zanzibar stone town slave market
Zanzibar Slave Market

Probably you have previously seen Zanzibar slave market in some travel shows on TV and such. The presenters of these TV shows come here to this exact spot to shed a few tears in front of this statue in the slave market, condemning in front of the camera, on how bad the slavery was.

However, there seems to be some important details that these presenters forgot to tell us. The most important detail, is the identity of the trading parties who bought and sold slaves in the zanzibar slave market. The seller here is the Muslim state Oman, whose capital was zanzibar in those years. Buyers, on the other hand, are not on the American continent, in the east, and Muslims, unlike trade in the west of Africa. It is known that a significant part of the slaves sold from Zanzibar were purchased by the Ottoman Empire. These slaves were later worked in cotton fields in the Aegean region, during the second half of the 1800s. The grandparents of our settled black citizens, especially in Izmir and Aydin, were most likely sold in this market, and left the African continent to never come back. For example, the ancestors of our lower neighbor in Izmir. Then, they became citizens over time, and in 2018, like our first black Turkish citizen Yalçın Bey, who was a candidate for deputies from Izmir, they “deserved” their surnames like “Burned”.

I knew the above part before visiting the Zanzibar slave market museum. There were also things I learned when I visited the museum, as follows:

  • Zanzibar slave trade was abolished by the British in 1876. But it actually continued until 1897. The last place where the slave trade in the world ended
  • before seeing the museum, the ancestors of slaves brought to Turkey in nearby Tanzania, or I think they came from Kenyan territory. But they were “hunting” farther away. It is stated that slaves were brought by muslim arabic hunters, west and north of Lake Victoria, inside Congo, beyond Lake Malawi. So today’s Malawi, Congo and Uganda lands
  • It was one of the investment tools of that period such as stock market, repo, FX: For example, you are investing a slave while you are sitting at your home and you give your money to the company. The firm says that if you buy an ivory, it is more profitable that way. Well you say, if you say so, and you buy ivory. What did you get now: a slave and an ivory. But neither are available at your time of investment. Then the slave hunters, who are financed by you and investors in this way, set off, they both catch slaves in the African continent and shoot and kill the elephants they see. They cut their ivory and load it on the back of the slaves. Like catching two birds with a single stone! The slaves are brought to Zanzibar on the African coast by walking with a chain in their hands, ivory on their backs and walking through the lands of Uganda. Both ivory and slave are sold in Zanzibar. You, the investor in your home, make a lot of money, but at the same time you fuck the world, neither sparing elephants nor people. Now it is your grand grandchildren make donations to charity to fix the world. A crazy world order
  • If you don’t speak English, there is no information you can get in the museum. There are no exhibition objects. All history has been transferred chronologically with all English information boards, and I have read the above information from those boards.

    A sculptor has built this monument in the garden, so that the slaves tied around their necks in the pit, so that the excursion programs hosts of TV shows can come, and curse the only remaining tooth of the western civilization that has enslaved the world for centuries, and cry in front of it.

    Zanzibar slave market catholic cathedral in slave market
    Cathedral of Zanzibar Slave Market

    There is a large cathedral behind the statue. The British banned slavery at the end of one of the shortest wars in history with the kingdom of Oman (if I was not mistaken for a total of 5 minutes: from ships, a few gunshots to the palace of the king of Oman), and they made this cathedral, which is expected to contain symbolic meanings on the land where the slave market is located. I mean they might have meant something: I suppose, “Oh God, cmon! Which year is this? We are in 1876 ffs! The slavery of the bodies is so dark ages now. Now everyone is enslaving your mind, so please come and believe.”

    But the real experience was expecting us on the other side of the statue. On the other hand, not on the cathedral side: Oh, there’s a school, a primary school, maybe a kindergarten. Cheerful children’s sounds.

    We were already bored in the slave museum. There is a low wall separating the school and the museum, and we approached that way. The teacher was surrounded by sweet kids in the garden, sitting on their own, they sing all together. Oh how beautiful!

    school next to slave market
    School and singing pupils next to slavery museum

    Our hearts were filled with joy, Defne, I, Melis we watched together cheerfully. But what is it, something happened, someone made a noise, or maybe couldn’t sing the song correctly, whatever happened now, a wet branch took off in the hands of the teacher, and went down on one of the pupil’s face.

    Then again, another boy was hit this time.

    There is no joy left in the scenery. We got up. My smile clung to my face, and froze in the heat. While going out, I looked at the cathedral again, and turned, looked at the school again. Captivity. Bondage continues. Although there is no slave market right now, it turned to something else. A religion, a school. And again at this exact spot. There is the fact that there is a cluster of artisans in our country, plumbers open shop side by side, shoemakers open shop side by side. Maybe that is exactly the same, for the bondage dealers. They opened their glazes side by side.

    When we left, we walked towards the beach, to grab two beers at Mercury Bar. Meanwhile, Defne found a stick on the ground, and started to hit Zanzibar residents passing by.

    “Hey! Please don’t hit people with that!” I said.

    “But Dad, I became a teacher,” she said.

    Gokhan Toka
    Digital Marketing Professional at Gokhan Toka
    Digital marketing professional, data analytics junkie, snowboarding addict, in love with mountains, crazy about horror cinema and particularly 80s horror, die hard traveler, freelancer, dad

    ...and #beer
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