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Zanzibar Historical Events 1900-2000

By Nssor Mugheiry"

1901 JanuaryTea: the first packet of tea made in East Africa was packed in Dunga. The leaves were the first products of the garden that was laid out there in 1899. It was manufactured with such appliances as were to hand, rolled on the deal table, sun-dried, and fired with ordinary charcoal stove.1901 AugustThe first bulk oil installation started in Zanzibar following the completion of tank and pier at Mtakuja.The tank for reception of petroleum in bulk waserected by Messrs. Smith Mackenzie and Co. the Agent for Shell Transport and Trading Company Limited.The installation was most complete comprising also of a factory for the manufacture of kerosene oil tins.1901 September 18The first Zanzibar street band was formed by the local bandsmen who were discharged by the Sultan. The band was available for social events. 1903The first newspaper in Zanzibar "Samachar" was printed. It was later reorganized as a daily paper with the first appearing on Monday August 21, 1905.

Later on several newspapers were published in Zanzibar.1903 September 26A powerful light house at Kigomasha in Pemba and that of Chumbe were opened. The light houses were constructed by the Public works Department. Great improvements took place to the Zanzibar light houses from the beginning of 1900 by converted to a flashing system of A.G.A. i.e. the sun valve control hereby the lights are extinguished shortly after dawn and relit before sunset automatically.

The first modern market in Zanzibar was opened at Darajani and named Estella Market of commonly known as Marikiti Kuu. Estella , Countess Cave was a sister of General Sir Lloyd Mathews then First Minister and Consul General of Zanzibar. Opened by Sultan Ali bin Hamoud, credit is due to Mr. Bomanjee Maneckjee, the Minister for Public Work who turned an old ruined site into a building of a considerable architectural beauty. 1904 July 18Sultan Hamoud bin Mohammed died and Seyyid Ali bin Hamoud took over the throne. Ali was the youngest Sultan to take over the throne at the age of 18. He was the first Sultan to have western education and was very much influenced by the western culture by his dresses, food and language.

1904 AugustThe French Post Office of Zanzibar was closed.French Consular post office issued stamps of various denominations of Peace and Commerce which were issued by the French Metropolitan Government between 1876 and 1900.1905The first Government School started in Zanzibar through the initiative of Sultan Ali bin Hamoud accommodated mainly the Royal Family and Upper Class Arabs. This school was later on became Town Boys Primary School at Darajani.

The famous Bububu Railway was built by an American firm. The 7 mile Railway connected Bububu and Forodhani consisted of a 3 ft gauge light track. It was sold to the Government in 1911. The Railway stopped its passenger service in July 1922 and used for the haulage of stone for the harbor works. The engines and the rolling stock of Bububu Railway completed their journey in August 31,1929.1905 SeptemberElectric light and power was supplied within a radius of 5 miles from the Sultan's Palace. The plant was installed by Mr. J. A. Jones of New York, and thereafter the streets of Zanzibar town lit with electricity much earlier than other streets in London which were still to make do with gas lamp.1906 July 04The Official switching on of the electric light in the Streets of Zanzibar town.

This was the first time in the history of any town in East Africa. Indeed,Telephone services in public use and private with switchboard installed at the Old Fort. The facilities were installed by an American Company and hence opened in the Independence day of America.1907Zanzibar Army was disbanded and the defence of the country entrusted to two companies of King's African Rifles [KAR].The official opening of Shangani Post Office. The British Post al Services started in1873 in the Mackenzie Building and in 1895 December the service took a more formal charge when it joined into the Postal Union. Meanwhile the Zanzibar first postage stamps appeared on September 20, 1896 printed by the firm of the De la Rue.1907 December 10Official opening of the wireless telegraphy services at Mnazi Mmoja. This first wireless telegraphy in East Africa was opened by Mrs. Cave, the wife of then British Consul General.

The service connected Zanzibar and Pemba within a few minutes was another red letter I the annals of Zanzibar.1908 JanuaryThe silver Rupee of British India made the standard coin of the Protectorate and Zanzibar currency notes issued.Final abolition of the Consular court's of Zanzibar of the various powers. All subjects, irrespective of nationality, thus became amenable to British jurisdiction.1908 May 13The Zanzibar Court of Justice at Vuga was officially opened. The building is a fine piece of Saracenic architecture, the creation of Mr. J. H.Sinclair. And the dome surmounting the clock tower and the vista of arches are a distinct addition to the place.1908The first currency Decree was promulgated and provided for and issue of the first Zanzibar currency Notes.

