Details regarding the "Old Fort" in Zanzibar
This is the right-hand part of the rooftop-panorama. This photo has probably been taken from the lighthouse next to Majid´s palace. Photo: (16 by 10 cm) Fitted on carton.
The house of Bibi Salme where she fell in love with the German Mr Ruete can been just above the top-right tower of the fort. See slide-show for detail. Other interesting buildings are: The Old Jail and Old Barracks.
Top-right the house of princess Bibi Salme (Emily Ruete). The large white building in the background was rented from the Sultan by the German firm Hansing & Co that was represented by Heinrich Ruete. The photographer (vice consul) Dr John Kirk and his wife helped Emily escape from Zanzibar (and from execution by her brother the Sultan)
One of the earliest photos of the Fort in Zanzibar. For comparison see the Kirk panorama (1875) in the collection of the Royal Geographic society. The fort was built between 1698 and 1701 by the Busaidi tribe of Omani Arabs, who had gained control of Zanzibar in 1698, following almost two centuries of Portuguese occupation. The fort was used as a defence against the Portuguese and against a rival Omani group, the Mazrui, who occupied Mombasa at that time. The fort was constructed by the Busaidi Omani Arabs on the site of a Portuguese church which had been built between 1598 and 1612. In the main courtyard, remnants of the old church can still be seen built into the inside wall. In the 19th century the fort was used as a prison, and criminals were executed or punished here, at a place just outside the east wall. The Swahili word gereza, meaning prison, is thought to be derived from the Portuguese word ireja, meaning church.......
The American Joseph Osgood visited Zanzibar around 1850: "Zanzibar is fortified by a large towery castle, which faces the harbour. A Parapet mounted with a row of good artillery, affords an additional means of defence against incursion. So ruinously conditioned, however, is the fort , that a few well directed broadsides from a ship of war would destroy the whole structure. It is used as a place of confinement for criminals. Within the enclosure of the fort is quite a little village of huts , occupied by about a hundred soldiers and their families. The soldiers are slaves in part, and in part freemen. The latter are Belooches, in the service of the Imaum, under pay of four dollars per month. Their arms are matchlocks, scimitars, two-edged swords, and shields of rhinoceros hide. Many shields of this kind are turned at Zanzibar for Northern markets"
Convicts / Forced labour Zanzibar Stonetown Photo taken by J. Sturtz 1888-1890 (Ref 6)
Ref 5 states: “These are prisoners from the fort, small thieves, disobedient servants who for months or years will be under the Sultans care. They must now haul coral-stones, clean the camel yard and swipe the streets. With such rings and chains Bushiri had Dr. Hans Meijer and Dr. Baumann chained and kept prison for two nights and a day at his Schamba Mundo near Pangani. The black man with the thick legs next to the prisoners is suffering from the nasty disease elephantiasis. His feet will continue to get increasingly bigger and because the disease is incurable and will take him closer and closer to his death. I heart this already in Samoa, where the plague has spread very much"
Ref 6 in our collection states below the same photo in handwriting: "Kriegsgevangene aus Bagamojo" , meaning Prisoners of war from Bagamoyo.
The Germans used the same chains for their prisoners as the Arabs for their slaves. But as there are no Askari soldiers present on the photo it was probably taken in Zanzibar.