The Transformation of East African Coastal Urban Society with Regard to the Slave Distribution System

Part of the Palgrave Series in Indian Ocean World Studies book series (IOWS)


This chapter shows how the role of the East African coastal urban society in the slave distribution system of the western Indian Ocean was transformed. For many years, this society was an emporium within the slave distribution system. From the 1820s, the successful transplanting of cloves and the rise of a plantation economy in Zanzibar saw the region develop a demand for slaves of its own. First, the chapter examines the progress of this transformation. In exchange for depopulation in mainland East Africa, the urban coastal society held a large number of slaves, thus becoming a slave-owning society. From the mid-nineteenth century, frequent slave raids from Zanzibar were reported. It had become a new slave ground.


Almost all the estimates agree that the peak of the East African slave trade occurred in the nineteenth century. For example, Paul E. Lovejoy estimated the number of the slaves exported from East African coast then as 882,000, 1 more than double an estimate of 400,000 for the previous century. 2 In the system of slave distribution in the western Indian Ocean region, the East African coastal urban society played two well-recognized roles: as emporium of slaves brought from the interior and exported to markets overseas, and as itself a creator of demand for slaves. After the 1830s when Zanzibar rushed headlong into what Abdul Sheriff has called ‘clove mania’ , the demand for slaves rose notably. However, another role which the coastal society began to play seems to be largely ignored thus far: it was a slave ground, and it became one almost at the same time as it created its own demand for slaves. This chapter will clarify the process by which that happened and will explore the background to it.

The Growing Demand for Slaves on the East African Coast

The three roles mentioned above can be understood as a causal chain, and in this section I shall clarify how the first two developed. The coastal region had played the role of exporter for long time, but a rapid increase in slave exports began in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, corresponding with the increase in demand for slaves in the Mascarene and Caribbean Islands as their plantation economies grew. 3 The coastal area and its immediate hinterland initially met that demand, 4 but at the start of the nineteenth century local sources of slaves began to be depleted. Slaves were then brought from further into the interior; Alpers, for example, points out that at that time a large number of Yao slaves are recorded in Mozambique Island. 5 In fact, according to the French trader Épidariste Colin who visited that part of the coast in 1804, he found more slaves from the Yao than from the Makua , who generally lived much closer to the island. He even saw slaves from the Maravi, whose homeland was much farther away than that of the Yao. 6 James Prior, a surgeon on board the Royal Navy ship Nisus, also noticed the depopulation of the hinterland of Kilwa when he visited in 1811. 7

The coastal region developed a large appetite for slaves in the first half of the nineteenth century, largely because of the rise of a plantation-based economy in that area, particularly north of Kilwa . Cash crops produced on plantations, such as cloves , sesame seeds or sugar , required close connections to the world market to be forged. 8 Economic dependency on plantation products followed the success of clove and coconut cultivation on Zanzibar and later on Pemba Island 9 ; after that, it was only a matter of time before other products became important export commodities, with the plantation economy even spreading to the opposite coast of Zanzibar and Pemba. 10 For example, Rigby reported in 1860 that:

[d]uring the last few years the cultivation of sesamum and rice on the opposite coast has much increased and these articles are now exported from Mombass and Lamoo to the amount of about two lacks [sic. lacs] of Rupees annually. 11

Incidentally, all sesame seeds were exported to Marseilles. 12 The planting of grains, meanwhile, revived historical Malindi . As Esmond B. Martin explains, Mājid b. Sa‛īd ordered the resettlement of Malindi , which began sometime around 1861 with the posting of a number of Baluchi soldiers to supervise resettlement and the cultivation of crops. 13 The plan appeared to succeed and crops were cultivated on a large scale around Malindi to provide foodstuffs for the cash crop cultivation centres, where arable lands for food crops were given over instead to cash crop production. 14 Similarly, along the Mrima Coast, the locals enjoyed prosperity with running ‘large plantations of cereals and vegetables, with which they, or rather their slaves, supply the island of Zanzibar, and even the shores of Arabia’. 15 As such, not only Zanzibar and Pemba Islands but also several spots along the coast began to enjoy economic prosperity. Plantations required a large workforce of slave labour; for example, according to calculations by Sheriff, one slave could produce 60 lb of cloves annually. 16 Plantation owners bought more slaves with the profits generated by commercial crops. Indeed, in 1844 the British Consul reported an increase of population in Zanzibar where ‘the people are growing rich, and able to buy more slaves to cultivate cloves’. 17

