The contributions of Tippu Tip to the development of long-distance trade in East Africa

Tippu Tip was born in 1830 in Zanzibar, the name Tippu Tip was given to him as a nickname due to the sound made by his gun. His real name was Mohammed Bin Hamid born to a father a trader and a farmer in Tabora.

He separated from his father and he went and his trading empire at Manyema in Congo. He played the following roles in the development of long distance trade.

  • He extended the long distance trade in Congo where he traded with some tribes in East Congo.
  • He made commercial agreements with Mirambo and Urambo and Namaza of Ujiji so that they allow his caravans without interference.
  • He supplied the coastal Arabs with copper and gold from eastern Congo.
  • He contributed to trade routes that went to eastern Congo and taxed the Arab traders who used these routes like he obtained a lot of wealth from the Arab traders.

  • He traded with the Belgians in Congo and supplied them with honey, slaves, gold and copper and in return got money, clothes, guns etc. from them.
  • He minimized the conflicts between Arabs and Europeans in eastern Congo by representing their interests in Congo as a ruler of the Yao people.
  • Before moving to Congo, Tipu Tipu assisted his father to organize and conduct trade at Tabora and helped him to put up plantations of rice.
  • He employed Congolese to hunt for elephants (ivory) especially when the demand increased in Asia, which he exported to the coast.
  • He built a very big commercial empire at Eastern Congo which attracted more Swahili traders from Tabora to the eastern coast.

  • He lost his trade in slaves when slave trade was abolished. In 1890, he returned to Zanzibar and never returned to Congo until he died in 1905.


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