Pemba island has been overshadowed by the popularity of its sister island of Unguja. However, it has a very long history but fortunately not as eventful as that of Unguja since it has never been the centre of any ruling empire. Except for the cruelty of Mkama Ndume, who was the local ruler with his headquarter at Pujini, Pemba was always ruled by proxy. The Portuguese had established an administrative centre at Chake Chake but generally their rule was connected to other parts of East Africa. The Mazruis of Mombasa ruled Pemba for a great period but were overpowered by Sayyid Said, who again ruled Pemba from Unguja. The tendency of Pemba being ruled from Unguja continued from the period of Sayyid Said up to the present times and due to its subordinate role, it has always been sidelined by what is happening at the metropole.
The popularity of Pemba stems mainly from the clove industry (Read on Zanzibar’s economy and View Zanzibar Album for photos on Zanzibar and cloves). More than 70% of the Zanzibar’s harvest of cloves is produced in the island of Pemba.
During the clove blooming season, visitors are welcomed by the scents of cloves or marashi ya karafuu and the songs of honey bees looking for nectar. Because of higher rainfall it receives annually and the dense clove plantations, Pemba is always green. The Arabs called it ” Jaziiratul Khadhraa” or (The Green Island) and it was once termed “the granary of Mombasa” during the Mazrui rule.