History of Slavery in Zanzibar : Zanzibar was overshadowed by the slave trade more than 200 years ago, but its sad past is long forgotten in the present. Presently, Zanzibar stands as one of the most popular tourist safari destinations in East Africa, boasting stunning white sand beaches, cosy boutiques, villas, hotels, resorts, and lodges.

Formerly the epicenter of the East African slave trade, Zanzibar is now a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania. Of all the various economic pursuits on Zanzibar Island at the time, slavery turned out to be the most profitable.

The Arab Slave Traders dominated the historical Indian Ocean Slave Trade. Prior to Islam, the Arab Slave Trade developed and persisted for a thousand years. Slave traders had to trade, bribe leaders, and even kidnap people in order to meet the enormous demand for their product. Slave traders travelled from Bagamoyo to the Congo, where they acquired fresh slaves and forced them to return to Bagamoyo with items like ivory.

The word “Baga Moyo” in Kiswahili, which means “Lay down your heart,” is the source of the word “bagamoyo.” Dhows, which are traditional wooden vessels, were used to transport the slaves to Zanzibar. The slaves were bare nude and smeared with coconut oil until they arrived at their ultimate safari destination in Zanzibar, where many of them perished en route. They were also made to wear bracelets made of gold and silver bearing the name of a slave trader. Slaves were made to march in a queue in Stone Town’s streets during this period, under the watchful eyes of the slavers’ obedient slaves.

In the context of the Arab Slave Trade, the term “Arab” refers to a culture rather than what some people believe to be a race. It was difficult to distinguish the majority of Arab slave traders, such as Tippu Tip and others, from the Africans they had sold into slavery. Of one form or another, the leading racial groups of Zanzibar were involved in the slave trade. A third of the approximately 40,000–50,000 slaves that were transported to Zanzibar each year were employed in the coconut and clove plantations in Pemba and Zanzibar.

Arabs were primarily traders throughout Zanzibar’s era of slavery, while African kings sold captives they had captured during combat. Even though Stone Town and the entire island of Zanzibar are now well-known as Island Havens, there are still a number of striking reminders of the terrible history of the Slave Trade. The Omani Arabs who ruled Zanzibar practiced what they called a “culture of violence,” which primarily meant using force to solve issues.

Before being sold, the slaves were kept in airless, gloomy underground cells. The shackles fastened to the concrete are still visible in the market today. Where the market formerly stood is now the site of a moving memorial that serves as a reminder to both tourists and locals of the horrors that were carried out from this location in the past.

History of Slavery in Zanzibar
History of Slavery in Zanzibar

One of the features of the neighboring Anglican Church is a wooden cross carved from the tree in Zambia where David Livingston’s heart was interred. He was a well-liked abolitionist and explorer. There are still numerous old limestone holding cells on the Coast of Zanzibar Island where slaves were concealed from British abolitionists on their way to freedom. The use of the chambers rose after slavery was outlawed, and some of them still have the last wishes and engravings that the majority of slaves left behind before being sold and transported to another country.

In 1822, the Arabs of Oman signed “The Moresby Treaty.” This prohibited Christians from engaging in the slave trade, and the treaty also contained a number of other limitations. But the dealers persisted in selling slaves despite the prohibitions, which were frequently disregarded. After the British Navy threatened to bombard him in 1873, Sultan Barghash was compelled to sign an edict that outlawed the seaborne slave trade and shut down the slave market in Zanzibar.

Slavery and the slave trade were outlawed on Tanzania’s mainland, but they persisted until the Germans were defeated in World War I and Britain emerged victorious as the colonial power.

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