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A Forgotten Drought and Famine in East Africa, 1883–1885

Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)

Abstract

In East Africa, the 1883–1885 drought and famine was a key historical event, yet to be analyzed in depth. The drought had a devastating impact, coinciding with the beginnings of colonial rule, and foreshadowing the environmental collapse of the 1890s. It hit eastern and central regions of modern Tanzania and Kenya particularly hard. It led to a crisis in food production, and also severely disrupted the long-distance caravan trade. The inhabitants of the worst affected localities experienced starvation, and many people migrated to less affected areas. Increased poverty and marginalization contributed to indebtedness and enslavement. The immediate cause was the failure of the rains during the 1883–1884 growing seasons, however, recent scientific research allows a deeper understanding of climate change in the region. It is argued that changes in sea surface temperatures in the western Indian Ocean due to the effects of the Krakatoa eruption underlay the crisis.

Keywords

  • East Africa
  • 1883 Krakatau Eruptions
  • Drought
  • Food Production
  • Famine

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Fig. 10.1
Fig. 10.2
Fig. 10.3
Fig. 10.4
Fig. 10.5

Notes

  1. 1.

    For pioneering work in the Tanzanian context see: Juhani Koponen, People and Production in Late Precolonial Tanzania: History and Structures (Jyväskylä: Finnish Society for Development Studies, Finnish Historical Society, Finnish Anthropological Society, 1988); Juhani Koponen, ‘War, Famine, and Pestilence in Late Precolonial Tanzania: A Case for a Heightened Mortality,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies, 21, 4 (1988), 637–76. Koponen gives greater attention to combinations of human and animal diseases, drought, and warfare as causes of famine than the direct effects of climate change, and has surprisingly little to say about the 1883–1885 drought and famine.

  2. 2.

    As in, for example: Stefan Hastenrath, ‘Variations of East African Climate During the Past Two Centuries,’ Climatic Change, 50 (2001), 209–17.

  3. 3.

    Helge Kjekshus, Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History (London: Heinemann, 1977), 126–32; Koponen, People and Production, 168–70; Richard Waller, ‘Emutai: Crisis and Response in Maasailand 1883–1902,’ in The Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History, eds. Douglas H. Johnson and David M. Anderson (London: Lester Crook, 1988), 73–112; Charles H. Ambler, Kenyan Communities in the Age of Imperialism: The Central Region in the Late Nineteenth Century (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988), 96–100; Jan Bender Shetler, ‘Interpreting Rupture in Oral Memory: The Regional Context for Changes in Western Serengeti Age Organization (1850–1895),’ Journal of African History, 44, 3 (2003), 385–412; Thaddeus Sunseri, “The Entangled History of sadoka (rinderpest) and Veterinary Science in Tanzania and the Wider World, 1891–1901,’ Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 89, 1 (2015), 92–121; James L. Giblin, ‘East Coast Fever in Socio-Historical Context: A Case Study from Tanzania,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies, 23, 3 (1990), 401–21.

  4. 4.

    Among others: Koponen, People and Production, 156–58; Jonathan Musere, African Sleeping Sickness: Political Ecology, Colonialism and Control in Uganda (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1990); James L. Giblin, ‘Trypanosomiasis Control in African History: An Evaded Issue?’ Journal of African History, 31, 1 (1990), 59–80; James L. Giblin, The Politics of Environmental Control in Northeastern Tanzania, 1840–1940 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1992); Richard Waller, ‘Tsetse Fly in Western Narok, Kenya,’ Journal of African History, 31, 1 (1990), 81–101; Shetler, ‘Interpreting Rupture’; Kirk Arden Hoppe, Lords of the Fly: Sleeping Sickness Control in British East Africa, 1900–1960 (Westport, CN, Praeger, 2003); Mari K. Webel, ‘Ziba Politics and the German Sleeping Sickness Camp at Kigarama, Tanzania, 1907–14,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies, 47, 3 (2014), 399–423; Mari K. Webel, The Politics of Disease Control: Sleeping Sickness in Eastern Africa, 1890–1920 (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2019).

  5. 5.

