Scramble for Africa
In 1884 Dr Karl Peters, founder of the society for German colonisation, arrived in Zanzibar, then sailed for the mainland where he made 'treaties of eternal friendship' with the local African chiefs in return for large areas of land. By the time he reached Kilimanjaro he had annexed more than 6,000km2 (2,500 square miles) of land, which were still nominally under the control of Sultan Barghash.
Britain was concerned at the presence of a rival European power on its patch, but was distracted by events elsewhere. In January 1885 Khartoum, the capital of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, fell to the forces of the Mahdi. The British General Gordon was killed and the British governor of Equatoria Province, south of Khartoum, was cut off. (Ironically, the governor was actually a German called Eduard Schnitzer, although he had adopted the name Emin Pasha and was working for the British.)
Otto von Bismark, the German chancellor, saw the Mahdi's victory as a sign of Britain's weakness and believed that Germany could consolidate its claims in east Africa without British opposition. In February the same year the General Act of Berlin, signed by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, officially proclaimed a German protectorate over the territories annexed by Karl Peters. Sultan Barghash was only formally told about his loss of land in April of the same year. He hoped for support from the British, but Britain did not want to make an enemy of Germany, and so declined.
In June 1885 the Germans claimed another protectorate over Witu and the mouth of the Tana River, near Lamu, and in August the same year five ships of the German navy, commanded by Carl Paschen, arrived in Zanzibar harbour. Paschen demanded that Sultan Barghash recognise the German protectorates. Kirk on the recommendations of the British government persuaded Barghash to submit.
A few days after the arrival of the German fleet, another German ship entered the harbour, carrying Barghash's sister Salme (who had eloped to Germany in 1866). She was with her son Said-Rudolph, now 16 years old, and two other children. On Kirk's advice, Barghash tolerated Salme's presence. Barghash sent his formal recognition of the German protectorate to Carl Paschen and two months later, the British government arranged for a joint commission between Britain, Germany and France to establish their own boundaries in the mainland territories that were still officially under the control of the Sultan of Zanzibar.
After lengthy discussions the first Anglo-German agreement was signed in late 1886. Barghash's lands were reduced to Zanzibar, Pemba, Mafia, Lamu and a ten-mile (16km) wide coastal strip stretching around 1,200km (about 750 miles) from the Tana River, near Lamu, to the Rovuma River, near Cape Delgado. The rest of the mainland, east of Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, was divided between Britain and Germany. Britain took the northern portion, between the Tana and Umba rivers, which became British East Africa, later Kenya. Germany took the southern portion, between the Umba and Rovuma rivers. This became German East Africa, later Tanganyika. (See Zanzibar and east Africa map, in the guidebook.)
Given no option, Barghash agreed to this treaty in December 1886 and the French government signed it a few days later. In June 1887 Barghash leased the northern section of his coastal strip (between the Tana and Umba rivers) to the British East African Association (BEAA), which had been formed by William Mackinnon in May the same year. Meanwhile the Germans and Portuguese met in Barghash's absence to discuss their own border, and Portugal gained more of Barghash's land in the south.
In February 1888 Barghash sailed to Muscat, to recuperate from tuberculosis and elephantiasis at the healing Bushire Springs on the Persian coast. He returned to Zanzibar on 26 March, but died five hours after his arrival, aged 51.
On 29 March 1888 Barghash's brother Khalifa bin Said was proclaimed sultan. In April the same year, the British East African Association became the Imperial British East Africa Company (IBEA), with its capital at Mombasa, which was beginning to take Zanzibar's place as the commercial centre for Africa.