Zanzibar 2013: Stone Town Slave Market

As I mentioned in my post about Stone Town, Zanzibar was home to a huge slave market for people from Europe and Asia. You can still visit the site of this slave market today. The people that were sold came from all over East Africa. When one group from the region would go to war with another, the losing group would be captured and sold on Zanzibar. The monument above shows an actual pit and chains used to detain them while they were being shown to potential buyers. The people in charge would make sure that every person in the pit was from a different ethnic group so that they couldn’t understand each other’s language. When the slave market was finally closed in 1873, an Anglican church was built over it. The missionaries’ idea was to turn something bad into something good. The altar of the church is located directly over the spot the whipping posts once were.
That circle in the ground was where a whipping post was once located.
Next to the church, you can also visit the slave chambers where people were held until ready for sale. The area my friend is standing in below was filled with sea water during high tide. It’s where the people confined to the ledge above would have to use the restroom. The small windows in the background were the only sources of light and air. People were packed shoulder to shoulder in this tiny room. If they survived this, they were thought to be strong enough to survive the journey to Europe or Asia. 🙁
Visiting this site is only a glimpse at how horrible life had to have been for the victims of slavery. It was definitely a depressing contrast to the beautiful beaches and people that make Zanzibar such a popular tourist destination. But it’s a part of history that must not be forgotten. It’s definitely a must see for anyone visiting Zanzibar.


  1. My husband and I lived in Dakar, Senegal in West Africa 10 years ago for his job. Your Africa photos made me nostalgic. There is a place called Isle de Goree (Goree Island) in Dakar and it’s the place where Africans left Senegal to be slaves. This place reminded me of the island. Beautiful photos.

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