SEYYID SAID (1790–1856)

Seyyid Said, also known as Said bin Sultan, was a resourceful and energetic sultan of Oman who moved the capital from Arabia to Zanzibar in order to initiate clove production and also greatly expanded the East African slave trade. Said’s father, Sultan bin Ahmad (?–1804), ruled Oman from 1792 to 1804 when he died on an expedition. His mother was Sayyida Ghanneyeh bint Saif Al-Busaidi (1774–1866), Prior to Sultan bin Ahmad’s death, he appointed Mohammed bin Nasir as the regent and guardian of his two sons, Salim and Said ibn Sultan. Sultan’s brother Qais bin Ahmad, ruler of Sohar at the time, attempted to seize power but was forced to retire to Sohar after a series of battles with Qais and his ally Badr bin Saif who had become the de facto ruler of Oman.

Said bin Sultan

Said bin Sultan al Busaidi, was Sultan of Muscat and Oman, the fifth ruler of the Busaid dynasty from 1807 to 4 June 1856. His rule commenced following the death of his father, Sultan bin Ahmad, in November 1804 and a period of conflict and internecine rivalry of succession that followed. March 1807, Said bin Sultan lured Badr bin Saif to Barka where Said was governor and killed him to become the ruler of Oman. Said became the sole ruler of Oman with consent from his brother, Salim, a decision that their aunt allegedly influenced. After his unsuccessful attempts to expand his power within the Arabian Peninsula, and as well as economic decline in Oman, Said agreed to a treaty with Britain in 1823 that forbade slave trading in the Persian Gulf between Said’s Muslim subjects and any Christian power. In 1835 under favorable terms, Said also ratified a bilateral treaty of amity and commerce with the United States which was first negotiated at Muscat in 1833 by Special Agent Edmund Roberts.

SEYYID SAID (1790–1856)

Edmund Roberts

Edmund Roberts was an American diplomat. Appointed by President Andrew Jackson, he served as the United States' first envoy to the Far East, and went on USS Peacock on non-resident diplomatic missions to the courts of Cochinchina, Thailand and Muscat and Oman during the years 1832–6. The treaty, however, did not exclude slave trading on the East Coast of Africa. Said invaded and conquered Mombasa in what is now Kenya in 1837. After that victory, Said moved the capital of his empire from Muscat, Oman, to the island of Stone Town, Zanzibar, in 1840, making him the first Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar. Although Said never entirely abandoned Oman, the shift in capitals made Oman a distant province rather than the heart of his realm; he was now considered an east African ruler with Arabian possessions.

Edmund Roberts (1784–1836)

The Omani Empire and the Development of East Africa

The Omani Arabs who were pulled to the coastline of East Africa for commercial expansion, the serenity of the environment and the fertility of the soil. The Omani Sultan had ruled the empire from Muscat but later relocated the capital to Zanzibar. This paper examines the impact of the Omani Empire on the economic, socio-cultural and political development of East Africa. It was observed that with the interactions that first began along the coastlines of East Africa some coastal city-states like Pemba, Malindi, Mozambique, Sofia, Kilwa, Mombasa, and Zanzibar emerged. The Omani Arabs under the leadership of Sultan Sayyid Said introduced the caravan trade, custom duties, credit facility for investment, and the invention of a hybrid of language and culture- Swahili/Kswahili. Nevertheless, the innovations introduced into the east coast of Africa were intended to fulfill the commercial mandate of the Arabs leaving Africans as passive and/or unequal participants in the scheme of things, given the meddlesomeness of the Arabs in the internal affairs of the East Africans leading to conflicts that continue to hunt the region.

Africa, like China, was not well known to the outside world before the nineteenth century, and information about the interior was the product of occasional visits from hardy travelers, such as Ibn Battuta- the Marco Polo of the tropics. Geographically and historically speaking, East Africa was not terra incognita before Arabic incursion. There were indigenous people who inhabited the area mainly the interior. The Cushites from the north-west settled along the northern fringes of the coast and southern Mogadishu (Somalia), while Africans from the southern fringes of the East coast were the Bantus, who settled along the riverine areas because of their agrarian activities (Imbua, Onor and Odey 92).The earliest Omani Arab presence in the East African coast was possible as a result of migratory dissident Muslims from Arabia. Thus, their presence began the spread of Islam in the area. And by the 19th century, the East African coast was under the Sultanate of Oman superintendent from Muscat, Oman‘s capital at the time.


