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.
Every country has its second, underground, unofficial, irregular or parallel economy. By their nature they are hidden and defy accurate and formal measurement. They provoke conceptual and definitional arguments among analysts. There has recently been a surge of interest; anecdote, newspaper reports and ‘educated guesses’ have increasingly been replaced by serious analysis. However, most of the new generation of studies are of developed economies.
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.