Just the name sounds exotic, with one of its main sources of wealth – the spice trade probably adding to that air of mystery? Did you know though this was also the birthplace of Queen singer/musician Freddie Mercury (born Farrokh Bulsara in 1946 and his house is still there for the intrepid traveller and Queen fan) who lived there before some schooling in India, and who then had to flee Zanzibar with his parents as a result of the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution.
The islands had gained independence from Britain in December 1963 but a month later, the above mentioned bloody revolution, in which thousands of Arabs and Indians were killed in a genocide and thousands more expelled, led to the establishment of the “Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba”, Pemba being the smaller of the two large islands in the Zanzibar group. That April, the republic was subsumed by the mainland former colony of Tanganyika and soon renamed Tanzania, of which Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region.
One other fact I discovered while researching an early 1900s collection of Zanzibar postcards, was that the slave trade was only abolished there in 1897. This was of particular interest as one of the cards I have shows what look to be four young boys chained together in a way I have seen in pictures of slaves, which led me to believe they could also have been slaves rather than just young criminals? Also the first word in the caption has been scored out, possibly the word was slave, and was an act of censorship? Another of the cards also alludes to a “large” amount of ivory trading as well!
A fascinating place none the less with a colourful past which I will continue to read up on. I include a few postcard images here and many of the cards are available for sale in Reynard Collectables ebay shop here.