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Zanzibar - A Dark History

History and culture on Zanzibar



Africa Specialist
Published on

02 Mar 2018

Updated on

18 Jun 2020

Zanzibar Slave Trade

It is easy to look at the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar and think of paradise but there is a dark side of this beautiful island that should not be forgotten!

Stone Town
The white sandy beach of Stone Town

Zanzibar was the slave trade capital of the world, as the gateway to the Indian Ocean individuals were taken from central Africa to the island. 40-50,000 people per year were piled onto overcrowded boats, thousands didn’t survive the journey.

In 1811 San Bin Sultan opened a slave trade market, throughout the 60 years of operation over 1 million individuals were traded. A third of the people were sold to plantations on the island of Zanzibar, to work on clove and spice farms, the others were shipped to Persia, Egypt and Arabia.

Zanzibar Slave Trade
Zanzibar Slave Chambers

In 1876 the slave trade was officially abolished and the sale of individuals became illegal, slavery itself remained legal in Zanzibar until 1897.

Spend some time exploring Stone Town to find out more....

Stone Town
Anglican Christ Church Cathedral

On the site of the old slave market now stands the Anglican Christ Church Cathedral; take a tour to learn more about the dark history of this area.

Slave Market Memorial
The Slave Market Memorial

Take a moment to stop at the Slavery Monument outside the Church, a very poignant reminder of the conditions that these people had to suffer.

Slavery Museum
Inside the Slavery Museam

Visit the Slavery museum, if you decide to visit alone (without a guide – you don’t necessarily need one) then the entrance fee is approx $5 per person. The information boards are all translated into English and offer a wealth of information about the Slave Trade and the history of Zanzibar.

If you want to take your time in Stone Town then add a couple of nights into your holiday and stay in one of the many hotels in the city. Alternatively day trips to Stone Town can be arranged from anywhere on the island of Zanzibar, the beaches on the East Coast are approx 1hr 15min drive away.

To find out more about Zanzibar please contact the team at Far and Wild Travel.

Speak To Our Zanzibar Expert Today

  • Marc


    Tanzania Specialist

  • Alistair


    Tanzania Specialist

Call an expert on

01768 603 715

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