African Studies Oman, the Gulf, and East Africa
by
Allen Fromherz
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 May 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846733-0159

Introduction

Although some ports are thousands of miles distant, only a monsoon separates the Arabian (Persian) Gulf and Oman from East Africa. For millennia, sailors, merchants, pilgrims, conquerors, and slaves have traversed the Indian Ocean between bustling trading ports on “Swahili Coast,” such as Kilwa, Shanga (see Horton 1996, cited under General Overviews and Historiography), Qanbalu, and Mombasa, to emporia in Arabia, such as Muscat, Basra, Qalhat, and the Bandars (protected coves) of Persia. African influence on Arab culture in Oman, Yemen, and the Gulf can be seen in dress, music, and the recent resettlement of Swahilis in Arabia after decolonization and the overthrow of Omani rulers in Africa. Although a market in humans, perpetuated by both Africans and Arabs, was certainly a major part of the history of interactions between Arabs and Africans, there were also many other forms of contact. As Sheriff 2009 (cited under General Overviews and Historiography) points out, the ancient Greeks mentioned Arab skippers who knew the African coast through intermarriage and regular trade. Sheriff 2010 (cited under General Overviews and Historiography) also suggests that great riches could be secured by medieval Persian and Arab merchants willing to risk the monsoon voyages to trade in gold and ambergris from Sofala on the coast of Mozambique. The culmination of Arab presence in Africa and African influence in Arabia, however, came in the first half of the 19th century. The Omani sultan Sayyid Said bin Sultan not only ruled over the island of Zanzibar, but he also moved his entire court and capital from Muscat to Stone Town.

General Overviews and Historiography

Agius 2005 describes the use of Arab ships, or dhows, in this trade. Devisse 1989 is an extensive historiography on the Indian Ocean and Arab traders. As Gray 1962 describes, East African islands such as Zanzibar were particularly important to the Omani sultan, even as the rest of the East African coast was controlled by various Omani families who did not necessarily obey this ruler (see Mazrui 1995). Studies such as Chittick 1963 focus on Arab influence in individual East African towns such as Kilwa. Finally, Freeman-Grenville 1988 tells this story of Arab settlement more broadly from the medieval period to the present.

  • Agius, Dionisius A. Seafaring in the Arabian Gulf and Oman: People of the Dhow. London and New York: Kegan Paul, 2005.

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    This book focuses on seafaring and shipbuilding in Oman and the Arab Gulf. It is based not only on archival material, but also on interviews with dhow captains and sailors. It shows how the monsoon winds created the consciousness of a wider identity encompassing Africa, India, and the western Indian Ocean as a whole. It also explores the impact of the discovery of oil and the decline of British influence in the region.

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    • Chittick, Neville. “Kilwa and the Arab Settlement of the East African Coast.” Journal of African History 4.2 (1963): 179–190.

      DOI: 10.1017/S0021853700004011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Arab and Omani settlement extended far beyond Zanzibar. This article introduces scholars to the extent of these settlements in Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia.

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      • Devisse, Jean. “Les Africains, La Mer et Les Historiens.” Cahiers d’Études Africaines 29.115–116 (1989): 397–418.

        DOI: 10.3406/cea.1989.1632Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

        This article provides an introduction to the historiography of Africa and the sea, bringing in the theories of F. Braudel and others. Indeed, Mediterranean historiography has played an important part in conceptualizing the western Indian Ocean.

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        • Freeman-Grenville, G. S. P. The Swahili Coast, 2nd to 19th Centuries: Islam, Christianity and Commerce in Eastern Africa. London: Variorum Reprints, 1988.

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          Freeman-Greenville provides an important overview the Swahili coast and integrates information about Arab, Christian, and African influences.

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          • Gray, John. History of Zanzibar from the Middle Ages to 1856. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962.

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            Although now somewhat dated, John Gray’s work remains an introductory text on the island and the influences of Oman and Arabian traders. It is focused primarily on the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan. There are often extensive quotations with no indication of any source. A frustrating if important work, this book exemplifies some of the challenges facing scholars of Africa and the Gulf.

