The old fort of Bagamoyo is the oldest of the many historical buildings that is located in the Old town section of the town of Bagamoyo. It was first established in the early 1860's by Abdallah Suleiman Marhabi, one of the first Arab traders in the area. Being a man who was not involved in slave trade, he used it as a market place where he traded his merchandise, before handing it over to Sultan Said Barghash when the chaos of the illegal slave trade began in the 1870's. By this time it was just a lone standing - two storey building which is nowadays the main building.
Over the next few years, the building was used as a last stop by slave traders and their caravans before boarding a ship for foreign countries or the slave market in Zanzibar. When the Germans took over the town in 1896, they changed the building into a garrison, constructing soldier's barracks as well as a wall around it. They also increased the height of the main building to three stories, with the second floor being an open roof that was used as a watch tower.
It wasn't until in 1919, after world war 1 and the takeover of the country by the British that the building's use was changed into a prison, something that continued even after the country got its independence from them in 1961. The British also converted the watch tower into a third floor by adding a roof. In 1974 (after independence), it became a police station for Bagamoyo town before finally being converted into a historical remains site in 1995.
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What to do at the building?
It is here where registration fees for the old town tour may be paid and also where you may find your guide for the tour which takes you through several points of the town. Then take a tour of the entire building, all the while receiving information about various events and equipment of the time from your guide. You also would receive a brief history of the town of Bagamoyo, including the struggles of the indigenous people, the Arabs, the Germans and the British.
The tour doesn't end here, so don't be in a hurry to leave afterwards as you still have about 4 more sites to visit, but remember to tip your guide afterwards as they all are volunteers.
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