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Back In Time To The Shortest War In History

BACK IN TIME is ED’s newspaper type column that reports an incident from the past as though it has happened just yesterday. It allows the reader to re-live it several years later, on the date it had occurred.

Zanzibar Town, 28th August 1896: The last three days have moved the grounds of Zanzibar. The sudden demise of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini on 25th August has taken the town by shock. Moreover, the war between Sultan Khalid bin Bargash and the British Empire have cost the town 500 men. It is now speculated that Hamud bin Muhammed, will be crowned the King due to the sudden disappearance of Sultan Khalid.

It all started on the 25th day of August. Khalid bin Barghash, the nephew of Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini, moved to the palace and proclaimed himself as the King, just minutes after the death of Sultan Hamad. The British colonizers had disapproved of Khalid, and soon the Chief British Diplomat Basil Cave issued a warning asking Khalid to step down from the throne.

Sultan Khalid bin BarghashChief British Diplomat Basil Cave

The disagreement between the two parties led to both preparing for an anticipated war. Sultan Khalid arranged for almost 3000 men to guard the palace. Artilleries were organized, and the Royal Yacht was loaded with ammunition and hauled into the shore.

On the other hand, the Chief British Diplomat Basil Cave sent a telegram to the Foreign Office and asked for permission to open fire on the palace, in case Khalid did not abide by their commands. That evening, Her Majesty’s Ships Philomel, Rush, and Sparrow were also sent ashore to protect the British Consulate.

The following day, Rear-Admiral Harry Rawson reached Zanzibar on board Her Majesty’s Ship St George. Soon, Her Majesty’s Ship Racoon pulled into the harbour.

That evening, Basil Cave had issued an ultimatum to Khalid asking him to give up the throne, draw the Sultanate’s flag down and leave the palace. He was also informed that if the orders were not adhered to by 9:00am the next morning, the British army would open fire on the palace.

Khalid did not respond or react to the ultimatum until 8:00am the next day. He refused to comply with the orders and believed that the British army, under no circumstances, would fire upon the palace.

He was soon proven wrong when at exactly 9:00am orders were passed by the British commanders to attack. At 9:38am, the firing seized. The British army had managed to light the palace, the attached harem, and tear down the Sultanate flag.

(August 27, 1896) - Bombing of Zanzibar by the British army. Ruins of the palace after the bombing. - 27.08.1896 Released for Countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland

The war lasted 38 minutes, but it is speculated that for almost 36 minutes the men of Zanzibar were fighting without a king. Sultan Khalid was found taking a retreat at the German Consulate. The British Empire’s constant efforts in convincing the German Consulate to hand in Sultan Khalid are in vain. In the forthcoming days, Hamud bin Muhammed will be crowned as the Sultan, based on the recommendations and approval of the British colonizers.

Present Day: Zanzibar is now a part of the United Republic of Tanzania. It merged with the then Tanganyika in April 1964 and was formulated as a semi-autonomous state.

Zanzibar is known for its Stone Town, which is considered to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa. The state thrives on the export of clove, coconut products, and spices, though tourism is earmarked as the primary foreign exchange earner.

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