Former Slave Market site in Zanzibar

While I was exploring Stone Town on the Island of Zanzibar, Tanzania, I walked by The Anglican Christ Church Cathedral…

and saw that it was the former slave market site.  It was only a few dollars to view it and there were a number of guys standing around offering to give tours, so I asked one of the men how much he charged.  He said he worked for tips…whatever I wanted to give…so off I went for a tour!

The tour lasted about 20 minutes.  First we walked through the church and he explained that since slavery had been abolished in the States in 1863 and it wasn’t abolished in Zanzibar until 1873, for those 10 years, the slaves were shipped to other countries other than the U.S., such as Dubai and other Middle Eastern countries.  While researching for this post, I found information that is contrary to what my tour guide gave.  Actually, slavery wasn’t completely abolished in the U.S. until 1865 and in Zanzibar until 1897.  There was a treaty signed with Britain to suppress slavery in Zanzibar in 1873.

This is the interior of the church…

Here is an underground area where the slaves were kept.  The guide said as many as 50 women and children were in this one room where they slept.  This area had a palatable sadness.  Seeing the shackles and trying to imagine living in these conditions left an imprint!

The last country in Africa to abolish slavery was Niger in 1960.  Even then it wasn’t illegal until 2003.  From 1960 until 1981 slavery was abolished in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Mauritania, respectively.  I was surprised by this.

Although slavery is illegal in all nations, it still exists, or forms of it, throughout the world!

40 thoughts on “Former Slave Market site in Zanzibar

  1. A fantastic post. Africa really is a troubled continent but it’s nice know that things are at least better than they were in the dark age of the slave trade.
    It’s also interesting to think that a buidling of such architectural beautify could be used for such horrors.


    • Thanks Nick. Yes it is very troubled. I’ve read a few books that enlightened me to more in depth problems. Unfortunately, we are still in a time of slavery…sex slavery is very prevalent.


  2. I did a book review on the book by Lawrence Hill called the Book of Negroes. It really gives a thorough description of what slavery was like by linking fact and fiction.


  3. What a powerful post and beautiful photos – do you know that Bristol in UK was one of the biggest slavery port in the world. The first stop on their journey and many slaves where already sold there. John Newton who wrote Amazing Grace was a captain on a slave ship for years and when the lyrics is about his guilt.


  4. Hi, good article! It’s great to mention modern slavery. Unfortunately it’s too little known. Here is an incredible book about the true story of a Sudanese girl who was captured and spent years of her life as a slave in Sudan and England. “Slave: My true story” by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis. Here is her website as well:


  5. Poignant images. Unbelievable what man will do to man! Bonded labour is akin to slavery and although illegal is still practiced clandestinely in several regions in Asia.


  6. Moving set of pictures and narrative. Thank you so much for sharing and for reminding us of the importance of remembrance and being kind to one another.


  7. This must have been intensely moving. And I absolutely had no idea that slavery was practiced as recently as you indicated. Man’s inhumanity … it never fails to astound me.


  8. Oh make no mistake about it, slavery still continues and in places closer to home than you think – be aware of the origins of your fruit & veg, coffee, chocolate… even your household appliances! A great post Sherry, hope I haven’t dampened the spirit of it but I feel strongly about slavery and can tell you some stories of some of the supposedly reputable organic farms near where I used to live a little outside London 🙂


      • I was thinking more what some people will do knowing that others need money and have no other means of getting it… but I guess you meant that 😉 Thanks for sharing your experiences around Southern Africa, I really enjoyed reading about them. Hopefully one day, you can tell me all about them in person 🙂


      • Yes…I meant that. I would love to meet you! I’m planning a trip to Europe in about a month…but I was shooting for countries I haven’t visited yet. Maybe you can make it to one of them!


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