Slaves were not only seen as a labour force creating profit for their owners; as Hamerton declared in 1842, ‘a man’s wealth and respectability in the dominions of the Imam of Muskat is always estimated by the number of African slaves he is said to possess’. 18 Ephraim A. Emmerton , a Salem merchant who regularly visited Zanzibar , observed in 1849 that ‘[s]laves are owned here because it is fashionable for to have them, not because it is profitable’. 19 Considering ‘clove mania’ had reached its peak by then, Emmerton’s remark seems to imply that owning slaves for non-commercial purposes was widespread by that time; he went on in his diaries to mention that many slaves themselves owned slaves. 20 Furthermore, increasing numbers of Indian merchants wanted temporary wives while they were in Zanzibar, and since many Hindu communities prohibited females from going abroad, majority male Hindu communities in Zanzibar demanded female slaves, many of whom were then resold when their masters eventually left Zanzibar. 21 By the 1850s, East African coastal urban society included a large slave population. 22

Further Depopulation of the Interior

As demand for slaves increased, the slave grounds extended further inland. Hamerton reported in 1842 the existence around Kilwa of a barter trade involving slaves and muskets, gunpowder and cotton clothes from America (called merikani). 23 An unknown contemporary Indian observer who had lived in Kilwa for many years reported to Rigby that it was sometime around the late 1840s that Arab slave merchants began to go deeper into the interior, accompanied by large numbers of armed men, and that the local chiefs, who desperately wanted the trade goods mentioned started attacking each other. 24 Considering the dates, it would be fair to suspect some relationship exists between this serious depopulation of the hinterland of Kilwa and the ‘clove mania’ and related events as mentioned in the previous section which produced a large demand of slaves. In other words, significant population movement towards coastal urban area including adjascent plantation has been occurred in East African region-wide.

Depopulation of the interior was reported from other regions besides Kilwa . For instance, a missionary of CMS , Johannes Rebmann , observed in 1848 that in Jagga , at the foot of Kilimanjaro , local people waged war against each other to obtain captives who would be sent to the coast. 25 In addition, there is a report about the region of the Sagara , west of Uluguru Mountains, quite similar to that Rigby reported about Kilwa 26 ; Krapf revealed that the Kamba overpowered the Kwavi and as a result of it, the Kamba carried away a large number of children of the Kwavi—of both genders—because slave dealers preferred their appearance. 27

Rigby made following interesting observations about the extension of the slave ground into the interior. When he undertook to set free slaves owned by Indians resident along East African coast at the beginning of the 1860s, he noticed a significant difference between those who had been held for a long time and those who were newly enslaved: the majority of the former had come from the Mrima Coast and its immediate hinterland, while many of the latter were from the Yao or the Nyasa tribes, who lived further inland. 28 He estimated the number of slaves brought to Zanzibar during the north-east monsoon season in 1860 at 19,000: 4000 from the Mrima Coast and its immediate hinterland and 15,000 from the region around Lake Nyasa , which is about 40 days’ journey from Kilwa . 29 As the reason for the change in the area of supply from the coast to inland regions, he pointed to the extensive depopulation of the Mrima Coast and its hinterland. 30 Serious depopulation was observed around Kilwa too, where, by 1860, the previously densely populated area—roughly, ten to 12 days’ distance inland from Kilwa—had become totally depopulated. 31 Rigby’s observation corresponded to the list of slaves of Indian owners along the East African coast freed by the Consul in 1860. 32 For example, the slaves from the inland were, on average, younger than those from the regions much closer to the coast.

Depopulation brought with it a number of side effects. The Yao had previously cultivated a large amount of cotton, but after the slave ground was extended to cover their region they stopped doing so. 33 Furthermore, the wars carried on for the purpose of procuring captives made caravan routes unsafe. 34

Becoming a Slave Ground: Kidnap and Plunder in the East African Coastal Urban Society

After the British anti-slave trade patrol became active in the western Indian Ocean in the 1850s, testimonies like those quoted below could be found in the consulate documents:

I gave myself up to the Agent at Lingar [sic. = Bander-e Lengeh] and claimed protection. I was born at Marema [sic. = Mrima] near Zanzibar and was taken quite young to Zanzibar, where I was sold to an Indian man who belonged to Surat, I remained at Zanzibar. I was about thirteen of years old when my master died and I obtained my liberty and remained at Zanzibar free. Until a few months ago when I went to a dance, and on returning I was met by Feroze bin Samied who had at other three men with him and as soon as my sister and myself had passed these men, they turned and caught us and dragged us to their Batel, who which they sent us and brought us to Ras el Khyma [sic. = Ras al-Khayma]. There was about twenty other slaves in this boat, all were landed at Ras el Khyma, I remained at Ras el khyma 6 days when Feroze brought three of us over to Lingar and sold me to Kummal a Busra man and he told me not to show myself outside the house, because the English Agent would see me, I met a slave girl in Lingar, who told me that to go to Busra but to go to Ahmed the Agent who would save me, which I did and he sent me to Bassadore [sic. = Basidu = Bandar-e ‘Abbās ]. 35

