeeze into overcrowded dala-dala as part of their daily commutes to work, school, or home. Boda-boda, dala-dala, and piki-piki drivers vigorously compete with one another, and yet build relationships of solidarity and mutual obligation as they face common risks, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. The informal transportation sector links Tanzanians to one another, distant homesteads and villages, city centers, and cross-border commercial and social networks.

Figure 10. Pedestrians, bajaji, and piki-piki gathered along the Bagomoyo-Dar es Salaam road.

Photo taken by Katie Valliere Streit, 2014.

Neither the colonial states nor the national government have been able to monopolize technologies of mobility to impose their visions of modernity, race, gender, progress, and/or socialism on the Tanzanian populace. Roads and motor vehicles were and remain contested spaces and technologies through which European, African, and Asian men and women engage in complex discourses about power, autonomy, identity, and citizenship. Adaptation, negotiation, conflict, and accommodation continue to be the hallmarks of life in Tanzania today.

Discussion of the Literature

Mobility and transportation are so intrinsic to the history of Tanzania that most historical works address the topic to some extent. Histories examining precolonial settlement patterns and trade relations, 19th-century European expeditions, missionary activities, and colonial military campaigns all discuss transportation to varying degrees. Analysis of the design and impact of transportation infrastructure appear in urban histories. Historians interested in evaluating colonial and national development schemes inevitably analyze transportation as well.99 From colonial resettlement schemes to the Groundnut Scheme and ujamaa villagization, development planners required transportation services to fulfill their programs. These schemes failed (in part) because colonial and nation-states were unable to construct new infrastructure, improve existing infrastructure, and/or control the mobility of local communities. Histories of transportation also appear in regional studies, particularly for those regions that suffered from a lack of investment in infrastructure development. Historians studying southern Tanzania, for example, have repeatedly correlated the region’s chronically poor road conditions with its impoverishment and isolation in comparison to the rest of the nation.

Scholars interested in studying specific transportation technologies or technological systems should begin by consulting Rolf Hofmeier and John Iliffe’s manuscripts. Hofmeier’s Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania: With Particular Reference to Roads and Road Transport details major developments in rail, road, shipping, and air travel from the precolonial era to the early 1970s. It then offers a more in-depth evaluation of the impact that roads and railways had on the Tanzanian economy. The text offers a wealth of statistical data as well as an informative investigation of the road transport industry in the 1960s.100 Iliffe’s A Modern History of Tanganyika remains an essential manuscript for historians interested in the nation’s precolonial and colonial history. Iliffe similarly assesses mobility and infrastructure through the lens of underdevelopment theory and repeatedly describes both in terms of “enlargement” and improvement. Throughout the book, he identifies and reflects upon the socioeconomic impact that major shifts in transportation technologies had on Tanzanian history. He concludes, “Just as the porter carried the caravan trade on his shoulders and the railway had drawn the colonial economy behind it, so in the late 1920s the peasant came to Tanganyika on the back of a lorry.”101 Mobility and transportation systems also appear prominently in scholarship aimed at recreating precolonial societies, kingdoms, and trade networks. Edward A. Alpers, Abdul Sheriff, Randall L. Pouwels, Felicitas Becker, and Andrea Seligman have produced notable texts recreating caravan and dhow trade networks prior to and during the 19th century. Stephen J. Rockel’s influential manuscript, Carriers of Culture, challenged the slave paradigm that dictated historical scholarship regarding porterage and labor history in East Africa up to the 1960s.102 Europeans in the 19th and 20th centuries incorrectly insisted that East African porters were slaves in order to justify European conquest, governance, and the creation of an alternative labor structure that undermined the autonomy of professional African laborers. Through his examination of the lives and labor of Nyamwezi caravan porters working on the central trade route, Rockel illustrates that a unique labor culture and market economy emerged in Tanzania prior to European colonization. He contends that long-distance caravan porters were the vanguard of the socioeconomic, cultural, and political changes that occurred throughout East Africa during the 19th century.

