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Sultan Highlights a Vital Period in the History of Zanzibar

Al-Qasimi Publications published the book "The correspondence of Sultan Barghash, the Sultan of Zanzibar, some are in his handwriting (1296 AH, 1878 AD)" for His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. The book came in 269 pages and included the manuscript of Sultan Bar hash.

In the introduction to the book, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi says: “I have found a manuscript (The correspondence of Sultan Barghash, the Sultan of Zanzibar, some are in his handwriting), at the Egyptian Archives House in Cairo. It was dated by the Egyptian Archives on the date of the first writing recorded on that record.” His Highness added, “In 2012, I published letters to the Sultans of Zanzibar, which I collected from the British Library, and they are in the form of incoming and other letters issued to the Sultans of Zanzibar, after their investigation. Among those messages were letters of Sultan Barghash. They are the messages exchanged between Sultan Barghash and British officials.

With regard to (The correspondence of Sultan Barghash, the Sultan of Zanzibar), it is concerned with internal affairs. It has been recorded in the western way, where the contents of the messages are recorded in the Record. If the person in charge of the record is absent, Sultan Barghash will record these correspondences with his plan."

His Highness then clarifies the features of the Sultan Barghash's personality that appear through the study of these correspondences. He says: “By studying the record of these correspondences, the personality of Sultan Barghash becomes clear to us. He was an intellectual seeking foreign papers and valuable Arabic books, and he was firm in his rule. After the advice, the firm decision came, and he wrote to his followers: (Nationals deserve to be sustained and tolerated). He tracked social issues, worked to end them, and punished each offender or guilty. He would provide his followers with seals and stamps so that their letters would become official, provide them with salaries, allowances and provisions, and provide tribal chiefs with weapons to protect their tribes.”

His Highness also shows in the introduction to the book Sultan Barghash’s keenness to develop his Sultanate, and interferes in the smallest details related to that, saying: “He interferes in the smallest details regarding the reconstruction and development of the Sultanate, especially in the mainland (East Africa coast).”

His Highness highlights the importance of these correspondences mentioned in the book for scholars, and he says: “Therefore, I have verified these correspondences to be used by scholars and researchers on East African issues."

Among the letters that His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah mentioned in the book with its text and image is (p. 2) of the manuscript, which apparently contained four letters, Sultan Barghash says in its introduction: “A letter to Suleiman bin Hamad, and after that Shabagho (the name of a person) Osman and the people of Barawah (port on the Somali coast to the south of Mogadishu), reaches you, so you should deal with tolerantly and peacefully and others because the nationals deserve to be reconciled and tolerated with the possibility that no harm will come from it. We are with our arrival, God willing, to prepare you and let us know your guardian. Shabagho Osman have asked us that Al-Tanh (a group of people called Al-Tanh) are people of Barawah who want to live in Al-Jeb, like the previous one. So, we licensed them on the condition that they live in Wibi (an area between Mogadishu and al-Jeb), and they will protect themselves and the military and behind them if true and peace be upon you. 9 Shawwal 1296 »

In the second letter, Sultan Zanzibar says: «A letter to Omar bin Salem, the agent of Sarkar in Mogadishu, and after that. We have written to Salem bin Awad that captain Ali Al Mahdali give four hundred piasters and Mahdali to be received by Muhammad Abdullah Al Marzouqi in the house of Sheikh (name of a place) so that he can buy us sheep. If there is nothing, there are dirhams with Salem and he came to you to receive them, so give him a hundred piasters and peace be upon you. 9 Shawwal 1296 »

In the third letter, on that page he says: “Salem bin Awad carries a thing that we expect you might receive. Now, you are receiving our boat and we instructed the captain to walk to the house of Sheikh. If you have dirhams, so give the captain 4 hundred piasters for Muhammad Abdullah Al-Marzouki to take to buy sheep for the feast. If you do not have dirhams, Barwa (a paper in which there is an order) will reach Omar bin Salem, the agent of the Sarkar in Mogadishu. Take them from him for the captain to receive with margarine to be carried on the boat. You will also receive letters that you should dispatch to brothers Ahmed bin Youssef, Omar and Mahmoud. Keep us informed with your news and peace be upon you. 9 Shawwal 1296 ».

