"Lay down your heart"


Region: Pwani

Category: Historical town

To-do activities:

City tour, cultural tourism, swimming, photography, art exhibitions, beach activities

Best time to visit:

Throughout the year. 


Various hotels and bnbs available such as Firefly, Lazy Lagoon. 

About Bagamoyo

Well, where can I even start? Bagamoyo just has everything. This small town is rich in history, culture, and beautiful beaches. Once the capital of German East Africa, the history of Bagamoyo goes back to the 8th century when the town was just a small commercial hub 5 kilometers north of Swahili settlements called Kaole. By the 13th century, Kaole had developed into a significant economic hub and began to expand. Currently, two mosques and over 20 burials from the 13th century are among the remains found at the Kaole Ruins. The expansion became more rapid in the 17th century and ultimately, in the 18th century, Bagamoyo was formed, earning a name for itself as a significant caravan stop.

Bagamoyo became one of the most prominent commercial ports for Germans along the East African coast of the Indian Ocean during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries. Slaves, ivory, salt and other goods were unloaded here before being transported to Zanzibar and other European destinations. Although the name Bagamoyo has its roots in the Swahili language, its actual meaning and origin is disputed on whether it was conned by slaves meaning "lose all hope" - "bwaga moyo" - or by the caravan porters transporting goods from the interior to Zanzibar who were eager to "unload and rest" - "bwaga moyo". To the slaves, once someone was departed from Bagamoyo, there was no chance for them to return ever again. It was the end of the road!

The Bagamoyo majumbe - the local chiefs - gave the Catholic Fathers of the Holy Ghost land for a mission north of the town in 1868 - the first mission in East Africa. This led to opposition from the indigenous Zaramo people, which was handled by Sultan Majid's agents and, later, Sultan Barghash after 1870. The mission's original purpose was to lodge children who had been rescued from slavery, but it soon added a church, a school, as well as some crafts and farming initiatives. In 1892, Sewa Haji, a wealthy Muslim benefactor who amassed enormous wealth as the proprietor of various stores in Bagamoyo, caravan outfitters, and traders in textiles, copper, gunpowder, ivory, and rhinoceros, further donated 20,000 hectares of land in 1892 to help the mission extend its territory. He also donated the current Mwambao Primary School, a three-story multiracial school in the heart of Bagamoyo, and constructed the Bagamoyo Hospital, which was eventually taken over by the Germans.

Between 1886 to 1891, Bagamoyo served as the colony's first capital and the German headquarters of German East Africa (first under the direction of the German East African Company, later the German Imperial Government). In 1891, Dar es Salaam took over as the colony's new capital. Bagamoyo's significance started to wane when the Germans chose to construct a railway from Dar es Salaam into the interior in 1905. The town further continued to decline after the First World War when the Germans lost to the British and Bagamoyo was ultimately replaced, both politically and economically as a commercial hub, by Dar es Salaam.

Interesting facts about Bagamoyo

  • Bagamoyo is a Swahili word which means "bwaga moyo" or "lay down your heart"

  • It is home to the first Christian church on the East African mainland, a Roman catholic church that was built in 1868

  • It is the starting and ending point of several trips made by European explorers in Tanzania and Africa eg. Richard Burton, Henry Morton Stanley and John Speke

  • Bagamoyo is a hub/centre for building dhow sailboats

  • Between 1886 to 1891, Bagamoyo served as the colony's first capital and the German headquarters of German East Africa (first under the direction of the German East African Company, later the German Imperial Government).

Journey to Bagamoyo

Bagamoyo is found about 70 km north of the Tanzania business capital, Dar es Salaam. One may get there by road using public commuters - daladala - or private means of transport. Due to traffic and busy roads, it takes about 90 minutes to 2 hours to drive from Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo. Once you visit Bagamoyo, you may also visit the nearby Saadani National Park, which is about an hour's drive from Bagamoyo, as well as a park near Kaole to experience reptiles, camel rides, and several other games. The local markets and beaches are also a great getaway when you are there.

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