The first car came to Zanzibar. This Germany made car "Daimler" was used by Sultan Ali bin Hamoud. The motor car sfor passengers started in 1927 when the trial was made for three cars: Morris Cowley, Citroen and Fiat each carrying for passengers to Mangapwani.1911 December Seyyid Ali bin Hamoud visited England to attend the Coronation of His Majesty King George V. Whilst in Europe he abdicated and decided to leave in Paris where he died in 1918.Seyyid Khalifa bin Haroub ascended the throne of Zanzibar and his coronation was held at the House of Wonder. He was the longest Sultan to rule Zanzibar from 1911-1960. 1913Control of Zanzibar Sultanate passed from the Foreign Office to the Colonial Office.1914 JanuaryControl of Zanzibar transferred formally from Foreign Office to Colonial Office. The new post British Resident and Chief Secretary were created. Major F.B. Pearce was made the first British Resident and J. H. Sinclair became the first Chief Secretary.1914 AugustThe first World War was started. Zanzibar declared war on Germany and the Treaty of Zanzibar with Germany lapsed.1914 September H.M.S. Pegasus the British Ship sunk in Zanzibar Harbor by the German Cruiser "Koningsberg".1915 JulyThe Zanzibar Theater Cinema House at Darajani Bridge was opened in Saturday. The first installment of the serial Elmo the Mighty in which Elmo Lincoln and Lucile Love the beautiful and talented favorite, figure in exploits of sensetial adventures was successful screened before a crowded house.

1916 August- The first naval airplane to Zanzibar landed during the period of the first world. The Eastern African campaign during the War saw the novel use of aircraft in naval operations. Majority of these aircraft's had underpowered engines and wooden airframes which were prone to severe problems in the tropical climate. Sultan Khalifa bin Haroub was the first Arab ruler to view his kingdom from the air by flying the aircraft piloted by Lt. J. Cull of Royal Navy Air Service.1917 MarchThe Darajani bridge was opened by J. H. Sinclair, then British Resident replacing the old wooden bridge. The bridge was designed by Mr. Crawleys the Director of public work The bridge was a connecting link between the town peninsular and the main island. The bridge was of 2 spans with a total length of 70 feet by 20 feet wide.1918The first motor lorry two-ton-Daimler to Zanzibar was bought by Public Works Department. It was used for the construction of various roads in the country side.1918 NovemberArmistice signed and the First World War ended.1920 JulyZanzibar experienced the closure of of the International Maritime bureau established in 1892 for the purpose of centralization of information relating to native vessels and slave trade in general.

1923- The new standard measure of weight and capacity were made: A Pound being standard measure of weight, A gallon as standard measure of capacity, A Yard as standard measure of length and Square Yard as a standard measure of surface.1923 JuneService of the two Companied of the K.A.R discontinued and the defence of the country entrusted to the Zanzibar Police Department.1925 DecemberThe first tractor arrived in Zanzibar. The tractor named the Guy Roadless Tractor of 19 horse power is what termed technically as a half -track vehicle. It was used for construction of roads and its first trials took place at Kidimni-Ndagaa road construction.1926 MarchExecutive and Legislative councils constituted and the Zanzibar Protectorate Council, formed in 1914 abolished. The establishment of these bodies was in line with the British Policy to start with the system of rule of Law. The Legislative council was later on became the Parliament and Executive Council became Cabinet of Minister. The first session of the Zanzibar Legislative Council opened by His Highness Khalifa bin Haroud, the Sultan of Zanzibar. 1927 January The first British Official messages were received at the Zanzibar Station. The receiver installed was by the Marconi Company Ltd. designed for reception of good headphone signals in any part of the world of all high power continues wave stations.1928 MarchSiti bt Saad realized her first record of Taarab music. Siti and her band signed a recording contract with AbdulKarim Hakim Khan His Masters' Voice Agent in Zanzibar to go to Calcutta India to record their music. Siti became the first women in East Africa to record her music and the first person to ever record and release song in Kiswahili.1

92-9 JulyFirst step was taken to improve the quality of cloves for export by subjecting them to compulsory inspection in accordance with the provisions of the Agricultural Produce Decree.1929 OctoberZanzibar census Report was published.The harbor works was formally handed over to His Highness on behalf of the Zanzibar Government by Mr. H. H. G. Mitchell, the consulting Engineer of Messrs Coode, at the ceremony held at the entrance of Harbor works in the presence of a large gatherings. 1929 NovemberMalindi Harbor opened. The harbor was designed by Col. G.T.Nicholson- Harbor advisory Engineer to the Union of South Africa. It had many facilities including a fresh water main with hydrants to supply to the ships and pipe to convey the oil to and from ships alongside.1929 December Commencement of dimming electric lights at 8.00 p.m to give time signal.1930Zanzibar first aerodrome was constructed at Dunga. The strip was 800 yards by 150 yards was used only for light and medium size aircraft.1930 AprilThe first commercial plane landed on Zanzibar. The plane was piloted by Captain T. Campbell Black, Managing Director of the then Wilson's Airways Ltd. By communicating with Police Station at Ziwani he pilot managed to land on Mnazi Mmoja Golf Course on Monday at 10.00.1931 MarchThe first overseas air mail arrived at Zanzibar by the then inaugurated African air mail services.

