Returning to Bagamoyo: A Journey of Historical Reckoning

It's December 19, 2023. I am visiting Bagamoyo for the first time in more than 20 years. My last trip to this Tanzanian historical town took place in 2002. As I reminisce about that weekend getaway, I recall losing my loaded wallet in the ocean. How did I drop a cash-stuffed wallet in the ocean? The circumstances behind the displacement of the wallet in question created a long, insignificant story that should be swept under the carpet. 

Losing a wallet was nothing compared to the tragedy that spoiled my first-ever visit in 1996. The '96 incident is the only episode I would rather erase from my travel chronicles. My inability to save the life of the boy I swam with on that dark day is still haunting me. Long story short, a fellow beachgoer drowned, turning a festive atmosphere into a somber one. 

Today, I won't challenge the sheer power of the Indian Ocean waves. After all, I have a lot of history lessons to soak up. My itinerary includes extensive tours of Kaole Ruins, Old Town and the Catholic Museum.    

Bagamoyo is home to one of the most intriguing historical sites in Africa. I am looking forward to a pilgrimage-like experience at Kaole's 13th-century mosque and tombs. While strolling the streets of Old Town, I am planning to visit the Old Fort, the slave market and the German colonial governor's castle. When I finally step on the premises of the oldest church in East Africa, I will learn one or two things about the introduction of Christianity in the region. 

Over the next seven days or so, I will be publishing pieces highlighting my tour of Bagamoyo. Once again, I will cover the two topics I hate most: Slave trade and colonialism. Furthermore, I am scheduled to look into the history of both Islam and Christianity in this part of Africa.

Later in the evening, I will kick back on the beach and nurse some coconut juice. However, as hinted earlier, swimming is out of the picture this time around. 1996 sounds like a medieval year, but I am still traumatized.