Abdul Sheriff

Abdul Sheriff is a professor of history at the University of Dar es Salaam and the author of The History and Conservation of Zanzibar Stone Town and coeditor of Zanzibar under Colonial Rule. He is also the principal curator of Zanzibar Museums.

Listed in: African Studies · Anthropology · Slavery and Slave Trade · Architecture · Business and Economics · History · Political Science · African History




Zanzibar Stone Town presents the problems of conservation in its most acute forms. Should it be fossilized for the tourists? Or should it grow for the benefit of the inhabitants? Can ways be found to accommodate conflicting social and economic pressures? For its size, Zanzibar, like Venice, occupies a remarkably large romantic space in world imagination. Swahili civilization on these spice islands goes back to the earliest centuries of the Islamic era.




Zanzibar stands at the center of the Indian Ocean system’s involvement in the history of Eastern Africa. This book follows on from the period covered in Abdul Sheriff’s acclaimed Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar. The first part of the book shows the transition of Zanzibar from the commercial economy of the nineteenth century to the colonial economy of the twentieth century.




Slaves, Spices and Ivory in Zanzibar · Integration of an East African Commercial Empire into the World Economy, 1770–1873
By Abdul Sheriff

The rise of Zanzibar was based on two major economic transformations. Firstly slaves became used for producing cloves and grains for export. Previously the slaves themselves were exported. Secondly, there was an increased international demand for luxuries such as ivory. At the same time the price of imported manufactured gods was falling. Zanzibar took advantage of its strategic position to trade as far as the Great Lakes.

“This long-awaited study by Abdul Sheriff adds significant richness in both its wealth of detail and meticulous analysis to our understanding of the rise of Omani Zanzibar and its changing place in the world economy. His prodigious archival research combines with his critical approach to Marxist theory to produce a convincing and stimulating interpretation of this critically important state during a major period of transition in the history of Eastern Africa.”

Professor Edward A. Alpers of the University of California, Los Angeles