The Swahili community and maritime London
|Swahilis in the port of London|
The sultan's representative
In 1832 Sultan Sayyid Said moved the capital of his coastal empire from Oman to Zanzibar. Two years later a Zanzibari by the name of Khamis Bin Uthman arrived in London claiming to represent the Sultan of Zanzibar. The envoy requested an audience with William IV but it is doubtful that this was ever granted.
In 1836 Sayyid Said sent a 74-gun ship as a present to William IV. This Bombay-built vessel was called the Imaum.
The Swahilis come ashore
Three of the Swahili crew eventually retaliated and were brought to the local police court. In view of the circumstances the Swahili were not gaoled and were allowed to leave Deptford on the yacht Prince Regent. This yacht was given as a present from William IV to Sayyid Said.
A new envoy arrives
With the visiting party was Mohammed Bin Khamis, the son of the first envoy of 1834. Ali Bin Nasr was granted an audience with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He returned to Zanzibar by steamer via Egypt and Bombay later in the year.
Mohammed Bin Khamis remained in London where he studied navigation and modern languages. He then returned to Zanzibar.
The Sultannah sailed around the southern tip of Africa to St Helena and weathered some storms in the north Atlantic before arriving in the Thames estuary in June. The ship had been slightly damaged by the storms and was towed by steamer to Deptford. The next day the Sultannah was towed to St Katharine Dock.
Audience with the Queen
The Zanzibari ambassador was taken to the Portland Hotel by Professor Sir Charles Forbes, the Lord Rector of Aberdeen University. The Sultannah and her crew were to receive much attention while at St Katharine Dock and Ambassador Ali Bin Nasr received an audience with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in July 1842.
The admiralty issued instructions for the Sultannah to be repaired and fitted at public expense and the ship was towed downstream to Woolwich for the repairs. The ambassador left London on 1 December 1842 by steamer to Egypt, Aden and Zanzibar. The Sultannah later sailed back to Zanzibar.
|Zanzibar and shipping taken from HMS London, in 1875. © NMM|
|Back to Ships carrying Goan crewmen.|