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            • Horton, M. C. Shanga: The Archaeology of a Muslim Trading Community on the Coast of East Africa. Memoirs of the British Institute in Eastern Africa 14. London: British Institute in Eastern Africa, 1996.

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              This is another important survey of a Swahili, African port and its interactions with the Gulf and the wider Islamic world.

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              • Mazrui, Al-Amin bin Ali. The History of the Mazru’i Dynasty of Mombasa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

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                This story of Omani involvement in Africa was not limited to the Al Bu Said dynasty. In fact, several Omani and Arab families, including the Mazru’i, ruled as traders and merchants in major cities such as Mombasa. This text provides an overview of the history of the Mazru’i family in Africa, who were often bitter rivals of Sayyid Said bin Sultan, the most powerful Omani ruler in Zanzibar.

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                • Sheriff, Abdul. “The Persian Gulf and the Swahili Coast: A History of Acculturation over the Longue Durée.” In The Persian Gulf in History. Edited by Lawrence Potter, 178–188. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

                  DOI: 10.1057/9780230618459Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  In this introductory essay, Abdul Sheriff, an important Tanzanian scholar of Zanzibar, provides an overview of African and Omani connections over the centuries. This is a good place to start an investigation of Oman, Zanzibar, and the Indian Ocean. The Persian Gulf in History includes other articles on the anthropology and trade of the Gulf region, including Oman.

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                  • Sheriff, Abdul. Dhow Cultures and the Indian Ocean: Cosmopolitanism, Commerce and Islam. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.

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                    This is an excellent introduction to the Indian Ocean, especially the trade and contacts between East Africa, India, and the Gulf, from one of the foremost scholars of the topic. Uses stories of people from Africa to illustrate important themes and topics in the history of trade before 1800. Unfortunately, the text stops at 1800.

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                    Primary Sources

                    Some of the early sources on Africa and Oman come from Portuguese sources, including the Commentaries of the Albuquerque (Dalboquerque 1875). For later periods, the existence of multivolume compilations such as the Records of Oman (Bailey 1992) and Slave Trade into Arabia (Burdett 2006) indicates that primary sources on Oman and Africa are both extensive and generally available to the researcher. There is also the lengthy Persian Gulf Précis (Saldanha 1986), which contains several vital primary sources. Volume 3 especially focuses on Muscat and trade with Africa. These sources, however, taken mainly from British archives, must be read carefully, as they have certain biases that could be read to support and justify British imperial dominance. The writings of Burton, the famed British adventurer, in Zanzibar (Burton 2011) also provide important perspectives on culture and society under Omani rule. Not all documents from the period, however, are British. Swahili sources at the School of Oriental and Africa Studies (Baschieri 2005) are important, as are new sources being located in Zanzibar by scholars such as Fahad Bishara, who describes a trove of Arabic debt documents from the island in his book, Bishara 2012. Finally, to balance the British view, there are also Omani chronicles that make several mentions of Omani rulers in East Africa (Salil ibn Razik 1986). Al-Mughiri 1986 is written by a prominent Omani reformer in early 20th century Zanzibar.

                    • Bailey, R. W., ed. Records of Oman: 1867–1960. 12 vols. Farnham Common, UK: Archive Editions, 1992.

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                      With over 7,000 pages of documents from the British Library Oriental and India Office Collection, this is a major compilation of essential documents on Oman after 1867. Although Oman and Zanzibar had split by this time, there are also documents referring to Africa and Oman, including disputes over slavery.

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                      • Baschieri, Angelica. “The Swahili Manuscripts Project at SOAS, 2000–2004.” African Research and Documentation 99 (2005): 37–43.

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                        An important bibliographical introduction to the Swahili documents. Many of these sources shed light on the Omani and Arab presence in Africa.

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                        • Bishara, Fahad. “A Sea of Debt: Histories of Commerce and Obligation in the Indian Ocean, c. 1850–1940.” PhD diss., Duke University, 2012.

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                          Includes translations of important commercial documents in Arabic found in Zanzibar. Available online.

