Zanzibar: for Centuries, a Home to Indians; Now an IIT

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Indians invested heavily in commercial enterprises based in Zanzibar, profiting abundantly from them and finding themselves in possession of significant property

That the premier engineering institute IIT-Madras found its first home abroad on a small archipelago located on the East coast of Africa is hardly surprising. Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous Tanzanian province, shares historical links with India that go as long back in time as the 16th century or even further. Indians did not just form a robust diaspora community in Zanzibar in terms of numbers, they were also prosperous, politically active and found themselves in a racially privileged position.

Social scientist Saada Wahab, in a paper published by the Gottingen University Press in 2022, has suggested that traders from India along with those from Persia and Arabia had commercial links with the East African coast that went as long back as the first millennium CE.

Source: Indian Express