    Important studies include: Gerald W. Hartwig, ‘Social Consequences of Epidemic Diseases: The Nineteenth Century in Eastern Africa,’ in Disease in African History: An Introductory Survey and Case Studies, eds. Gerald W. Hartwig and K. David Patterson (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1978); Koponen, People and Production, 162–68, 173–77; Myron Echenberg, Africa in the Time of Cholera: A History of Pandemics from 1817 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012). Echenberg rightly highlights Dr. James Christie’s pioneering, Cholera Epidemics in East Africa, from 1821 till 1872 (London: Macmillan & Co., 1876).

  6. 6.

    See: Gooding’s introduction, this volume.

  7. 7.

    In addition to the sources in fn. 1 see: Clarke Brooke, ‘The Heritage of Famine in Central Tanzania,’ Tanzania Notes and Records, 67 (1967), 15–22; Eric Ten Raa, ‘Bush Foraging and Agricultural Development: A History of Sandawe Famines,’ Tanzania Notes and Records, 69 (1968), 33–40; Peter Rigby, Cattle and Kinship Among the Gogo: A Semi-Pastoral Society of Central Tanzania (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1969), 20–22; Kjekshus, Ecology Control, 137–42; J.B. Webster (ed.), Chronology, Migration and Drought in Interlacustrine Africa (Halifax, Nova Scotia: Dalhousie University Press, 1979); Johnson and Anderson (eds.), The Ecology of Survival, several chapters; Ambler, Kenyan Communities in the Age of Imperialism, esp. Ch. 6; Gregory Maddox, ‘Mtunya: Famine in Central Tanzania, 1917–20,’ Journal of African History, 31, 2 (1990), 181–97; Thaddeus Sunseri, ‘Famine and Wild Pigs: Gender Struggles and the Outbreak of the Majimaji War in Uzaramo (Tanzania),’ Journal of African History, 38, 2 (1997), 235–59. James C. McCann provides an early discussion of how environmental historians in African might think about climate change and history in: ‘Climate and Causation in African History,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies, 32, 2/3 (1999), 261–79.

  8. 8.

    See: Marek Pawelczak, The State and the Stateless. The Sultanate of Zanzibar and the East African Mainland: Politics, Economy and Society, 1837–1888 (Warszawa: Instytut Historyczny Uniwersytetu Warsawskiego, 2010), 170–82; David Anderson, ‘The Beginning of Time? Evidence for Catastrophic Drought in Baringo in the Early Nineteenth Century,’ Journal of Eastern African Studies, 10, 1 (2016). Not surprisingly for northern Kenya, drought is a central theme in: George L. Simpson and Peter Waweru, ‘Becoming Samburu: The Ethnogenesis of a Pastoral People in Nineteenth-Century Northern Kenya,’ Journal of the Middle East and Africa, 3 (2012), 175–97.

  9. 9.

    See also: Gooding’s introduction, this volume.

  10. 10.

    Eduard Kremer, Die unperiodischen Schwankungen der Niederschläge und die Hungersnöte in Deutsch-Ost-Afrika (Hamburg: Archiv der Deutschen Seewarte, 1910); G.J. Symons (ed.), The Eruption of Krakatoa and Subsequent Phenomena: Report of the Krakatoa Committee of the Royal Society (London: Harrisons & Sons, 1888).

  11. 11.

    A point made by Kremer in 1910.

  12. 12.

    François Bontinck (ed.), L’autobiographie de Hamed ben Mohammed el-Murjebi Tippo Tip (Bruxelles: Académie royale des Sciences d’Outre Mer, 1974).

  13. 13.

    Pawelczak, The State and the Stateless, 170–71, 181. Detailed studies include: Frederick Cooper, Plantation Slavery on the East Coast of Africa (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977); Jonathon Glassman, Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856–1888 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995).

  14. 14.

    Pawelczak, The State and the Stateless, 174–76.

  15. 15.

    Ibid., 171.

  16. 16.