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                          • Burdett, Anita L. P., ed. Slave Trade into Arabia 1820–1973. 9 vols. Slough, UK: Archive Editions, 2006.

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                            This is an invaluable collection of archival materials, government reports, and works in Arabic and English on the slave trade between Arabia and the Gulf. Weighted toward the European perspective, this massive archive edition of primary sources is a major contribution to the field and will take many years of research to fully comprehend. This is only very lightly edited, with a brief introduction. The sources stand virtually alone and ready for discoveries.

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                            • Burton, Richard. Zanzibar: City, Island, and Coast. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

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                              Originally published in 1872, this is an engaging account by the adventurer and writer extraordinaire: Richard Burton. He provides significant botanical, ethnographic, and political observations from his year on the island in 1856. He also provides insight into the preparations and plans of British explorers making their way to the continent of Africa.

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                              • Dalboquerque, A. The Commentaries of the Great Alfonso Dalboquerque. Translated by Walter de Gray Birch. London, 1875.

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                                The Portuguese perspective, although shaped by overarching crusading and commercial interests, provides an important view of the extent of African and Omani interaction and trade.

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                                • al-Mughiri, Said bin Ali. Juhaynat al-Akhbār fī Tārīkh Zanjibār. Edited by Muhammad ‘Ali Salibi. Muscat: Sultanate of Oman, Ministry of National Heritage, 1986.

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                                  Al-Mughairi’s history of Zanzibar stands out as an important source and synthesis. Written during a period of Zanzibar’s decline in the early 20th Century, this remains an essential source on the island.

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                                  • Saldanha, J. A., comp. and ed. The Persian Gulf Précis. 8 vols. Gerrards Cross, UK: Archive Editions, 1986.

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                                    First published at the beginning of the 20th century at a high point of British imperial rule, this is an important and lengthy history of the Gulf, including extensive information on Gulf trade with Africa as described by British sources and by correspondence with Gulf rulers.

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                                    • Salil ibn Razik (Ruzayq). The History of the Imams and Sayyids of Oman, by Salil bin Razik, from AD 661 to 1856. Translated by G. P. Badger. London: Darf, 1986.

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                                      Possibly the most important primary source on Oman before 1856, this text includes excerpts from earlier works and provides extensive evidence of contacts between Omani rulers and dynasties and East Africa through many centuries. Although heavy on military history within Oman, there are several important clues and references to Africa and African involvement. The current translation is in need of an update. However, Badger provides an introduction to the work that has been critiqued as Orientalist and problematic, even as it remains a reference in the field.

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                                      Religion (Ibadism) and Society in the Swahili Coast and the Gulf

                                      As Ghazal 2010 and Gaube 2013 both contend, understanding the role of Omanis in East Africa requires an understanding of the Ibadi school of Islam and its cultural and social forms. Ghazal provides interesting details on contacts between Ibadi scholars in Zanzibar, Oman, and North Africa. Wilkinson 2009 is an excellent overview of Ibadism in historical context and incudes some discussion of African connections. The papers in Hoffman-Ruf 2013 include several overviews of the Ibadi scholarly network. Sections of Barth’s ethnography of Sohar, Oman (Barth 1983) highlight the role of African and Swahili populations in the functioning of the trading city of Sohar on the African coast. In addition, Swahili society, language, and culture should be taken into account when studying the interaction between Omanis and Swahilis. Spear 1978 and Nurse and Spear 1985 accomplish this task by showing how the history and language of the Swahili people can be constructed from a variety of sources and texts, some of them from the Arabian Peninsula.

                                      • Barth, Fredrick. Sohar: Culture and Society in an Omani Town. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983.

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                                        Written by one of the most famous anthropologists of his generation, this is a compelling picture of Sohar, a town in coastal Oman, as seen through the culture, religion, and society of both Omanis and non-Omanis, including Africans.

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                                        • Gaube, Heinz, ed. The Ibadis in the Region of the Indian Ocean, Section One: East Africa. New York: Olms Weidmann, 2013.