That statement was given by a 22-year-old woman named Khyzran, in Bandar-e Lengeh , 1856, while in the same year a boy of 13 named Meerjohu, who had come under the protection of a local agent at the same place, made a statement summarized as follows:

[T]hese men had plenty of sweetmeats which they gave them every now and then and they [Meerjohu and his friends] followed these men to get these sweetmeats, 36 until they were a long way from their villages, when these men caught them and put them in a Boat and took them on board the Buggalow, this was near Zanzibar , there was a great number on board the Buggalow … hundred landed at Ras el Khyma, they were all landed there... of which he was one, was sold and brought to Linga, six remained with his master when he left Ras el Khyma, and all the others had been sent away to Busra in the Boats. 37

Apart from those two cases, similar incidents were reported from Zanzibar, Pemba, Mombasa and Lamu. 38 In his despatch written on 13 September 1858, Rigby mentioned the general pattern of these raids:

The Buggalows on their departure from Zanzibar or other ports put into some small Bay under the pretence of procuring fresh water and then the crew land in a body armed and carry off as many Negroes as they can seize from the neighbouring plantations. They also frequently have on an accomplice who conveys Negroes to a particular spot agreed upon for clandestine sale. Many are also kidnapped from the Town of Zanzibar and conveyed on board a Buggalow just as it is about to sail. Some time ago, the Arab commander of one of His Highness the Sultan’s ships of war was thus kidnapped, released the next morning when they ascertained who he was. 39

From the end of the 1850s the East African coastal urban society began to experience serious raiding. A letter of 28 March 1860 from the British Consul in Zanzibar to the Secretary to the Indian Government mentioned that during the early north–east monsoon season of 1859, ‘a very unusual number’ of boats visited from the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. 40 Several local dhows were attacked by these boats off Pemba Island , while at Mombasa the local inhabitants rose up against the crews who had stolen their slaves and children—a number of lives were lost during the ensuing melee. 41 The Consul continued his report:

Zanzibar resembles a city with a hostile army encamped in its neighbourhood. Every person who is able to do so, sends his children and young slaves into the interior of the island for security, people are afraid to stir out of their houses after dark, reports are daily made of children and slaves kidnapped and in the suburbs of the town. They even enter the houses and take the children away by force. 42

Kidnap victims included a boy who had been freed just a month earlier and was employed in the house of a Consulate, and the small daughter of a havildar (commandant) at the British Consulate 43 ; all in all the raids ‘inspired terror amongst all classes’ in Zanzibar, 44 with foreign merchants and even Consuls no exception. Rigby complained that the officers and jemadar (military official) of the Bū Sa‛īd were too cowardly to stop the raids and actually went in fear of the Northern Arabs . 45 Consequently, the raiders could be seen ‘carrying kidnapped children though the public streets in large baskets during the day’. 46

Similar incidents were recorded again in the next north–east monsoon season; this time the number of visitors from Oman and the Persian Gulf had increased from the previous season and there was much kidnapping. 47 For example, on 14 July, five kidnapped slaves were found in the house of a man of the Qawāsim , and a certain Aḥmad b. Sulaymān from Ṣūr managed to kidnap 40 slaves in a single night. 48 At the beginning of the monsoon season, the Customs House at Stone Town was attacked, and on 9 March 1861 the American Consulate was occupied by raiders. 49 Some of the raiders were seen ‘brandishing their swords and calling out that they would have the blood of a white man’ 50 ; they then surrounded the British Consulate and continued to threaten violence. Both consulates were relieved after Mājid paid 500 MT$ to the ringleader of the raiders. 51

This 500 MT$ was not the first payment that the Northern Arabs received from Mājid. According to Rigby, they visited his palace every morning demanding money and food—and eventually they got it. 52 On another occasion they requested 5000 MT$ from Mājid and eventually received a half of this amount after a few days’ negotiation. 53 Money they received on these occasions was immediately exchanged for slaves. 54 On the other hands, some of slave owners in Zanzibar chose to sell their slaves to the Northern Arabs, rather than risk losing them to the Arabs anyway via kidnap and plunder. As a result, a slave market operated every day in the suburbs of Stone Town , and Northern Arabs could buy slaves without interference. 55 It was no surprise then, when HMS Lyra arrived at Zanzibar on 19 March and captured a number of Northern Arab vessels which together held 250 slaves, 200 of whom had been purchased either in the slave market or privately. 56 Northern Arabs were in the habit of renting houses in Stone Town where they imprisoned slaves in darkened rooms, as reported by the British Consul. 57 He even noted that large numbers of slaves were quite openly forcibly embarked in ships beached just yards from the consulate’s premises. 58 This situation continued even after the end of the north-east monsoon season. 59

