We met for our usual monthly meeting at the South Lawn Hotel today and after a small amount of lighthearted business listened to an excellent illustrated historical talk, "Send a Gunboat". This was given by local historian and author Kevin Patience who, having grown up and worked as a diver in East Africa and the Middle East apperars to have enjoyed a life almost as exciting as many of the subjects of his talks.

Kevin's talk centred mainly on the actions of the British in East Africa and in particular the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba known in the 18th and 19th century mainly for their trade in spices and slaves. The islands had long been under the rule of the Sultans of Oman who had moved their capital from Oman to Zanzibar. In the meantime the British had based a considerable naval fleet in what was then British East Africa, now mainly Kenya and about 170 miles from Zanzibar.

The job of the British gunboats was principally to control the slave trade by chasing the fast Arab dhows which could often out run and out gun them. None the less the navy did succeed in freeing many hundreds of slaves at very considerable cost in British lives. However the slave trade continued until the arrival of Sultan Khalid bin Barghash who replaced the previous sultan in mysterious circumstances of which the British disaproved. This led to the Anglo-Zanzibar War which lasted all of 45 minutes and unsurprisingly culminated in the defeat of Barghash due largely to the one sided superiority of the Fleet, thereby leading to the long overdue end of the slave trade in Zanzibar archipeligo. 

Lentune Probus Club welcomes new members to our lively, friendly and occasionally educational meetings, outings and events. If you would like to hear more please contact our secretary Basil Jeffries on 07849 045127 or chairman David Newnham on 01590 642124.