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                                          East Africa was a destination for thousands of Omani Ibadis from the interior. In this collection of articles, the authors examine the interaction between Ibadi religion and the demands of commerce.

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                                          • Ghazal, Amal. Islamic Reform and Arab Nationalism: Expanding the Crescent from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean (1880s–1930s). London and New York: Routledge, 2010.

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                                            In this important study of Ibadism and Islamic nationalism, the author links intellectual movements in Africa, Oman, and North Africa.

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                                            • Hoffman-Ruf, Michaela, and Abdulrahman al-Salimi, eds. Oman and Overseas. New York: Olms Weidmann, 2013.

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                                              Focusing on Ibadi merchants and scholars overseas, this collection of papers attempts to answer the question of how and why Omanis established religious and commercial networks abroad.

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                                              • Nurse, Derek, and Thomas Spear. The Swahili: Reconstructing the History and Language of an African Society, 800–1500. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985.

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                                                Although they use Arab sources, the authors contend that Swahili culture and history are a synthesis of Arab and Islamic influences and local, African traditions.

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                                                • Spear, Thomas. The Kaya Complex: A History of the Mijikenda People of the Swahili Coast to 1900. Nairobi: Kenya Literature Bureau, 1978.

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                                                  An important monograph and case study, this text provides a framework for doing pre-1900 history in East Africa, using a balance of sources.

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                                                  • Wilkinson, John. The Imamate Tradition of Oman. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                    Considered an authoritative study of Ibadism and society, this is an excellent introduction to the ideal social and political forms pursued by Ibadis, both when they were overseas and when they returned to the interior of Oman.

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                                                    East Africa, Oman, and the Gulf before 1800

                                                    Although fewer sources exist for the medieval period, there are several overviews that touch on the period before 1500, including Hourani and Carswell 1995 and Ricks 1970. Kirkman 1980 shows that there have been significant political influences from Oman on the Swahili coast since the early Islamic period. There have long been speculations about the origins of Islamic influence on East Africa, with different theories going in and out of favor, as revealed by Brizuela-Garcia, et al. 2012. Also, there are extensive studies of the Portuguese and Dutch influences in the Gulf and Africa and the eventual rise of British dominance, such as Barendse 2000 and Barendse 2009. Importantly, Europeans had a major role in the promotion of the slave trade before the rise of Omani trading in Africa (Allen 2010). As described by Risso 1986, there were several other forms of commerce—in spices, ivory, and other products—that were the foundation Oman’s rise as a trading center and set the stage for Omani power before Seyyid Said. Wilkinson 1981 is groundbreaking in its use of Ibadi and Omani sources to shed light on the history of East Africa, and it provides an excellent case study of Kilwa and a discussion of significant works.

                                                    • Allen, Richard B. “Satisfying the ‘Want for Labouring People’: European Slave Trading in the Indian Ocean, 1500–1850.” Journal of World History 21.1 (2010): 45–73.

                                                      DOI: 10.1353/jwh.0.0100Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                      Allen examines the role of European slave traders before and after the abolition of slave trade by the British in the first half of the 19th century. As the article reveals, Europeans continued to be involved in the trade well into the century.

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                                                      • Barendse, R. J. “Trade and State in the Arabian Seas: A Survey from the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century.” Journal of World History 11.2 (2000): 173–225.

                                                        DOI: 10.1353/jwh.2000.0030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                        This article provides a good initial primer on the role of Arab traders, European conquerors, and Africans in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.

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                                                        • Barendse, R. J. Arabian Seas, 1700–1763. 4 vols. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2009.

                                                          DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004176584.i-1404Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                          This is a large and wide-ranging study of the early modern period and the intersection between Africa, Arab traders, and the entry of European joint stock companies.

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                                                          • Brizuela-Garcia, Esperanza, and Trevor R. Getz. “Islamic Sources and Versions of Swahili Origins.” In African Histories: New Sources and New Techniques for Studying African Pasts. By Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia and Trevor R. Getz, 111–138. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2012.

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                                                            This article examines the Islamic texts on the question of Swahili East African “origins.” It provides an overview of the sources and potential questions for the researcher.

