The Last Slave Market tells a previously forgotten history of Africa. Based on extensive new research, it revives the story of an extraordinary man who fought for justice a long way from home. John Kirk first arrived in Africa as part of Dr Livingstone's doomed Zambesi expedition. He then became the British Consul in the small island of Zanzibar. What he found there would change his life, and the course of African history.
To many Zanzibar is a place of mystery set within the blue seas off the shore of East Africa. Yet in the middle of the nineteenth century it was at the crossroads between three worlds: the uncharted continent of Africa, the Middle East and Europe, trading everything from ivory and dates to slaves. When John Kirk arrived at the island, fifty years after the abolition of slavery by the British government he found that human cargo passed through Zanzibar without obstruction. He was determined to do something about it. Over the next twenty years he would campaign ceaselessly for the end of slavery.
As the 'Scramble for Africa' began in the 1880s and the European nations squabbled for power over the dark continent, Kirk was the man who ensured of British dominance as well as seeing an end to slavery.
Too often forgotten, John Kirk was a great British hero at the centre of the story of the British Empire.
About Alastair Hazell
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Published July 4, 2011