    E. Hollis Merrit, ‘A History of the Taita of Kenya to 1900’ (Unpublished Ph.D. diss.: Indiana University, 1975); Bill Bravman, Making Ethnic Ways: Communities and Their Transformations in Taita, Kenya, 1800–1950 (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998); Isaria N. Kimambo, ‘The Political History of the Pare People to 1900’ (Unpublished Ph.D. diss.: Northwestern University, 1967); Isaria N. Kimambo, ‘Environmental Control and Hunger in the Mountains and Plains of Northeastern Tanzania,’ in Custodians of the Land: Ecology and Culture in the History of Tanzania, eds. Gregory Maddox, James L. Giblin, and Isaria N. Kimambo (London: James Currey, 1996), 71–95; Giblin, The Politics of Environmental Control.

  17. 17.

    See: Gooding’s introduction, this volume; David Arnold, Famine: Social Crisis and Historical Change (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988), 5–28.

  18. 18.

    Igor Kopytoff (ed.), The African Frontier: The Reproduction of Traditional African Societies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987).

  19. 19.

    Geoffrey Hodges, ‘Military Labour in East Africa and Its Impact on Kenya,’ in Africa and the First World War, ed. Melvin E. Page (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1987), 145.

  20. 20.

    Cormac Ó. Gráda, Famine: A Short History (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), 4.

  21. 21.

    Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983). For criticism and debate, see among many others: Arnold, Famine, 42–46; Megan Vaughan, The Story of an African Famine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987); Alex De Waal, ‘A Re-Assessment of Entitlement Theory in the Light of the Recent Famines in Africa,’ Development and Change, 21 (1990), 469–90; S.R. Osmani, ‘Comments on Alex de Waal’s Re-Assessment of Entitlement Theory in the Light of Recent Famines in Africa,’ Development and Change, 22, 3 (1991), 587–96; Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts (London and New York: Verso, 2002), 19–21; Getnet Alemu, ‘Revisiting the Entitlement Approach to Famine: Taking a Closer Look at the Supply Factor—A Critical Survey of the Literature,’ Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review, 23, 2 (2007), 95–129; Olivier Rubin, ‘The Entitlement Approach: A Case for Framework Development Rather Than Demolition,’ Journal of Development Studies, 45, 4 (2009), 621–40.

  22. 22.

    Sharon E. Nicholson, ‘Climate and Climatic Variability of Rainfall Over Eastern Africa,’ Reviews of Geophysics, 55 (2017), 605–11.

  23. 23.

    See: Gooding’s introduction and chapter, this volume; Abdul Sheriff, ‘Globalization with a Difference,’ in The Indian Ocean: Oceanic Connections and the Creation of New Societies, eds. Abdul Sheriff and Engseng Ho (London: Hurst and Co., 2014), 15 (map).

  24. 24.

    For a brief overview, see: Peter Beaumont and Graham Readfearn, ‘Global Heating Supercharging Indian Ocean Climate System,’ The Guardian (19 Nov. 2019). The unreliability of the short rains is the focus of: Stefan Hastenrath, Dierk Polzin, and Pierre Camberlin, ‘Exploring the Predictability of the ‘short rains’ at the Coast of East Africa,’ International Journal of Climatology, 24 (2004), 1333–43.

  25. 25.

    For the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ), see: Gooding’s introduction, this volume.

  26. 26.

    Matthew J. Genge, ‘Electrostatic Levitation of Volcanic Ash into the Ionosphere and Its Abrupt Effect on Climate,’ Geology, 46, 10 (2018), 837.

  27. 27.

    Genge, ‘Electrostatic Levitation of Volcanic Ash,’ 837. See also: Symons (ed.), The Eruption of Krakatoa; Tom Simpkin and Richard S. Fiske (eds.), Krakatoa 1883: The Volcanic Eruption and Its Effects (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1983); Wilfried Schröder, ‘The Krakatoa Event and Associated Phenomena: A Historical Review,’ Earth Sciences History, 21, 2 (2002), 199–206.

  28. 28.

    Genge, ‘Electrostatic Levitation of Volcanic Ash,’ 837.

  29. 29.