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                                                            • Hourani, Albert, and John Carswell, eds. Arab Seafaring: In the Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995.

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                                                              An excellent book from one of the foremost scholars in the field. With translations and rigorous references to Arabic and Persian texts, this short volume remains a classic for any student interested in the history of the Arab and Muslim merchants, sailors, and rulers in the Indian Ocean region in the early medieval period.

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                                                              • Kirkman, J. S. “The Early History of Oman in East Africa.” Journal of Oriental Studies 6 (1980): 41–58.

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                                                                This concise and accessible article provides an overview of interactions between the Gulf and East Africa, especially the interesting move of the Nabhani sultans from Oman to Patta in present-day Somalia.

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                                                                • Ricks, T. M. “Persian Gulf Seafaring and East Africa: Ninth to Twelfth Centuries.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 3 (1970): 339–357.

                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/216220Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  This is a good overview of Arab seafaring and trade with East Africa since the 9th century.

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                                                                  • Risso, Patricia. Oman and Muscat: An Early Modern History. New York: St. Martin’s, 1986.

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                                                                    This text describes how Oman and Zanzibar became commercially dominant in the Indian Ocean. It also provides a good overview of events and trading conditions before the reign of Sayyid Said.

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                                                                    • Wilkinson, John. “Oman and East Africa: New Light on Early Kilwan History from the Omani Sources.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 14.2 (1981): 272–305.

                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/218046Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      This is an important example of how to write East African history using Omani sources. A critical analysis as well as a case study, this is a classic article in the field.

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                                                                      Biographies of Sayyid Said and Emily Ruete

                                                                      The founding of the Al Bu Said dynasty by Imam Ahmad bin Said al Busaidi, and his expulsion of the Portuguese from Oman, created opportunities for his successors, including Oman’s most important ruler since the modern period: Sayyid Said bin Sultan. Not stopping simply in the Arabian Peninsula, the Omanis took over the Portuguese trading network along the East Coast of Africa. In fact, Sayyid Said bin Sultan moved his capital and entire court to Zanzibar due to the commercial success of his clove plantations and the slave trade. There are many biographical accounts of Seyyid Said. His doctor provided an interesting, if controversial portrait (Maurizi 1918), and his descendants tended to praise his reign (e.g., see Ruete 1929). Farsi 1986 similarly refers to Sayyid Said as ruling over a prosperous period for both Zanzibar and Omani. More recently, popular texts such as Bird 2010 have emphasized the cosmopolitan aspect of Sayyid Said rule. Life under the sultan, and the experience of women in his court, is vividly portrayed in the autobiography of his daughter, Ruete 2009. Romero 2012 speaks of the role of women more generally under Sayyid Said’s reign.

                                                                      • Bird, Christiane. The Sultan Shadow: One Family’s Rule at the Crossroads of East and West. New York: Random House, 2010.

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                                                                        Although written in a more popular and accessible style, this work by Bird still provides an innovative set of footnotes based on scholarly sources. In addition to evocative descriptions of Stone Town and the court of Sayyid Said, her primary focus is on the experiences of Emily Ruete, the daughter of Sayyid Said, who was born in Zanzibar, married a German Christian, and moved to Europe.

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                                                                        • Farsi, S. A. S. Seyyid Said bin Sultan: Joint Ruler of Oman and Zanzibar (1804–1856). New Delhi: Lancers, 1986.

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                                                                          Another important biography of Sayyid Said, Farsi’s text provides important details on the life and personality of the ruler and his trading empire.

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                                                                          • Maurizi, Vincenzo. History of Seyd Said: Sultan of Muscat. London: Oleander, 1918.

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                                                                            Although somewhat controversial, Maurizi’s account of his time as the personal doctor of Sayyid Said in Muscat is an important, outside view of the character and accomplishments of the ruler who would come to dominate much of the western Indian Ocean.

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                                                                            • Romero, Patricia. “Sayyid Said Bin Sultan BuSaid of Oman and Zanzibar: Women in the Life of This Arab Patriarch.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 39.3 (2012): 372–391.

