The Decline of the Landlords
J.R. MLAHAGWA & A.J. TEMU
The history of the landlords in Zanzibar from 1873, the year in which the slave trade was legally abolished on the islands, is a study of the demise of a class anchored in an anachronistic pre-capitalist mode of production. 1 It is an account of a class grounded in slave-cum-feudal relations of production yoked to a dominant capitalist mode of production. As a result of their inability to adapt to the changing circumstances the landlords could only live as a parasitic class, becoming a fetter on the development of productive forces. This does not mean they were absolutely useless to the British. They were the source of administrative personnel and their position in the clove economy served colonial interests: the production of cheap raw materials and the accumulation of revenue in the colonial coffers. Hence, the history of the landlords is also a study of their continued existence. It is this anomaly of the prolonged existence of a decadent class under colonial rule that becomes the subject of investigation in this chapter.
Imperialism penetrated Africa and created the colonial state because of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall at home. 2 In its colonial possessions, the British aimed to increase profits by making colonial labour as cheap as possible. Contributing to that target in Zanzibar was the preservation of elements of the old relationship which permitted the super-exploitation of the labour of plantation workers and peasant producers. The fate of the Zanzibari landlord class can be explained by referring to the theory of dissolution-conservation in the epoch of imperialism. 3 This theory is an aid in analysing colonial social formations resulting from