    P.J. Gleckler, K. AchutaRao, J.M. Gregory, B.D. Santer, K.E. Taylor, and T.M.L. Wigley, ‘Krakatoa Lives: The Effect of Volcanic Eruptions on Ocean Heat Content and Thermal Expansion,’ Geophysical Research Letters, 33, 17 (2006); P.J. Gleckler, T.M.L. Wigley, B.D. Santer, J.M. Gregory, K. AchutaRao, and K.E. Taylor, ‘Krakatoa’s Signature Persists in the Ocean,’ Nature, 439 (9 Feb. 2006).

  30. 30.

    Gleckler, et al., ‘Krakatoa’s Signature Persists.’ Surprisingly, neither Genge’s work nor that of Glecker and his colleagues is referred to in: Shayne McGregor, Miriam Khodri, Nicola Maher, Masamichi Ohba, Francesco S.R. Pausata, and Samantha Stevenson, ‘The Effect of Strong Volcanic Eruptions on ENSO,’ in El Niño Southern Oscillation in a Changing Climate, eds. Michael J. McPhaden, Agus Santoso, and Wenju Cai (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley Sons, 2021), 267–87. Nevertheless, their conclusions (p. 266) concerning the longer-term impact of volcanic eruptions on SSTs are broadly similar to those of Gleckler, et al., except that they do not consider eruptions in relation to IODs, only ENSOs: ‘Global average surface temperatures have been shown to reach the maximum cooling 6–18 months after the eruptions peak optical depth and return to normal values approximately 5–6 years after the eruption… The strong surface temperature cooling influence of these events has also seen them at least partly implicated in many past hiatuses of global surface warming.’

  31. 31.

    There is, however, good rainfall evidence from Zanzibar that will be discussed below.

  32. 32.

    Report of the Krakatoa Committee, 220, 315, 319, 322, 335.

  33. 33.

    Ibid., 228.

  34. 34.

    For an explanation of the unstable transition from the summer monsoon in the Indian Ocean to the winter monsoon that in 1883 carried volcanic aerosols and ash towards East Africa see: Hastenrath, Polzin, and Camberlin, ‘Exploring the Predictability of the “short rains”,’ 1336.

  35. 35.

    Dirk Verschuren, ‘Lake-Based Climate Reconstruction in Africa: Progress and Challenges,’ Hydrobiologia, 500, 1 (2003), 315–30.

  36. 36.

    Dirk Verschuren, John Tibby, Peter R. Leavitt, and C. Neil Roberts, ‘The Environmental History of a Climate-Sensitive Lake in the Former “White Highlands” of Central Kenya,’ Ambio, 28, 6 (1999), 494–501; Dirk Verschuren, Kathleen R. Laird, and Brian F. Cumming, ‘Rainfall and Drought in Equatorial East Africa During the Past 1,100 Years,’ Nature, 403, 6768 (2000); Vanessa Gelorini and Dirk Verschuren, ‘Historical Climate-Human-Ecosystem Interaction in East Africa: A Review,’ African Journal of Ecology, 51 (2012), 409–21. For Lake Baringo region in northern Kenya, see: Ilse Bessems, Dirk Verschuren, James M. Russell, Jozef Hus, Florias Mees, and Brian F. Cumming, ‘Palaeolimnological Evidence for Widespread Late Eighteenth Century Drought Across Equatorial East Africa,’ Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 259 (2008), 107–20; and for historical interpretations: Anderson, ‘The Beginning of Time?’ 47–49. For recent work see Gijs De Cort, Ilse Bessems, Edward Keppens, Florias Mees, Brian Cumming, and Dirk Verschuren, ‘Late-Holocene and Recent Hydroclimatic Variability in the Central Kenya Rift Valley: The Sediment Record of Hypersaline Lakes Bogoria, Nakuru and Elementeita,’ Palaeogeograply, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 388 (2013), 69–80; Christian Wolff, Iris Kristen-Jenny, Georg Schletter, Birgit Plessen, Hano Meyer, Peter Dulski, Rudolph Naumann, Achim Brauer, Dirk Verschuren, and Gerald H. Haug, ‘Modern Seasonality in Lake Challa (Kenya/Tanzania) and Its Sedimentary Documentation in Recent Lake Sediments,’ Limnology and Oceanography, 59, 5 (2014), 1621–36. Lake Challa is the only lake studied for sediment records located in the 1883–1885 drought affected regions.