Few of the first-generation, professional African historians concerned with underdevelopment theory and precolonial societies analyzed the built worlds and infrastructures of mobility. A small but growing group of scholars has begun evaluating the physicality of railways, ships, and automobiles—how each were built, maintained, adapted, and used. The historians then analyze how the technological tools served as transformative and contested spaces where Africans, Asians, and Europeans created and debated ideas of race, gender, modernity, and citizenship during and after the colonial era. Jamie Monson, Erik Gilbert, and Joshua Grace are three of the leading figures within the respective fields. Their works share a common focus on the ambiguous nature of transportation infrastructures and technologies. They challenge older histories of technology in Africa that evaluated railways, motor vehicles, and steamships as “tools of empire” through which colonial powers conquered lands, consolidated power, controlled migrant labor, promoted the colonial economy, and perpetuated social orders that subjugated Africans.103 Gilbert, Monson, and Grace complicate the narrative by illustrating the ways in which ordinary Tanzanians appropriated and transformed transportation technologies to pursue their own socioeconomic interests. Monson succinctly argued that Tanzanian men and women were “not passive recipients of transportation infrastructure and technology,” but shaped those technologies “as they shaped their own lives.”104 For scholars interested in the symbolic nature of motoring and theorizing urban mobility and infrastructure, they should reference works by Andrew Burton, Andrew Ivaska, and Emily Callaci.105

The experiences and contributions of women and minority populations to the history of transportation in Tanzania remain two areas of rich research potential. There has been a tendency among historians of technology to focus on the ambitions, innovations, and experiences of white European and black African men. James Giblin and Joshua Grace offer insights into the ways in which female passengers and drivers used automobiles to pursue economic opportunities outside the confines of the formal economy and in opposition to social norms that attempted to restrict women to the home.106 Traveling by motor vehicle offered women unique opportunities to gain the knowledge, wealth, and self-reliance needed to establish livelihoods independent of male authority. Female mobility often aggravated social tensions by undercutting the authority of men and challenging discourses of gender differences. Indian businessmen, meanwhile, fulfilled integral roles in the history of caravan, railway, and automotive transport. More research is needed on the contributions of South Asians to the history of transportation in Tanzania, as well as the contradictory ways in which ownership and usage of transportation technologies shaped ideas of South Asian identity and belonging to the colonial and postcolonial nation.

Primary Sources

Scholars interested in caravan and porterage histories prior to the 19th century should consult oral traditions and archeological sources. There are also a host of primary source documents concerning the East African coast written in Greek, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, French, and Swahili dating back to the 1st century. A selection of these documents can be found in G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville’s The East African Coast: Select Documents from the First to the Earlier Nineteenth Century.107 An important manuscript to consult regarding Swahili culture and travel is Mtoro bin Mwinyi Bakari’s The Customs of the Swahili People.108 From the 19th century to the colonial period, there are numerous published materials written by European explorers and missionaries that offer insights into coastal and inland transport. These include (but are not limited to) reports and journals produced by Frederic J. Elton, Friedrich Fülleborn, John Kirk, Chauncy Maples, H. E. O’Neill, Joseph Thomson, Richard Francis Burton, John Hanning Speke, David Livingstone, Henry Morton Stanley, Karl Weule, and Verney Lovett Cameron. Most of the materials are freely available on and Google Books. The main archival collections on missionary and philanthropic societies include the Church Mission Society (CMS) archive (University of Birmingham, United Kingdom); the London Missionary Society (LMS) archives (School of Oriental and African Studies, London); the White Fathers Archive (Rome, Italy); and the Royal Museum for Central Africa Archives (Tervuren, Belgium).

