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WilliamA.ChurchillwastheyoungerbrotheroftheBritishCounselatZanzibarinthe late1860's.HecametotheIslandstovisithisbrotherbringingonlyhistalentand his sketch pad.These resulted in some remarkable views of 19th century Zanzibar.
William A. Churchill
TherailwaydepictedinthisfinesketchisnotthefamousBububuLine,which wasbuiltin1905andrannorthoutoftownafterpassingthroughtheN'Gambo neighborhood.RatheritistheveryearlyTramlinethatwasbuiltbySultan Barghash in the mid-1800’s.
Inthissketch,Churchillcapturestheimageof oneofthemanybusinessmenfromaroundthe world who took up residence in old Zanzibar.
TheZanzibararmywasnotwellorganizedinthosedays,theNavyhavingpriorityonthebest resourcesandmen,howeverit'sratheropenrecruitmentpracticesdidcausetotheZanzibar 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.
Inthelate1800'sDr.Livingstonewasseenasamartyeredheroin England.ThisfinesketchofLivimgstone’shouseonZanzibarmay 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.
Churchillexercisedsomeartisticlibertyinhisdrawings(displayingperhapsan Orientalistzeal)butmanyofhisworkswereremarkablylifelike.Belowaresome oldZanzibarphotosfromaboutthesametimeashisvisit.Hisworkcompareswell with these historic scenenes. (These comparison images do not enlarge).
HenryAdrianChurchillwasthediplomatWilliamwasvisitingwhileinZanzibar.Henry ChurchillwasappointedastheBritishCounselonZanzibarin1867.H.A.Churchillhada longdiplomaticcareer,heseemedinterestedinhelpingthepeoplewhereverheserved.He actedasafriendandmentorforthemorefamousBritishCounsel,JohnKirk.Dr.Kirkserved as Henry Churchill’s surgeon and vice-counsel during the years Henry lived on Zanzibar. PriortohisappointmentinZanzibartheelderChurchillworkedassecretaryandinterpreter ontheStaffoftheBritishCommissionerwiththeTurkishArmyintheAsia.Hetookpartin thedefenseofKars,andwasforatimeaRussianprisoner.HislastpostingwasasBritish Counsel at Palermo in 1879. He died in 1886.AfterWilliamvisitedhisbrotheronZanzibartherewasadelayinthepublishingofthese sketches. Many were not published untill 1889, in the Illustrated London News.
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.