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Zanzibar Sketches

William   A.   Churchill   was   the   younger   brother   of   the   British   Counsel   at   Zanzibar   in   the late   1860's.   He   came   to   the   Islands   to   visit   his   brother   bringing   only   his   talent   and his sketch pad. These resulted in some remarkable views of 19 th  century Zanzibar.

William A. Churchill

The   railway   depicted   in   this   fine   sketch   is   not   the   famous   Bububu   Line,   which was   built   in   1905   and   ran   north   out   of   town   after   passing   through   the   N'Gambo neighborhood.   Rather   it   is   the   very   early   Tram   line   that   was   built   by   Sultan Barghash in the mid-1800’s.
In   this   sketch,   Churchill   captures   the   image   of one   of   the   many   business   men   from   around   the world who took up residence in old Zanzibar.
The   Zanzibar   army   was   not   well   organized   in   those   days,   the   Navy   having   priority   on   the   best resources   and   men,   however   it's   rather   open   recruitment   practices   did   cause   to   the   Zanzibar army to become a temporary home for many of the professional soldiers of that age.
Churchill seemed intrigued by the Zanzibar women Zanzibar women, who  made up a large percentage of the workforce that kept Stone Town running as a functioning city.
He also noticed that some Zanzibar women appear as powerful figures in Zanzibar society.
Simple street scens, native huts, the plight of the slaves and the spirit of the Sultans troops, all caught the attention of Mr. Churchill.
In   the   late   1800's   Dr.   Livingstone   was   seen   as   a   martyered   hero   in England.   This   fine   sketch   of   Livimgstone’s   house   on   Zanzibar   may be the work of Mr. Churchill.
Churchill even sketched the British Councils house, where he stayed while in Zanzibar. This house was almost destroyed two years later, during the massive hurricane of 1872.
Churchill   exercised   some   artistic   liberty   in   his   drawings   (displaying   perhaps   an Orientalist   zeal)   but   many   of   his   works   were   remarkably   life   like.   Below   are   some old   Zanzibar   photos   from   about   the   same   time   as   his   visit.   His   work   compares   well with these historic scenenes. (These comparison images do not enlarge).
Henry   Adrian   Churchill   was   the   diplomat   William   was   visiting   while   in   Zanzibar.   Henry Churchill   was   appointed   as   the   British   Counsel   on   Zanzibar   in   1867.   H.   A.   Churchill   had   a long   diplomatic   career,   he   seemed   interested   in   helping   the   people   wherever   he   served.   He acted   as   a   friend   and   mentor   for   the   more   famous   British   Counsel,   John   Kirk.   Dr.   Kirk   served as Henry Churchill’s surgeon and vice-counsel during the years Henry lived on Zanzibar. Prior   to   his   appointment   in   Zanzibar   the   elder   Churchill   worked   as   secretary   and   interpreter on   the   Staff   of   the   British   Commissioner   with   the   Turkish   Army   in   the   Asia.   He   took   part   in the   defense   of   Kars,   and   was   for   a   time   a   Russian   prisoner.   His   last   posting   was   as   British Counsel at Palermo in 1879. He died in 1886. After   William   visited   his   brother   on   Zanzibar   there   was   a   delay   in   the   publishing   of   these sketches. Many were not published untill 1889, in the Illustrated London News .

May Allen

Miss May Allen was a nurse who went to Zanzibar in 1875 and spent the next 12 years caring for the sick from the UMCA clinic in Stone Town. Her sketches and many letters home are informative and touching. Those letters are the basis for a book about her life, by Yoland Brown.

Other Sketch Artists

Old Zanzibar seems to have inspired visitors from all over to create sketches of what some Zanzibaris call ‘the passing show’.
One wonders, in this sketch, if William Churchill captured his brother Henry at work.