  37. 37.

    Clive A. Spinage, African Ecology: Benchmarks and Historical Perspectives (Berlin: Springer, 2012), 122–23; Kremer, Die unperiodischen Schwankungen, 23, 13 (graph).

  38. 38.

    See the map: Kremer, Die unperiodischen Schwankungen, 4.

  39. 39.

    Ibid., 23.

  40. 40.

    Ibid., 13.

  41. 41.

    Ibid., 13 (graph).

  42. 42.

    Ibid., 25–26.

  43. 43.

    Sharon E. Nicholson, ‘A Semi-Quantitative, Regional, Precipitation Dataset for Studying African Climates of the Nineteenth-Century. Part I Overview of the Data Set,’ Climatic Change, 50 (2001), 317–53; Sharon E. Nicholson, Douglas Klotter, and Amin K. Dezfuli, ‘Spatial Reconstruction of Semi-Quantitative Precipitation Fields Over Africa During the Nineteenth Century from Documentary Evidence and Gauge Data,’ Quaternary Research, 78, (2012), 21, Fig. 8.

  44. 44.

    Although it is missing from Rigby’s list of historic famines in Ugogo, a region that nevertheless suffered greatly. See: Rigby, Cattle and Kinship, 21. It is not mentioned, either, by Kjekshus in his discussion of early colonial famine: Kjekshus, Ecology Control, 137–42.

  45. 45.

    Joseph Thomson, Through Masai Land (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, new and revised edition, 1887), 337.

  46. 46.

    Waller, ‘Emutai,’ 73.

  47. 47.

    A question well studied by Waller himself in: ‘Economic and Social Relations in the Central Rift Valley: The Maa Speakers and Their Neighbours in the Nineteenth Century,’ in Kenya in the Nineteenth Century, ed. B.A. Ogot (Nairobi, 1985), 83–151.

  48. 48.

    C.E. Gissing, ‘A Journey from Mombasa to Mounts Ndara and Kasigao,’ Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, 6, 10 (1884), 551–66.

  49. 49.

    Ibid., 551.

  50. 50.

    For details see: Stephen J. Rockel, ‘Caravan Porters of the Nyika: Labour, Culture and Society in Nineteenth Century Tanzania’ (Unpublished PhD diss.: University of Toronto, 1997), Ch. 2.

  51. 51.

    Gissing, ‘A Journey from Mombasa,’ 551–52.

  52. 52.

    Ibid., 553.

  53. 53.

    Ibid., 553–54.

  54. 54.

    Ibid., 556. Rainmaking specialists became powerful political leaders among many of the peoples of the eastern interior during the long period of drought and famines. See among others: Isaria N. Kimambo, ‘The Political History of the Pare People to 1900’ (Unpublished Ph.D. diss.: Northwestern University, 1967).

  55. 55.

    Gissing, ‘A Journey from Mombasa,’ 559.

  56. 56.

    Ibid., 562.

  57. 57.

    Thomson, Through Masai Land, 339–40.

  58. 58.

    H.H. Johnston, The Kilima-Njaro Expedition (London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Company, 1886), 64–65.

  59. 59.

    Gissing, ‘A Journey from Mombasa,’ 563.

  60. 60.

    Church Missionary Intelligencer (hereafter: CMI), Mar. 1885, 160: ‘From the Rev. J.W. Handford’s Report,’ Frere Town, 1884.

  61. 61.

    CMI, Mar. 1885, 162: ‘From the Rev. J.W. Handford’s Report,’ Frere Town, 1884.

  62. 62.

    House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (hereafter: HCPP) 1884–85. Correspondence with British representatives and agents abroad and reports from naval officers …Relative to the slave trade. Sir J. Kirk to Earl Granville (Extract.), 2–3 Sep. 1884.

  63. 63.

    HCPP 1884–85. Correspondence with British representatives and agents abroad and reports from naval officers …Relative to the slave trade: Vice-Consul Haggard to Sir J. Kirk, 8 Sep. 1884.

  64. 64.

