Center of History and Cultural Anthropology
Institute for African Studies of The Russian Academy of Sciences
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April 11, 2023 April 11, 2023 Presentation by Ivanchenko O.V. in the framework of the scientific seminar "Culture and Society"

On April 11, 2023, in the framework of the seminar “Culture and Society” of the Center of History and Cultural Anthropology, Oksana Ivanchenko presented a report “Remembering the leaders of Tanganyika: Arab-Swahili slave trade and the contamination of slave trade and colonial discourses in modern Tanzania”. The report was based on the results of 5 years of field researches conducted in Tanzania by members of the center, Ivanchenko O.V., Banshchikova A.A. and Bryndina V.N. The study was devoted to the memories of modern Tanzanians about the Arab-Swahili slave trade of the 19th century and their impact on contemporary interethnic relations in the country.

The report was focused on the participation of local leaders in the slave trade, the author has given brief historical background of particular chiefs whose involvement in this business is reflected in written sources. In addition to the analysis of the array of respondents' answers, the most common stories of the oral tradition were presented.

It turned out that Tanzanians don’t have any negative feelings towards local leaders and tribes who participated in the slave trade, this fact is widely known, almost no one denies it, and stories about it are reflected in school textbooks and museum expositions. The figures of the final summarizing of particular personalities mentioned by the respondents were presented and the results were compared with historical reality. The most interesting outcome showed that during the interviews entirely devoted to the slave trade, respondents repeatedly named leaders who became famous for resisting German colonization, answering the question about the chiefs involved in the slave trade. The number of mentions of the leaders of anticolonial resistance made more than half of the number of mentions of slave traders.

Thus, the contamination of the slave trade discourse with the colonial one is very significant, this is confirmed by the conclusions drawn from other surveys and field research materials. For Tanzanians, the history of resistance to colonial rule and gaining independence is much more important and relevant than memories of the slave trade. In fact, the national history of Tanzania begins with the struggle for independence. Therefore, the heroes of the anti-colonial resistance remain honored leaders for the Tanzanians, and the colonial discourse remains crucial.