The roles played by different tribes in the Long Distance Trade

The roles played by different tribes in the Long Distance Trade

Nyamwezi

  • The Nyamwezi offered market for goods from the coast.
  • On their return from the coast they always came with goods e.g. glass ware.
  • They lived in central Tanzania and they were 1st people to move to the coast in caravans around 1830.
  • The Nyamwezi acted as porters during the long distance trade and they enjoyed walking long distances.
  • The Nyamwezi also supplied commodities to the traders e.g. copper, ivory, bee wax, salt, slaves.
  • The Nyamwezi also controlled the biggest and the busiest route i.e. central trade route which linked Zaire / Katanga region, Bunyoro, Buganda to the East African coast.
  • They acted as translators and interpreters in bargaining or negotiations because some of them had learnt Kiswahili language through their travels and because they played a role of middle men.
  • The Nyamwezi also provided accommodation and lodging facilities to the long distance traders e.g. centers like Ujiji and Tabora.
  • They provided food stuffs and beverages to the coastal traders who penetrated into the interior.
  • The Nyamwezi under Mirambo and Nyungu ya mawe were great organizers of the L.D.T.
  • They built a large commercial empire in central Tanganyika.
  • The Nyamwezi also acted as guides and guards along the central trade route.

Why the Nyamwezi got involved in the L.D.T

  • The Nyamwezi lived in central Tanzania i.e. which gave them a middle man’s position between the coastal Arabs and the interior tribes.
  • Among the Nyamwezi society, division of labour existed i.e. the women were left at home to plant, weed and harvest while the men simply cleared gardens and then joined trading activities.
  • The Nyamwezi land was gifted with resources i.e. Ivory, Iron, copper, slaves, grains and hides which were highly demanded by the coastal traders.
  • The Nyamwezi occupied a region in central Tanganyika that experienced long drought and therefore couldn’t sustain them through farming hence resorting to trade with the coastal Arabs.
  • The Ngoni invasion of the Southern trade route led into an increase in the volume of trade on the central route and this gave the Nyamwezi prominence in the trade.
  • The introduction of guns also improved Nyamwezi’s hunt for elephants and slaves on top of improving security along the trade routes.
  • The Nyamwezi were surrounded by weak chiefdoms which made it very easy for them to attack and raid their neighbors for slaves.
  • The Nyamwezi were good at walking long distances and therefore they found no problem carrying heavy tusks to the coast.
  • Nyamwezi land was flat and since the journeys were so long, this eased the movement of caravans.
  • Nyamwezi were very ambitious people who would always exploit any opportunity that came their way to the maximum.
  • The emergence of Mirambo and Nyungu ya mawe also helped the Nyamwezi establish themselves as prominent long distance traders.