Since slaves made up a large proportion of the population in the East African coastal urban society as a result of its transformation into a lucrative plantation economy, the local populace themselves began to be targeted by kidnappers. There are no reliable sources that can be used to estimate the number of raids, and also the level of exploitation would have been much modest than interior areas such as the Shire River valley, but without doubt they had an enormous effect on the coastal urban society, as the cases above show. Moreover, the Omani historian Sa‛īd b. ‘Alī al-Mughayrī (1300–78 ah = 1882/3–1958/9 ad), the author of Juhayna al-akhbār fī tārīkh Zanzibār, 60 listed two main ways of enslaving people. First, there was the possibility of capturing them in war and taking them as plunder, or, second, one might simply kidnap them. Juhayna, with implicit disapproval, pointed out that although the latter was in fact much more likely, the former was the only permissible method under the law of Islam. 61 Sullivan mentioned in his memoir of anti-slave trade patrolling in Zanzibar’s waters that one of the questions he had learned to ask in the Kiswahili language of slaves rescued at sea was whether they had been kidnapped or bought. 62

Who Changed the East African Coastal Urban Area into a Slave Ground?

The question to be asked then is: ‘Who turned the East African coastal urban society into a slave ground from the mid-1850s onwards?’ To answer the question, we must consider the timing; in other words, ‘why the mid-1850s?’

The contemporary records always refer to Northern Arabs as the raiders. 63 The term ‘Northern Arabs’ generally refers to sailors and merchants who visited the East African coastal towns from Oman and the Persian Gulf. They were infamous in the western Indian Ocean waters. For instance, in 1827, the brig Ann from Salem set sail from Ṣūr along the East African coast in consort with a dhow . Only later was Ann’s master told by another local captain that the Ṣūri dhow had intended to commit piracy against Ann. 64

Northern Arabs had a similar reputation for infamy in the British documents too, but in fact they were not the only ones raiding coastal societies and kidnapping their peoples to enslave them. They worked with agents from within the coastal societies. The contemporary records report a number of raids masterminded by officers of the Sultan. For instance, Rigby reported that a Turkish jemadar admitted that he had sold 62 children to Northern Arabs despite the fact that his job was to patrol the coast against them. 65 Another case was unearthed by Rigby in August 1861. The Consul reported that several Arab mercenaries had kidnapped a large number of slaves and carried them away by ship. 66 Three days later, Rigby wrote another report stating that 12 kidnapped slaves had been found in the house of an Arab jemadar. 67

However, simply identifying Northern Arabs and their local partners-in-crime as the culprits does not provide the full answer. Northern Arabs were by no means newcomers to East African coastal towns, yet we can find no trace of any great tendency to raiding and kidnapping by them at any time prior to the mid-1850s. That being so, we must consider what changed them so thoroughly in that period? The most important change going on in the mid-1850s was in the anti-slave trade policy of the Bū Sa‛īd. Since the Moresby Treaty’s conclusion in 1822, the British had repeatedly requested the sultans of Zanzibar to take strict measures against the slave trade. 68 During his reign, Sa‛īd, who transferred his capital to Zanzibar in 1828, appealed in his darbār (royal court) as well as to ‘the people of influence’ not to sell slaves to Northern Arabs, 69 and prohibited the public sale of slaves. 70 He went further, even ordering the locals not to rent houses to Northern Arabs. 71 Nonetheless, the British Consul expressed doubt about whether those orders actually had any effect on slave dealings. 72 In fact, the Sultan was not truly cooperating with the British; according to Hamerton , Sa‛īd’s real intention was to keep slave dealing away from ‘white people’’s sights; thus the slave market was moved to the suburbs of the town. 73 Sa‛īd’s motivations can be explained: the income from the poll tax of slaves was an important revenue stream for him and he owned a large number of slaves himself and exported them. Probably to explain his position, he once remarked to Hamerton that the Qur’ān sanctioned the slave trade and the institution of slavery, and that Arabs enjoyed the right to enslave all infidels. 74