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                                                                              Drawing on the experiences of Sayyida Ruete, the daughter of Sayyid Said, this article provides important observations and analysis on the role of women under the “patriarch” Sayyid Said.

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                                                                              • Ruete, Rudolf Said. Said bin Sultan: Ruler of Oman and Zanzibar. London: Alexander-Ouseley, 1929.

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                                                                                Written by a descendant of Said through his daughter Ruete, this is an important account of the Sultan that can be treated as a primary source in its own right. Rudolf Said Ruete gained prominence in the Royal Geographic Society and other circles due to his ability to translate the culture and history of Zanzibar and Oman into European languages.

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                                                                                • Ruete, Emily. Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar. New York: Dover, 2009.

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                                                                                  Published in an accessible and inexpensive edition, this an important primary source written from the rare perspective of the daughter of Said bin Sultan. Her views on the court and the role of elite women, slavery, plantation life, and daily customs and practices are valuable.

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                                                                                  Commerce and Trade under Sayyid Said

                                                                                  Sayyid Said’s power and influence was founded on trade and the booming demand for ivory, cloves and other products from the East Coast of Africa. The rise of this trade before Said moved to Zanzibar is described in Allen 1982. The abolition of slavery and increased British influence were not the only factors leading to the decline of Omani dominance in the western Indian Ocean. There was also trade from as far away as the United States (see Bennett and Brooks 1965). Nicolini 2012 describes the extensive nature of Said’s domains from the Makran (Baluchistan) to much of the East Coast of Africa and Oman. The coming of commercial steamships, the dynastic split between Zanzibar and Oman, and the increased British presence in India sealed the fate of Oman and Africa, according to Bhacker 1992.

                                                                                  • Allen, C. H. “The State of Muscat in the Gulf and East Africa, 1785–1829.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 14 (1982): 117–127.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0020743800000611Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    Allen’s article raises important questions about the role of Oman and Omanis even before the move of Sayyid Said to Zanzibar. Allen’s research provides concise accounts of the historical background of Sayyid Said’s move to Zanzibar.

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                                                                                    • Bennett, N. R., and George Brooks. New England Merchants in Africa: A History through Documents. Boston: Boston University Press, 1965.

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                                                                                      Covering a period from 1802 to 1865, this edited collection of documents provides an important window onto the presence of American merchants in the western Indian Ocean. These include interactions between Americans and the court of Sayyid Said at Zanzibar.

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                                                                                      • Bhacker, M. Reda. Trade and Empire in Muscat and Zanzibar: The Roots of British Domination. London: Routledge, 1992.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.4324/9780203410332Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        Examining the growth of the Omani-Zanzibari trade network and empire under Sayyid Said bin Sultan, Bhacker claims that the British used what he calls the “anti-slavery crusade” and the exploitation of identity and nationality in Zanzibar and East Africa to eventually take over and dominate East Africa.

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                                                                                        • Nicolini, Beatrice. The First Sultan of Zanzibar: Scrambling for Power and Trade in the Nineteenth-Century Indian Ocean. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2012.

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                                                                                          Along with very similar texts with different titles, including Makran, Oman and Zanzibar, Nicolini focuses on the economic history and codependence of Oman, Zanzibar, and the Makran, and on the crucial influence of Sayyid Said as a lynch-pin in this sphere of economic exchange.

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                                                                                          After Sayyid Said (1859–1963)

                                                                                          The prosperity of Oman and Zanzibar under Sayyid Said bin Sultan would diminish dramatically after the death of Sayyid Said and the division of Oman and Zanzibar into two separate Sultanates ruled by sons of Said. Nevertheless, the connections between Oman and Zanzibar remained prominent and important. Official and unofficial trade, and even “smuggling,” as defined by the British, continued to occur between Muscat and Stone Town (Landen 1967). Although eventually breaking off into its own dynasty, the rulers of Zanzibar and the Arab families living in Africa maintained relations with the Gulf. Despite the break in the sultanate, Omani trading interests, especially in ivory, continued to spread deeper into Africa through the efforts of Tippu Tip (Tip 1907). Although the slave trade still existed outside of British and the Sultan of Oman’s prohibitions (Sullivan 2011) and the emancipation of slaves in Zanzibar (Harms, et al. 2013), these measures led to new forms of social and cultural expression (Fair 2001). Cooper 1977 demonstrates the lasting influence of East African plantation slavery in the western Indian Ocean. Krumm 1940 shows the influence of Arabic on the Swahili language.