National archives remain the main source for primary materials produced during the colonial and independence eras. The Tanzania National Archives (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) contains documents from the German, British, and independence periods. Additional records from the independence era are accessible at the archive in Dodoma, Tanzania. Access to Tanzanian archives is granted by the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH). The Zanzibar National Archive is another essential repository for researchers interested in shipping histories and/or 19th-century trade relations. Other important archives include the British National Archives (Kew, United Kingdom), Bundesarchiv (various locations in Germany), and the US National Archives (College Park, Maryland). It is advisable to begin researching records produced by railway authorities, the Public Work Department, territorial-wide and regional annual reports, and records specifically addressing infrastructure development schemes. Scholars, however, should note that discussions of transportation infrastructures and technologies appear in a wide array of government reports ostensibly focusing on labor, economic development schemes, indigenous uprisings, military campaigns, famine relief measures, resettlement operations, and border relations.

In addition to the national archives, the Institution of Civil Engineers (London, United Kingdom) offers a wealth of materials written by British engineers concerning infrastructure problems and innovations in overseas colonies. Bodleian Libraries Commonwealth and African Collections (University of Oxford, United Kingdom) maintain personal papers and transcripts of interviews with former colonial officials stationed in Tanzania. These documents provide unique insights into colonial administrators’ everyday experiences and frustrations with Tanzanian transportation. Newspapers produced in Tanzania, such as the Nationalist and the Tanganyika Standard, similarly offer insights into the experiences, reactions, and reflections of ordinary Tanzanians toward transportation facilities in their communities and nation. Finally, it is impossible to overstate the importance of collecting oral histories in order to better understand the histories, lived experiences, and contested discourses involving transportation in Tanzania from the perspective of ordinary men and women.

Further Reading

  • Alpers, Edward. Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
  • Brennan, James R. Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012.
  • Chiteji, Frank M. The Development and Socio-Economic Impact of Transportation in Tanzania, 1884–Present. Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1980.
  • Fair, Laura. Reel Pleasures: Cinema Audiences and Entrepreneurs in Twentieth-Century Urban Tanzania. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2018.
  • Giblin, James L. A History of the Excluded: Making Family a Refuge from State in Twentieth-Century Tanzania. Oxford: James Currey, 2005.
  • Gilbert, Erik. Dhows and the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar, 1860–1970. Oxford: James Currey, 2004.
  • Grace, Joshua. “Heroes of the Road: Race, Gender and the Politics of Mobility in Twentieth-Century Tanzania.” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 83, no. 3 (August 2013): 403–425.
  • Grace, Joshua. “Modernization Bubu: Cars, Roads, and the Politics of Development in Tanzania, 1870s–1980s.” PhD diss., Michigan State University, 2013.
  • Hofmeier, Rolf. Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania: With Particular Reference to Roads and Road Transport. Munich: Weltforum Verlag, 1973.
  • Iliffe, John. A Modern History of Tanganyika. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979.
  • Ivaska, Andrew. Cultured States: Youth, Gender, and Modern Style in 1960s Dar es Salaam. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011.
  • Koponen, Juhani. Development for Exploitation: German Colonial Policies in Mainland Tanzania, 1884–1914. Helsinki: Tiedekirja, 1994.
  • Monson, Jamie. Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.
  • Pouwels, Randall L. “Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean to 1800: Reviewing Relations in Historical Perspective.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 35, no. 2–3 (2002): 385–425.
  • Prestholdt, Jeremy. Domesticating the World: African Consumerism and the Genealogies of Globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.
  • Rockel, Stephen J. Carriers of Culture: Labor on the Road in Nineteenth-Century East Africa. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006.
  • Sheriff, Abdul. Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873. London: James Currey, 1987.
  • Sheriff, Abdul. Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam. London: C. Hurst, 2010.
  • Streit, Katie Valliere. “South Asian Entrepreneurs in the Automotive Age: Negotiating a Place of Belonging in Colonial and Postcolonial Tanzania.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 13, no. 3 (2019): 525–545.
  • Sunseri, Thaddeus. Vilimani: Labor Migration and Rural Change in Early Colonial Tanzania. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002.


