1905 Tippu Tip Lebensbild eines zentralafrikanischen Despoten 1905, in a green binding, proably a first book edition.

Tippu Tip Lebensbild Brode

Rare book with the title "Tippu Tip Lebensbild eines zentralafrikanischen Despoten - Nach seinen eigenen Angaben dargestellt" translated by  Dr. Heinrich Brode and published by Wilhelm Baensch Berlin 1905.

This rare and extremely important autobiography was originally written in Swahili by Tippu Tip and subsequently translated into German by Heinrich Brode.  First issued in a scientific magazine and slightly later published in this rare book. 


Tippu Tip was a very important slave and ivory trader, explorer, diplomat, plantation owner, soldier etc. 


Rare book. Frontispiece followed by 167 numbered pages.  This very important autobiography was first written in Swahili. Heinrich Brode transcripted the Swahili into ´Latin script` and translated it into german and published it in ,,Mitteilungen des Seminars für orientalische Sprachen« Abteilung III, Jahrgang V und VI, erschienen 1902/1903. Tippu Tip or Tippu Tib or Tippoo Tib (1837 – June 14, 1905), real name Hemed bin Mohammed bin Jumah bin Rajab bin Muḥammad bin Sa‘īd al-Murghabī, (Arabic: حمد بن محمد بن جمعة بن رجب بن محمد بن سعيد المرجبي‎), was a Swahili-Zanzibari Tippu Tip was a a fascinating   ivory and slave trader,  Explorer, Governor. Leda Ferrant describes him as one the last great Slavers of the 19th century, his rule extended for thousands of miles, west and nort west of lake Tanganyika, and his name was known and feared in most of East and Central Africa. He was known by the natives of Southeast Africa as Tippu Tib after the sounds that his many guns made. A brilliant ivory trader, explorer, plantation owner and governor, who worked for a succession of sultans of Zanzibar. He also traded in slaves for Zanzibar's clove plantations.

He led many trading expeditions into Central Africa, as part of the large and lucrative ivory trade by constructing profitable trading posts that reached deep into Central Africa. He bought the ivory from central African suppliers who sold it to him for a low price. Tippu Tip built himself a trading empire that he then translated into clove plantations on Zanzibar and became one of the richest men in Africa at the time. Abdul Sheriff reported that when he left for his twelve years of "empire building" on the mainland, he had no plantations of his own. However, by 1895, he had acquired "seven 'shambas' [plantations] and 10,000 slaves"

His mother, Bint Habib bin Bushir, was a Muscat Arab of the ruling class. His father and paternal grandfather were coastal Swahili who had taken part in the earliest trading expeditions to the interior. His paternal great-grandmother, wife of Rajab bin Mohammed bin Said el Murgebi, was the daughter of Juma bin Mohammed el Nebhani, a member of a respected Muscat (Oman) family, and a Bantu woman from the village of Mbwa Maji, a small village south of what would later become the German capital of Dar es Salaam. He met and helped several famous western explorers of the African continent, including Henry Morton Stanley. Between 1884 and 1887, El Murgebi claimed the Eastern Congo for himself and for the Sultan of Zanzibar, Bargash bin Said el Busaidi. In fact in several cases Tippu Tip organised most of  the expedition / caravan  resources (Supporting letters from the Sultan,  men and supplies) for the European explorers. In fact it was Tippu Tip who guided European explorers into the interior of East and Central Africa, also his influence in the interior of Africa was crucial.  These areas were known to Tippu Tip as trader in Slaves and Ivory and representative of the Sultan of Zanzibar. At the age of 18 he already traveled to Lake Nyasa. Stanley unfairly blamed Tippu Tip for the failure of the Emin Pascha relief expedition who ironically did not want to be found. 

Tippu Tip has still not been given credit by Westerners for the enormous contribution he made to the Western Explorations in Eastern and central Africa, the main reason being his role as slave and ivory trader. Ironically it were these Western explorations into East  and Central Africa  that eventually ended slavery in these areas. In spite of his position as protector of Zanzibar's interests in Congo, he managed to maintain good relations with the Europeans. When, in August 1886, fighting broke out between the Swahili and the representatives of King Leopold II of Belgium at Stanley Falls, El Murgebi went to the Belgian consul at Zanzibar to assure him of his "good intentions." Although he was still a force in Central African politics, he could see by 1886 that power in the region was shifting. In early 1887, Stanley arrived in Zanzibar and proposed that Tippu Tip be made governor of the Stanley Falls District in the Congo Free State. Both Leopold and Sultan Barghash bin Said agreed and on February 24, 1887, Tippu Tip accepted. Around 1890/91, he returned to Zanzibar where he retired. He wrote his autobiography, which is the first example of this literary genre in Swahili. Dr. Heinrich Brode, who knew him in Zanzibar, transcribed the manuscript into Roman script and translated it into German in 1903. It was subsequently translated into English and published in Britain in 1907. He died June 13, 1905, of malaria (according to Brode) in his home in Zanzibar  Stone Town.


Tippu Tip is referenced in an endless list of books reflecting his importance to the History of Eastern Africa in many ways) :

  1. Tippu Tip H. Brode , Maisha  ya Hamed bin Muhammed El Murjebi, in Mitteilungen des Seminars für orientalische Sprachen  Abteilung III, Jahrgang V: p 175-277 und VI p1-55 1902/1903
  2. Brode, Heinrich. Tippoo Tib: The Story of His Career in Zanzibar & Central Africa. Translated by H. Havelock with preface by Sir Charles Elliot. London: Arnold, 1907
  3. Leda Ferrant, Tippu Tip and the East African Slave Trade , St Martin´s press New York  1975
  4. Heinrich Brode, Tippu Tip: The Story of his career in Zanzibar and Central Africa, The Gallery Publications, Zanzibar 2000
  5. David Livingstone, Missionary Travels and Researches , 1857
  6. David Livingstone The Last Journals 1874
  7. Stanley How I found Livingstone
  8. Stanley through the dark continent 1879
  9. Stanley The Congo and the founding of the free state
  10. Stanley In darkest Afrika
  11. Stanley My Kalulu, Prince, King and Slave
  12. W.H. Ingrams Zanzibar Its History and People
  13. F.B. Pearce Zanzibar, The Island metropolis of Eastern Africa
  14. Christiane Bird, The Sultan´s Shadow One family´s Rule at the crossroads of East and West, Random House New York 2010
  15. Benett, Norman Robert. Arab vs. European: Diplomacy and war in Nineteenth-Century Est Central Africa. New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1986
  16. Sheriff, Abdul. Slaves, Spices & Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770-1873. London, Nairobi, Tanzania, Athens,OH: James Currey, Heinemann Kenya, Tanzania Publishing House, Ohio University Press, 1987
  17. Wikipedia Tippu Tip