By contrast, Mājid (r. 1856–1870), his successor, put in place much stricter measures. He prohibited all slave dealings during the north-east monsoon season 1859/60 and detailed his frigate called ‘Piedmontese’ near the north end of Zanzibar and later moved it to the entrance of the Stone Town harbor to examine all passing dhows . 75 Furthermore, he closed slave market during the entire north-east monsoon season and ordered all dhows belonging to the people of the Qawāsim and from Ṣūr to drop anchor about six miles from Stone Town , whereupon their rudders would be confiscated. 76 However, these did not make any effect, as few were on board ‘Piedmontese’ constantly and slave market was carried everyday just outside the town and Northern Arabs could purchase slaves freely. 77 In the following north-east monsoon season of 1860/61, partically owing to raidings of Northern Arabs, Royal Navy’s Lyra and Sidon patrolled around the East African coast and captured 25 vessels and rescued slaves on board these vessels. 78 Finally, Mājid used his own force to arrest slave traders in 1862, and several of them were imprisoned, and his soldiers and Northern Arabs clashed each other and several Northern Arabs lost their lives. 79 In the meeting with Playfair in May 1863, Mājid reported Playfair these events and his future plans for slave trade suppression. 80 Actually, the Annual Report of the British Consul at Zanzibar in 1864 revealed that the Sultan adopted following measures 81 :
  1. 1.

    Slave exporting from Kilwa port can be permitted only on ships belonging to the Sultan’s subjects that had obtained special permission from Zanzibar Customs.

  2. 2.

    All slave transport was completely prohibited between 1 January and 1 May when the Northern Arabs visited East African coast.


Though these measures did not always work well to begin with, the policy became stricter afterwards. 82 According to a dispatch from Mājid to Churchill , the British Consul who succeeded Rigby at Zanzibar , on 10 Muḥarram 1285 ah (3 May 1868), Mājid had sent letters to the shaykhs of the Northern Arabs requesting them to prohibit their subjects from visiting Zanzibar , and he also warned them that he would impound and then burn any of ships which ignored this ban. 83 These actions of Mājid gradually came into effect and such progress was well-recognized by British and American Consuls. 84 Combined with the Royal Navy’s eager campaign targetting East African waters, that action by Mājid certainly prevented the Northern Arabs from regular and formal slave dealings with Zanzibar and even stopped them entering Stone Town. 85 Under such circumstance, Playfair observed a certain transition of Northern Arab’s behavior. He reported in his letter to Bombay on 26th August 1863 that ‘[t]he Gulf Arabs finding it difficult to obtain cargos of slaves by open purchase, have adopted the more economical expedient of kidnapping all on whom they can lay hands’ and ‘majority of the slaves belonged to residents at Zanzibar, and had either been decoyed into their captor’s possession by temptation, or taken by force’. 86

Conclusion: Ironic Reality

This chapter has traced the dynamic transformation of East African coastal urban society in the framework of slave distribution in the nineteenth century. Long-established slave entrepôts now took on a new role as themselves creators of demand for slaves after the plantation economy began to flourish. The first plantations led to the requirement for more plantations of different types: cash crop plantations required commodity plantations. In other words, East African coastal urban society transformed itself to operate a complex plantation economy with global links. The attendant demand for ever more labour was met by exploiting the East African interior as an extended slave ground. Wars over the capture of slaves made the region insecure and seriously depopulated the interior, while on the coast demand rose for more slaves not only for commercial wealth creation but also for enhancement of social status. Simultaneously, the upsurge in the anti-slave trade campaign in the western Indian Ocean coupled with the anti-slave trade stance taken by Mājid made it more difficult for overseas slave traders to obtain slaves in the same manner as before. Slave markets were often closed and even the vessels from the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman were excluded from East Africa during the north-east monsoon season. As a consequence, in order to procure slaves, traders resorted to violence, and raiding of the coastal regions became rampant, adding to feelings of insecurity among populations there. Obviously, the coastal region began to play a new role in the slave distribution system—that of a slave ground.

It is somewhat simplistic to point to the so-called Northern Arabs as the actors who created the upheaval in the coastal societies, for although they might be seen as the agents for it, we find they had accomplices along the coast, such as the jemadars of the Sultan of Zanzibar. Furthermore, if we accept that the anti-slave trade policy of Mājid was effective in preventing Northern Arabs from purchasing slaves legally, then we must also acknowledge that the policy itself had an effect in creating insecurity, even if only indirectly and presumably unintentionally. Why did Mājid adopt a stricter policy against the slave trade compared with his father Sa‛īd? The answer to that question will enable us to further explore the dynamic social transformation of East African coastal urban society in the slave distribution system. Moreover, it will bring the complex political scramble into our argument. Chapter  7 will address that question.


  1. 1.

    Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery, 151–152.

  2. 2.

    Ibid., 45, 46.

  3. 3.

