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Originally published in , this remarkable autobiography will captivate readers interested in Zanzibar and Eastern Africa as well as students of Arabic, Islam, and women's studies. Memoirs of an Arabian Princess Emily Ruete. Leben im Sultanspalast Emily Ruete. Memoiren einer arabischen Prinzessin Emily Ruete.

Bloggat om Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar. After the death of her husband, Emily Ruete was caught up in the colonial plans of Otto von Bismarck. There were speculations that Bismarck wanted to install her son as Sultan of Zanzibar.

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She revisited Zanzibar in and in In , her memoir , Memoirs of an Arabian Princess was published in German. She died in Jena , Germany, at the age of 79, from severe pneumonia. In An Arabian Princess Between Two Worlds was published, making her letters home, with her reactions on life in Europe, available to the public.


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There is a permanent exhibition about Emily Ruete in the People's Palace in Stonetown , the palace constructed by her brother, Sultan Barghash. Emily Ruete appears as a minor character in M. Kaye 's novel Trade Wind. The book, set in Zanzibar during the late s, mentions her involvement with her brother Barghash's failed attempt to take the throne from their brother Majid and her subsequent interest in and marriage to Rudolph. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved World Digital Library.

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Categories : births deaths Princesses Zanzibari women Zanzibari emigrants to Germany Al Said dynasty Zanzibari writers Memoirists Tanzanian women writers Tanzanian people of Omani descent Tanzanian people of Circassian descent. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. In other projects Wikimedia Commons. None of us, from the oldest child to the youngest eunuch, might ever appear before him except in full dress.

We small girls used to wear our hair braided in a lot of slender little plaits, as many as twenty of them, sometimes; the ends were tied together; and from the middle a massive gold ornament, often embellished with precious stones, hung down the back. Or a minute gold medal, with a pious inscription, was appended to each little plait, a much more becoming way of dressing the hair. At bed-time nothing was taken off us but these ornaments, which were restored next morning.

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Until we were old enough to go about veiled, we girls wore fringes, the same that are fashionable in Germany now. One morning I surreptitiously escaped without having my fringe dressed, and went to my father for the French bonbons he used to distribute among his children every morning, but instead of receiving the anticipated sweetmeats, I was packed out of the room because of my unfinished toilette, and marched off by an attendant to the place from which I had decamped.

Thenceforth I took good care never to present myself incompletely beautified before the paternal eye! Among my mother's intimates were two of the secondary wives who were Circassian, like herself, and who came from the same district as she did. Now, one of my Circassian stepmothers had two children, Chaduji and her younger brother Majid, and their mother had made an agreement with mine that whichever parent survived, should care for the children of both.

However, when Chaduji and Majid lost their mother they were big enough to do without the help of mine. It was usual in our family for the boys to remain under maternal tutelage until they were about eighteen to twenty, and when a prince reached this age he was declared to have come to his majority, that is to say, the formalities took place sooner or later, according to his good or bad conduct.

He was then considered an adult, a distinction as eagerly coveted in that country as anywhere else; and he was at the same time made the recipient of a house, servants, horses, and so on, beside a liberal monthly allowance.

Memoirs of an Arabian Princess.

So my brother Majid attained his majority, which he had merited rather by his disposition than his years. He was modesty itself, and won all hearts through his charming, lovable ways. Not a week passed but he rode out to Bet il Mtoni for, like his deceased mother, he lived at Bet il Sahel , and although my senior by a dozen years played games with me as if we had both been of the same age. One day, then, he arrived with the glad news that his majority had been announced by his father, who had granted him an independent position and a house of his own.

And he besought my mother most urgently to come and live, with me, in his new quarters, Chaduji sending the same message. To his impetuous pleading my mother objected that without his father's consent she could not accept, and said she must therefore first consult him; as for her, she was willing enough to share Majid's and Chaduji's dwelling if they wished. But Majid offered to save my mother this trouble by himself asking the Sultan's sanction, and the next day, in fact — my father happening to be at Bet il Sahel — he brought back the coveted permission.

