Zanzibar under Colonial Rule

By Abdul Sheriff; Ed Ferguson | Go to book overview

Seven
The Development of a Colonial
Working Class

GEORGE HADJIVAYANIS
& ED FERGUSON


Formation of the working class

The origin of the working class in Zanzibar can be traced back to the nineteenth century and the labour needs of the plantation economy. Alongside the unfree labour force of slaves, there appeared a small number of free labourers as a result of accords reached between the Arab rulers and indigenous chiefs, as explained in this colonial report:

During the reigns of the first Sultans of the Albusaid Dynasty and down to the year 1897, when slavery was abolished, labour in Zanzibar was of two kinds, slave and free, the latter being that provided by the Wahadimu and Wapemba in accordance with agreements made with the Sultans. 1

Two features distinguished this nineteenth-century form of free labour. First, labourers kept hold of their land, although they were increasingly forced to the less fertile areas with the expansion of the plantations. Second, no payment was made to the individual; labour was taken as tribute without monetary compensation. This particular arrangement disappeared with the loss of power by indigenous chiefs prior to the end of the century. Abolition of the slave trade and slavery in Zanzibar by degrees in the last quarter of the nineteenth century weakened planter control of the slave labour force. An administrator explained it this way:

With each successive measure adopted for the abolition of slavery, labour troubles increased, the freed slaves being disinclined to do more than was necessary for a bare subsistence. . . . 2

-188-

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Zanzibar under Colonial Rule
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contributors vi
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction a Materialist Approach to Zanzibar's History 1
  • Notes 7
  • Part One Political Economy of Zanzibar 9
  • One: the Transition from Slavery 1873-1914 11
  • Introduction 11
  • Two: The Formation of a Colonial Economy 1915-1945 36
  • Three: The Struggle for Independence 1946-1963 79
  • Part Two Class Formation 107
  • Four: the Peasantry Under Imperialism 1873-1963 109
  • Notes 136
  • Five: the Decline of the Landlords 1873-1963 141
  • Six: The Contradictions of Merchant Capital 1840-1939 163
  • Seven: The Development of a Colonial Working Class 188
  • Appendix A 213
  • Appendix B 214
  • Appendix C 215
  • Appendix D 218
  • Eight: The 1964 Revolution 220
  • Conclusion 249
  • Notes 261
  • Bibliography 262
  • Index 271
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