List of Sultans of Zanzibar and Their Family Tree

List of Sultans of Zanzibar and Their Family Tree

There is a descent list of Zanzibar sultans reigned the Sultanate of Zanzibar, which was established on October 19 1856 following Said bin Sultan’s death, who had governed Zanzibar and Oman from 1804. Zanzibar’s sultans were descended from a branch of Oman’s Al Said Dynasty.

Zanzibar Oman Connection

Zanzibar was included in Oman’s foreign possessions in 1698, coming under the sultan’s administration. Said bin Sultan relocated his capital from Muscat, Oman to Stone Town in 1840 or 1832 (sources differ on the date). He formed a governing Arab class and promoted the growth of clove plantations on the island, employing slave labor. Zanzibar’s business shifted more into the hands of Indian subcontinent traders who Said invited to settle in Zanzibar. Following his demise in 1856, two of his sons, Majid and Thuwaini, fought over the succession, resulting in the division of Oman and Zanzibar into two distinct kingdoms; Thuwaini became Oman’s Sultan, while Majid was the Zanzibar’s first Sultan. Majid consolidated his dominance in East Africa’s slave trade throughout his 14-year tenure as sultan. Barghash bin Said, his successor, was instrumental in the abolition of slave trafficking in Zanzibar and in the development of the nation’s infrastructure. The nation’s slide towards the abolition of slavery accelerated under Khalifa bin Said, the third sultan.

British Rule

Until 1886, Zanzibar’s sultan controlled a sizable section of East Africa’s coast, dubbed Zanj, as well as commercial routes that extended inland into the continent, all the way to Kindu on River Congo. That year, Germans and British met covertly and restored the sultan’s control to the territory. European powers took control of the Sultanate’s mainland territories during the following few years. Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890 when the Heligoland Zanzibar Treaty was signed during the reign of Ali bin Said. In August 1896, Zanzibar and Britain engaged in a war that lasted for 38 minutes, the shortest war recorded in history, following the assassination of Hamid bin Thuwaini by Khalid bin Barghash. The British desired Hamoud bin Mohammed’s ascension to the sultanship, in the belief that he would be far more amenable to collaboration. Khalid was given one hour to evacuate the sultan’s Stone Town residence by the British. Khalid did not comply, instead of assembling a 2,800-strong force to battle the British. The British attacked the palace and other strategic points across the city. Khalid withdrew and went into exile later that year. Hamoud was afterward appointed sultan.

Zanzibar gained independence from the United Kingdom in December 1963 and established itself as a constitutional monarchy under the sultan within the Commonwealth. During the Revolution of Zanzibar, Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah was deposed after a month. Jamshid left the Sultanate, and Pemba and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar took its place. Tanzania was formed in April 1964 when the country was combined with Tanganyika to form Zanzibar and the United Republic of Tanganyika and was named Tanzania half a year later.

Table – List of Zanzibar Sultans

No. Sultan Portrait Ruling period Rule duration Notes
11 Jamshid bin Abdullah

Sayyid Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah Al Busaid
Sayyid Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah Al Busaid
July 1, 1963 – January 12, 1964 195 days Zanzibar gained independence from the UK on December 10 1963 as a constitutional monarchy under Jamshid within the Commonwealth
10 Abdullah bin Khalifa October 9, 1960 – July 1, 1963 two years, 265 days
9 Khalifa bin Harub

Sayyid Sir Khalifa II bin Harub Al-Busaid
Sayyid Sir Khalifa II bin Harub Al-Busaid
December 9, 1911 – October 9, 1960 Forty-eight years, 305 days  Ali bin Hamud’s brother-in-law. Oversaw the development of Stone Town’s port and Pemba’s tar roads.
8 Ali bin Hamud

Sayyid Ali bin Hamud Al-Busaid
Sayyid Ali bin Hamud Al-Busaid
July 20, 1902 – December 9, 1911 Nine years, 144 days Mr. A. Rogers, the British Prime Minister, acted as regent until Ali reached the age of 21 on June 7, 1905.
7 Hamoud bin Mohammed

Sayyid Sir Hamoud bin Mohammed Al-Busaid
Sayyid Sir Hamoud bin Mohammed Al-Busaid
August 27, 1896 – July 18, 1902 Five years, 325 days On 6 April 1897, he issued the definitive order abolishing slavery in Zanzibar. Queen Victoria knighted him for this.
6 Khalid bin Barghash

Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busaid
Sayyid Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busaid
August 25 1896 to August 27, 1896 two days  Was a combatant in the shortest war in recorded history, the Anglo-Zanzibar War.
5 Hamid bin Thuwayni

Sayyid Sir Hamad bin Thuwaini Al-Busaid
Sayyid Sir Hamad bin Thuwaini Al-Busaid
March 5, 1893 – August 25, 1896 Three years, 173 days
4 Ali bin Said

Sayyid Sir Ali bin Said Al-Busaid
Sayyid Sir Ali bin Said Al-Busaid
February 13, 1890 – March 5, 1893 Three years, 20 days In July 1890, the German and British and Empires made the Heligoland-Zanzibar agreement. Zanzibar became a British protectorate as a result of this treaty.
3 Khalifa bin Said

Sayyid Sir Khalifa I bin Said Al-Busaid
Sayyid Sir Khalifa I bin Said Al-Busaid
March 26, 1888, to February 13, 1890 One year, 352 days Followed his successor’s steps in vouching for abolitionism,
2 Barghash bin Said

Sayyid Sir Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid
Sayyid Sir Barghash bin Said Al-Busaid
October 7, 1870 – March 26, 1888 Seventeen years, 148 days Responsible for the development of most of Zanzibar’s infrastructure (particularly in Stone Town), including telegraph lines, piped water, roads, and buildings. By negotiating an agreement with the British in 1870, he assisted in the abolition of the slave trade on the island by outlawing slave trading within the sultanate and ensuring the closure of the Mkunazini slave market.
1 Majid bin Said

Sayyid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid
Sayyid Majid bin Said Al-Busaid
October 19, 1856 Thirteen years, 347 days  In 1859, Bargash bin Said sought but failed to take his brother’s kingdom. He spent two years in exile in Bombay.

Family Tree

  • Sayyid Said, Sultan of Zanzibar, Oman and Muscat (1797 to 1856)
    • Sayyid Thuwaini, Muscat’s and Oman’s sultan (1821–66)
      • Sayyid Harub (lived1849 to 1907)
        •  IX. Sayyid Khalifa II (August 26 1879 – October 9 1960)
          •  X. Sayyid Abdullah (February 12 1910 – July 1 1963)
            •  XI. Sayyid Jamshid (b. September 16 1929; r.  July 1 1963 – 17 January 1964; Head of the Zanzibari royal house: 17 January 1964 – present) 11 Al-Said
      •  V. Sayyid Hamad (1857 – August 25 1896)
    • Sayyid Muhammad (1826–63)
      •  VII. Sayyid Hamud (1853 – July 18 1902)
        •  VIII. Sayyid Ali II (June 7 1884 – December 20 1918)
    •  I. Sayyid Majid (1834 – October 7 1870)
    •  II. Sayyid Barghash (1837 – March 26 1888
      •  VI. Sayyid Khalid (15 December 1874 –  March 19 1927)
    •  III. Sayyid Khalifa I (1852 – February 13 1890)
    •  IV. Sayyid Ali I (September 1854 – March 5 1893

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