September 20, 2004

Zanzibar's descendants to get land in Durban

A R9-million housing development was unveiled to cater for an estimated 5.000 descendants of former Zanzibar slaves in KwaZulu-Natal. The Zanzibaris, one of the smallest minority groups in the province, were forcefully removed from King's Rest in Bluff, south of Durban and taken to Chatsworth in 1961 as part of the apartheid government's land policies. The provincial Land Claims Commission has unveiled a development package for 250 middle-income housing units and a light commercial office park. "A cultural and heritage centre will also be erected on the site to showcase the history of Zanzibaris as freed slaves," said commission spokesperson, Zwe Memela.
In 1873, the British Navy intercepted an Arab slaving ship transporting the Zanzibaris to the United States and arranged for 143 of the freed slaves to be settled in the then Port Natal area. "They were sent to then British colony of Natal to provide labour," Memela explained. By 1888, the community numbered around 450 members and they were given permission by the colonial authorities to settle in the King's Bluff area. In post-apartheid South Africa, their descendants formed the Zanzibari Development Trust to claim back the area. About five hectares of land in the Bluff area has been set-aside for the claimants. (Bua News, Pretoria)

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