History of Africa House

AFRICA HOUSE HOTEL, formerly the English Club of Zanzibar, was the oldest expatriate club in East Africa. The Rules and Regulations of 1888 the year of its foundation state that ‘it is established for the association of an unlimited number of English Residents, together with officers of the Royal Navy stationed in these waters’. At this date the Royal Navy officers from no fewer than six warships outnumbered the other members.

By the 1950s eligibility for membership was widened to include ‘any British subject or American citizen of European extraction’. Extraordinary members could also be elected from other residents such as the representatives of European trading companies. Honorary membership was extended to resident members of the Universities Mission to Central Africa, the Catholic Mission to Zanzibar, Armed Forces officers, officers of any British Cable or Merchant Ship or Civil.

Bedrooms were available for visitors, and for use by members when departing or arriving from home leave. A Dining Room provided meals for single members, if required, and was popular for entertaining. After garages were built at ground level, their roof formed an attractive terrace – which remained one of the most popular meeting spots in Zanzibar Town, especially for drinks at Sunset. There was a Billiard Room and a quite extensive Library.

In the latter years of the Club’s existence, the fancy dress dance on New Year’s Eve was a well-attended event. Among the other communities, it was known that the wazungu (Europeans) would be walking through Stone Town, or arriving by car at the Club, dressed in weird costumes, and there was always a sizeable gathering of local people to look with amusement at these strange antics.

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