                                                                                          • Cooper, Frederick. Plantation Slavery on the East Coast of Africa. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977.

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                                                                                            Cooper uses both interviews and written sources to examine the types of slavery used on the East African coast. He also compares East African slavery with other types of slavery around the world.

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                                                                                            • Fair, Laura. Pastimes and Politics: Culture, Community and Identity in Post-Abolition Urban Zanzibar, 1890–1945. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                              A wide-ranging examination of gender, culture, music, dress, and sexuality in the first decades after emancipation in Zanzibar. Fair also shows the changing attitudes of Zanzibaris in the first part of the 20th century.

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                                                                                              • Harms, Robert, Bernard K. Freamon, and David W. Blight, eds. Indian Ocean Slavery in the Age of Abolition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300163872.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                This book includes articles by important scholars in the field on the Islamic attitude toward abolition and the experiences of those subjected to the trade. Also, it provides an overview of British motives for abolition in the Indian Ocean.

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                                                                                                • Ingrams, W. H. Zanzibar: Its History and People. London: Stacey International, 2007.

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                                                                                                  Originally published in 1931, this book is written from the dry perspective of Ingrams, private secretary for the British Resident. An anthropological sourcebook, he preserved oral histories and accounts not only of the main island of Zanzibar, but also of Pemba and Unguja. Although often criticized and certainly written from the perspective of the British, it is still an important source on the island and the multicultural nature of its society.

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                                                                                                  • Krumm, Bernhard. Words of Oriental Origin in Swahili. London: Sheldon, 1940.

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                                                                                                    Itself a rather dated historic document, Krumm’s study of Swahili in the 1930s provides an important, if somewhat clouded, window into the influence of “Oriental,” or Arabic and Persian, languages, in East Africa.

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                                                                                                    • Landen, Robert. Oman since 1856: Disruptive Modernization in a Traditional Arab Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967.

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                                                                                                      Although now somewhat dated, this is an excellent survey of Oman, including a section on Sayyid Said. It puts Oman in the context of the world economy and focuses especially on the disruptive introduction of steamship technology, which decimated traditional trade and high commerce from Oman and Zanzibar. In addition, it provides a primer on economic and political challenges after the split of Zanzibar and Oman in the wake of Sayyid Said’s death.

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                                                                                                      • Sheriff, Abdul. Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar: Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873. London: James Currey, 1987.

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                                                                                                        This text provides an important overview of the economic history of Zanzibar and Oman, especially the demand for luxuries such as ivory and the production of cloves.

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                                                                                                        • Sullivan, George. Dhow Chasing in Zanzibar Waters and on the Eastern Coast of Africa. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511919367Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          First published in 1873, this is an account of the difficulties faced by Sullivan in his enforcement of antislavery treaties in the Indian Ocean. It describes the various methods employed by traders in attempting to avoid detection. It also provides insight into the continued relevance of slave trading in the unofficial economy in defiance of British imperial policy.

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                                                                                                          • Tip, Tippu. Tippoo Tib: The Story of His Career in Zanzibar and Central Africa. Edited by Heinrich Brode. Translated by H. Havelock, with a preface by Sir Charles Elliot. London: Arnold, 1907.

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                                                                                                            Tippoo Tib, or Tippu Tip, worked for the sultans of Oman as a slave trader in Africa. His autobiography is an important source on the activities of Omanis and Swahilis who transformed the interior of the continent before Europeans formally carved up the continent.

