WE WUZ ZANJ
I get so tired of being browbeaten with White guilt by morons who don’t know anything about Africa. I’ve always had an interest in black history. This is one of my favorite stories.
Did you know that White Europeans really pioneered nothing new in Africa except the abolition of slavery? It was the Arabs who started the African slave trade in the 7th century. They captured, bought and transported around 17 million black slaves in Africa. Arab slave traders transported 5 million of these slaves across the Sahara Desert, Red Sea and Indian Ocean during the years of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Yemen and Saudi Arabia didn’t abolish slavery until 1962.
The Zanj Rebellion was a black slave uprising against the Abbasid Caliphate in what is now southern Iraq that began in 863 and lasted until 889 A.D. Black slaves were working on Arab plantations in the time of King Alfred in England. Indeed, we spent much of 2012 exploring how it was Arabs who pioneered the plantation complex which Spain and Portugal brought to the New World.
It was Muslims who pioneered black slaves working on sugar plantations which White Europeans first encountered in the Levant during the Crusades. It was the Arab sugar plantations in Sicily and al-Andalus in the Middle Ages that provided the original model for the plantation complex which the Spanish and Portuguese were familiar with as a result of centuries of Islamic rule.
What’s more, it was Jews and Arabs who originally developed the racial attitudes and theories about blacks being natural slaves which were inherited by the Spanish and Portuguese. After Spain and Portugal shook off the Islamic yoke, they passed these ideas on to Northern Europeans:
“Those who are outside the city are all human individuals who have no doctrinal beliefs, neither one based on speculation nor one that accepts the authority of tradition: such individuals as the furthermost Turks found in the remote north, the Blacks found in the remote south, and those who resemble them from among them that are with us in these climes. The status of those is like that of irrational animals. To my mind they do not have the ranks of men, but have among the beings a rank lower than the rank of men but higher than the rank of apes. For they have the external shape lineaments of a man and a faculty of discernment that is superior to that of the apes.”
– Moses Maimonides (1135-1204 A.D.)
“Merriment dominates the black man because of his defective brain, whence also the weakness of his intelligence.”
– Al-Masudi (896-956)
“There is no marriage among them; the child does not know his father, and they eat people — but God knows best. As for the Zanj, they are people of black color, flat noses, kinky hair, and little understanding or intelligence.”
– Al-Muqaddasi (945-1000 A.D.)
“[Blacks are] people who are by their very nature slaves.”
– Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.)
“If (all types of men) are taken, from the first, and one placed after another, like the Negro from Zanzibar, in the Southern-most countries, the Negro does not differ from an animal in anything except the fact that his hands have been lifted from the earth -in no other peculiarity or property – except for what God wished. Many have seen that the ape is more capable of being trained than the Negro, and more intelligent.”
“[The Zanj (African) differ from animals only in that] their two hands are lifted above the ground,… Many have observed that the ape is more teachable and more intelligent than the Zanj.”
– Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274 A.D.)
“Therefore, the Negro nation are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because [Negroes] have little [that is essentially] human and have attributes that are quite similar to those of dumb animals, as we have stated.”
beyond [known peoples of black West Africa] to the south there is no civilization in the proper sense. There are only humans who are closer to dumb animals than to rational beings. They live in thickets and caves, and eat herbs and unprepared grain. They frequently eat each other. They cannot be considered human beings.”
– Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406 A.D.)
“Shem, the son of Noah was the father of the Arabs, the Persians, and the Greeks; Ham was the father of the Black Africans; and Japheth was the father of the Turks and of Gog and Magog who were cousins of the Turks. Noah prayed that the prophets and apostles would be descended from Shem and kings would be from Japheth. He prayed that the African’s color would change so that their descendants would be slaves to the Arabs and Turks.”
– Al-Tabari (838-923 A.D.)
“Ham [Africans] begat all those who are black and curly-haired, while Japheth [Turks] begat all those who are full-faced with small eyes, and Shem [Arabs] begat everyone who is handsome of face with beautiful hair. Noah prayed that the hair of Ham’s descendants would not grow beyond their ears, and that whenever his descendants met Shem’s, the latter would enslave them.”
– Al-Tabari (838-923 A.D.)
“Their [Zanj] nature is that of wild animals. They are extremely black.”
– Hudud al-`alam (982 A.D.)
“And they are slaves by nature, like the Turks and the blacks. And in general those born and nurtured in the climates other than the perfect ones, are likely to produce peoples of a moderate character, healthy and intelligent. God, in his providential wisdom, had placed, in regions of great heat or great cold, peoples who were by their very nature slaves, and incapable of higher things – for there must be masters and slaves.”
– Avicenna (980-1037 A.D.)
“I saw Nusayb astray among men / his color was that of cattle / You can tell him by his shining blackness / even if he be oppressed / he has the dark face of an oppressor.”
– Kuthayyir (660-723 A.D.)
“The Indians are different from all other races of Negroes, like the Zendjis, the Dendemes, etc. Galen states the ten qualities of the Zendjs thus: Kinky hair, thick eyebrows, broad noses, thick lips, sharp teeth, malodorous skin, dark pupils, small hands and feet, elongated penises and excessive merriment…. Galen also said; surely the dark complexion person (al-aswad) is overwhelmed by merriment due to the imperfection (fasad) of his brain; therefore his intellect is weak.”
– Al-Masudi (896–956 A.D.)
Starting 700 years before the beginning of the European exploration of Africa, the Arabs began writing about black slaves who came from a land called Zanj. The Zanj were considered the dumbest people on earth, cannibals who ate human flesh, a people who were natural slaves and had elongated penises and who differed only from apes in that “his hands have been lifted from the earth.”
