Futures through Underwater Pasts: the search for Mongalo

Project Description

The search for Mongalo is a project which intend to document the unexplored legacies of the 16-18th century French slavery in the southern coast of Tanzania to account for the European interaction in the East African coast. The French interest in Mongalo began in 1784 when the government wanted to extend the sphere of its commercial trading in the Indian Ocean and especially from Muscat to East Africa. Governor Souillac was asked to look for a ship owner willing to go to Mongalo with his ships to explore and establish a French presence. This was when Nicolas Comarmond offered and was chosen. This project intends to complement the historical documents with maritime evidence and trans generational memories of slave trade. The project will contribute to the debate about what happened as the aftermath of slavery to slaves and the descendants in the southern coast of East Africa as well as the social and political legacies in the present. This is a pioneering project for the site of Mongalo which has never received archaeological attention despite the fact that a multi-billion cement company was established in 2015 in the proximity of the site and there is a proposed port construction that will utilize the same maritime route for export and imports of goods. The encounter between the past through cultural heritage and industrial projects brings an interesting case of cultural impact assessment on areas where underwater heritage is involved and industrialization follow the demise of what was once an established city.


Location: Tanzania

PI: Nancy Rushohora (Stella Maris Mtwara)

Co-Is: Peter Campbell (Cranfield University)

Partners: Mgao Village Executive council, Dangote Cement Company, Department of Antiquities, Mtwara Rural District (Education and Culture), Mtwara Water Sanitation Services

Size: Small