August 27, 1896 The Shortest War in History

Today in History

The late 19th century was period of friendly but competing relations between Imperial Germany and Great Britain in Colonial East Africa, as each vied for control of territory and trade rights.

In 1886, Sultan Khalifah granted rights to the land of Kenya to Great Britain, and that of Tanganyika, modern day Tanzaniya, to Germany. The Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty between Britain and Germany officially demarcated each nation’s sphere of influence in East Africa, in the process ceding Germany’s rights in the island nation of Zanzibar to the United Kingdom.

The agreement effectively ended the slave trade in much of East Africa, upsetting many among the Arab ruling classes who profited handsomely by this lucrative trade.

The shortest war in history began with the unexpected death and probable assassination of Sultan Hamad of Zanzibar, who died suddenly on August 25, 1896.

Many suspected Hamad’s 29-year-old nephew Khalid bin Bargash of the assassination, as…

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