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Zanzibar was under Omani influence from the reign of Imam Sultan bin Seif who conquered the islands from the Portuguese in 1652. Before he returned to Oman, Imam Sultan bin Seif appointed a member of the El-Harthy family to rule the Islands of Zanzibar.

Upon his death, Imam Sultan was succeeded by his son, Seif bin Sultan who was a daring and adventurous ruler. He managed to quell off the Portuguese insurgency in East Africa. He was succeeded by a member of the Albusaid Dynasty in 1711- Ahmed bin Said who was chosen as a ruler by the people of Oman after Imam Seif bin Sultan's grandson lost control of his country. Henceforth, the reign of the Albusaid Dynasty began which led to the reign of Omani Sultans in Zanzibar.



Seyyid Said was the son of Seyyid Sultan bin Ahmed and the grandson of Ahmed bin Said, the first ruler from the Albusaid Dynasty. He claimed the Throne after assassinating his father's cousin Badar bin Seif (in 1804), who ruled after Seyyid Sultan's death.

He took the title "Seyyid" to replace the title "Imam" and his wife was given the title "Seyyida".

In 1832 Seyyid Said made Zanzibar the Capital city of Oman, settling there with his family and followers. His aim was to transform Zanzibar into a major trading centre for countries around the world. This move was partly influenced by the fact that Zanzibar's coral reefs offered a natural protection from enemy attacks from the sea. In addition Zanzibar also had a natural deep harbour which could anchor large ships, and an abundant supply of fresh spring water.

Seyyid Said converted the fishing town of Zanzibar, one with mud huts and tatched roofs into a town with storeyed flat-roofed houses, built from stone, lime and mortar. The construction was carried out by skilled masons from Arabia with the aid fo the native labour force.
This move encouraged many other Omanis to leave Oman and settle in Zanzibar.

Seyyid Said started trading(Barter)with Europeans who ventured out to the shores fo Zanzibar. He encouraged them to open their business centres on the island. In 1833 he signed a Treaty with America to commence trade in his Kingdoms. The arabs bartered coconuts, tortoise shell, red peppers, beeswax and other products with the Americans in exchange for hardware and cotton wool and fabric.
The Americans established an agency in Zanzibar called John Bertram & Co. of Salem Massachusetts. Later in 1837, America opened its first Embassy on the islands.
Another American merchant house opened called Arnold Hines & Co., of New York.

In 1841 Britain opened a merchant house and subsequently a consulate. The first British Consul was an Irish Army Lieutenant-Colonel Atkins Hammerton.

Subsequently, the French, Italians, Belgians, Germans and Austrians sent their missions to Zanzibar.

Seyyid Said's passion for agriculture coupled with the advantageous fertile soil of Zanzibar, encouraged him to seek for a crop that would be valued by the people of Zanzibar and also have a huge demand on the world market. His answer was Cloves - a spice which originates from the Moluccus Islands and Madagascar.
He ordered several thousand clove sapplings from these Islands and encouraged the farmers to plant clove trees extensively. Zanzibar's cloves were of a very high quality compared to other countries because of its climate and soil.

During his reign in Zanzibar, Seyyid Said paid frequent visits to his homeland to settle any political conflicts that arose while he was in Zanzibar.
In 1856 whilst returning to Zanzibar on the British warship Victoria, he fell ill and passed away on 19 October 1856 off the islands of Seychelles. His body was brought to Zanzibar for a Royal burial.


On Seyyid Said's death, his son Majid arose to the throne and not his eldest son Thuwain who was in Muscat when his father died. This was done to respect the late Sultan's wishes.

Thuwain tried to claim his right to the throne but the British Government who were his father's protector, appointed a commission let by Lord Canning to settle the rivarly between the two brothers. Their verdict given to the dispute was that Thuwain should rule Oman and Majid, Zanzibar and other Omani possessions in East Africa.

This decision created two separate entities within one Kingdom- Oman and Zanzibar each with individual administration and jurisdiction which came into force in 1861.
A feud also arose between Majid and his other brother Barghash. Britain intervened and to resolve the stalemate sent Barghash to Bombay, India for further studies.


On the event of his brother's death Barghash returned to Zanzibar from Bombay to claim his throne.
He was a very ambitious man with expensive western tastes and a ostentatious standard of living which he acquired while studying in India. He spent vast sums of money on all his fancies.