Who were the Zanj?
The Arabs made it to East Africa long before the Europeans. The slave trade had been going on for centuries across the Indian Ocean before the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1497 and sailed northward up the coast of East Africa where they reached Zanzibar in 1499. This was the European introduction to Zanj which by that point was composed of a number of Swahili speaking city-states.
The Chinese also made it to East Africa before the Europeans. The Chinese admiral Zheng He arrived in the early 15th century. They lost a ship off the coast of Kenya. Some of the Chinese swam ashore and intermarried with the natives. Austronesians from Indonesia settled Madagascar around 300 A.D. Black slaves brought from across the Indian Ocean arrived in India and China long before Northern Europe.
The Portuguese seized control of Zanzibar in 1503 and established their control over Zanj. They remained in control for the next 200 years until they were ousted by the Omani Arabs in 1698. Under the Portuguese, Zanj sank into a colonial backwater of the Portuguese Empire. The Omanis dominated the Sultanate of Zanzibar and the Zanj coast until the British took over in the 1890s.
The Omani reconquest of Zanzibar and Zanj was highly significant because it came at a time when White Europeans were starting to have a guilty conscience about slavery. The Portuguese had neglected Zanzibar and Zanj for two centuries. They had brought their slaves to Brazil from Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Congo and Angola and Mozambique. The Omani Sultans of Zanzibar dreamed of creating an African slave empire in East Africa and even relocated from Oman on the Arabian peninsula to Zanzibar.
In 1807, the British abolished the slave trade and the Royal Navy began to suppress the slave trade in West Africa. Slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1833. Britain was the superpower of its time and pressured the United States, France, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands to end the slave trade.
In Zanzibar and Zanj, it was a different story. Just as the European slave trade was winding down in the early 19th century, the Indian Ocean slave trade was taking off. Zanzibar was exporting ivory, cloves and slaves across the Indian Ocean. Huge numbers of slaves were being brought from the Great Lakes region to Zanizbar to work on its cloves plantations. As the Belgians expanded across the Congo, they ran into Tippu Tip’s slave empire which by that time was decimating the elephant population for ivory and destroying villages in what is now the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The British explorer David Livingstone hated slavery with a passion. While searching for the origins of the Nile River, he documented the atrocities going on in the region which incensed the British public. The British forced the Sultan of Zanzibar to abolish the slave trade in 1876. The British eventually ousted the Omanis in Zanzibar and took over the island and the surrounding region known as Zanj.
The British built Christ Church in Zanzibar on top of the old Zanizbar slave market. The altar in the church is built on top of the whipping post. Far from oppressing the African, it was David Livingstone and the Royal Navy that liberated the Zanj from centuries of slavery.
It was the worst, most brutal kind of slavery too as Arabs preferred to castrate their male slaves and turn them into eunuchs which is why so few now live in the Middle East. Young boys were sold to be exploited by Arab homosexuals. Young girls were sold to Arabs who were sexually exploited in their harems. Zanzibar literally stunk from the stench of the rotting corpses of black slaves when the British took over.
In the Congo, it was the Belgians and the Congo Free State under King Leopold II who drove Tippu Tip out of the region in the Congo Arab War. The British took over Zanzibar and abolished slavery there in 1896. The Germans took over the mainland of Zanj which became German East Africa. They abolished slavery there and quickly built railroads, roads, schools and hospitals. They built vast rubber and sisal plantations and modernized Dar es Salaam’s harbor before losing the colony after World War I.
If you have ever watched Games of Thrones, the region known as Slaver’s Bay was clearly inspired by Zanzibar and Zanj. The Europeans were like Daenarys liberating the poor African Unsullied slaves:
Don’t believe me? Henry Louis Gates covered all of this in this in Africa’s Great Civilizations from 10:49 to 20:00 in this video. He even said Tippu Tip is burning in hell:
German East Africa became British Tanganyika which was administered by Britain from 1916 until 1961. Both the British and the Germans governed the country through indirect rule. Tanganyika was granted independence in 1961 and Zanzibar was granted independence in 1963. As in The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, the British granted independence to Zanzibar and Tanganyika with great fanfare.
After over 1,000 years of slavery, the Zanj finally got their revenge on their Arab masters in epic fashion during the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964. The genocide was filmed by an Italian film crew and captured in the movie Africa Addio. The Zanj rose up and exterminated the Arabs, packed the survivors into their dhows and told them to sail back to Oman on the Arabian peninsula.
They hacked them to death with machetes, chopped their penises off and stuffed them into their mouths. The Zanj also took turns gangraping their women and children. The genocide only targeted the Arabs and Indians who had oppressed the Zanj for centuries. The Europeans in Zanzibar were spared and left alone. It was one of the most brutal genocides in the history of post-colonial Africa:
In 1964, Zanzibar merged with Tanganyika to become the United Republic of Tanzania. It was led by Julius Nyerere until 1985 who became famous as an African socialist:
Nyerere is best known for forcing over 20 million African peasants in his country to resettle on collective farms called ujamma villages. He had a romantic vision of agriculture and ended up wrecking the economy in the process. Combined with the fact that the population of Tanzania has soared from 5 million in 1950 to 55 million in 2018, Tanzania has fallen to #151 in the UN Human Development Index. In recent years, it has become known for its witch doctors that hunt albinos.
I don’t feel any sense of White guilt at all over Tanzania. If it hadn’t been for British, German and Belgian colonialism, the Sultans of Zanzibar would have conquered and enslaved all of Central Africa. The Zanj would probably still be slaves to this day serving their Arab masters.