Saadani is located in what is historically a very important coastal strip. To the north is Pangani where many believe the ancient trading site of Rhapta, referred to in Ptolemy’s ‘Geography’, was sited. It became important again as the main terminus for slave caravans heading to Lake Victoria in the 19th century. Bagamoyo, to the south, became the most important town in what is now Tanzania at the same time, with 50,000 slaves shipped annually to Zanzibar through the 1850’s.
Saadani itself began to figure as an important trading post, appearing on maps from the early 19th century. In 1888 the German takeover of the region was instigated by Carl Peters, who developed a protectorate from Tanga to Dar es Salaam. However Peters enforced new taxes which led to an uprising led by a local Swahili sugar plantation owner, Abushiri Ibn Salim al-Harthi. His wild and disjointed army forced the Germans to flee from Bagamoyo to the newly established port of Dar es Salaam. At Saadani there are the remains of a small graveyard with 12 graves dating to this period some undoubtedly from the Abushiri rebellion. Four remain with headstones intact, three German and one British.
The village also contains a ruined fort, built by Arab slavers in the last century. This fort later became a German Boma (administrative centre) after 1888. In the village there is a further ruin of a mosque built in the mid-19th century.