Zanzibar has been a significant Arab trading port for over 2,000 years. The principal traded goods were gold, ivory, spices and slaves. Slave caravans marched from the African interior to the coast at Bagamayo and shipped across to Zanzibar to work or to be auctioned at slave markets.
Slaves were held in this underground cell where, needless to say, conditions were cramp and little sanitation existed. Many died before reaching the adjacent market. At market, a slave was chained to a post in front of potential buyers and examined to assess their physical and mental abilities. In 1873, the trading of slaves was declared illegal and that same year an Anglican Cathedral was built on the site of the former market. Within the Cathedral is a crucifix carved from the wood of the tree under which Dr Livingstone’s (Scottish missionary and anti-slavery activist) heart is buried. In a further symbolic gesture, the altar stands on the original site of the slave post.