Thus our transmigration was decided upon. After a long talk between my mother and Majid, it was concluded that we should not move for a few days, when he and Chaduji would have had time to make the necessary arrangements for accommodating us. T HE change, after all, was not an easy one for my mother.


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She felt deeply attached to Bet Il Mtoni, since she had spent most of her life there; besides, she disliked novelty. Yet the idea of possibly being of some help to her friend's children outweighed her personal inclinations, as she afterward told me. Scarcely had her decision to move become known, when on all hands the complaint was addressed to her: "Jilfidan this was my dear mother's name , is your heart closed to us, that you are deserting us forever? It must, of course, be noted that the author of this book was originally a Mohometan, and that she was brought up as such.

Furthermore, I am telling about Arabian life, about an Arabian household, where — in a real Arabian family — two things were totally unknown, that word "chance" and also materialism. The Mahometan acknowledges God not only as his creator and preserver; but is conscious of the Lord's omnipresence, and believes that not his own will, but the Lord's must govern in all matters, great or small.

Several days sped by pending our preparations, and we then waited for the return of Majid, who was to supervise our journey in person. Three playmates I particularly regretted leaving, two of my sisters and one of my brothers, almost exactly my age. On the other hand, I was overjoyed at the prospect of bidding adieu to our new, unmercifully severe schoolmistress.

Owing to the forthcoming separation, our quarters resembled a huge beehive. Everybody, according to their circumstances and degree of affection, brought us farewell presents — a very popular custom there. However trifling the present he is able to give, nothing will induce an Arab to withhold it from the departing friend. I remember a case in point.

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One day — I was quite a small girl then — after visiting a plantation, we were about to start the homeward journey to Bet il Mtoni in our boats. Suddenly, I felt a slight jerk at my sleeve, and upon turning round beheld a little old Negro woman. She handed me an article wrapped in banana leaves, saying, "This is for you, mistress, in honour of your departure; it is the first ripe thing from my plot.

follow site I did not know the old Negro woman, but subsequently learned that she was a long-standing favourite of my mother's. Well, at last Majid arrived, with the announcement that the captain of the Ramahni had been ordered to send a cutter for us the next evening and another boat for the luggage and the escort. My father happened to be at Bet il Mtoni the day we were to leave, and we repaired to the benjile expecting to find him there. He was thoughtfully pacing up and down, when, seeing my mother approach, he came forward to meet her.

They were soon absorbed in a lively conversation touching the journey, the Sultan having meanwhile commanded a eunuch to bring me some sweetmeats and sherbet, probably to stop my everlasting questions. As may easily be imagined, I was tremendously excited and curious regarding our future home, and in fact about everything that concerned the town-life. Up till then, I had been in town only once, and but for a very short time, hence I had the acquaintance of many brothers, sisters, and stepmothers in store for me.

We eventually betook ourselves to the apartments of the high and mighty Azze bint Sef, who graciously vouchsafed to dispose of us standing up, a concession on her part, so to speak, because she usually received and dismissed people in a sitting position. My mother and I were privileged to touch her dainty hand with our lips — and to turn our backs upon the lady forever. Then we travelled upstairs and down, to say good-bye to our friends, but barely half were in, so my mother determined to go back at the next hour for prayer, when she would be sure to see them all.

At seven in the evening our large cutter — not used except on special occasions — appeared before the benjile. She was manned by a dozen sailors, I remember, and at the stern, as well as at the bow hung a plain crimson flag, our ensign, which bears no pattern nor any kind of symbol. The rear part of the vessel was covered with an expansive awning, and under this were silken cushions for perhaps ten persons.

Old Jahar, a trusted eunuch of my father, came to inform us that everything was in readiness; he and another eunuch had been ordered to accompany us by the Sultan, who watched us from the benjile. Our friends saw us to the door with weeping eyes, and their sorrowful "Wedah! Our beach was rather shallow, and we had no landing stage of any sort. There were three methods, however, of reaching your boat.