    HCPP 1884–85. Correspondence with British representatives and agents abroad and reports from naval officers …Relative to the slave trade: Vice-Consul Gissing to Sir J. Kirk, 16 Sep. 1884.

  65. 65.

    Vice-Consul Gissing to Sir J. Kirk, Mombasa, 16 Sep. 1884; Gissing, ‘A Journey from Mombasa,’ 565.

  66. 66.

    HCPP 1884–85. Correspondence with British representatives and agents abroad and reports from naval officers …Relative to the slave trade: Sir J. Kirk to Earl Granville, 24 Oct. 1884.

  67. 67.

    Handford to Lang, 26 Nov. 1884, in Merrit, ‘A History of the Taita,’ 102; J. Alfred Wray, Kenya: Our Newest Colony (London: Marshall Brothers, 1928), 56, in Merrit, ‘A History of the Taita,’ 102–3; Henry Morris, ‘The Switzerland of Africa,’ CMI, July 1885, 512.

  68. 68.

    E.C. Dawson, James Hannington, First Bishop of Eastern Equatorial Africa: A History of His Life and Work, 1847–1885 (London: Selley & Co., 1891), 289–90.

  69. 69.

    Ibid., 293.

  70. 70.

    For a discussion of the geology and great fertility and productivity of Taveta, see: Thomson, Through Masai Land, 58–62.

  71. 71.

    Dawson, James Hannington, 297.

  72. 72.

    Ibid., 334.

  73. 73.

    Ibid., 336. Dawson had access to Jones’ journal as well as Hannington’s.

  74. 74.

    E.C. Dawson (ed.), The Last Journals of Bishop Hannington (London: Seeley and Co., 1888), 156: Refers to 20 Aug. 1885.

  75. 75.

    Dirk Verschuren, John Tibby, Peter R. Leavitt, and C. Neil Roberts, ‘The Environmental History of a Climate-Sensitive Lake in the Former “White Highlands” of Central Kenya,’ Ambio, 28, 6 (1999), 494–501; Dirk Verschuren, ‘Lake-Based Climate Reconstruction in Africa: Progress and Challenges,’ Hydrobiologia, 500, 1 (2003), 315–30.

  76. 76.

    Bishop H.P. Parker to CMS, 3 Mar. 1887 in CMI (July 1887), 425.

  77. 77.

    C.W. Hobley, ‘Upon a Visit to Tsavo and the Taita Highlands,’ Geographical Journal, 5, 6 (1895), 545–61.

  78. 78.

    Hobley, ‘Upon a Visit to Tsavo,’ 553. For further details relating to Taita, see: Merrit, ‘A History of the Taita.’

  79. 79.

    Kimambo, ‘The Political History of the Pare People,’ 50–51; Kimambo, ‘Environmental Control and Hunger,’ 71. Taita refugees from famine also migrated to the Usambara mountains several times in their history: Merrit, ‘A History of the Taita,’ 75–76.

  80. 80.

    Kimambo, ‘The Political History of the Pare People,’ 51, 85. See pp. 7, 119–27 for details of rain-making rituals and use of symbols, medicines, sacrifices, rain-making groves of the ‘ritual experts’ and rain-making ruling lineages in Upare. Rain makers collected tribute which buttressed their political power and the emergence of a ruling group.

  81. 81.

    Kimambo, ‘Environmental Control and Hunger.’ See: Stephen J. Rockel, Carriers of Culture: Labor on the Road in Nineteenth-Century East Africa (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2006), Ch. 5, for caravan provisioning; Stephen J. Rockel, ‘Forgotten Caravan Towns in Nineteenth Century Tanzania: Mbwamaji and Mpwapwa,’ Azania, 41 (2006), 1–25, for the breakdown of relations between caravan personnel and peasant communities during the late 1880s and 1890s.

  82. 82.

    Kimambo, ‘The Political History of the Pare People,’ 276–83.

  83. 83.

    See: Steven Feierman, The Shambaa Kingdom: A History (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1974), 17–31, for the overlap between ecological and cultural zones in this part of East Africa, and the meanings and changing subsistence strategies with the spread of new crops for each. An updated view of late nineteenth-century change is provided in: Frans D. Huijzendveld, ‘Changes in Political Economy and Ecology in West-Usambara, Tanzania: ca. 1850–1950,’ International Journal of African Historical Studies, 41, 3 (2008), 383–409.

