Sir Ali bin Salim (c1870-1940) was the product of illustrious forbears. He was a member of the Al Busaidi clan – the powerful family from Oman, who ruled over much of East Africa during the 19th century. His father, Salim bin Khalfan, served as Liwali or Governor of Mombasa during the introduction of British colonial rule. Sir Ali carried on the role into the 20th century. The influence of father and son on the coast of Kenya continued for a period of over fifty years.

As chief representatives for the Sultan of Zanzibar, both father and son trod a difficult path working with the British, and their administration, while providing continuity and leadership for the people of the coast. This is the story of how the two men navigated their way through turbulent times to emerge on the winning side and achieve great wealth and power. Together their foresight and generosity helped make Mombasa the dominant port city of the region it is today. After the death of his father, Sir Ali rose to greater prominence becoming the most famous coastal leader of the age.

Judy Aldrick lived in Mombasa for 22 years. In 2004 she returned to UK and now lives in Kent. She has written widely on coastal history, art and architecture and was involved in the Conservation Programme for Old Town Mombasa. In 1988 she received an M Litt for her thesis on the carved doors of the East African coast.

This book is her fourth historical biography set in East Africa. In it she explores the role of the Arabs and their contribution to the coast of Kenya. Her previous books published by Old Africa Books were: The Fannin Papers; Northrup, the life of William Northrup McMillan; and The Sultan’s Spymaster, Peera Dewjee of Zanzibar.