    Edward A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves: Changing Pattern of International Trade in East Central Africa to the Later Nineteenth Century, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975, 185–189; Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 39–41; Patrick Manning, Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental, and African Slave Trades, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990, 52–53; Sheriff, Slaves, Spices and Ivory, 41–48; Allen, European Slave Trading, 23–24. For details of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from Mozambique, see José Capela, O tráfico de escravos nos portos de Moçambique; 17331904, Porto: Edições Afrontamento, 2002, 66–133. For East African slave trade in earlier period, see Thomas Vernet’s works such as Thomas Vernet, ‘Slave Trade and Slavery on the Swahili Coast (1500–1750)’, in Behnaz A. Mirzai, Ismael Musah Montana and Paul E. Lovejoy (eds.), Slavery, Islam and Diaspora, Trenton: Africa World Press, 2009, 37–76; Thomas Vernet, ‘The Deep Roots of the Plantation Economy on the Swahili Coast: Productive Functions and Social Functions of Slaves and Dependents, Circa 1580–1820’, in Awet T. Weldemichael, Anthony A. Lee and Edward A. Alpers (eds.), Changing Horizons of African History, Trenton: Africa World Press, 2017, 51–100. And also Henri Medard, Marie-Laure Derat, Thomas Vernet et al (eds.), Traites et esclavages en Afrique orientale et dans l’océan Indien, Paris: Karthala, 2013 includes several chapters on earlier slave trade from East African coast.

  4. 4.

    Alpers, Ivory and Slaves, 152–153.

  5. 5.

    Ibid., 199.

  6. 6.

    Épidariste Colin, ‘Notice sur Mozambique’, Annales des voyages, de la géographie et de l’histoire 9 (1809), 321–322.

  7. 7.

    James Prior, Voyage along the Eastern Coast of Africa to Mosambique, Johanna, and Quiloa: To St. Helena; to Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, and Pernambuco in Brazil in the Nisus Frigate, London: Richard Phillips and Co., 1819, 75–77.

  8. 8.

    Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 47–79; Sheriff, Slaves, Spices and Ivory, 33–73; Lovejoy, Transformations in Slavery, 152.

  9. 9.

    Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 47–79; Sheriff, Slaves, Spices and Ivory, 48–60.

  10. 10.

    For example, NAUK FO84/540/177 [Hamerton to the Earl of Aberdeen, 2 January 1844]. The typed version is available in BPP, Vol. 27, Class D, 143. Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 56, n. 34, shows the reference NAUK FO54/6; however, during my research in July 2006, I found that the applicable section had been cut off.

  11. 11.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/225 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 11 February 1860].

  12. 12.


  13. 13.

    Esmond B. Martin, The History of Malindi: A Geographical Analysis of an East African Coastal Town from the Portuguese Period to the Present, Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau, 1973, 56–57. See also, Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 81–83.

  14. 14.

    Ahmed Salim, The Swahili-Speaking Peoples of Kenya’s Coast, 18951965, Nairobi: East African Publishing House, 1973, 26; Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 81–97; Martin, The History of Malindi, 56–68. See also, Helge Kjekshus, Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History: The Case of Tanganyika 1850–1950, London: Heinemann, 1977, 22.

  15. 15.

    Burton, The Lake Regions of Central Africa, Vol. 1, 25.

  16. 16.

    Sheriff, Slaves, Spices and Ivory, 64–65.

  17. 17.

    NAUK FO84/540/177 [Hamerton to the Earl of Aberdeen, 2 January 1844].

  18. 18.

    ZZBA AA12/29/43 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 2 January 1842].

  19. 19.

    Bennett and Brooks, Jr (eds.), New England Merchants, 427 [A Visit to Eastern Africa, 1849]. Jeremy Prestholdt argues the process which slave owners used slaves as a sort of symbol to represent themselves, which he calls ‘symbolic subjection’. For further details, see Jeremy Prestholdt, Domesticating the World: African Consumerism and the Genealogies of Globalization, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008, 117–124.

  20. 20.

    Bennett and Brooks, Jr (eds.), New England Merchants, 427 [A Visit to Eastern Africa, 1849].

  21. 21.

    ZZBA AA12/29/91 [Outward letter by Hamerton to Bombay, 15 February 1850].

  22. 22.

    The fact that slaves made up a high proportion of the population is frequently mentioned in contemporary documents. See, for example, Colomb, Slave-Catching, 368; NAUK FO54/10/74 [Memorandum relative to British Indian subjects residing at Zanzibar, s.l., 29 January 1846]; and Cooper, Plantation Slavery, 56–57.

  23. 23.

    ZZBA AA12/29/45 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 2 January 1842].

  24. 24.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/211-212 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 21 March 1860]. See also MAHA PD/1860/159/830/272 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 14 September 1860].

  25. 25.

    Main Library, University of Birmingham (hereafter MLUB) CMS/CA5/O24/52B/n.p.; Krapf, Travels, Researches and Missionary Labours, 196.

