Religious ties in Zanzibar

coranThe Omani rulers who were based in Zanzibar were open and tolerant toward Christians in East Africa. In 1868 the Omani Sultan Majid (1834-1870) bestowed a vast tract of land to the “Fathers of the Holy Ghost” north of Bagamoyo on the mainland coast, in order for them to build the first mission in East Africa. The mission on this land grant is still active today.

Sultan Majid also strongly supported the work of the German missionary and linguist Dr. Johann Ludwig Krapf (1810-1885), who was sent to East Africa by the British Church Missionary Society. He compiled the first grammar and dictionary of the Swahili language, and translated the Book of Genesis into Swahili.

When the first printing press was brought to East Africa under the reign of Sultan Bargash (1837-1888), the missionaries used it to print Christian literature in Swahili to support their efforts on the mainland. They were helped in their translations by the local scholar Sheikh Abdel-Aziz bin Abd Al-Ghani Al-Amawi, who in 1872 co-authored the translation of the Catechism and the Bible.

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