Zanzibar - Exotic Beauty and History
Zanzibar Sunset and Dhow
Zanzibar is a large tropical island - located just 6 degrees south of the equator - in the Indian Ocean. The main island of Unguja (aka Zanzibar) is some 20 miles wide and 60 miles long.
Even the name of Zanzibar is exotic. Zanzibar has been linked to Spices and Pirates as well as to the Slave Trade for centuries.
Zanzibar has wide sandy beaches lined with palm trees and dhows of ancient design still sail on the waters. Dhows have been in use for many many centuries on the Indian ocean.
Image Source - Zanzibar, Tanzania, Sunset and dhow
Princess Salme Said Ruete
The very first book I ever read about Zanzibar was called - Memoirs of an Arabian Princess of Oman and Zanzibar - the Extraordinary Life of a Muslim Princess between East and West The authors name was Emily Said Ruete.
This is Princess Salme at age 14. She wrote the book mentioned above. This photo would have been taken in 1858 since Salme was born in 1844 and died in 1924. When Salme grew up, she became pregnant by a neighbour - a German engineer named Rudolph Heinrich Ruete. They both left Zanzibar in 1866, Salme was baptised as a christian and took the name of Emily. As Emily Ruete, she wrote a book of her life in Zanzibar (as mentioned above) - Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar - first published in Germany in 1886.
Salme's father (Sultan Said of Zanzibar and Oman) died in 1856 when she was 8 years old. The next 4 Sultans of Zanzibar were her older brothers. In her book Salme mentioned several of her sisters but only 2 of her brothers - both of whom were Sultans of Zanzibar.
Another of Salme's older brothers (Turki) became Sultan of Oman and the present Sultans of Oman are direct descendants from his branch of the family.
Salme tried not to get caught up in the battle between her brothers over who would become the next Sultan. I think this is probably why she sought out the company of her German neighbour - the engineer Heinrich Ruete.
"Sayyida Salme's writings encompass her experiences and observations of life in Zanzibar, Syria and Germany; her struggles as a minor pawn in diplomatic battles over world trade and the Scramble for Africa; and her life as a German citizen during the Franco-Prussian War and the First World War. " Festival of the Dhow Countries
Image Source - This is Princess Salme at 14 years of age.
Zanzibar is an autonomous region of Tanzania. It consists of 2 large islands in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Tanzania, These islands are called Zanzibar (Unguja) and Pemba. There are also a number of smaller islets as well. The capital of this autonomous region is Zanzibar Town. Within Zanzibar Town is the ancient Stone Town - now under UNESCO protection.
There is a third island as well - called Mafia island - but it is governed from the mainland (Dar es Salaam) and it mostly attracts tourists who wish to go swimming, scuba diving and fishing.
Image source - World Atlas
This is Stonetown in Zanzibar town. Stonetown was the original city that was built out of stone, back in the days of pirates and slaves.
It is now being preserved and has been under UNESCO protection since the year 2000.
Image source - Filmapia - Scouting for Movie Locations
There are some very interesting places to visit in StoneTown.
Such as Dr Livingstone's House and the House of Wonders.
The House of Wonders is so called because it was built in 1883 for the Sultan and it was the first building in Zanzibar to be wired up for electricity and also the first building to have an elevator installed. The House of Wonders is now used as a Museum of Stonetown and of the Swahili culture and coastline.
Dr Livingston's house in Zanzibar was built in 1860 and was used by David Livingston as a base for the preparations of his final exploration trip in 1866. It is now occupied by the Zanzibar Tourist Corporation.
Image Source - Zanzibar Travel Blog
Shopping in StoneTown
StoneTown, Zanzibar, 2005
Prison Island, Zanzibar
This is Changuu Island, just off the coast of StoneTown. It used to be called Prison Island because back in the olden days, the slaves were imprisoned here and also quarantined here whenever necessary.
Now it is a refuge for Giant Sea Tortoises. The island is a short boat ride from StoneTtown, where you can go scuba diving and snorkeling.
Image Source - More details and photos of Prison Island
Chumbe Island, Zanzibar
Chumbe Island is a Reserve and as such, no one actually lives there.
If you like climbing, there are 131 steps to the top of the Chumbe Lighthouse - built by the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1904 (probably one of Salme's Brothers),
You can also
go diving and snorkeling
walk through the rainforest
relax on the beach
Image Source - Chumbe Island Lighthouse - Built in 1904
Not many people are aware that the great singer of the rock group Queen - was born and raised in Zanzibar.
His real name was Faroukh Balsara. But he was much better known as Freddie Mercury.
Faroukh's family were of Persian (Iranian) ancestry and their religion was originally Zoroastrianism
The Untold Story of Freddie Mercury
A 5 part documentary about Farroukh Bulsara - showing some scenes of Zanzibar - before he became Freddie Mercury.