The history of East African costs goes back to as early as 8th Century. At the time when Persians came for trading followed by Chinese. The remarkable discovering of this area was done by Portuguese in 15th Century when Vasco Da Gama travelled and kept the routes records.
These interactions opened our Swahili coast as well, and Tanga as we know today had those interactions.
The earliest documentation about Tanga comes from the Portuguese. A trading post was established by the Portuguese as part of their East African coastal territory and controlled the region for over 200 years between 1500-1700.
The Sultanate of Oman battled the Portuguese and gained control of the settlement by mid 1700 along with Mombasa, Pemba Island and Kilwa Kisiwani. The town continued to act as a Trading port for Ivory and Slaves under the sultan’s rule.
Tanga continued to be a prosperous trading hub for slaves with the Arab world up until 1873 when the European powers abolished the slave trade.
To learn the history from the locals, I met Mr. Mohammed Mazige from Next Stop Tanzania also a curator for the Tanga Urithi Museum; the Only active museum in the region.
At Urithi museum they have focused on preserving the vanishing history of Tanga region and telling the stories via Photography and the Museum is hosted in the Old Diplomatic Building in Tanga which once hosted the first Commissioner of Tanga District. Below the house there used to have an Armoury for the soldiers to keep weapons. Here is the remaining shelf that were used to pack the weapons.
The Germans have contributed to 90% of what it is today known as Tanga. Below are few things that I would personally love to share.
Tanga wasn’t only the first district in the country but the first developed town. Tanga had the first sisal plantations, schools, hospitals, railways, library and many mores.
The main economic activity was sisal production that started by German. The seedlings for Tanga sisal were stolen from Mexico and took months to reach Tanga. Out of 1000 seedlings stolen only 66 of them made to the coast of East Africa in Tanga via Europe.
In addition Germans in 1890s built the Northern Railway to Moshi town. And the port at Tanga was the main trading port in the former German East Africa Colony.
After the first world war, Tanganyika was kept under British as a protectorate colony. Under this period the British collapsed some of German structures and kept few. However Tanga grew to the largest most advanced city in the country. After the independence the new government thirsty to develop other towns left Tanga to death.
Out all old industries in Tanga only Sisal Company and the Healtho Beverage company exist to this day.
There is deeper knowledge that I can’t fully describe in here. It’s best if you take your visit to Tanga and stop by at Urithi Museum.