Barghash ibn Sa’id

1833(?)–1888
Sultan of Zanzibar

Barghash ibn Sa’id

Sultan Barghash ibn Sa’id ruled ZANZIBAR from 1870 until his death in 1888. He was a reformer who tried to eliminate corruption and to improve the economy of Zanzibar.

Barghash rebuilt the clove economy after it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1872. Later he established a fleet of steamships that boosted the country’s trade and revenues. The sultan used this new wealth to build a number of palaces and introduce public improvements such as electricity and piped water to the town of Zanzibar.

However, the sultanate soon came under the shadow of European colonial ambitions. In 1890 Germany and Britain signed two treaties that forced Barghash to accept reductions in the size of Zanzibar. Germany took Tanganyika (part of present-day Tanzania), leaving Zanzibar with only a narrow strip of coastal land in Kenya. The two offshore islands of Zanzibar and Pemba fell under British control. Barghash did not survive the breakup of his sultanate. (See also Colonialism in Africa.)