A ROYAL LOVE STORY IN ZANZIBAR
This magnificentisland off the coastof Tanz ania changed for the w orse w hen itlostits favou rite princess to forbidden love
P rincess Nafiza looked out of th e window of th e fort in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Born to a concubine, sh e was th e favourite daugh ter of th e Sultan of Zanzibar, active, intelligent and popular in th e royal h ouseh old. Th e sunny m orning, th e beautiful silver sands and blue waters of th e Arabian Sea beckoned h er. “Let’s go riding,” sh e called out to h er com panions as sh e left th e fort on h er favourite h orse.
ISLAND OF FORTS AND PALACES
Zanzibar is th e m ain island in th e Arabian Sea close to th e African m ainland in Tanzania. It h as endless silver sand beach es, calm blue seas, h istoric arch itecture, friendly people and a past associated with wealth , greed, cruelty, sultans, princes and princesses.
Inh abited for around 20,000 years, it h as been ruled down th e ages by outsiders – in th e 7th century BC by Sabeans of th e Sem itic civilisation of Sh eba of Yem en, and th en successively by th e Persians, Portuguese, Arab and th e British . As th e m ain port of East Africa, it traded in gold, ivory, frankincense, ebony, turtle sh ells, silks, spices, corals, weapons and slaves.
Th e Persians arrived in th e 12th century. Th ey brough t with th em th eir th ough ts and culture and built th e Zoroastrian fire tem ples of Zanzibar, th e first in Africa. Th e Portuguese replaced th e Persians and ruled from 1498. Wh en th e Portuguese could not be tolerated any longer, th e Zanzibari Africans took th e h elp of th e Sultan of Om an and overth rew th em in 1698.
Zanzibar th en becam e an Om ani sultanate. Th e old fort of Zanzibar was built. Plantations of cloves, ginger, pepper, cardam om and vanilla were set up and Zanzibar becam e known as th e ‘Spice Island’. Business boom ed and a new Arab-African culture grew up, and from it a new language – th e Kiswah ili, wh ich is today a m ajor language of East Africa. Th e Om ani sultans liked th eir life so m uch th at th ey abandoned Muscat to settle in Zanzibar.
THE STONE TOWN
Th e Stone Town is a cluster of buildings, roads and alleyways in th e older part of Zanzibar. Th e nam e originates from th e use of reddish coral stone as th e m ain construction m aterial for h ouses. With narrow alleys lined by h ouses, sh ops, bazaars and m osques, its arch itecture is a com - bination of Arab, Persian, Indian, European and African styles. It is a little like Dariba Kalan of old Delh i, or parts of old Jerusalem .
To keep th eir interiors breezy and th eir appearance m ajestic, th e h ouses h ave extensive balconies, em bellish m ents, windows with sh utter