It was posted in London on the 27th February, reached Kisumu on 10th March and arrived at Zanzibar after five days.Likewise the first air mail correspondence from Zanzibar to outside world was dispatched on Friday 5th June 1931at 7.00 a.m1932 FebruaryFirst cinema talkie exhibited in Zanzibar at the Royal Cinema.1935 MarchThe official opening ceremony of the new high pressure water supply at Mwanyanya (Bububu) by sultan Khalifa bin Haroub to supply water to the town of Zanzibar and Ng'ambo.1936 January The substitution of East African currency for Rupee currency i.e. the new Shilling currency came into force following the establishment of the common East African Currency Board. Postage stamps of new denominations were introduced.1936 FebruarySerious riot of Manga Arabs (commonly known as Vita Vya Wamanga or vita vya Mbata) broke out in the town of Zanzibar. The cause of it was in the application of Alliteration of Produce Decree. The Inspector of Police was killed and four rioters were killed and several other people wounded. Great alarm prevailed in Zanzibar and all shop was closed.1937 December 21Official Opening ceremony of Jubilee Gardens at Forodhani laid out by Government to celebrate silver Jubilee Of His Late Majesty King George V and the memorial erected thereon by public inscriptions to celebrate the silver Jubilee of Sultan Khalifa bin haroub.1946The first African,

Sk. Ameir Tajo was appointed to join the Legislative Council to represent the African majority in this law making body.1947 DecemberFor the first time in Zanzibar's history a Bull and Donkey show was held at Mnazi Mmoja under the auspices of the Zanzibar Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.1948 AugustThe employees of the African Wharfage Company went on strike and Zanzibar was faced with complete paralysis of loading and unloading shipping cargoes.1948 SeptemberZanzibar witnessed an unprecedented strike in its history. All African employees including domestic employees and Ayahs went on strike in sympathy with the African Wharfage dock hands. The African Labor's of P.W.D. and Sweepers joined in the Strike. All shops were closed and business was at standstill.1949 DecemberFor the first time Gossage Cup Football match was played at Seyyid Khalifa Sports Grounds (Mnazi Mmoja?) between Uganda and Tanganyika which resulted in a draw. The following day Kenya beat Zanzibar by three goals to two in a good exciting match. Tangnyika beat Kenya two nil in a final match.

1951 -July. A serious riot broke out as a result of the opposition of the cattle owners of Kiembe Samaki for compulsory inoculation against Anthrax, commonly known as Vita vya Ngombe. Twenty cattle owners were prosecuted an 19 sentenced to terms imprisonment. A crowd of sympathizer's after making ill-advised effort to realize the prisoner's as they were leaving the court, hurried to the jail bent on the same purpose and serious riot took place outside the prison.1957The first election to be held in Zanzibar. The elections were protested by both political parties and racial and religious organization but in the end, the election was really became a contest between ASP and ZNP. ASP won five out 6 seats.1963 DecemberZanzibar got its Independence and Mohammed Shamte Hamad became the first Prime Minister.But constitutionally it was declared the Sultan the Head of State and giving him more power to appoint his Successor.1964 January The Revolution took place to topple not only the ZNP/ZPPP Government but also the monarchy, under the Leadership of late Mzee, Abeid Amaan Karume. With the establishment of of a republic and a new coalition of classes in power, radical changes took places. In fact with the exception of Guinea no country in tropical Africa changed radically in so short time.

1964 - March/ Nationalization of Land and later distributed to the poor. This was a major reform program to change the society and the ownership of Land.1964 AprilThe Republic of Zanzibar united with the Republic of Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanzania. Under new setup the late Julius Nyerere became the first President and Karume became the first Vice President of Tanzania respectively.1964 September Education was declared free for all. The declaration made a considerable changes in which the children from low class had opportunity to attend the schools.Zanzibar today is almost self- sufficient in man power. 1965 May Decree to declare Zanzibara one Party State. Afro Shirazi Party was the sole Political Party until 1992 following the introduction of Multi Party system in Tanzania.

1966 - October.The Bank of Tanzania Act: The establishment of Bank of Tanzania as Central Bank to provide for the Currency and other banking functions. The Tanzania Currency of and coins i.e. Tanzanian Shilling were issued for the former East African Shilling.1972 AprilThe Assassination of the First President of Zanzibar and Chairman of Revolutionary Council, His Excellency Mzee Abbeid Karume at Kisiwandui, the Afro Shirazi Party Headquarters. Honorable Aboud Jumbe was appointed as President of Zanzibar and Chairman of Revolutionary Council.1977 FebruaryThe inception of Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) At Amaan Stadium Zanzibar. Following the unity of Tanzanian Mainland, Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) and Zanzibari Afro Shirazi Party Tanzania remained a one party state until 1992. 1980 JanuaryThe first 1979 Zanzibar Constitution came into force. Thereafter, member of first Commissioners of Election was appointed.1980 NovemberThe appointment of His Excellency Aboud Jumbe a President of Zanzibar and Chairman of Revolutionary council as per stipulation of new Zanzibar Constitution.1984 January The President of Zanzibar and Chairman of Revolutionary Council Alhaj Aboud Jumbe resigned from his post following the political crisis relating to Union issues and Alhaj Ali Hassan Mwinyi was appointed Interim President.1984 AprilZanzibar General Election for Presidential election and Alhaj Ali Hassan Mwinyi was elected overwhelmingly majority and became the third President of Zanzibar. Mwinyi initiated trade liberation policy in Zanzibar.

To contact author - E mail: nmugheiry@hotmail.com