The Omani commercial Prince, Sayyid Said (1790-1856), alsp known as Said Ibn Sultan was a famous Arabian personality in the history of East Africa. He ruled Zanzibar and Oman from 1806-1856. This period was shared- 30 years of his reign was in Muscat and the rest was in Zanzibar. He was a pious man of the Ibadhism Islamic sect. This is a peaceful and tolerant Islamic sect that advocated the return of Islam to its original state, with emphasis on ―good personal conduct, strong spiritual values, and a tolerance of all creeds and tribes. Zanzibar was chosen because of the favourable climatic condition unlike the torrid heat in Muscat, Oman has maritime contiguity with East Africa. As a result of the inter-mingling along the coastlines, there was the emergence of some principal coastal towns resplendent in Islamic architecture and trade in Kilifi, Kilwa, Lamu, Mafia, Malindi, Mozambique, Pate, Pemba, Sofala, and Zanzibar that later became the capital of Sayyid Said.

The emergence of Zanzibar as capital (replacing Muscat) of Sayyid Said points to two important points- the commercial acumen of the Omani Commercial Prince, Sultan Said and the commercial revolution in the East coast of Africa. strategically position the mercantilist and ethnic communities of Oman on the path of political and economic transformation building Oman into a commercial and maritime ‗State‘ despite opposition and intrigue at times against Omani rulers. Yet by the late eighteenth century, there was no noticeable evidence of any Omani, that is to say Albusaidi, political domination of East Africa, one of the main traditional destinations of migrants from Oman. That there was no attempt at a systematic conquest or the establishment of an effective administration apparatus in East Africa was doubtlessly due to the inter-ethnic conflict in Oman itself. In fact, as a result of this conflict, by the latter part of the eighteenth century, the ruling branch of the Albusaidis had lost more ground at home, let alone having the will or the resources to consolidate its position overseas .


In nineteenth century East Africa many traders in Zanzibar were Omani Arabs, some of whom having chosen to migrate in order to join their ‗ co-nationals‘, already settled in Africa since at least the expansionist era of the Ya‘ariba. Like their predecessors, these later arrivals were with time integrated, either wholly or partially, within the expanding ‗Swahili‘ community. Maritime trade, Imamate Government and tribalism are three of the most pervasive themes in the history of Oman. Whilst the outlines of the Omani tribal structure, like thoseof longdistance commerce, antedate the advent of Islam, the final form of tribalism has been strongly influenced by the political dimensions of the Imamate Government following the rise 0f Islam. The role of geography has significantly influenced the economic, cultural and political spheres of the Omani. The presence of navigable rivers and vessels predisposed the traders into long-distance commerce to other lands where there proselytized their Islamic faith, culture and assert political hegemony During the Islamic era, the effect of maritime trade was such that the Ibadi religious-cumtribal structure which gave rise to the Imamate Government could not have implanted its roots in Oman had it not, in its initial phases, received financial support from Oman‘s mercantile communities. The roots for the growth of a commercial empire penetrating the interior of East Africa were also laid in the early part of the nineteenth century. By the 1840s the trade in ivory and slaves was expanding rapidly and was drawing the interior into the trading network already established on the coast. Kimambo has queried the exaggerated nexus between ivory trade and the slave trade. Thus, commerce and religion flourished due to the influence of geography. The great transformation of Africa's economic relations with the wider world did not occur with the late nineteenth century partition by European powers (Wallerstein 23). There had long been trading networks in various parts of Africa, and many of these networks had extended beyond the frontiers of the African continent - across the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic. The Omani traders had slaves, cloves, spices, and ivory as merchandize. Having consolidated their presence in the East coast of Africa, the Arabs made inroads into the interior for trading activities. The long-distance trade was sustainable because of the availability of ivory and slaves. Contending from an Afrocentric perspective, Kimambo argues that,Clearly, the terms of long-distance trade in both ivory and slaves were quite favourable to those involved in exploiting the commodities. Consequently, long-distance trade routes radiated from the coastal towns (such as Kilwa, Bagamoyo, Pangani, Tanga and Mombasa) to various points in the interior. As a result, by the1870s most of present-day Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda,Rwanda Burundi, eastern Zaire, northern Zambia, Malawi and northern Mozambique had become part of a vast hinterland connected with Zanzibar through these coastal towns and therefore integrated to varying degrees into the international trading network. The penetration into the interior increased the production of cash crops like cloves which Zanzibar is reputed to produce three quarters of the world‘s supply of clove , food crops like maize and rice which later became popular staples and sources of revenue to the farmers and traders. To boost investment capital, Sayyid Said invited Indian financiers to provide credit facilities to Arab investors who were associates of the commercial prince. This investment promotion scheme was exclusive to the Arabs as Africans formed the exploited component in the AfroArab economy. This was a deliberate ploy to retard the East Africans economy perpetually by forbidding them access to credit and consign their economy to raw material production and provision of labour. Sayyid Said pulled a diplomatic string to mend the unsavoury ArabIndian relations by inviting the Indians to fill the gaps created by Arab incompetence in financial matters. Thus, while the Indians provided financial services the Arabs managed the caravans . The influx of people into the commercial cities because of trade necessarily require security. Sayyid Said established maritime control of the coastal trade routes and harbours with a strong naval force from Muscat. There was the unification of customs and sundry duties, and currency regimes in the coastal areas. This innovation removed the restrictions having discriminatory duties and different currencies as was the earlier practice. Hence, the uniformed duty of 5 % payment in copper coin imported from India was enforced (94). The cultural impact represented by the spread of Islam and more significantly by the spread of the Swahili (culture) and Kiswahili (language) is commendable. Linguistically, the inter-racial interactions along the coastline result in the creation of Swahili which became a language of instruction and commerce. Swahili assumes a linguistic unity from the beginning of the Contemporary Era with a linguistic spread down the coast. From southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, speaker of Swahili were configured geographically into towns and villages that metamorphosed into city-states, The elegant Swahili civilization gained cosmopolitanism. Sheriff contends that transformation of these coastal areas into commercial hubs the influx of people into these city-states led to the mix with other Indian Ocean languages and literature. Islam spread with trade, and mosques became a prominent part of the preserved archaeological relics along the Swahili coast. Al-Mughairî presents an explanation for the socio-cultural intermingling in East Africa in the form of inter-racial (Arab-Afro) and the commercial implications during the 19th century, nobody could tell the difference between an Arab and a Zinji. The serenity and friendliness on along the coast pulled other traders into East Africa from India, migrating to Zanzibar either directly or after long or short periods of residence in Muscat or in other Omani ports. These latter also, in time, became more or less ‗swahilised.the Omani ruler, Said b Sultan, treated all traders migrating to Africa from Oman as ‗natives of Oman‘. All these ‗natives‘, including the Indians but excluding any Western merchants residing in East African ports, were allowed to participate in the trade of the African mainland.Due to interactions on the coastline the Indians exhibited fluency in Swahili. Some of the speakers of this linguistic innovation could barely speak or write Arabic. Therefore, Swahili became a unifying tongue that wove the different races on the coast of East Africa or Swahili belt.


