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Imperialism | Colonial Policy


Reichstagsakten 1888/89, 7. Lp., Vol. 121, Attachment 41: Collection of Documents pertaining the Uprising in East Africa, No.2: Report from the Imperial consul general on Zanzibar

Zanzibar, May 5th 1888
arrived in Berlin June 4th 1888

I have the honour to most obediently send to you the both examples of the treaty signed on April 28th by His Highness the Sultan of Zanzibar on one side and by myself as authorized representative of the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft on the other side, one version being in English language, the other in Arabic, and to add the following explanations.
From the beginning the Sultan displayed his reluctance to sign a contract with the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft as such. Repeatedly he assured me orally that he wished to sign the treaty with the Reich government. In order to remove these difficulties and to act in accordance with the instructions given to me I have suggested the solution to mention in the treaty introduction that my authorization as representative of the Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft would have been approved by your Excellency, and so the misgivings of His Highness were overcome. The Sultan emphasized the form of a treaty, seemingly with the intention to more sharply stress the obligation of the opposing side than it would have been done by merely unilaterally granting a concession.
According to the wishes of the Gesellschaft, article 10 concerning the financial share of the Sultan in company profits, has been altered in accordance with its statutes.
Article 11 contains the most favoured nation clause.
Article 14 determines the date for the transfer of the administration. It has the advantage that the Sultan is bound to it from August 15th onward, but the Gesellschaft is free to decide the date of transfer after that date.
As a matter of precaution I have added article 15 in order to make sure that linguistic flaws in the Arab version do no harm. According to Dragoman Michalla, the Arab text of the preliminary treaty is imprecise and unclear in its formulations, and it would have been necessary to write a new text. But this would have complicated the negotiations, as already at that time I was wrongly accused of having added changes to the first 8 unaltered points. Herr Michalla thus had to acquiesce in changing those points in an explanatory way which differed from the English text, which also had been confusing to the Arab consultants of the Sultan, but otherwise to leave the Arab text unaltered. As now the English text is decisive in case of differing interpretations, the danger from linguistic flaws of the Arab version has been removed.


His Excellency the Prince von Bismarck

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translation and English language table of contents: AG