  84. 84.

    Huijzendveld, ‘Changes in Political Economy,’ 384–85.

  85. 85.

    Feierman, The Shambaa Kingdom; Kimambo, ‘Environmental Control and Hunger,’ 90–92; Huijzendveld, ‘Changes in Political Economy,’ 392–94.

  86. 86.

    Huijzendveld, ‘Changes in Political Economy and Ecology,’ 395.

  87. 87.

    Charles Alan, ‘The Bishop’s Visit to Magila,’ Central Africa: A Monthly Record of the Work of the Universities Mission, 18 (June 1884), 101.

  88. 88.

    ‘Visit to the Wadigo,’ Central Africa, 20 (Aug. 1884), 134.

  89. 89.

    ‘Famine around Magila,’ Central Africa, 20 (Aug. 1884), 134–35. The ‘poisonous root,’ mdiga, that Farler refers to, was probably a variety of bitter cassava eaten as famine food.

  90. 90.

    ‘News from Magila,’ Central Africa, 22 (Oct. 1884), 167; ‘Magila,’ Central Africa, 24 (Dec. 1884), 199.

  91. 91.

    ‘A Notable Conversion,’ Central Africa, 32, (Aug. 1885), 114.

  92. 92.

    Giblin, The Politics of Environmental Control, 22–28.

  93. 93.

    Ibid., 121.

  94. 94.

    Ibid., 122.

  95. 95.

    Ibid., 67, 123.

  96. 96.

    See also: chapter by Gooding, this volume.

  97. 97.

    Rockel, Carriers of Culture.

  98. 98.

    Kremer, Die unperiodischen Schwankungen, 27.

  99. 99.

    The rest of this section is largely based on: Rockel, Carriers of Culture, 148–50, 153–59.

  100. 100.

    Richard F. Burton, The Lake Regions of Central Africa (Michigan: Michigan Scholarly Press, 1971 [1960]), 246; Joseph Thomson, To the Central African Lakes and Back (London: S. Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1881), I, 208–9; Rachel Stuart Watt, In the Heart of Savagedom (London, n.d. [1912]), 157; J.A. Moloney, With Captain Stairs to Katanga (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co, 1893), 33; R. Stanley and A. Neame (eds.), The Exploration Diaries of H. M. Stanley (London: W. Kimber, 1961), 55.

  101. 101.

    Burton, Lake Regions, 495; Church Missionary Society Archive (hereafter: CMS) G3A6/01 Copplestone to Lang, 4 Mar. 1882; Mtoro bin Mwinyi Bakari, The Customs of the Swahili People, trans. & ed. J.W.T. Allen (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 1981), 140; Speke, 15–20 Dec. 1860, in: John Hanning Speke, Journal of the Discovery of the Source of the Nile (New York: Harper, 1864), 88.

  102. 102.

    Carol Jane Sissons, ‘Economic Prosperity in Ugogo, East Africa, 1860–1890’ (Unpublished Ph.D. diss., University of Toronto, 1984), 8.

  103. 103.

    In addition to the work of Maddox, cited above, for an overview of Gogo management of food shortages caused by drought or famine, see: Doris Schmied, ‘Managing Food Shortages in Central Tanzania,’ GeoJournal, 30, 2 (1993), 153–58.

  104. 104.

    Lettre de M. Ch. Ledoulx, consul de France à Zanzibar, 18 Dec. 1884, Compte rendu des séances de la Société de géographie de Paris (Feb. 1885), 105; CMS G3A6/01 Price to Lang, 5 Feb. 1884; CMS G3A6/01 Price to Lang, 5 Aug. 1884; CMS G3A6/02 Stokes to Lang, 6 Oct. 1884; Sissons, ‘Economic prosperity,’ 136, 143–44; Brooke, ‘The Heritage of Famine,’ 20; CMS G3A6/01 Roscoe to Wigram, 1 Nov. 1884; Giblin, Politics of Environmental Control, 121–24; Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 126–28; Annie Hore, To Lake Tanganyika in a Bath Chair (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1886), 120, 125, 127.