  26. 26.

    NAUK FO84/1120/226 [Coghlan to Anderson, Aden, 1 November 1860].

  27. 27.

    PPEM MH14/2/3 [Krapf to Waters, Mombasa, 17 February 1845].

  28. 28.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/210 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 21 March 1860].

  29. 29.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/1500/291-293 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 1 June 1860].

  30. 30.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/210 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 21 March 1860]; MAHA PD/1860/159/1500/292 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 1 June 1860].

  31. 31.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/212 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 21 March 1860].

  32. 32.

    Suzuki, ‘Enslaved Population and Indian Owners’, 222–223.

  33. 33.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/210-211 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 21 March 1860].

  34. 34.

    PPEM MH14/2/3 [Krapf to Waters, Mombasa, 17 February 1845].

  35. 35.

    OIOC IOR/R/15/1/157/230 [Statement of a Woman named Khyzran aged 22 seized by the Agent at Lingar as a slave].

  36. 36.

    It seems to have been quite a common method for kidnappers to use sweetmeats, as Charles New describes. According to New, who travelled through East Africa in the 1860s, the locals along the coast called the people who kidnapped children by luring them with sweetmeats ‘tendehalua’ or ‘watendehalua’ (New, Life, Wanderings, and Labours, 35). Moreover, several medieval Arab geographers noted the method in their descriptions of the East African coast (Vladimir Minorsky, Sharaf al-Zamān Ṭāhir Marvazī on China, the Turks and India, London: the Royal Asiatic Society, 1942, 47 [Arabic text]).

  37. 37.

    OIOC IOR/R/15/1/157/229 [Statement of a Boy named Meerjohu aged 13 seized by the Agent at Lingar as a slave].

  38. 38.

    ZZBA AA/12/29/35 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, 13 July 1841]; ibid., 77 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, 3 April 1847]; ibid., 78 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, 29 April 1847]; ibid., 126 [Hamerton to Resident of Persian Gulf, 10 January 1854]; OIOC IOR/R/15/1/171/101 [Rigby to Anderson, 13 September 1858]; ZZBA AA/3/26/n.p. [Political Agent to Bombay Government, 15 April 1865]; MAHA PD/1865/52/780/24 [Playfair to Gonne, 17 April 1865].

  39. 39.

    OIOC IOR/R/15/1/171/101-102. The same content is also found in ZZBA AA/12/2/14-15, although there the dispatch date was given as 16 September 1858.

  40. 40.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/189 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 28 March 1860].

  41. 41.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/189-190 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 28 March 1860].

  42. 42.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/192 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 28 March 1860].

  43. 43.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/192-193 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 28 March 1860].

  44. 44.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/195 [Rigby to Anderson, 28 March 1860]. A similar case was reported on ZZBA AA/2/4/203 [Rigby to Walker, 9 April 1861].

  45. 45.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/195 [Rigby to Anderson, 28 March 1860]; ZZBA AA2/4/211 [Rigby to Crawford, Zanzibar, 2 May 1861]; Russell, General Rigby, 331.

  46. 46.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/193 [Rigby to Anderson, 28 March 1860].

  47. 47.

    ZZBA AA/12/2/108-110 [Rigby to Bombay Government, 18 April 1861]; Russell, General Rigby, 90–91. According to al-Mughayrī, in May of that year ‘unseasonable Arabs from the Persian Gulf and Oman’ rushed for Zanzibar to plunder (Sa‛īd b. ‘Alī al-Mughayrī, Juhayna al-akhbār fī tārīkh Zanjibār, ed. ‘Abd al-Mun‛im ‘Āmir, Masqaṭ: Wizāra al-turāth al-qawmī, 1979, 201). Al-Mughayrī obtained this information from Rigby’s writing, but I have been unable to identify the precise document.

  48. 48.

    ZZBA AA/3/20/408 [Rigby to Forbes, 5 September 1861].

  49. 49.

    ZZBA AA/12/2/108 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861]. Four servants in the American Consulate were seriously injured.

  50. 50.

    ZZBA AA/12/2/109 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861].

  51. 51.

    Ibid.; Russell, General Rigby, 90.

  52. 52.

    ZZBA AA12/2/109 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861].

  53. 53.


  54. 54.

    ZZBA AA/12/2/109-110 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861].

  55. 55.

    ZZBA AA12/2/110 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861].

  56. 56.

    ZZBA AA12/2/112-113 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861]. See also ZZBA AA12/2/12 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 5 September 1861].

  57. 57.

    ZZBA AA12/2/109-110 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861]. See also, Christie, Cholera Epidemics in East Africa, 412–413.

  58. 58.

    ZZBA AA12/2/109-110 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 18 April 1861].

