Zanzibar: 55 Years of Independence!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

After my jaunt through Kenya, I went further south to Zanzibar.

Today is actually the 55th anniversary of the overthrow of the Sultan of Zanzibar and Arab rule. 
Happy Revolution Day, Zanzibar! She is a complex but very beautiful island that is now a part of Tanzania.

Despite the name, Prison Island is beautiful

I knew that the history of Zanzibar was complex. It was a major hub in the Indian Ocean slave trade. I was looking forward to learning more at the East African Slave Trade Exhibit. As expected, it was a humbling and somber visit. Thankfully, there was no sugarcoating and my guide held no punches.

One of two Christian churches on the mostly Muslim Zanzibar island

The whipping post used to be right where the cross is

The museum is ironically and perhaps poetically on the site of the only Anglican church on the island. The church was once the site of a slave market. At this market, humans were bartered for guns and ivory, and endured through absolutely barbaric conditions. 

"...the amount was terrible." 😞

While information was difficult to process, it was detailed, sequential and vivid.

Participants in the Indian Ocean trade included the Brits, Portuguese, Germans and the Omani Arabs
The latter's influence is still a stronghold on the island

Some faces of the Indian Ocean slave trade
Sadly, other so called Blacks were traders and overseers of European and Arab interests in Zanzibar

"A wealthy slave trader..."

This holding cell held 75+ slaves at at time. Many died from suffocation and malnutrition.
Absolutely barbaric!
The guide says these are original slave chains

Around the back of the museum is the famous tribute bust, in memory of the humans who were subjected to the most horrendous conditions in history. 

Never Ever Forget
This was a terrible time in history, and sadly, slavery has reinvented itself in the form of trafficking. There is an extension of the museum that shares information on how to combat this sick and evil practice; a trip to Zanzibar is incomplete without a visit here. 

I think it's lightweight admirable, for lack of a better word, that the gulf countries are acknowledging their participation in the slave trade. I wrote about my experience at Doha's Msherieb Slavery Museum, and I hope more work is being done to provide reparations to its descendants. 
Here's hoping that my raggedy ass home country will get on board with reparations one day.

Zanzibar wasn't all melancholy. Since it was once the center of Indian Ocean trading, there are numerous influences that remain prevalent today.

There were so many elaborate doors in Stone Town!
This one is Arab influenced; others were Indian influenced

With my guide, Khalifa, co-owner of Cool of Africa Tours
Be sure to support local owned and operated tour guides!

One of several tortoises on the famed Prison Island
A gift from the King of Seychelles, and some mating, gave birth to this place!

My room at the beautiful Seyyida Hotel and Spa

I spent New Years Eve on beautiful Nungwi Beach 😊

Zanzi has a rich history and is still a developing nation. There is very little to do activity wise; and like Mombasa, I found good food and other basic necessities difficult to come by. It reminded me a lot of the Maldives, in that it's a place where you go to relax and chill, and not much else. I would return, but perhaps to one of the beaches instead of Stone Town.
Zanzibar was #1 on my "bucket list" and I'm blessed to have been.

Happy Revolution Day, Zanzibar!

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