The struggle between the coast and the oman arabs

The struggle between the coast and the oman arabs

(Busaidi – Mazrui Conflicts)

  • In 1698, Fort Jesus fell in the hands of the Oman Arabs after chasing away the Portuguese.
  • In 1741 a conflict arose between the Busaidi and Mazrui.
  • The Busaidi were Arabs from Oman
  • The Mazrui were the coastal Arabs mainly settled in the town of Mombasa.

 Causes Of The Busaidi—Mazrui Conflicts

  • The Busaidi family wanted to be recognized as the rulers of the coast which the Mazrui never accepted.
  • They both wanted to control the lucrative Indian Ocean trade which resulted into conflicts.
  • The Mazrui were tired of foreign rule and wanted independence.
  • The Mazrui had suffered a lot under the Portuguese and did not wish to be under a new colonial master.
  • The Mazrui governors of Mombasa had declared themselves independent of Oman rule and this was challenged by the Busaidi who looked at it as a form of rebellion.
  • The Mazrui at the coast never liked the appointment of Busaidi rulers e.g. Mombasa saw no need of paying tribute to Oman.
  • The Mazrui governors were very proud and they believed that Mombasa belonged to them even before coming of the Portuguese.
  • The Mazrui believed that the coast was theirs since they felt that the Busaidi couldn’t administer the coastal effectively.
  • The Mazrui had gained a lot of confidence after defeating the Portuguese in 1698 and hence they saw this as a step in regaining their independence.
  • Able leadership especially under Seyyid said led to the Busaidi – Mazrui conflicts because he greatly organized the Oman Arabs to fight the coastal Mazrui.
  • Mazrui fighters were assured of support from interior tribes like Nyika and Kamba which gave them morale to fight for their independence.
  • Mazrui fighters had acquired guns due to their earlier trade contacts which strengthened their army.
  • Mazrui fighters were united due to their strong element of Islam which encouraged them to fight.
  • The Busaidi Arabs were involved in Yorubi-Busaidi conflicts back in Oman which opportunity the Mazrui wanted to exploit to gain their independence.

NB: When Seyyid said came to power, he managed to bring the coastal struggles to an end.

Course of the Busaidi-Mazrui conflicts

  • In December 1698, Fort Jesus fell in the hands of the Oman Arabs after chasing away the Portuguese.
  • In 1728, the Portuguese attempted to recapture the coast but were driven out with the help of the Oman Arabs.
  • In 1741, the Yorubi Sultan Saif Ibin of Oman appointed Mohammed Ibin Uthman of the Mazrui family to be the governor of Mombasa.
  • He was expected to be loyal to the ruler of Oman.
  • After the death of the Yorubi Sultan Ibin Saif, the Busaidi took over power in Oman.
  • A new ruler of the Oman Empire called Sultan Ahmad Ibin Said was installed.
  • The Mazrui governors at the coast and Mohammed Ibin Uthman of Mombasa refused to recognize Sultan Ahmad Ibin Said’s administration.
  • The Mazrui governors declared themselves independent because to them, the Oman ruler was supposed to be from the Yorubi family and Busaidi family.
  • Sultan Ahmad Ibin Said of Oman decided to wage war against the Mazrui Arabs.
  • Mohammed Ibin Uthman the governor of Mombasa was killed in cold blood which angered the Mazrui at the coast.
  • Ali Ibin Uthman, a brother to the murdered governor took over power as the ruler of Mombasa and he was determined to defend the Mazrui power at the coast.
  • In 1804, Sultan Ibin Seyyid Said of the Busaidi family took over power in Oman.
  • Ali Ibin Uthman continued with the expansion of Mazrui influence at the coast and by 18mk 07, it had stretched from Pangani to Malindi.
  • By this time, it was only Kilwa that was loyal to the Oman Arabs.
  • When Abdullah Ibin Ahmad took over power in Mombasa he tried to get support from the British.
  • He found that the British had already signed an agreement with the new Oman ruler Sultan Ibin Seyyid Said.      
  • In 1817, Seyyid Said freed Pate and forbade all her subjects from trading with the Mazrui in Mombasa.
  • He also ordered Zanzibar to liberate Pemba and Brava from Mazrui rule.
  • Seyyid said also attacked Pemba in 1822 and drove out the Mazrui governor hence expanding the Busaidi influence.
  • In 1824, Seyyid Said personally commanded the forces that bombarded Mombasa and almost brought Mazrui rule to an end.
  • Mazrui rulers finally accepted Oman rule after that defeat.
  • However, when Seyyid Said went back to Oman, the Mazrui governors again stopped recognizing the Oman rule.
  • He returned in 1829 but he failed to defeat the Mazrui who had got support from the Nyika in their struggle.
  • It was Seyyid Said’s son Khalid who captured Fort Jesus the headquarters of the Mazrui and threw some of Mazrui family members and the governor into the Indian Ocean.
  • In 1837, Seyyid Said tricked some of the Mazrui family members and took them to the Persian Gulf where he starved them to death.
  • In 1840, Seyyid Said transferred his capital from Muscat to Zanzibar to completely end the power struggles at the coast.