  • 1. Isaria N Kimambo, Gregory H. Maddox, and Salvatory S. Nyanto, A New History of Tanzania (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Mkuki Na Nyota, 2017), 19.

  • 2. Edward Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), 5; Andrea Seligman, “Encircling Value: Rufiji Ruvuma Communities, Trade, and the Wider East African – Indian Ocean World, c. 0–1700 C.E.” (PhD diss., Northwestern University, 2014); and Kimambo, Maddox, and Nyanto, A New History of Tanzania, 75.

  • 3. John Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 15; and Rolf Hofmeier, Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania: With Particular Reference to Roads and Road Transport (Munich: Weltforum Verlag, 1973), 59–60.

  • 4. Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika, 45–48; Beverly Brown and Walter T. Brown, “East African Trade Towns: A Shared Growth,” in A Century of Change in Eastern Africa, ed. William Arens (Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter Mouton, 1976), 187; and Stephen J. Rockel, Carriers of Culture: Labor on the Road in Nineteenth-Century East Africa (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006).

  • 5. Edward Alpers, Ivory and Slaves in East Central Africa (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), 5.

  • 6. Gregory Maddox, “Networks and Frontiers in Colonial Tanzania,” Environmental History 3, no. 4 (1998): 436–459, 440.

  • 7. Abdul Sheriff, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam (London: C. Hurst, 2010), 15–78; and Randall L. Pouwels, “Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean to 1800: Reviewing Relations in Historical Perspective,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 35, no. 2–3 (2002): 388–389.

  • 8. Pouwels, “Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean,” 391–394 (quote); Sheriff, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean, 79–130; and Erik Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy of Zanzibar, 1860–1970 (Oxford: James Currey, 2004), 36–41.

  • 9. Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika, 36; Alpers, Ivory and Slaves, 40; and Pouwels, “Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean,” 385–387.

  • 10. Felicitas Becker, “The History of Islam in East Africa,” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (2018).

  • 11. Seligman, “Encircling Value,” 136–137.

  • 12. Seligman, “Encircling Value,” 137; and Sheriff, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean.

  • 13. Sheriff, Dhow Cultures of the Indian Ocean.

  • 14. Erik Gilbert, “Coastal East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean: Long-Distance Trade, Empire, Migration, and Regional Unity, 1750–1970,” History Teacher 36, no. 1 (November 2002): 7–34.

  • 15. Abdul Sheriff, Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873 (London: James Currey, 1987), 1; Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy, 57; and Martha Spencer Honey, “A History of Indian Merchant Capital and Class Formation in Tanganyika c. 1840–1940” (PhD diss., University of Dar es Salaam, 1982), 40–48.

  • 16. Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy, 58.

  • 17. Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy, 51.

  • 18. Maddox, “Networks and Frontiers,” 441.

  • 19. Gwyn Campbell, “The East African Slave Trade, 1861–1895: The ‘Southern Complex,’” International Journal of African Historical Studies 22, no. 1 (1989): 23.

  • 20. R. W. Beachey, “The East African Ivory Trade in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of African History 8, no. 2 (1967): 289.

  • 21. Brown and Brown, “East African Trade Towns,” 183.

  • 22. Brown and Brown, “East African Trade Towns,” 198.

  • 23. Brown and Brown, “East African Trade Towns.”

  • 24. Brown and Brown, “East African Trade Towns,” 190–195.

  • 25. Kimambo, Maddox, and Nyanto, A New History of Tanzania, 92–93; Edward A. Alpers, “Trade, State, and Society among the Yao in the Nineteenth Century,” Journal of African History 10, no. 3 (1969): 405–420; Terence Ranger, “European Attitudes and African Realities: The Rise and Fall of the Matola Chiefs of Southeast Africa,” Journal of African History 20, no. 1 (1979): 63–82; and Felicitas Becker, “Traders, ‘Big Men’ and Prophets: Political Continuity and Crisis in the Maji Maji Rebellion in Southeast Tanzania,” Journal of African History 45 (2004): 1–22.

