Antique photo German soldier riding a zebra
Zanzibar is an island located before the East coast of Africa. For more details on this website select BACKGROUND in the top bar of this web-page. The main focus of this web-page is on the Omani Arabs in Zanzibar and East Africa during the 19th century. Zanzibar was a colony of Oman for a long period. The Omani went to East Africa for many centuries because there were a lot of goods for sale they were interested in and in the right monsoon season the trade-winds blew their dhows from Oman to Zanzibar and back again in another monsoon season. In 1856 the British used a "divide and rule" tactic to exploit a succession conflict after the death of Said bin Sultan that resulted in a split between Oman and Zanzibar and a gradual decline of the prosperity of Oman that lasted until 1970. During the late 19th century the Germans took over control of the East African mainland from the Omani. At the same time it were the Germans who took a serious interest in Omani culture resulting in many photographs and several books in German (e.g. memoirs of Tippu Tip and Bibi Salme) Also many scientific articles relating to the languages spoken in East Africa (Swahili and Arabic spoken by the Omani ) were published. Even some Omani texts were translated into German (e.g. a chronicle about the war between Nachal and Wad il Ma´awil by Walter Rossler 1898) It is estimated that around 100.000 people lived on Zanzibar in 1890.
Unless specified these photos are all original items in our collection. The objective of our website is to put the different objects in their historic context.
Navy officers & Omani official including the Indian Tharia Topan tax-collector in Zanzibar (frontow right). The young Omani official front-row left could be Hamad bin Thuwaini (born 1857), who became sultan in 1893 but we are not sure.
Veiled Omani women in Zanzibar (Gomes & Co approx 1895)
Omani women in Zanzibar, latest fashion (Gomes & Co approx 1895)
Some highlights in this web-page are:
Photo taken before 1890: Three armed Omani men from Bagamoyo
The man in the middle is probably Ismael the Liwali of Windi