All you need to know about Tabora (Kazeh)

Dr Livingstone House at Kwihara in Tabora

Dr David livingstone's house Kwihara TaboraTabora is the capital city of Tanzania‘s Tabora Region with a population of 127,880 (2002 census).Tabora region is one of the largest geographical regions of Tanzania.


Tabora was founded by Arab traders in the 1850s (known back then as Kazeh) and became a centre of the slave trade. In 1871 the place was devastated by the forces of the Wanyamwezi ruler Mirambo. Although the German East Africa protectorate was proclaimed over the region in 1885, as late as 1891 travellers reported it to be a lawless town and the German colonial administration did not gain control of it until later that year. It then became the most important administrative centre of central German East Africa.

During the East African Campaign of World War I colonial armed forces of the Belgian Congo (‘Force Publique’) under the command of General Tombeur captured the city on 19 September 1916 after some heavy fighting.

Food and Culture

Tabora’s streets are lined with century old Mango trees planted by Omani traders. Known as the fruit capitol of Western Tanzania, markets are often filled with local produce.


Tabora is the administrative capitol of Tabora Region. On evenings, locals can choose from a variety of options including Club Bubbles and Club Royal. Located a mere 1 km apart, this region of the city remains active until church services begin on Sunday mornings.


A Tarmac road from Nzega district connect Tabora to the capital Dodoma and to Mwanza in the north. Salt flats in the west prevent a direct road from connecting to Kigoma.

Tabora is a junction on the Central railway line which goes west to Lake Tanganyika and north to the port of Mwanza on Lake Victoria.

Tabora also hosts a ballast quarry.




a1 University of Toronto


From the beginning of the nineteenth century, Nyamwezi long-distance trading caravans dominated the central routes through Tanzania, stretching from Mrima coast ports such as Bagamoyo and Saadani to Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika. Despite the inroads of Omani Arab and Swahili trading enterprises from the middle of the century, the Nyamwezi maintained a position of strength. In the second half of the nineteenth century, market relations emerged as the dominant form of economic organization along the central routes, although the market for many commodities was clearly fractured by transport difficulties, and non-market relations frequently substituted for weakly developed commercial institutions and tools. Most caravan porters in nineteenth-century Tanzania were free wage workers, and nearly all were clearly migrant or itinerant labourers. The development of a labour market for caravan porters was an early and significant stage in the transition to capitalism, which began in a period of violence and political upheaval. Clearly, this has implications for how scholars should view broader processes of economic transformation prior to the imposition of colonial rule, which cut short a series of significant indigenous innovations.

The argument that porters were mostly wage labourers rests on evidence that their labour was bought and sold according to fluctuating labour market conditions. Market conditions in the second half of the nineteenth century shows a broadly rising demand for porters, a demand that could only be met if caravan operators offered adequate wages and observed the customs established within porter work culture. Thus, market conditions along the central routes contributed to the development of a free wage labour, characterized by a unique labour culture.


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