did you know….

Did you know...

on June 20, 2002

The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and England in 1896. Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.

Image from allaboutzanzibar.comOn the 25th of August 1896 Sultan Hamad died and his cousin Hamoud was declared as his successor by the acting British Consul, Sir Basil Cave. This appointment was not met with agreement by Khaled, another cousin of Hamad who, as the son of Barghash, considered that he had the rightful claim to the accession. By the time that Cave reached the royal palace Beit el Sahel, the doors were barred. Khaled had gained access through a broken window, along with around 2000 supporters and had proclaimed himself Sultan, raising the Zanzibar flag.

The British authorities refused to recognise Khaled’s claim and tension rose as a potentially explosive stand-off ensued. Cave had marines from the three British ships in the harbour stationed around the town, evacuating Europeans to the British Consulate under heavy guard, where they gathered excitedly on the roof to watch the drama unfold.

The night passed off without event and the following morning two further ships arrived in Zanzibar harbour to reinforce the fleet. At dawn Rear Admiral Rawson turned his guns on the palace and issued Khaled with an ultimatum. Either he was to surrender and walk out to the customs shed by 9.00am or the fleet would open fire.Image from allaboutzanzibar.com

At 8.00am Khaled sent a message asking for talks, but his request was curtly turned down. As the seconds ticked by the sweat must have stood out on the brows of all involved. At 9.02am the fleet opened fire a barrage of shells on the palace and when the dust settled the building was in ruins, with up to 500 bodies strewn amongst the rubble. At 9.40am, the flag was lowered as Khaled surrendered, escaping through the maze of streets to seek sanctuary at the German consulate. From there he escaped to Mombasa, where he lived out his life in exile.

The battle is officially listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest war in history.


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