  • 26. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, rev. ed. (London: Verso, 1991), 163–185; and Richard L. Kagan, “Projecting Order,” in Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader, ed. Jordana Dym and Karl Offen (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 46–50.

  • 27. Katie Valliere Streit, “Beyond Borders: A History of Mobility, Labor, and Imperialism in Southern Tanzania” (PhD diss., University of Houston, 2016), 16.

  • 28. Maddox, “Networks and Frontiers in Colonial Tanzania,” 437.

  • 29. Kimambo, Maddox, and Nyanto, A New History of Tanzania, 116.

  • 30. Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy, 96.

  • 31. Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy, 111.

  • 32. Gilbert, Dhows and the Colonial Economy, 158–160.

  • 33. Daniel R. Headrick, The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981); Daniel R. Headrick, The Tentacles of Progress: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850–1940: Technology Transfer in the Age of Imperialism, 1850–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989); and Casper Anderson, British Engineers and Africa, 1875–1914 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011).

  • 34. Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika, 136.

  • 35. Jamie Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway: How a Chinese Development Project Changed Lives and Livelihoods in Tanzania (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 17.

  • 36. Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway.

  • 37. Thaddeus Sunseri, Vilimani: Labor Migration and Rural Change in Early Colonial Tanzania (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2002), 93.

  • 38. Hofmeier, Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania, 60.

  • 39. Sunseri, Vilimani, 70.

  • 40. Sunseri, Vilimani, 57–58.

  • 41. Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika, 46; Sunseri, Vilimani, 56–71; and Rockel, Carriers of Culture, 179–195, 235–236.

  • 42. Michael Pesek, “The War of Legs: Transport and Infrastructure in the East African Campaign of World War I,” Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies 5, no. 2 (June 2015): 102–120; and David Killingray, “Labour Exploitation for Military Campaigns in British Colonial Africa 1870–1945,” Journal of Contemporary History 24 (1989): 483–501.

  • 43. Pesek, “The War of Legs,” 113–120; G. W. T. Hodges, “African Manpower Statistics for the British Forces in East Africa, 1914–1918,” Journal of African History 19, no. 1 (1978): 101–116; Ross Anderson, The Forgotten Front: The East African Campaign 1914–1918 (Stroud, UK: Tempus Publishing, 2004), 296; Edward Paice, World War I, The African Front: An Imperial War on the African Continent (New York: Pegasus Books, 2008), 280–290, 389; and Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika, 250–251.

  • 44. Killingray, “Labour Exploitation for Military Campaigns,” 495; and Gregory Maddox, “Mtunya: Famine in Central Tanzania, 1917-20,” The Journal of African History 31, no. 2 (1990): 181–197.

  • 45. Maddox, “Mtunya,” 181.

  • 46. Hofmeier, Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania, 67.

  • 47. Joshua Grace, “Modernization Bubu: Cars, Roads, and the Politics of Development in Tanzania, 1870s–1980s” (PhD diss., Michigan State University, 2013), 74–75.

  • 48. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 76–77; and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 158–220.

  • 49. Jan-Bald Gewald, “Missionaries, Hereros, and Motorcars: Mobility and the Impact of Motor Vehicles in Namibia Before 1940,” International Journal of Historical Studies 35, no. 2–3 (2002): 257–285; Erdmute Alber, “Motorization and Colonial Rule: Two Scandals in Dahomey, 1916,” Journal of African Cultural Studies 15, no. 1 (2002): 79–92; Jan-Bart Gewald, Sabine Luning, and Klass van Walraven, eds., The Speed of Change: Motor Vehicles and People in Africa, 1890–2000 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2009); Libbie Freed, “Networks of (Colonial) Power: Roads in French Central Africa after World War I,” History and Technology 26, no. 3 (2010): 203–223; Joshua Grace, “Heroes of the Road: Race, Gender and the Politics of Mobility in Twentieth Century Tanzania,” Africa: The Journal of the International African Institute 83, no. 3 (August 2013): 403–425; Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 49–104; and Jennifer A. Hart, Ghana on the Go!: African Mobility in the Age of Motor Transportation (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016).