SEYYID SAID (1790–1856)

Sayyid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid was born on 1834 in Zanzibar to Said bin Sultan and Sara, an Ethiopian mother.[2] Majid was the second eldest of Said’s children born in Zanzibar, after Khalid bin Said (died 1854).

Majid became Sultan of Zanzibar and Oman on the death of his father, Sayyid Said bin Sultan, but his accession was contested. Following the struggle over the accession to the position of Sultan of Oman, Zanzibar and Oman were divided into two separate principalities, with Majid ruling Zanzibar and his older brother Thuwaini ruling Oman.


Barghash is credited with building much of the infrastructure of Stone Town, including piped water, public baths, a police force, roads, parks, hospitals and large administrative buildings such as the (Bait el-Ajaib) House of Wonders. He was perhaps the last Sultan to maintain a measure of true independence from European control.


Khalifah bin Said of Zanzibar

Sayyid Khalifa I bin Said al-Busaidi, GCMG, (or Chalîfe) (1852 – 13 February 1890) (Arabic: خليفة بن سعيد البوسعيد) was the third Sultan of Zanzibar. He ruled Zanzibar from 26 March 1888 to 13 February 1890 and was succeeded by his brother, Ali bin Said.

25–27 August 18961896

Ali bin Said of Zanzibar

Sayyid Ali bin Said al-Busaidi, GCSI, (1854 – March 5, 1893) (Arabic: علي بن سعيد البوسعيد) was the fourth Sultan of Zanzibar. He ruled Zanzibar from February 13, 1890, to March 5, 1893. In June 1890 he was forced to accept a British protectorate over his dominions.[1] He was succeeded by his nephew, Hamad bin Thuwaini Al-Busaid

Khalid bin Barghash of Zanzibar

Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busa'id (Arabic: خالد بن برغش البوسعيد; 1874-1927) was the sixth Sultan of Zanzibar.Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busa'id was born on 1874 in Zanzibar, the second son of Barghash bin Said (Arabic: برغش بن سعيد البوسعيد), the second Sultan of Zanzibar.


Hamoud bin Mohammed of Zanzibar

Sayyid Hamoud bin Mohammed Al-Said, GCSI, (1853 – 18 July 1902) (ruled 27 August 1896 - 18 July 1902) (Arabic: حمود بن محمد) was the British-controlled Omani sultan of the protectorate of Zanzibar, who outlawed slavery on the island.

Ali bin Hamud of Zanzibar

Sayyid Ali bin Hamud Al-Busaid (7 June 1884 – 20 December 1918; Arabic: علي بن حمود البوسعيد) was the eighth Sultan of Zanzibar from 1902 to 1911.[1]

Khalifa bin Harub of Zanzibar

Sayyid Sir Khalifa II bin Harub Al-Said GCB GCMG GBE (26 August 1879 – 9 October 1960) (Arabic: خليفة بن حارب البوسعيد) was the ninth Sultan of Zanzibar. He ruled Zanzibar from 9 December 1911 to 9 October 1960.

