Storicamente. Laboratorio di storia
Muslim Traders
In this paper I will use the definition "Muslim traders" – or more in general "coastal traders" – to refer to the traders coming from the coast who operated in the interior. The sources I have used for this paper – which are mainly traveller and missionary reports – are generally silent on the origin of these traders, and call all of them with the broad term "Arabs". We know that the community of Muslim traders that settled in Tabora was mainly formed by traders coming from Oman. According to Burton, traders of coastal origin were instead settled in Msene, Western Unyamwezi, and had a "natural aversion" to the Omani traders living in Tabora [Burton 1859, 188]. There is still no comprehensive analysis of the historical categories of identity and self-identity that developed in the areas of the interior of nineteenth-century Tanzania, with the partial exception of Tabora [see McDow 2005]. Identities in this period were clearly fluid and a definition or "self-definition" as "Arab" could have different social and economic meanings and implications [McDow 2005, 39]. In the paper I have used "Arabs" only when this definition appears in contemporary European sources. The transliteration of Arabic names follows the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Three, Brill Online, 2012.