Joking aside, I don't think you can responsively travel to Tanzania or (probably) anywhere in Africa and not talk/think about slavery. Not that it has to or should be defining, but slavery had a huge effect on the world and it continues to flavor our experiences today.
While we were in Zanzibar it was important to me to see historical sites that included the history of both colonialism and the slave trade. We visited a former slave market and I was actually less shocked by my surroundings than I was the version of history that was being given to (affluent, mostly white) tourist. In four lines the basics of our 20 minute tour were as follows:
There was slavery here. And then a white dude (David Livingstone) saved us. And then church was built where the slave market used to be. The end.
The interesting thing about all of this is that the slave trade ended roughly 140 years ago, basically two to three generations ago. The oral histories may even still be in circulation. It's not that our guide didn't know the history...in fact it's probably not a lack of knowledge but the exact opposite. He knew both his history and his audience. Most people who pay thousands of dollars to go on vacation (we were literally in a country where our plane ticket costs more than the average person's annual income) probably don't want to hear the ways in which they were the beneficiaries (in the form of unbalanced accumulation of wealth) of horrible, terrible actions. I wonder if the story is presented any differently to African-American tourist. I can't imagine what the experience of doing the same tour we did but as an African-American would be like. Probably even more emotionally complicated.
A sculpture at the old slave market.
Zanzibar was a hub of the Arab slave trade and historians estimate that between the years 650 and 1900, 10 - 18 million people (a broad estimate, I know) were enslaved and sold. As I stood in the cathedral of the Anglican Christ Church, which was touted as the happy ending to the slavery story, I couldn't help but wonder about the labor practices used to build that building. I doubt that those laborers were paid a living wage almost as much as I doubt that the African men and women who were enslaved were simply helpless until David Livingstone arrived.
The revisionist history...and knowing that it was created for me (because although I identify as Latina, I was receiving all the privileges and perceptions of whiteness while on this trip) was overwhelming. It was as if colonialism had never ended. We were catered to and history was edited all for our comfort, regardless of who that inconvenienced, or worse, whose history and dignity that overlooked.
Prior to our trip I was really excited for the tour of the former slave market. I was hoping it would give our trip a flavor or authenticity and a jumping off point for discussion that I wasn't expecting to find on the beautiful beaches. What I got was a reminder that there is still so much work to be done.