Mohamed Amin, Duncan Willetts and Graham
ISBN 1 874041 38 5
If the name Zanzibar conjures up for you a tantalising sense of mystrey, of a hidden past, of the species of the orient, of a vibrant culture set in an island just off the cost of Africa and edged with tropical, palm-fringed beaches – then you will not be disappointed. Zanzibar is all this, and more.
The island has a long and colourful past. Traders plying the Indian Ocean in their dhows first stopped off there some 3,000 years ago, and evidence of early settlers is still being unearthed.
Much later came the conquering Portuguese, and then the Omani sultans, who ruled Zanzibar from the early 1800s and presided over the shame of the slave trade. Livingstone, Stanley, Speke and Burton and other intrepid 19th century explorers of the African interior set out with their caravans from Zanzibar, some of them never to return.
The last of the Omani sultans fled just after independence in 1963, and Zanzibar united with mainland Tanganyika to become the independent African state of Tanzania.
Zanzibar today is thus the result of many influences and cultures, and this is reflected in its way of life and in its architecture, particularly in the charming Stone Town, whose narrow streets are best explored on foot. The island is also at the centre of the world’s clove trade and the air is often redolent with the aroma of spices.
Much lies in wait for the visitor to Zanzibar. The sense of history is almost tangible but beyond the veils of history also lies great beauty, just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.