Hamoud became sultan with the support of the British consul, Sir Basil Cave, upon the death of Sayyid Hamad bin Thuwaini. Before he could enter the palace, another potential contender for the throne, Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash, seized the palace and declared himself sultan. The British responded the next day, 26 August 1896, by issuing an ultimatum to Khalid and his entourage to evacuate the palace by 9:00 am on 27 August. When he refused, Royal Navy warships fired on the palace and other strategic locations in the city, causing Khalid and his group to flee. According to the Guinness Book of World Records the resultant Anglo-Zanzibar War was the shortest war in history, and the same day Hamoud was able to assume the title of sultan, more indebted to the British than ever.

Hamoud demanded that slavery be abolished in Zanzibar and that all the slaves be manumitted.By his wife Sayyida Khanfora bint Majid Al-Busaid (daughter of the first Sultan of Zanzibar) he had ten children:Sayyid Ali bin Hamud Al-Busaid, 8th Sultan of ZanzibarSayyid Majid bin Hamud Al-BusaidSayyid Saud bin Hamud Al-BusaidSayyid Taimur bin Hamud Al-BusaidSayyid Faisal bin Hamud Al-Busaid Sayyid Muhammed bin Hamud Al-Busaid Sayyida Matuka bint Hamud Al-Busaid (who married Sayyid Khalifa bin Harub Al-Busaid, 9th Sultan of Zanzibar) Sayyida Boran bint Hamud Al-Busaid (who married Sayyid Said bin Ali, the son of the fourth Sultan of Zanzibar) Sayyida Mishan bint Hamud Al-Busaid (twin with Boran) Sayyida Hakima bint Hamud Al-Busaid On his death in 1902 he was succeeded by his oldest son, Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud. Ali was proclaimed Sultan of Zanzibar on 20 July 1902, following the death of his father, the seventh Sultan, two days earlier. There was a regency until he attained majority. He served only a few years as sultan because of illness. On 9 December 1911 he abdicated in favour of his brother-in-law Khalifa bin Harub Al-Busaid.[1]

The Sultan's Palace as viewed from the Indian Ocean.

The Sultan's Palace is one of the main historical buildings of Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania.[1][2][3][4] It is a 3-story building with merlon-decorated white walls, located in Mizingani Road, on the seafront, between the House of Wonders and the Old Dispensary.

It stands on the site of the previous palace, called Bait As-Sahel Arabic: بيت الساحل) that was destroyed in the Anglo Zanzibar war of 1896.[5] , The present palace was built in late 19th century to serve as a residence for the Sultan's family. After the Zanzibar Revolution, in 1964 it was formally renamed to People's Palace and used as a government seat. In 1994, it became a museum about the Zanzibari royal family and history.[1][2][3][4]

One floor of the museum is dedicated to Sultan Khalifa bin Harub; another one to Sayyida Salme, best known as Emily Ruete, former Zanzibari princess who fled from the sultanate to relocate in Europe with her husband; the exhibits include some of her writings, clothes and daily life accessories. Several of the furniture items and other belongings to the sultan's family are in exhibition to give visitors an idea of how was the life in Zanzibar during the 19th century. Sayyid Sir Khalifa II bin Harub Al-Said (26 August 1879 – 9 October 1960) (Arabic: خليفة بن حارب البوسعيد) was the ninth Sultan of Zanzibar. He ruled Zanzibar from 9 December 1911 to 9 October 1960.

In 1900, he married Sayyida Matuka bint Hamud Al-Busaid, daughter of the seventh Sultan of Zanzibar and sister of the eighth Sultan. He also married his second wife sultana Nunu. He was succeeded by his eldest surviving son, Sayyid Abdullah bin Khalifa

Part of the museum of the Sultan's Palace in Zanzibar is dedicated to Khalifa.


The Swahili coast (Arabic: الساحل السواحلي) is a coastal area of the Indian Ocean in Southeast Africa inhabited by the Swahili people. It includes Sofala (Mozambique), Mombasa, Gede, Pate Island, Lamu, Malindi, and Kilwa.[1] In addition, several coastal islands are included in the Swahili coast such as Zanzibar and Comoros.

  • King George V Coronation Medal-1911

  • Grand Cordon of the Saidi Order of Oman

  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal-1935

  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE)-1935 (KBE-1919) (Honorary)

  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG)-1936 (KCMG-1914)

  • King George VI Coronation Medal-1937

  • Commander of the Order of the Shield and Spears of Buganda

  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal-1953

  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB)-1956


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