Nyamwezi is the collective name for a number of Bantu-speaking groups in central Tanzania who share a similar language and similar cultural background with each other, but never existed as a common social group. The term was created by the contact of the inhabitants of the western central Tanzania with Swahili traders and travelers in the 19th century. These designated people within the country as Nyamwezi, which means " people from the moon" means.
History to 1800
Information about the early history of Nyamwezi are vague and uncertain. Oral traditions indicate their colonization of today Unyamwezi in the central highlands of Tanzania around 1600. Presumably they lived in the barren area between Lake Victoria and Lake Rukwa primarily as fishermen, farmers and pastoralists. They formed small, politically independent groups chiefdoms, some of which grew on the one hand and strengthened, others were short-lived. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Nyamwezi were famous for their large, affluent households with many slaves and for their impressive herds of cattle, which allowed them to take care of professional cattle breeders, Tutsi, in client relationships.
They have quite early as middlemen in trade between Central Africa, in particular Katanga, and have served the coast. Acted was primarily with salt, copper, ivory and slaves. Even before 1800, the first Nyamwezi caravan reached the coast, among other goods, they also led some tusks with it.
The Century of the caravan trade
In the early 19th century there was a series of powerful companies, such Unyamyembe and Urambo who took a central role in the East African caravan trade in the region. As the demand for slaves for the clove plantations of Zanzibar and ivory as an export to surge through the influence of the Sultan of Oman, who had moved his headquarters to the island of Zanzibar, which led to an expansion of the caravan trade in East Africa. The swahilisch -Arab caravans continued the trade networks of Africans in the country, as well as to that of the Nyamwezi. They established trading stations in Germany, such as Tabora in Unyamwezi, and tried, often successfully, to influence the social and political developments in the societies.
The Nyamwezi participated in the caravan trade a determining role. They provided the caravans of the coast on one side with goods such as slaves and ivory, but upgraded the other hand also own caravans and traveled with the merchandise to the coast. Working as a carrier and traveling with a caravan to the East African coast was at the Nyamwezi to Mannbarkeitsprüfung, they contributed to the prosperity and helped to social prestige.
Firearms, which came increasingly through the rain contact with the coastal traders into the country, changed the societies in Unyamwezi. Ntemi ( chiefs ) as Mirambo increased by the acquisition of firearms on quickly. They built standing armies (see Rugaruga ) and so broke the previous social order, which was based on the principle of reciprocity and seniority.