AFRICA Blog Zanzibar

Slave trade in E. Africa

My trips around the world are part, well a lot of fun but I also like to infuse history and culture into my adventures as well.  While informative I was also very saddened to learn about the slave history that existed in Zanzibar.  Zanzibar while gorgeous with some of the best most clearest ocean waters I’ve ever seen, beautiful old world style buildings and architecture has a very dark side to it as well.  The doors, another well known thing in Zanzibar also tell a story but thats another post.

I was able to take a look inside one of the holding cells that’s been maintained and protected as symbol of how things were back in the day.  To walk through gave me pause.  You could sense what might’ve been going on during that time.  The walls were very low and each side had 1 very small window big enough to let the faintest amount of sunlight through while small enough to where no one could escape.    I’m told that the ceiling height being so low was intentional as well.   I’m 5’10 and it was a struggle for me to get around with any level of ease or comfort.

inside one of the 2 slave holding compartments where slaves were separated by gender until the sale.

Being in that place in the moment made you visualize in your mind the smell, the chaos, the noise.  Well, then again the noise would be minimal as my guide explained yet another intentional tactic used to keep folks from escaping.  Africa being such a large continent it is a melting pot of tribes and languages.  The slaves would come here from all over, each with a different dialect.  Part of the plan to keep the slaves in submission was to mix them all up so that no one understood the others language hence no one could hatch plans to escape.  If you can’t communicate you can’t plan.  Makes sense right?  All these stories were just enough to sadden me and also make me appreciate the smallest of liberties and freedoms that we get to experience daily in America.

Below is an excerpt of my guide explaining these basement like dungeons known as holding cells.

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