To many amongst us the sheet-anchor of the Zanzibari make-up is the Bantu element. Its language and blood have permeated into almost all the nooks and corners of the Zanzibar society. It is indeed of all the factors the most dominant in appearance. However, like the whites in America or Australia, the Bantus are not, necessarily, the worthiest claimants to indigenousness. With this regard Sir John Gray has this to say in his book, History of Zanzibar (pp 10-11):
"The legends and traditions of most Bantu peoples almost invariably point to a northern origin. From their first home they made their way to the Central African lakes and thence to the south as well as eastwards to the shores of the Indian Ocean. Tribal legend and tradition suggests that their arrival at the great lakes was at a date not wholly removed from their racial remembrance. It is not possible to assert how many centuries ago it was that Bantu-speaking peoples first reached the East African coast and thence crossed over to Zanzibar and Pemba. They may have arrived there after the first discovery of the islands and coast by people of non-African origin - possibly many centuries after that event. The East African coast was certainly known to the people of Arabia in the eighth century before Christ. The Arab state of Ausan, which came to an end about 700 BC. traded with, and possibly held a portion of the coast...."
W.H. Ingrams writing in Zanzibar Its History and Its People (pp. 70) has this to say about the arrival of the Bantus to the East African coast:
"About a hundred years before the beginning of the Christian era, the Bantu peoples who had been forming for about a thousand years before, started off from the Nile direction on their great career of conquest. The aborigines were still in the Neolithic age, but the Bantus were armed with weapons of copper and iron, which no doubt considerably facilitated their progress. Guided possibly not only by tribal pressure, but by the desire for salt, these hordes swept down southwards and made for the coasts."
Roland Oliver and J.D. Fage in their book A Short History of Africa, (pp. 98) say:
"It is significant that the Periplus, which describes the East African coast approximately as far south as Zanzibar, makes no reference to black men. Ptolemy's Geography mentions their existence, but only in the extreme south of the area then known, which must have been at least as far down as the south of modern Mozambique. Further north, by implication at least, the population was of Somali or Ethiopian type."