In the fourth letter, he says: “Salem bin Awad, two letters and two seals will be sent to you.” (The Signature) “Send them to Mahmoud bin Youssef and Omar bin Youssef to Muhammad Abdullah Al Marzouqi, your love in goodness. We hope that your subordinates are static in movements and continue to reconstruction. You should receive soon our boat with the captain to know you news and Bandar. The captain will give you 4 hundred piasters, use them to buy sheep for the feast and carry them in the boat with no delay from day to day until returns to us quickly and peace be upon you. 9 Shawwal 1296 ».

On page 5 of the manuscript, we also find four letters, the first of which was addressed by Sultan Barghash to the governor Naser bin Salman, he says in the first: “A letter to the governor Naser bin Salman Jawab and Ruba Onyongo (name of an African leader), take them to Fajaziyya 42 piasters from Kanji Seraj (an Indian name). Let them travel and peace be upon you - 13 Shawwal 1296.

The second one is for the governor, Hamad bin Saeed, and he says: “A letter to the governor, Hamad bin Said, a Reply under (No.) 48 to 51 provided that the agent of the house of Zeram carried a carnation of Bander Mojazza (a port). This Bandar is related to Bandar Kashkash (a port), but it instructed you to write for its purpose in order to realize (catch) the MILE (Merchant Ship). In the past, there was no disagreement, and in return, each one takes something from the bandar from which he was carried or is counted on one of those who draft the receipts (plural of receipt, an Indian word meaning successful delivery of items) so that there is no problem with regard to anything of the purpose and number that you wrote for the people of the house Zabram is No. 48. No. 48 arrived before that, but now do not change it and keep it as it was written. If it is repeated, there is no disagreement. What mentioned about watermelon is safely understood. When ripening, we hope, God willing, we will send you a seed of watermelon to sow, but not in one place. Sow them in separate places and let one of the servants see them and the captain of the people of the house of Zeram sent to us and peace be upon you .... 13 Shawwal 1296 ».

In a third message, he says: “A letter to Saeed bin Saif Al Suhaibi, which is your honorable speech dated 12 Ramadan 1295. He arrived and your love was understood by what you mentioned on the request side of Sheikh Ali bin Isa. You mentioned that with the date of your speech, you do not have ivory, and that you were with him you sent to take the alternative, and the alternative has been sent. As of that period until now, nothing has arrived from you, so send what happened, and after a while send someone else in this order to fulfill that. Concerning that you are in Al-Munri (name of a country) that is demanding you in Zanzibar, we have known that he can please him and there is no work that they can watch for that. You mentioned that Ali bin Issa would take your property from Zanzibar in order to take advantage of it, but that is not possible, especially since you want from yield what your mother and children depend on. There is no yield in Zanzibar now that is sufficient to fulfill your debt and your family’s food. Adhere to the arrangement by sending urgent as we mentioned to you in this speech and peace ... 13 Shawwal 1296 ».In the fourth speech, Sultan Zanzibar says: “A letter to Muhammad bin Jum`a and Mas`ud bin Saif Jawab, and it was presented by the Jemadar about his soldiers that they are 43 individuals. We have looked at it while denying it, and it says that 48 people and Hamoud bin Salem Al-Jaradi give him the salary of two men, so that they are the total of 49 people, and 3 others. He dropped them from his saying to increase his quarter by claiming that the number of their missions is excess and the petition he wrote in the names of a quarter is a hyphen to you. The case »are present or not. They told us each one of their rank. If someone in the military is fit to be a colonel (head of a local military), please let us know if there are only 43 individuals as in the petition that you sent, so isolate him and ask for the answer quickly and peace. 15 Shawwal 1296 ».

In the third letter, he says: “A letter to Saeed bin Saif Al Suhaibi, which is your noble letter dated 12 Ramadan 1295. It was received and all what mentioned of the order for Sheikh Ali bin Isa was also understood. You mentioned that on the date of your letter, you do not have ivory, and what you had, you sent to take the alternative, and the alternative has been sent. As of that period until now, nothing has arrived from you, so send what happened, and after a while send something else in this order to fulfill that. Concerning that you are in Al-Munri (name of a country) that is demanding you in Zanzibar, we have known that he can be pleased, but there is no path for that. You mentioned that Ali bin Issa would take your property from Zanzibar in order to take advantage of it, but that is not possible, especially since you want from yield to feed your mother and children. There is no yield in Zanzibar now that is sufficient to fulfill your debt and your family’s food. Adhere to the order by sending ivory as we mentioned to you in this letter and peace be upon you ... 13 Shawwal 1296».

