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Duration 00:42:05

The last slave market: Dr John Kirk and the struggle to end the African slave trade

In the mid-19th century, the Zanzibar slave market was notorious as the last place on earth where human beings could still be bought and sold. Each year thousands of Africans were taken from the mainland and shipped to Arabia and Persia. Although slave trading had been suppressed elsewhere in the world, in East Africa it prospered with the connivance of the British authorities in India.

Dr John Kirk was appointed medical officer to the British Consulate in Zanzibar in 1866. Kirk was a pragmatist, and through a mixture of guile and perseverance, he finally contrived a way to shut down the slave market. The Last Slave Market is based on Kirk’s letters and journals, which have remained virtually unread, as well as sources in Zanzibar itself.

Alastair Hazell spent his early childhood in Scotland before going to Nyasaland (later Malawi) where he grew up during the early 1960s. Following university, Alastair spent ten years living and travelling in East and Central Africa, before taking up a career in financial information in London. He retired in 2002 and began the research that resulted in his first book, The Last Slave Market.