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History of Tanzania

The History of Tanzania

The cradle of mankind
Tanzania is home to some of the oldest human settlements on earth. Fossils found in and around Ol Duvai Gorge in northern Tanzania (an area often referred to as "The Cradle of Mankind") include Paranthropus bones thought to be over 2 million years old. Also in Ol Duvai are the oldest known footprints of the immediate ancestors of humans. Known as the Laetoli footprints, they are estimated to be about 3.6 million years old.

The hunter-gatherers are replaced by the Cushitic, Bantu and Nilotic peoples
10,000 years ago, Tanzania is thought to have been populated by hunter-gatherer communities, probably Khoisan speaking people. Between three and six thousand years ago, they were joined by Cushitic-speaking people who came from the north and introduced basic techniques of agriculture, food production, and later, cattle farming.

About 2000 years ago, Bantu-speaking people began to arrive from western Africa and developed ironworking skills and new ideas of social and political organization. Later, Nilotic pastoralists arrived and continued to migrate to the area until the18th century.

The early coastal history
Travelers and merchants from the Persian Gulf and Western India began visiting the East African coast early in the first millennium CE and by the beginning of the second millennium CE the coastal Swahili towns were conducting a thriving trade between Africa and the other countries that bordered the Indian Ocean. From c. 1200 to 1500 CE, the town of Kilwa, on Tanzania's southern coast, became the centre of what was termed the "golden age" of Swahili civilization. Islam was practiced on the Swahili coast as early as the eighth or ninth century CE.[

The arrival of the Portuguese
In 1498 Vasco da Gama became the first known European to reach the East African coast, and by 1525 the Portuguese had subdued the entire coast. Portuguese control lasted until the early 18th century, when Arabs from Oman established a foothold in the region. Assisted by Omani Arabs, the indigenous coastal dwellers succeeded in driving the Portuguese from the area north of the Ruvuma River by the early 18th century. Claiming the coastal strip, Omani Sultan Seyyid Said moved his capital to Zanzibar City in 1840. He focused on the island and developed trade routes that stretched as far as Lake Tanganyika and Central Africa. During this time, Zanzibar became the center for the Arab slave trade.

Dr Livingstone I presume
European exploration of the interior began in the mid-19th century. In 1848 the German missionary Johannes Rebmann became the first European to see Mount Kilimanjaro. British explorers Richard Burton and John Speke crossed the interior to Lake Tanganyika in 1857. In January 1866 the Scottish explorer and missionary David Livingstone, who crusaded against the slave trade, went to Zanzibar, from where he set out to seek the source of the Nile, and established his last mission at Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. After having lost contact with the outside world for years, he was "found" there on November 10, 1871. Henry Morton Stanley, who had been sent in a publicity stunt to find him by the New York Herald newspaper greeted him with the now famous words "Dr Livingstone, I presume?"

German colonial rule
By 1885 Germany began to take over the region led by a man named Karl Peters, who formed the German East Africa Company (Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft). Peters persuaded African chiefs to make treaties with his company. Legally Peters acted independently of the German government. Nevertheless his government approved his actions.
Meanwhile the British had taken control of the island of Zanzibar. In 1890 Britain and Germany signed a treaty dividing the area between them. Britain took Zanzibar and Germany took mainland Tanzania. Then in January 1891 the German government took direct control of Tanzania.

Tanzanian resistance to German rule
Tanzanian resistance to German rule was fierce. The first uprising was the Abushiri revolt of 1888, followed by the Hehe wars, which lasted from 1891 to 1898. In 1905-07 came the Maji Maji rebellion, which was only crushed after the Germans adopted a 'scorched earth' policy. At least 100,000 people died both as a result of the fighting and as a result of starvation.

Tanzania in the First World War
In 1914 came the First World War. In Tanzania a small German force was led by Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, who waged a guerilla war with the British until German surrender in 1918.

Tanzania under British Rule
Tanzania (then known as Tanganyika) then came under British colonial rule. In 1925 Sir Donald Cameron became the first governor. In 1926 a legislative council met.

The struggle for Independence
In 1953 Julius Nyerere was elected president of the Tanganyika African Association. In 1954 it was renamed the Tanzania African National Union. It campaigned for independence with the slogan Freedom and Unity (Uhuu na Umoja). The National Union participated in elections for the legislative council in 1958 and 1959. However two-thirds of the seats were reserved for non-Africans.In 1960 that restriction was removed and in an election TANU won almost all the seats.

Independence in 1961
The move to independence was now unstoppable and Tanzania became independent on 9 December 1961 with Nyerere as prime minister. On 9 December 1962 Tanzania became a republic and Nyerere became president.

Modern Tanzania
In 1967 Nyerere adopted a policy of socialism. The cornerstone of his policy ‘Ujamaa' (family hood) called for the establishment of huge collective farms while the people were encouraged to move into large ‘collectives'. The policy proved ineffective and the Tanzanian economy suffered. Despite the failure of the collectivization policy, by 1977 about 80% of the population had been resettled. In 1975 Tanzania became a one-party state. In 1985, Nyerere was forced to resign his presidency to be replaced by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, who spent the next 10 years trying to repair the Tanzanian economy. In 1992 Tanzania became a multi-party democracy and in 1995 Benjamin Mkapa became president. In 2005 Jakaya Kikwete was elected president.


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