  105. 105.

    CMS G3A6/01 Stokes to Lang, 26 July 1884.

  106. 106.

    CMS G3A6/01 Stokes to Lang, 26 July 1884; CMS G3A6/01 Baxter to Lang, 4 Aug. 1884; CMS G3A6/01 ? to Wigram, 17 Jan. 1885; Sissons, ‘Economic Prosperity,’ 143.

  107. 107.

    CMS G3A6/02 Stokes to Lang, 6 Oct. 1884; CMS G3A6/02 Stokes to Stock, n.d.

  108. 108.

    Hore, To Lake Tanganyika, 76, 77.

  109. 109.

    Ibid., 80–81.

  110. 110.

    Ibid., 97–98, 100–2.

  111. 111.

    Ibid., 102–6.

  112. 112.

    Sissons, ‘Economic Prosperity,’ 143.

  113. 113.

    A. Bloyet, ‘De Zanzibar à la station de Kondoa,’ Bulletin de la Société de Géographie, 7, 11 (1890), 361; CMS G3A6/02 Roscoe to Lang, 7 Sep. 1885; CMS G3A6/02? to Wigram, 17 Jan. 1885.

  114. 114.

    CMS G3A6/02 Roscoe to Wigram, 1 June 1885.

  115. 115.

    CMS G3A6/01 Price to Lang, 15 Aug. 1884; CMS G3A6/02 Price to Lang, 13 Feb. 1885.

  116. 116.

    J.C. Price, Journal, 22 Oct. 1885, in CMI, 31 Oct. 1886; Sissons, ‘Economic Prosperity,’ 144. Price also notes that on his return (eastward) journey to Mpwapwa, Gogo women at Njinje, west of Dodoma, were selling maize to passing caravans. Clearly some parts of Ugogo were recovering at a faster rate than others.

  117. 117.

    For an excellent overview of the Ngindo and their country see: Lorne Larson, ‘The Ngindo: Exploring the Center of the Maji Maji Rebellion,’ in Maji Maji: Lifting the Fog of War, eds. James Giblin and Jamie Monson (Leiden: Brill, 2010), 71–114.

  118. 118.

    ‘Our African Postbag,’ Central Africa, 18 (June 1884), 110; Charles Alan, ‘A Letter from the Bishop,’ Central Africa, 27 (Mar. 1885), 34; Central Africa, 29 (May 1885), 78.

  119. 119.

    HCPP 1884–85, Correspondence with British representatives and agents abroad and reports from naval officers …Relative to the slave trade: Vice-Consul Smith to Sir J. Kirk, 5 May 1884.

  120. 120.

    Smith to Sir J. Kirk, 5 May 1884.

  121. 121.

    C.S. Smith, ‘Explorations in Zanzibar Dominions,’ Royal Geographical Society, Supplementary Papers (1889), 102–3.

  122. 122.

    Smith, ‘Explorations,’ 103. He gives the price of millet at Lindi, in late October 1884 as 60 rupees ‘a quarter.’

  123. 123.

    Ibid., 114.

  124. 124.

    A term used by a forest fire expert when describing the new kinds of fires stimulated by climate change on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) national radio, 2 July 2021.

  125. 125.

    Wray to Lang, 26 Nov. 1887, in CMI, 13, New Series (1888), 84–85; Merrit, ‘A History of the Taita,’ 110. For details, see: Bravman, Making Ethnic Ways, 73–79.

  126. 126.

    Bishop H.P. Parker to CMS, 3 Mar. 1887 in CMI (July, 1887), 425; John Willoughby, East Africa and Its Big Game: Narrative of a Sporting Trip from Zanzibar to Kilimanjaro and the Borders of the Masai (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1889), 58, 60; Merrit, ‘A History of the Taita,’ 110–1.

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Rockel, S.J. (2022). A Forgotten Drought and Famine in East Africa, 1883–1885. In: Gooding, P. (eds) Droughts, Floods, and Global Climatic Anomalies in the Indian Ocean World. Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-98198-3_10

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