Seyyid Barghash spent money on developing his sultanate. He financed the construction of a fresh water pipe network from the natural spring on Zanzibar island to the town.

In 1872 he instigated the British India Steam Navigation Company to start a monthly steamer service between Aden and Zanzibar. This service carried Zanzibar's mail to various parts of the world.

Seyyid Barghash was the man who brought Zanzibar in closer contact with the rest of the world. After the opening of the Suez Canal(1869), he arranged for the Eastern Telegraph Company to lay a long distance cable cable under the ocean bed from Aden to Zanzibar. Work on laying the submarine cable was accomplished in 1879.
A local office was opened with technicians brought from London, Goa and Bombay.

Seyyid Barghash was instrumental in abolishing the Slave Trade by signing an agreement with Britain in 1870, prohibiting slave trade in his kingdom. He also closed the great slave market at Mkunazini in Zanzibar, where the Anglican Cathederal now stands.

He succumbed to his old age and the stresses associated with ruling his kingdom, passing away in 1888.


Following Seyyid Barghash's demise, Seyyid Khalifa ascended the throne. He reinforced the prohibition on Slavery imposed by his preceeder and made an official declaration that all slaves entering his kingdom would be freed.

He died of a fever on 13 February 1890 at his residence in Chukwani, at the ripe age of 36, reigning only for two years.


On 1 June 1890, Seyyid Khalifa's successor, Seyyid Ali placed Zanzibar and Pemba under British protection. The Protectorate was proclaimed on 1 November 1890.

The information contained in this paragraph has to be confirmed!


Reigned from 1893 to 1896.

SEYYID KHALID BIN BARGHASH (a very short while in 1896)

Son of Seyyid Barghash, he seized the sultan's palace on 25 August 1896 and proclaimed himself Sultan contrary to the British Governments nomination of Seyyid Hamoud.

Having ignored an ultimatum poised by the British Government, the palace where he was taking refuge was bombarded by a British fleet , docked at Zanzibar's harbour and commanded by Rear Admiral Rawson. Fearing for his safety, he fled to Dar-es-salaam under refuge from the German Government. After residing in Seychelles and later in Saint Helena he was forced to hand himself to the British when Germany lost the First World War. He died in Mombasa in 1927.


When Seyyid Khalid fled from Zanzibar, Britain hurriedly swore Seyyid Hamoud to the throne.

He had one son called Ali who was sent to be educated at Harrow, England.

After the death of his dear friend and confidante, Sir Lloyd Mathews in 1901, scarcely had a year passed when he passed away on 18 June 1902 at the age of 51.


At the time of his father's death, Seyyid Ali was still a minor.
When he ascended the throne he kept to a western lifestyle that he had got accustomed to while in England.

In 1911 he was invited to England to witness the Coronation of King George V.
While in Europe, he abdicated his throne and confined to live in Europe dying in Paris the same year.

His sons, who he had left behind in Zanzibar, claimed no right to the throne.


Ascended to the throne after Seyyid Ali's abdication.
During his reign Britain's protection of the Sultanate was transferred from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office in 1925. The offices of the British Consulate and his Majesty's Agency were eliminated and the post of British Resident was created.

Zanzibar's harbour was expanded and facilities for deep sea berths were constructed. A network of tarmac roads was also built across the islands to enhance trade on the islands. Education and health services were created and extended to some remote areas.
The Judicial System was improved on and native Councils and Mudiral courts were set up.

Seyyid Khalifa died in October 1960.


He was Seyyid Khalifa's only son, with a very sociable and friendly personality.

Sadly, his reign was shortlived due to his poor health. He fell victim to diabetes which resulted in both his legs swelling up. After a prolonged illness, gangrene set in which resulted in both his legs having to be amputated. He died during this operation in 1963.


He obtained his Naval Education in England. Seyyid Jamshed was Zanzibar's
last Sultan. He succeeded his father on 1 July 1963.

Like his father his regn was also short lived being ousted by the Zanzibar Revolution of 12 January 1964.
He managed to escape to Dar-es-salaam on his personal yatch, the Al Hathera and was granted political asylum in England. He now resides in Portsmouth in the U.K.

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