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                                                                                                            The Modern Period (1964-Present)

                                                                                                            In January 1964 there was a sudden change in the history of Zanzibar and the role of Omanis on the island. After more than two centuries of Arab rule, a revolution overthrew the last of the Zanzibari sultans, Jamshid bin Abdullah. Although he was made a constitutional monarch after independence from Britain in 1963, he was soon forced to flee to Portsmouth, England. The events of the revolution are detailed in Clayton 1981. Glassman 2011 suggests that racial categories and identities had a major role in the colonial and postcolonial periods in Zanzibar. Similarly, there was an impact on Omani society as well, as Grandmaison 1989 shows. Many other Arabs were killed during the Zanzibar revolution. Some Swahili-speaking Omanis were welcomed back into Oman years later by Sultan Qaboos after Qaboos had overthrown his father. Valeri 2007 discussed this return. The apparent “Communist” ties of the new government concerned the United States and Britain, as Petterson 2002 suggests. But the Communism never really manifested as feared. Oman’s historic experience in Africa has, according to Jones and Ridout 2012, shaped the nature of Oman’s foreign policy to this day. Zdanowski 2011 brings the history of slavery and Africans in the Gulf up to the modern period, describing the manumission movement.

                                                                                                            • Bhacker, M. Reda. “Family Strife and Foreign Intervention: Causes in the Separation of Zanzibar from Oman: A Reappraisal.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 54.2 (1991): 269–280.

                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1017/S0041977X00014786Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                              There are many highly divergent accounts of the revolution in Zanzibar. Bhacker’s account focuses on foreign influences. Other accounts discuss internal factors.

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                                                                                                              • Clayton, Anthony. The Zanzibar Revolution and its Aftermath. London: C. Hurst, 1981.

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                                                                                                                An overview of the events and aftermath of the revolution in Zanzibar, this book is a good primer if read in the context of other sources.

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                                                                                                                • Glassman, Jonathan. War of Words, War of Stones: Racial Thought and Violence in Colonial Zanzibar. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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                                                                                                                  In this controversial account, Glassman challenges the notion that Western categories created racial divisions in Zanzibar. Instead, he examines what he sees as African notions of race and racial hierarchy during the 1960s, the decade that would see Zanzibar’s revolt and the overthrow of the Omani sultan.

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                                                                                                                  • Grandmaison, Colette Le Cour. “Rich Cousins, Poor Cousins: Hidden Stratification among the Omani Arabs in Eastern Africa.” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute 59.2 (1989): 176–184.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/1160486Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    An interesting analysis of Arabs still residing in Africa who did not return to Oman and the Gulf, this article is an important introduction to the continuing influence of Omanis in Africa today.

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                                                                                                                    • Jones, Jeremy, and Nicholas Ridout. Oman, Culture and Diplomacy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012.

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                                                                                                                      Jones and Ridout claim that Oman’s culture of cosmopolitanism is a major explanation for Oman’s form of diplomacy. They include a history of economic and social interactions with Africa.

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                                                                                                                      • Petterson, Don. Revolution in Zanzibar: An American’s Cold War Tale. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002.

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                                                                                                                        Petterson claims to have been the “only American in Zanzibar” during the revolution of 1964 (there were several Americans on a NASA installation), and this is a controversial view from the perspective of Petterson, who saw the revolution as a potential threat to America’s interests in the region. That said, it provides an overview of events from an eyewitness perspective.

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                                                                                                                        • Valeri, Marc. “Nation-Building and Communities in Oman since 1970: The Swahili-Speaking Omani in Search of Identity.” African Affairs 106.424 (2007): 479–496.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1093/afraf/adm020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Valeri provides a profound analysis of the condition and experiences of Oman’s Swahili speakers. Often claiming Arab and African ancestry, the Swahili speakers, especially those educated under British influences in Zanzibar, have secured important positions in Omani society. At the same time, there are also more ambiguous stories of alienation.

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                                                                                                                          • Zdanowski, Jerzy. “The Manumission Movement in the Gulf in the First Half of the Twentieth Century.” Middle Eastern Studies 47.6 (2011): 863–883.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/00263206.2010.527121Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            The manumission of slaves in the Gulf occurred legally and formally in the 20th century. This text provides an overview of the important implications of this movement.

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