In the fourth letter, Sultan Zanzibar says: “A letter to Muhammad bin Jum`a and Mas`ud bin Saif, a list furnished by the Jemadar about his soldiers that they are 43 individuals. We have looked at it while denying it, and says that there are 48 individuals and Hamoud bin Salem Al-Jaradi gives him the salary of two men, so that they are the total of 49 individuals, and 3 others disregarded so as to increase his share on the pretext of claiming that the total salaries are in excess and the list that he wrote in the names are on the way to you and kindly have look at those recorded in the list (the paper in question) to see whether there or not. Tell us about each one with his salary. If someone in the military is fit to be a colonel (head of a local military), please let us know if there are only 43 individuals as in the list that you sent, so dismiss him and send us the reply quickly and peace be upon you. 15 Shawwal 1296 ».

Great Effort

It can be noted that these letters were written in a local slang language. Sometimes there are words of non-Arabic origin, but His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah in his verification of the book made a great effort in providing eloquent explanation and clarification of local words and terms that may be strange to the reader and cannot be understood, through explanations he provided in a footnote in each page in which some of these words that need explanation are mentioned. This is a scientific and documentary effort that contributed to making the reader move smoothly through the pages of the book to get acquainted with the history and features of that Sultan who ruled Zanzibar. It is also possible for the reader, based on what His Highness presented in the book, to analyze life in that region and in that historical period through manuscripts and letters contained therein.

It is mentioned that Al-Qasimi Publications published the book “The correspondence of Sultan Barghash, the Sultan of Zanzibar,” that were collected and verified by Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi. His Highness addressed the incoming and outgoing letters to Sultan Saeed bin Sultan, the Imam of Oman (Muscat and Zanzibar), with the British government, and specific to Zanzibar, as well as the incoming and outgoing letters to the sultans: Majid bin Saeed bin Sultan (Sultan Zanzibar), and Barghash bin Saeed bin Sultan (Sultan Zanzibar) and Khalifa bin Saeed bin Sultan (Sultan Zanzibar), exchanged with the British government, and another related to Zanzibar - the African part of the Omani Empire, which Britain went to separate from its rulers in Oman, as Sheikh Al Qasimi explained in his book (Division of the Omani Empire).

The letters in this new book reveal a lot of information about Britain's policy in the east coast of Africa, which was subordinate to the Sultan of Zanzibar, by stirring up strife in his states, deporting his state, landing its flag, and raising the British flag to those states.

His Highness collected these documents from the British Library, which are in the form of letters received and others issued to the Sultans of Zanzibar, numbering (234) letters, and arranged them into four groups. But, the beauty and value of Barghash's letters are in local affairs, and this explains the relations and connections between the ruler and the classes of owners, merchants, notables and tribal elders in the eastern African sector of the Sultanate of Oman and its African empire.

Infrastructure Development

Sultan Barghash bin Saeed Al Busaid is the second Sultan of Zanzibar after his brother Majid bin Saeed and he is the seventh son of Sultan Saeed bin Sultan. He was born in 1252 AH / 1837AD, and he took power from Monday Rajab 14, 1287 AH / October 10, 1870 until his death on Thursday night, 14 Rajab 1305 AH / March 26, 1888AD.

He is credited with building and developing the infrastructure of Zanzibar, the development of water networks, public baths, the police sector, roads, public parks, hospitals, and large government buildings such as "House of Wonders" in 1883. He encouraged British India Steam Navigation Company to do steam trips between Aden and Zanzibar every month. That quality service has transported Zanzibar mail to various parts of the world. After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, it was agreed with the Eastern Telegraph Company to extend a cable under the sea from Aden to Zanzibar in exchange for the assignment of Pew Island, and the cable was completed in 1879. In addition, he opened a local office for the telegraph, and recruited technicians from London, Goa and Bombay. He also established an Arab press in Zanzibar to print religious and literary books, repaired some of Zanzibar's roads with gravels, and brought an electric machine to light streets and homes.

Barghash is the last Sultan in Zanzibar to maintain a degree of real independence from European domination, and he had diplomatic savvy in dealing with Britain, America, Germany, France and Portugal, and disputed with the Germans. In 1885 AD, Germany announced the annexation of nearly sixty thousand square kilometers of Sultan Barghash's possessions in Africa, and the Sultan was subject to the status quo, and agreed to such dispossession. Then, a tripartite statement was issued by Germany, France, and Britain identifying the property of Sultan Zanzibar in 1886. Accordingly, the Sultan handed over the management of his country to the British East Africa Company.

Source: Al-Khaleej newspaper