Stone Town: Tanzania Day Four: Zanzibar: So Much History, Good And Bad.
Once again I tried, and failed, to keep my blog posts current while I traveled. I am now sitting in the lobby of the Planet Airport hotel as I try to recollect the past two weeks and write this blog post. So much to see and do. But I have uploaded many photos in my Tanzania album for your perusal. Please feel free to check them out. So, now back to Zanzibar and my visit to its famous Stone Town.
My tour to Stone Town started early so I had a quick breakfast and met my driver a 7;30 a.m. for the 1 1/2 drive to this famous city. My guide Mudi was early and soon was driving me along the main road to Zanzibar City and Stone Town.
The traffic increased as we approached Zanzibar City . Zanzibar City has a population of about 250,000 people. Here is a link to my gallery with some more photographs from my drive to Stone Town. Zanzibar Day Four Drive to Zanzibar City October 1 2019.
We drove into the old winding streets and buildings of Stone Town. Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.The island was known by the ancient Greeks and was a trading and fishing village for centuries. The Portuguese founded a settlement in the 16th century. Stone Town saw most of its growth under the rule of the sultan of Oman in the 19th century. He began the cultivation of spices which made the island famous and rich. The unique blend of Arab, Persian, Indian, European and African cultures is unique.
Mundi dropped me off in the old town and I met my guide who walked me to Christ Church, the Anglican Church built atop the old slave market.
As I explored the church, construction of which was started in the 1860’s and completed in 1870, I learned of its association with the anti-slavery movement in Great Britain. It was built to commemorate the end of the slave trade.
The horrors of the slave trade were explained in detail. I already knew of this horrible history in my own Country. I did learn that the slaves from East Africa were sold in an entirely different market than the ones sold in the United States. It was a horrible period of our history. I also learned that the famous Dr. Livingston was a fervent abolitionists and the cross in the church was made from wood a tree at the location where his heart was buried in Africa.
The museum near the church gave a detailed and graphic depiction of the horrors of slavery. I have to admit it was a very emotional and disturbing visit. Seeing how human beings could treat one another like this is something I just can’t comprehend . . It was the right place to start my tour of Stone Town. We can not forget and most never repeat this horror. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the church and slave market museum. Tanzania Day Four Zanzibar Church and slave market October 1 2019.
After visiting the church and slave market we walked through the narrow streets of the old town. Stone Town gets its name from the coral-stone that was used to build the structures that still exit today.
The guide explained the various influences of the different cultures and explained the meaning of the elaborate doors constructed by the wealthy merchants. The Indian doors were easy to identify since they all had the traditional spikes that warded off the attacks of escaped elephants in their native India. Here is a link to some more photographs from my walk through the streets of Stone Town. Tanzania Day Four: produce market.
I soon learned about the history of the Sultan of Oman taking control of Zanzibar and turning it into a rich source of revenue by importing and cultivating exotic spices such as cloves and engaging in the slave and ivory trade.
There were 11 Sultans until a revolution in 1964 ousted the last of them. The tour of the palace was very informative and showed how the Sultans would entertain the royal families of Europe, Russia and the entire world.
The wealth that the trade from the island produced was apparent from the many valuable art treasures and objects, including automobiles that the sultans possessed. Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour. Tanzania Day Four. Sultan’s Palace. October 1 2019.
Just as we finished our tour rain began to fall. It was perfect timing. I will long remember the morning I spent in this town. I learned so much about the folks who lived here over the centuries, both good and bad. Thankfully the good orervailed. It is a beautiful town with wonderful people.
“A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational and economic legacies – all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.” Steve Berry