  59. 59.

    ZZBA AA/3/26/n.p. [Political Agent to Bombay Government, 15 April 1865].

  60. 60.

    Al-Mughayrī lived in Zanzibar and this material is a chronicle of the Bū Sa‛īd dynasty in Zanzibar. He mentions that he started to write in 1357 ah (1938 ad) (al-Mughayrī, Juhayna al-akhbār, 4), but does not mention a date of completion.

  61. 61.

    Ibid., 185.

  62. 62.

    Sullivan, Dhow Chasing, 92.

  63. 63.

    Burton, Zanzibar, Vol. 1, 373–374; Russell, General Rigby, 80, 90; Bennett and Brooks, Jr, New England Merchants, 531 [Hines to Seward, Zanzibar, 25 October 1864]; New, Life, Wanderings and Labours, 35.

  64. 64.

    PPEM LOG 1827A3 B9F1 [11 November 1827].

  65. 65.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/830/193 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 28 March 1860].

  66. 66.

    ZZBA AA/3/20/408.

  67. 67.

    ZZBA AA/3/20/408-409.

  68. 68.

    For example, see; ZZBA AA/12/29/91-92 [Outward letter by Hamerton to Bombay, 15 February 1850]; ibid., 92 [Hamerton to Wyvill, Zanizbar, 8 May 1850].

  69. 69.

    ZZBA AA/12/29/78 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, 29 April 1847].

  70. 70.

    ZZBA AA/12/29/64 [Hamerton to Secret Committee, 19 March 1844]; ibid., 113–114 [Hamerton to Wyvill, 13 March 1851].

  71. 71.

    ZZBA AA/12/29/77 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, 3 April 1947].

  72. 72.

    ZZBA AA/12/29/91 [Outward letter to Bombay on 15 February 1850]; ibid., 64–65 [Outward letter by Hamerton to Bombay, 19 March 1844].

  73. 73.

    ZZBA AA/12/29/65 [Hamerton to Secret Committee, 19 March 1844].

  74. 74.

    ZZBA AA/12/29/46 [Hamerton to Secretary to Bombay Government, 2 January 1842].

  75. 75.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/12/6-7 [Rigby to Anderson, Zanzibar, 30 November 1859]; ZZBA AA12/2/117 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 14 May 1861].

  76. 76.

    MAHA PD/1860/159/12/7 [Rigby to Anderson, 30 November 1859].

  77. 77.

    ZZBA AA12/2/117 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 14 May 1861].

  78. 78.


  79. 79.

    BPP, Vol. 49, Class B., 72 [Playfair to Chief Secretary to the Government of Bombay, Zanzibar 23 May 1863]; NAUK FO800/234/151 [Pelly to Stewart, Zanzibar, 8 March 1862]; Ibid.,151-152 [Pelly to Stewart, Zanzibar, 14 March 1862].

  80. 80.

    BPP, Vol. 49, Class B., 72 [Playfair to Chief Secretary to the Government of Bombay, Zanzibar 23 May 1863]

  81. 81.

    MAHA PD/1864/54/942/12-3 [Playfair to Havelock, Zanzibar, 1 May 1864].

  82. 82.

    ZZBA AA12/2/117 [Rigby to Bombay Government, Zanzibar, 14 May 1861].

  83. 83.

    ZZBA AA/12/9/5 [the Sultan of Zanzibar to Churchill, s.l., 3 May 1868].

  84. 84.

    NAUK FO800/234/151 [Pelly to Stewart, Zanzibar, 8 March 1862; NAUS RG84/Zanzibar/12/n.p. [Hines to Seward, Zanzibar, 31 March 1864]; Ibidem, n.p. [Hines to Seward, Zanzibar, 25 October 1864]; OIOC IOR/L/P&S/9/41/245 [Playfair to Havelock, Zanzibar, 3 February 1864]. ZZBA AA12/9 contains a series of proclamations issued by sultans of Zanzibar between 1863 and 1885.

  85. 85.

    However, Mājid’s attitude to the Northern Arab was quite complex. As Rigby reported, Mājid paid a certain amount of money to the Northern Arabs annually. Rigby suspected, therefore, that Mājid expected them to support him when he needed their help (ZZBA AA12/2/82 [Rigby to Coghlan, Zanzibar, 5 October 1860 (Appendix B: Lieutenant Colonel Rigby’s answer to the List of Queries marked A in Brigadier Coghlan’s letter to his address, No.12 of 1860, dated 1 October 1860)]).

  86. 86.

    NAUK FO800/234/220 [Playfair to Chief Secretary to the Government of Bombay, Zanzibar, 26 August 1863].


Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nagasaki UniversityNagasakiJapan

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