  • 50. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 51.

  • 51. Kwabena Opare Akurang-Parry, “Colonial Forced Labour Policies for Road-Building in Southern Ghana and International Anti-Forced Labor Pressures, 1900–1940,” African Economic History 28 (2000): 1–25.

  • 52. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 49–105; and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 144–217.

  • 53. James L. Giblin, A History of the Excluded: Making Family a Refuge from State in Twentieth-Century Tanzania (Oxford: James Currey, 2005), 111; and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 260–295.

  • 54. Giblin, History of the Excluded, 111–131.

  • 55. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 251.

  • 56. Andrew Burton, African Underclass: Urbanisation, Crime & Colonial Order in Dar es Salaam (London: British Institute of Eastern Africa, 2005), 22; and Andrew Ivaska, Cultured States: Youth, Gender, and Modern Style in 1960s Dar es Salaam (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 7.

  • 57. Giblin, History of the Excluded, 130–133.

  • 58. Burton, African Underclass, 165.

  • 59. Burton, African Underclass, 241–273.

  • 60. Laura Fair, Reel Pleasures: Cinema Audiences and Entrepreneurs in Twentieth-Century Urban Tanzania (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2018), 10.

  • 61. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 124.

  • 62. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 127; and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 345–359.

  • 63. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 189.

  • 64. Edward A. Alpers, “Gujarat and the Trade of East Africa, c. 1500–1800,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 9, no. 1 (1976): 22–24; Alpers, Ivory and Slaves, 86–88; James R. Brennan, “South Asian Nationalism in an East African Context: The Case of Tanganyika, 1914–1956,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 19, no. 2 (1999): 24; Robert G. Gregory, India and East Africa: A History of Race Relations with the British Empire, 1890–1939 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971); Honey, “A History of Indian Merchant Capital,” 56–58, 72–73; Gijsbert Oonk, Settled Strangers: Asian Business Elites in East Africa (1800–2000) (Los Angeles: SAGE, 2013); and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 65–75.

  • 65. Brennan, “South Asian Nationalism,” 25.

  • 66. Gregory, India and East Africa, 484 (statistic); and Gijsbert Oonk, The Karimjee Jivanjee Family: Merchant Princes of East Africa 1800–2000 (Amsterdam: Pallas Publications, 2009), 58–60.

  • 67. Katie Valliere Streit, “South Asian Entrepreneurs in the Automotive Age: Negotiating a Place of Belonging in Colonial and Postcolonial Tanzania,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 13, no. 3 (2019): 525–545.

  • 68. Streit, “South Asian Entrepreneurs in the Automotive Age,” 8.

  • 69. Hofmeier, Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania, 37–38.

  • 70. Hofmeier, Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania, 63; Gordon Pirie, Air Empire: British Imperial Civil Aviation 1919–1939 (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2009), 225; and Michael Dale Collins, “Forging a Modern Empire of the Air: Race and Gender in Early British Aeronautics, 1908–1933” (PhD diss., University of California Davis, 2014). There were at least 123 civil airports and airstrips operating in mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar by the 1970s, eighteen of which were regularly served by East African Airways domestic flights. The airports at Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro handled international traffic from a total of sixteen foreign airlines.

  • 71. Hofmeier, Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania, 83, 210, 227.

  • 72. The following discussion of the TAZARA railway is derived from Jamie Monson’s analysis in Africa’s Freedom Railway.

  • 73. Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway, 21.

  • 74. Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway, 74.

  • 75. Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway, 9–10.

  • 76. Fair, Reel Pleasures, 233.

  • 77. Fair, Reel Pleasures, 221–222.

