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.
I had sleeping my second night on the Spice island but I was still up early for a quick walk to visit the beautiful white sands of the Indian Ocean at my resort.
It was sunny and the beautiful flowers growing everywhere on grounds of the resort made for some spectacular photographs, including the beautiful birds that live in the trees.
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.
Once again we passed a variety of vehicles and people. Most of the traffic was by motorcycle. This mode of transportation seems to be favored on the island.
However there also trucks, cars, and vans transporting called dalla-dallas transporting local folks to and from work, shopping and school.
And there was the Zanzibar Toyota, as the local residents jokingly call the ox drawn carts still seen on the roads of the island.
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.
We then visited the basement of the church were slaves were kept for days in this dark, cramped spaces.
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.
We entered the market where we found merchants selling fresh seafood from the ocean,
of course fresh produce and spices.
It was a wonderful place to go back in time and imagine the same activity occurring 200 years ago.
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.
After visiting the market we walked to the harbor
This was the location of the Sultan’s who ruled Zanzibar built their palace.
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.
After leaving the Sultan’s Palace, I again admired the beautiful views of the harbor.
No tour of Stone Town would be complete without a visit to one of its most famous former resident, the rock singer from the group Queen, Freddie Mercury.
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