The reign of Sultan Ibin Seyyid Said (1840-1856)

The reign of Sultan Ibin Seyyid Said (1840-1856)

  • Seyyid Said was born in 1791 in Muscat the capital city of Oman.
  • He was born to Sultan Ibin Said Ahmad of the Busaidi family.
  • He came to power in 1804 when his father was killed in battle.
  • He transferred his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar in 1840.
  • Unfortunately, Seyyid Said died in 1856 having done much for the coast and East Africa as a whole.  

Why Sultan Ibn Seyyid Said transferred his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar

  • Seyyid said wanted to be close to Mombasa because of its rebellious nature.
  • Seyyid Said had greatly admired the cool coastal climate.
  • The fertile soils also attracted Seyyid Said because they could support cloves growing.
  • Zanzibar had good natural harbours which would allow big ships to land easily.
  • He wanted to control the lucrative Indian Ocean trade rather than leaving it to his relatives who were corrupt and unreliable.
  • The East African coastal people were considered to be more loyal to Seyyid Said than the people of Oman.
  • Political problems in Oman also forced Seyyid Said to shift his capital to Zanzibar after the murder of his cousin Bedr Saif.
  • Seyyid Said also wanted to establish regular trade links between the East African coast and the interior of East Africa.
  • Seyyid Said also wanted to exploit the cheap slave labour at the coast to use on his clove plantation.
  • Seyyid Said also wanted to gain popularity and prestige as a ruler of two territories at the same time.
  • Zanzibar also had a security advantage since it was an Island and it would offer maximum protection naturally compared to Oman.
  • Seyyid Said wanted to end the Busaidi – Mazrui conflicts once and for all.
  • Zanzibar was strategically located as a market for goods and this would enable him to control and expand the interior trade.
  • Seyyid Said also had the belief that the waters of Zanzibar were sweeter than those of Oman and this forced him to shift his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar.
  • He also wanted to check on the activities of the Indian Ocean sea pirates.
  • Religious persecutions in Oman forced him to shift his capital to Zanzibar.

Changes introduced by Seyyid Said in Zanzibar

  • Seyyid Said developed the clove industry in Zanzibar and today Zanzibar is the leading producer of cloves.
  • He signed commercial treaties with European countries for example Britain in 1839, France 1844, Hungary 1844, Germany and U.S.A which attracted many foreign traders at the coast.
  • He transformed Zanzibar into an entre – port i.e. it became an international market for traders from all parts of the world.
  • Encouraged trade with interior tribes of East Africa e.g. Yao, Nyamwezi and Sukuma who always supplied slaves.
  • He fought sea pirates with the help of the British navy which brought about peace and increased trade on the Indian Ocean.
  • He organized personal caravans into the interior of E.Africa to bring goods to Zanzibar hence encouraging the development of long distance trade.
  • He invited the Indian Banyans to settle along the coast who advanced loans to the Zanzibar is to go into the interior and buy commodities.
  • He also encouraged the use of small copper coins in trade to replace the barter system trade.
  • He introduced the system of taxing all imports and exports as a means of raising revenue.
  • His settlement also encouraged slave trade i.e. the interior was depopulated as many people were taken to work on his clove plantations.
  • Encouraged Europeans to open up trading posts in Zanzibar to increase trading activities e.g. in 1844 the Germans opened up one.
  • Managed to end the quarrels that existed along the coast between the Busaidi and Mazrui.
  • He attracted foreigners to Zanzibar for example Arabs, Indians, Europeans and this created a population of mixed culture.
  • Seyyid Said was also involved in the signing of treaties to end slave trade and slavery in East Africa for example in 1822 and 1845 he signed treaties with the British.
  • Socially, Seyyid Said encouraged the spread of Islam and built many Quaranic schools.
  • He also encouraged the spread of the Swahili culture along the coast and the interior of E.Africa.
  • United coastal towns under one leadership.
  • He also encouraged use of Sharia law of administration and in justice.