  • 78. Fair, Reel Pleasures, 4.

  • 79. Fair, Reel Pleasures, 241.

  • 80. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 251.

  • 81. Streit, “South Asian Entrepreneurs in the Automotive Age,” 233–234.

  • 82. James R. Brennan, “Blood Enemies: Exploitation and Urban Citizenship in the Nationalist Political Thought of Tanzania, 1958–75,” The Journal of African History 47, no. 3 (November 2006): 389–413, 395–400; James R. Brennan, Taifa: Making Nation and Race in Urban Tanzania (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2012), 160–177; Priya Lal, “Between the Village and the World: Imagining and Practicing Development in Tanzania, 1964–1975” (PhD diss., New York University, 2011), 156–157; and Fair, Reel Pleasures, 21.

  • 83. Streit, “South Asian Entrepreneurs in the Automotive Age,” 525–545.

  • 84. Ivaska, Cultured States, 122–123.

  • 85. Ivaska, Cultured States, 99–100; and Emily Callaci, Street Archives and City Life: Popular Intellectuals in Postcolonial Tanzania (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017), 54.

  • 86. Ivaska, Cultured States, 104.

  • 87. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 240–241.

  • 88. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 240.

  • 89. Priya Lal, African Socialism in Postcolonial Tanzania: Between the Village and the World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 153.

  • 90. Lal, “Between the Village and the World,” 212–213.

  • 91. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 269–270.

  • 92. Giblin, History of the Excluded, 257–259; Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 143–149; and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 360–362.

  • 93. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 142–144.

  • 94. Grace, “Modernization Bubu,” 134–135, 150.

  • 95. Matteo Rizzo, “The Groundnut Scheme Revisited: Colonial Disaster and African Accumulation in Nachingwea District, Southeastern Tanzania, 1946–1967” (PhD diss., School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2004), 176–178; Oonk, Settled Strangers, 216–222; and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 364–371.

  • 96. Rizzo, “The Groundnut Scheme Revisited,” 176–178; and Streit, “Beyond Borders,” 371.

  • 97. Matteo Rizzo, Taken for a Ride: Grounding Neoliberalism, Precarious Labour, and Public Transport in an African Metropolis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017).

  • 98. Matteo Rizzo, “Life Is War: Informal Transport Workers and Neoliberalism in Tanzania 1998–2009,” Development and Change 42, no. 5 (2009): 1184.

  • 99. A few of the texts include Thaddeus Sunseri, Wielding the Ax: State Forestry and Social Conflict in Tanzania, 1820–2000 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2009), 104–116; Kirk Arden Hoppe, Lords of the Fly: Sleeping Sickness Control in British East Africa, 1900–1960 (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003); Rohland Schuknecht, British Colonial Development Policy after the Second World War: The Case of Sukumaland, Tanganyika (Münster, Germany: LIT Verlag, 2010); and Julie M. Weiskopf, “Resettling Buha: A Social History of Resettled Communities in Kigoma Region, Tanzania, 1933–1975” (PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 2011).

  • 100. Hofmeier, Transport and Economic Development in Tanzania.

  • 101. Iliffe, A Modern History of Tanganyika, 278.

  • 102. Rockel, Carriers of Culture, 4–33.

  • 103. For sources concerned with “tools of empire,” endnote reference 33.

  • 104. Monson, Africa’s Freedom Railway, 122.

  • 105. Burton, African Underclass; Ivaska, Cultured States; and Callaci, Street Archives and City Life.

  • 106. Giblin, History of the Excluded, 138–155; and Grace, “Heroes of the Road,” 403–425.

  • 107. G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, The East African Coast: Select Documents from the First to the Earlier Nineteenth Century (London: Collings, 1975).

  • 108. Mtoro Bin Mwinyi Bakari, The Customs of the Swahili People: The Desturi Za Waswahili of Mtoro Bin Mwinyi Bakari and other Swahili Persons, ed. J. W. T. Allen (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).