Sultanate of Zanzibar
House of Al Said
The post of Sultan of Zanzibar
was created on 19 October 1856 after the death of Said bin Sultan, who had ruled Oman and Zanzibar as the Sultan of Oman since
1804. The Sultans of Zanzibar were of a cadet branch of the Al Said Dynasty of Oman. In 1698, Zanzibar became part of the
overseas holdings of Oman, falling under the control of the Sultan of Oman. In 1832, or 1840 (the date
varies among sources), Said bin Sultan moved his capital from Muscat in Oman to Stone Town. He established a ruling Arab elite
and encouraged the development of clove plantations, using the island's slave labour. Zanzibar's commerce fell increasingly
into the hands of traders from the Indian subcontinent, whom Said encouraged to settle on the island. After his death in 1856,
two of his sons, Majid bin Said and Thuwaini bin Said, struggled over the succession, so Zanzibar and Oman were divided into
two separate principalities; Thuwaini became the Sultan of Oman while Majid became the first Sultan of Zanzibar. During his
14-year reign as Sultan, Majid consolidated his power around the East African slave trade. His successor, Barghash bin Said,
helped abolish the slave trade in Zanzibar and largely developed the country's infrastructure. The third Sultan, Khalifa bin
Said, also furthered the country's progress toward abolishing slavery.
Until 1886, the Sultan of Zanzibar controlled a substantial portion of the
east African coast, known as Zanj, and trading routes extending further into the continent, as far as Kindu on the Congo River.
That year, the British and Germans secretly met and re-established the area under the Sultan's rule. Over the next few years,
most of the mainland possessions of the Sultanate were taken by European imperial powers. With the signing of the Heligoland-Zanzibar
Treaty in 1890 during Ali bin Said's reign, Zanzibar became a British protectorate. In August 1896, Britain and Zanzibar fought
a 38-minute war, the shortest in recorded history, after Khalid bin Barghash had taken power after Hamid bin Thuwaini's death.
The British had wanted Hamoud bin Mohammed to become Sultan, believing that he would be much easier to work with. The British
gave Khalid an hour to vacate the Sultan's palace in Stone Town. Khalid failed to do so, and instead assembled an army of
2,800 men to fight the British. The British launched an attack on the palace and other locations around the city. Khalid
retreated and later went into exile. Hamoud was then peacefully installed as Sultan.
In December 1963, Zanzibar was granted independence by the
United Kingdom and became a constitutional monarchy under the Sultan. Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah was overthrown a month later
during the Zanzibar Revolution. Jamshid fled into exile, and the Sultanate was replaced by the People's Republic of Zanzibar
and Pemba. In April 1964, the republic was united with Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar,
which became known as Tanzania six months later.
Sultans of Zanzibar
||Sultan ||Full name ||Portrait ||Began rule ||Ended rule ||Notes |
bin Said ||Sayyid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid
|| ||19 October 1856 ||7 October 1870 ||Bargash
bin Said attempted to usurp the throne from his brother in 1859, but failed. He was exiled to Bombay for two years.
|2 ||Barghash bin Said ||Sayyid
Sir Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid || ||7 October 1870 ||26 March 1888 ||Responsible
for developing much of the infrastructure in Zanzibar (especially Stone Town), like piped water, telegraph cables, buildings,
roads, etc. Helped abolish the slave trade in Zanzibar by signing an agreement with Britain in 1870, prohibiting slave trade
in the sultanate, and closing the slave market in Mkunazini. |
bin Said ||Sayyid Sir Khalifa I bin Said Al-Busaid
|| ||26 March 1888 ||13 February 1890 ||Supported
abolitionism, like his predecessor. |
|4 ||Ali bin Said
||Sayyid Sir Ali bin Said Al-Busaid || ||13 February 1890 ||5 March 1893 ||The
British and German Empires signed the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty in July 1890. This treaty turned Zanzibar into a British
||Hamid bin Thuwayni ||Sayyid Sir Hamad bin Thuwaini Al-Busaid || ||5 March 1893 ||25 August 1896 ||
|6 ||Khalid bin Barghash ||Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busaid || ||25 August 1896 ||27 August 1896 ||Was
a belligerent in the Anglo-Zanzibar War, the shortest war in recorded history. |
|7 ||Hamud bin Muhammad ||Sayyid
Sir Hamoud bin Mohammed Al-Said || ||27 August 1896 ||18 July 1902 ||Issued
the final decree abolishing slavery from Zanzibar on 6 April 1897. For this, he was knighted by Queen Victoria.
|8 ||Ali bin Hamud ||Sayyid
Ali bin Hamud Al-Busaid || ||20 July 1902 ||9 December 1911 ||The
British First Minister, Mr A. Rogers, served as regent until Ali reached the age of 21 on 7 June 1905.
|9 ||Khalifa bin Kharub ||Sayyid Sir Khalifa II bin Harub Al-Said || ||9 December 1911 ||9 October 1960 ||Brother-in-law
of Ali bin Hamud. Oversaw the construction of harbor in Stone Town and tar roads in Pemba. |
|10 ||Abdullah bin Khalifah ||Sayyid
Sir Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Said ||
||9 October 1960 ||1 July 1963 ||
|11 ||Jamshid bin Abdullah ||Sayyid Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah Al Said ||
||1 July 1963 ||12 January 1964 ||On
10 December 1963, Zanzibar received its independence from the United Kingdom as a constitutional monarchy under Jamshid.|