Under Contract with Cambridge University Press

This book is the first of its kind to insert the history of an inland region of equatorial eastern Africa into a history of the wider Indian Ocean World. It explores how traders emanating from the eastern African coast and populations from around Africa's Great Lakes  encountered each other in the context of the expansion of the global ivory trade during the nineteenth century. It is a history of cultural exchange and interaction, showing how inland Africans adopted and adapted historical phenomena traditionally associated with the wider Indian Ocean World. These include material objects, such as cotton cloth, structures of bondage, and religious beliefs, such as Islam. Moreover, it examines how their doing so was integral to the historical trajectory of the wider Indian Ocean World, positioning the African Great Lakes as a crucial frontier zone in which features of Indian Ocean World history were negotiated, reimagined, and developed in particularly robust ways.

The header image (which will appear on the front cover of the book) was taken by the author in Karema, on Lake Tanganyika's eastern shore in present-day western Tanzania during his fieldwork in November 2013. It displays much about Lake Tanganyika's history. The rain clouds are a feature of the mvuli, or short rains, which mark the beginning of the planting season, and so are crucial to the region's economy. Moreover, in the distance, you can just about pick out the other side of the lake, a feature of the late evening on the eastern shore. This encouraged the development of boat-building technologies in the nineteenth century, enabling more efficient passage between parts of present-day Tanzania/Burundi and DR Congo. As is explored in more depth in the book, this had significant consequences for trade, cultural interaction, and spiritual encounters around the lake.