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Tuesday, August 7, 2012


The Omanis were at one time adventurous and put an end to Portuguese 200 year rule of the Swahili coast of Africa in 1698. They traded slaves, ivory, gold ... (from Africa), dates, incense ... (Arabia), and spices, cloth (India) . In mid-1800s some 50,000 African slaves were traded each year at Zanzibar's slave market.

L: Ivory trade 1800s.

The Omanis introduced clove (1818) growing in Zanzibar, zenj (black - old Arabic/Persian), bar (coast - Arabic). The trade was lucrative and the Sultan of Oman moved his capital to Zanzibar in 1832, establishing a dynasty lasting until 1964.

One Sultan Bargash (1870-88) had 90 wives and every evening he would go to the palace's (Beit al-Ajaib) balcony to choose three of them for the night.

Zanzibar's population is about 1/4 million, 30% of them Muslims, 25% Christians and the rest native religions. Descendents of mixture of Omani Arabs and Shirazi Persians and Africans make up the Muslim population. Maulidi Rasul is celebrated well (R, below). Swaleh is their revered ulama.

Stone town built in the 19th century has more than 160,000 people. As a result of the union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika in 1964 formed Tanzania.
Richard Burton (L) and John Speke (1856-59) on the search for the source of the Nile started their quest from Zanzibar (L, below).

Burton was the author of many books including The Kama Sutra of Vatsyana (1838, translator) and Personal Narrative of a Pilgimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah (1855).


  1. Interesting post. That must have been a massive elephant!

    Didn't SRB translate the Arabian Nights? The man of course had diverse interest.

    Selamat Berpuasa.

  2. BTW, My grandmother told me that sultans from these shores a century ago, did the same thing. Perhaps it was the preoccupation of the generation.

    I am sorry, I am simply too sleepy and am trying to keep awake. Forgive me.

  3. SRB translated the Arabian Nights. I am now reading his book on Narrative to Meccah. My posting on Kama Sutra got be delayed after Raya for obvious reason.

    In all sultanates then, they kept harems. A sultan is not a sultan without a harem!

    Selamat berpuasa.

  4. Ya, you could not imagine how enormous the elephant with such x-tra long curved tusk.