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“A rough-and-tumble business”? – The Arab-Swahili Long-Distance Trade and the Mweru-Tanganyika Corridor from c.1850 to c.1900

Collins, Jonathon (2014) “A rough-and-tumble business”? – The Arab-Swahili Long-Distance Trade and the Mweru-Tanganyika Corridor from c.1850 to c.1900. Master of Arts by Research (MARes) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:49008)

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East-Central Africa in the nineteenth-century was a region riven with internal discord, which was accentuated by intrusive foreign groups that prolonged and worsened the violence and rivalries that punctuated everyday life. The Arab-Swahili of Africa’s east coast were one of the most prominent of these groups and acted primarily as traders and merchants, seeking to export the commodities of the African interior, such as ivory and slaves, to the markets of the world.

This thesis will examine the Arab-Swahili traders and their activities in a specific region of the East-Central African interior, namely the Mweru-Tanganyika Corridor. This region of elevated, marshy land is situated between lakes Tanganyika and Mweru and represents one of the first places where the Arab-Swahili directly entered African political life, dominating the land themselves as political elites, rather than simply trading with the pre-existing African authorities. Mweru-Tanganyika is amongst the best places in Central Africa to explore the impact of coastal activities upon the indigenous peoples of Africa, with the Arab-Swahili exploiting both internal political divisions and the abundant natural resources.

In many ways the Corridor was exactly as its name suggests; a route between various chiefdoms, polities, ethnic groups, and spheres of control, used, and abused, by almost every resident group and external intruder. It was the site of continuous interaction between several different parties during the nineteenth-century, including: Central African chiefdoms and polities; coastal traders and their roving bands of ruga-ruga mercenaries; and Europeans, including both early explorers and missionary groups, and later colonial representatives of the British, Germans and Belgian-owned Congo Free State.

The focus of this work is the Arab-Swahili traders; the items and commodities they traded; their methods of military, political and economic control; and their relationships with both the African peoples of Mweru-Tanganyika and the Europeans who began to enter the region in the nineteenth-century.

Item Type: Thesis (Master of Arts by Research (MARes))
Thesis advisor: Macola, Giacomo
Uncontrolled keywords: Africa, Arab-Swahili, Long-distance trade, Tippu Tip, Congo Free State, Tanganyika, Mweru, Mweru-Tanganyika Corridor, Central Africa, Pre-colonial Africa, British Central Africa
Subjects: D History General and Old World
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2015 11:00 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:25 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Collins, Jonathon.

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