Welcome to Ocean Paradise Resort Zanzibar
Sunday, September 21, 2014 
About Zanzibar...
Ocean Paradise Zanzibar - Resort & Spa
Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Unguja and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town - said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.

EAST AFRICA
ZANZIBAR ISLAND
< Click on Map to ZOOM >
Stone Town
Stone Town old city and cultural heart of Zanzibar, has changed little in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose original owners vied with each other over the extravagance of their dwellings. This one-upmanship is particularly reflected in the brass-studded, carved, wooden doors - there are more than 500 different examples of this handiwork. You can spend many idle hours and days just wandering through the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways.

Historically, the Assyrians, Sumerians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, Dutch and English have all been to Zanzibar at one time or another. Some, particularly the Shirazi Persians and Omani Arabs, stayed to settle and rule. With this influence, Zanzibar has become predominantly Islamic (97%) - the remaining 3% is made up of Christians, Hindus and Sikhs. The earliest visitors to Zanzibar were Arab traders who are said to have arrived in the 8th century. The earliest building that remains on Zanzibar is the mosque at Kizimkazi, which dates from 1107, and is a present-day tourist attraction.

For centuries the Arabs sailed with the Monsoon winds from Oman to trade primarily in ivory, slaves and spices. The two main islands, Unguja (normally known as Zanzibar Island) and Pemba, provided an ideal base for the Omani Arabs, being relatively small, and therefore fairly easy to defend. From here it was possible for them to control 1,000 miles of the mainland coast from present day Mozambique to Somalia. Indeed, in 1832, Sultan Seyyid Said, of the Busaid Dynasty that had emerged in Oman, moved his Sultanate from Muscat, which was perhaps more difficult to protect, to Zanzibar where he and his descendants ruled for over 130 years. Most of the wealth lay in the hands of the Arab community, who were the main landowners, kept themselves to themselves, and generally did not intermarry with the Africans.

This was not true of the Shirazi Persians who came from the Middle East to settle on the East African coast. The story goes that in AD 975, Abi Ben Sultan Hasan of Shiraz in Persia (now Iran) had a terrible nightmare in which a rat devoured the foundations of his house. He took this as an omen that his community was to be devastated. Others in the Shiraz Court ridiculed the notion, but Sultan Hasan, his family and some followers obviously took it very seriously because they decided to migrate. They set out in seven dhows into the Indian Ocean but were caught in a huge storm and separated. Thus, landfalls were made at seven different places along the East African coast, one of which was Zanzibar, and settlements began.

Widespread intermarriage between Shirazis and Africans gave rise to a coastal community with distinctive features, and a language derived in part from Arabic, which became known as Swahili. The name Swahili comes from the Arab word sawahil which means 'coast'. The Zanzibar descendants of this group were not greatly involved in the lucrative slave, spice and ivory trades. Instead, they immersed themselves mainly in agriculture and fishing. Those Shirazis that did not intermarry retained their identity as a separate group.

Two smaller communities were also established. Indian traders arrived in connection with the spice and ivory trade, and quickly settled as shopkeepers, traders, skilled artisans, and professionals. British missionaries also set up on the Island.

After the death of Said the Great in 1856, the royal house was left with numerous power struggles. Faced with the advent of slavery abolition and jealousy within the family, the British managed to gain control of much of the island. whilst attempting to abolish the slave trade centred in Zanzibar, on which they were largely unsuccessful. They were limited to intimidating slave traders and effecting quotas. The British managed to pressurise Said's successors into stopping the trade, but many treaties were ignored. In 1890, Sultan Ali, the last of Sultan Said's successors, finally honored his treaty in declaring all slaves free, and freeing any slaves that entered the area.

In 1896, Sultan Hamed bin Thuwain died, leaving the throne vacant. Hamed's cousin, Khaled saw an opportunity and crawled through the palace window, gained a few supporters and announced he was the new Sultan.

The British were obviously not impressed with this, as Zanzibar was a British protectorate. The British ordered Khaled to lower his flag by 9a.m. on the 27th of August 1896. Needless to say this was not done, and the shortest war in history ensued (it is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records). The British opened fire on Stone Town, destroying the Palace, the Harem, the Sultan's ship and the lighthouse. The House of Wonders was slightly damaged. 40 minutes later, the war was over and Seyyid Hamoud bin Mohammed was declared the new Sultan.

The British protectorate continued until constitutional independence was granted to Zanzibar on 10 December 1963. On 12 January 1964, John Okello, a Ugandan President on Pemba, began what was to be the bloodiest revolution ever seen in Zanzibar. Okello began by gaining support amongst the black population, then started to capture strategic police and government buildings. Okello based himself in the building of the radio station, to help him broadcast his message to the now hungry revolutionaries. Within a couple of days, 17000 Arabs and Indians were killed and those that survived fled, their land confiscated and nationalised. Abeid Karume, leader of the Afro-Shirazi party, was declared the new president and proceeded to form the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.

This was a new beginning for the people of Zanzibar that had witnessed centuries of oppression.
 
 

© 2014 Ocean Paradise Resort Zanzibar. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Statement | User Terms & Conditions Facebook Twitter Linked in