Zanzibar & The Slave Trade

The island of Zanzibar saw upwards of 50,000 slaves pass through its ports — some to remain and be worked to death on the various spice plantations, and others to be passed on to other traders.

Zanzibar, locally known as Unguja, is an island rich in a history that spans thousands of years. It is sad to say, however, that this history includes years of involvement in the slave trade.

Zanzibar’s ideal location off the coast made it a strategic trading location with other countries in the Arab world. From the beginning, Zanzibar’s many tropical spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg were among the most common traded goods.

But there existed another, more sinister trading commodity that worked its way into Zanzibar: Human slaves.

Every year, there were between 40,000 and 50,000 slaves that arrived in Zanzibar from throughout East Africa. The majority of them worked on various spice farms throughout the island, while others were sent to other destinations throughout the Middle East.

While slavery was curbed in 1822 under pressure from a treaty with Great Britain, it sadly was not officially abolished on the island until 1897.

Learn about this haunting history, the individuals that were forced to be part of it, and how it finally reached its finale. A cultural visit to Zanzibar will put you on the very streets where these fellow Africans walked and help you to learn and understand the history of this place and its inhabitants.

Images Source: Tanzania Tourist Board

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