By Spy Uganda
Sheikh Khalid bin Barghash Al-Busaid was the sixth ruler of Zanzibar. A very powerful ruler, it was suspected that he killed his only cousin Sayyid Hamad bin Thuwaini of Zanzibar to seize power and expand his kingdom.
But the British who had settled on the island of Zanzibar by the late 19th century and had started to take full control of the lands refused to acknowledge Khalid as ruler or Sultan. The British had at the time created a treaty that stated that the Sultan could not be on the throne without British permission.
Khalid had done the opposite. This resulted in the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1886, the shortest in recorded history which led to the exile of Khalid and later his death in East Africa.
History notes that the scramble for Africa had become very intense in the late 19th century. European colonies were not only interested in the slave trade but the natural resources in Africa that could make them richer and bring world dominance. The Berlin Conference of 1884 that regulated European trade in Africa led to the thirst for absolute control over Africa.
By 1914, Liberia and Ethiopia were the only African counties that were not ruled by any European state. The British fought several African kingdoms, killing their rulers and weakening their armies in order to take control.
But some African states with brave and strong rulers gave the British a hard time. This led the British to exile many of them into Seychelles where they were left to die or live for several years by which time they had successfully taken control over their states.
For not allowing his kingdom to be colonized, Khalid was exiled by the British. Zanzibar was then in the sphere of influence of the British Empire and was later declared a protectorate. When Khalid’s cousin and the pro-British Sultan of Zanzibar, Hamad bin Thuwaini, died and Khalid seized power, his action received support from a section of the population as he had then been resisting European interference.
When the British invaded his palace in the Anglo-Zanzibar War, around 3000 Zanzibari people, including 700 soldiers, rallied to support Khalid against European influence in Zanzibar. But the British Empire did not want him as the new Sultan; they preferred Hamoud bin Muhammad. They subsequently gave Khalid an ultimatum to cede the throne by 9 am local time on August 27 or to prepare himself for an attack.
Khalid, who refused to step down, barricaded himself in the palace and gathered his forces around him. The British gathered ships, including the HMS Philomel, the HMS Rush, and the HMS St George, as well as, troops to enforce the demand. Khalid still refused to cede the throne on the morning of August 27. Just as the British had warned, they opened fire when the 9 am ultimatum expired.
Their warships destroyed the entire palace, killing over 500 people within a few minutes. Khalid managed to flee to the German consulate for asylum. From there, he was smuggled to German East Africa where he received political asylum. In 1916, he was captured by the British and sent to Seychelles where he lived for seven years in exile. Khalid was not allowed to return home after he was let out of Seychelles. He lived and died in Mombasa, Kenya, in 1927.
Meanwhile, Hamoud bin Muhammad, who was seen by the British as much more cooperative, was proclaimed the Sultan of Zanzibar after the Anglo-Zanzibar War. Britain continued to control the East African island as a Protectorate until its independence in 1963.