Quick tour around Zanzibar

Thursday, April 27, 2023
Nairobi, Nairobi County, Kenya
We were tired this morning, but I encouraged Marjolaine to have some breakfast, the views of the Ocean are beautiful from the hotel dining room. At 9:30 our guide, Ali, arrived. We started out on foot to have Stone Town explained to us. He took us through some wooden doors and into a classic hotel. He explained the history of the island and the House of Wonders, so called because it was the first building in Zanzibar to have electricity, and also the first building in East Africa to have an elevator.
The House of Wonders was also the site of one of the shortest wars in history. Under the British protectorate, when a Sultan died, the next one had to meet with the British to assure them that he would abide their previous agreements. In August 1896 a new Sultan did not do so.  He was given an ultimatum that his refusal to cooperate would be a casus belli. He marshalled his troops, with some cannons and maxim guns around his palace and fired at the small British naval force. The British returned fire, knocking out the Zanzibari cannons and killing several hundred troops, against one wounded Brit. The Sultan struck his flag, and went into exile. The war lasted 45 minutes.
We walked through the main covered market, wading through the strong odor of fish, octopus, squid and various meats. There was a section that sold spices, Zanzibar was and is a site of spice production, in particular cloves and coconuts. It was known as one of the “spice islands” along with parts of Indonesia. Marjolaine bought a few packets to give as gifts back home.
We continued to the site of the ancient slave market. It is quite a large area. The British who finally abolished the slave trade in the 1830s built a large Anglican Church of the site. There is also a museum explaining the history of the East African slave trade. This one was more balanced than most museums explain the slave trade in West Africa, which always portray the situation in stark good-guy and bad-guy terms, no nuance at all. 
Here the museum explained that the cruel trade had always existed and while slaves understandably ressented their own enslavement, the institution was not questioned. Slaves sometimes owned their own slaves, and didn’t see any incongruity. One example given was of a woman wrongly imprisoned as a slave. She went to court and proved she was free. The man who had taken her captive was ordered to pay her a sum of money, which she used to buy a slave.
Most of the current population of Zanzibar are descendants of slaves, though some are descendants of slave and other traders from the Arab world or India.
After lunch, we checked out and put our luggage in storage. Then Ali took us in a taxi to a spice plantation where various spices, fruits, and other agricultural products are grown to show tourists (the island heavily depends on tourism and was hard hit by the COVID travel restrictions). It was interesting to see what various spices look in the tree, bush, or vine.
Then it was time to head back to the hotel to get our luggage out of storage so we would head to the airport. Everything went smoothly and on time for the return to Nairobi where we arrived at 10:00 pm. We showed our vaccination cards and then our printouts for our single-entry visas. We headed to a hotel just a few minutes from the airport, where we’ll spend the night.
Tomorrow we’ll meet with other arrivals and travel by road together to Nakuru where we’ll hold the third session of the ILP program.
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Tess Washington

Thank you for the updates of your trip, photos and bits of history! Very informative!


Thanks for the great pictures! So interesting to see the stone segment without the plaster. I wonder if the air at the plantations smells like spices.