Tuesday, 10 December 2013



Zanzibar at cross road half of the population mostly younger generation and Diaspora's want to  celebrate Independence day while the ruling class want to stick with only revolution.It is difficult to appreciate just how important an island Zanzibar was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This tiny island off the East coast of Africa dominated trade between Africa, India and the Middle East. 
he British considered Zanzibar an essentially  country and maintained the prevailing power structure. The office of sultan was retained (although stripped of most of its power),  The chief government official during the period 1890 to 1913 was the British consul general, and from 1913 to 1963 it was the British resident. From 1926 the resident was advised by a legislative assembly.In the nineteenth century, Europeans were attracted to the wealth of the tiny island. It was such an obvious trading entrepot and was one of the few places in Africa that had plenty of cash. It was also helpful that the island climate was more accommodating to Europeans and there were less nasty diseases to afflict them than in most of the rest of the continent. It was a natural hub of civilizations, even if much of the wealth was a by-product of slavery.British influence would also grow partly as a result of their increased power in the target market of India and partly because of the power of the Royal Navy. The East India Company and Bombay merchants would all have representatives on the island  of Zanzibar to coordinate the purchase and movement of goods. The Sultan was happy to use some of his wealth to access the latest European weapons and technology. This was a good example of the soft power of the informal empire. Britain got excellent access to East Africa at little administrative cost to itself.
AS Zanzibar gets closer to marking half a century since Independence , there is an emerging thought that the Zanzibaris should start celebrating Independence Day which was attained on December 10, 1963.In this date in 1963,Celebrating December 10 was important because it shows when Zanzibar was recognized internationally including getting a seat at the United Nations (UN).
"The Republic of Zanzibar was independent on December 10, 1963  For three years now, some youths including a section of Zanzibaris in Diaspora have attempted to promote the December 10, 1963, urging people to celebrate on ground that Zanzibar independence should be recognized by the government and the Zanzibaris at large. Therefore both December 10 and January 12 are important to Zanzibaris and the government should put both days in its public holidays calendar," "I think we should combine the two big days and celebrate on December 10 to minimize celebration costs and also to value the Independence Day, because Revolution Day celebrations remind Zanzibaris of their beloved ones lost during the Revolution.

Zanzibar and Kenya flags raised at UN Head Quarters in New York on 16th December 1963 when the two countries were admitted to the United Nations. Representing Zanzibar was the Prime Minister H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Shamte while Kenya was represented by its Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. UN Secretary General U Thant welcomed the guests.


 Zanzibar gained its independence from Britain. The history of Zanzibar is out of proportion with its size. Simply to mention the name Zanzibar is to conjure up an air of mystery. Sultans,revolution
,  ivory, slaves, spices, navigators, and explorers--words that start to tell the story of Zanzibar.
Zanzibar Island is actually part of Tanzania, and the Zanzibar archipelago, is surrounded by more  other islands, many of them uninhabited, just off the coast of Tanzania. The name is a combination of the two country's names--Tanganyika and Zanzibar. It is the biggest and most populated island within the these small islands, have in centuries past held sway over large parts of mainland Africa and the islands of the Indian Ocean, controlling trade routes from the continental interior to the markets of Arabia, India, and farther abroad.

Zanzibar Prime Minister Mohammed Shamte  fourth  from left during his visit in Egypt with President Nasser.

The islands of Zanzibar have always been highly prized by empire builders. Bantu, Egyptian, Arab, Portuguese, and British have all taken possession of the territory and valued it as a “jewel in the crown,”, both for its strategic position off the East Coast of Africa, pivotal to the rich trade in slaves, ivory, ebony, and gold, and because of its fresh water, fertile soils, and temperate climate. It is this history above all that sets Zanzibar apart. The British kept the Sultan in position, but as the royal family bickered and squabbled among themselves, then it was part of the British Empire, Zanzibar benefited from trade and from a considerable amount of engineering and building works carried out in Zanzibar Town.

 These works included the construction of the deep-water harbor and the draining of the old creek that had up until then made Stone Town an island. All the more surprising then, that when the British finally gave back Zanzibar her independence in  10 December 1963, the Sultan was reinstated as sovereign and almost all of the wealth and power was handed back. In 1890 during Ali ibn Said`s reign, Zanzibar became a British protectorate and although never formally under direct rule was nevertheless considered part of the British Empire. In January 1961, the British organised the first popular parliamentary elections in Zanzibar, which ended in a stalemate after the Afro-Shiraz Party (ASP) led by Abeid Amani Karume and Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP) each won 11 of the available 22 Parliamentary seats. Another round of elections was held in June with the number of seats increased to 23. In the polls, ZNP formed a coalition with the Zanzibar and Pemba People`s Party (ZPPP) and won 13 seats. ASP, which received most votes, ended with 10 seats only. Naturally, the ASP cried foul and riots broke out in which 68 people were killed. The British organised another round of polling in 1963 with parliamentary seats increased to 31. The ASP won 54 per cent of the popular votes but garnered only 13 seats while the ZNP/ZPPP coalition with only 46 percent of the votes won 17 seats and therefore held onto power.

Members of the First elected  Zanzibar Government (1963). From left, Sheikhs Ameir Tajo, Ali Muhsin, Miraj Shaalab, Vuai Kiteweo, Mohammed Shamte, and Seyyid Abdulla Bin Khalifa Bin Haroub 

 Complete independence was granted on December 10, 1963 with the ZNP/ZPPP as the governing body which had more seat to form the government  the new  government knew they were extremely vulnerable because Zanzibar did not have its own Military. They requested for a British battalion to be stationed on the Island to maintain law and order but the British refused because it was deemed inappropriate for British forces to be active in ordinary law and order duties so soon after `independence.` The Zanzibar Revolution started at around 3:00 am on January 12, 1964, roughly a month after `independence`.Attacked first were the police station and radio station as close to 800 Revolutionaries under the leadership of the ASP moved fast to take control of other strategic buildings. . It is estimated that about 800 people were killed in street fighting and 200 injured while “hundreds” perished in the aftermath of the Revolution.The figures have always been disputed. Zanzibar was always a revolutionary hotbed in East Africa and the Marxist and Communist leanings of some of its politicians raised concern in the West, which feared that the Isles would be another Cuba off the coast of Africa to spread communism to the rest of the continent during the heyday of the East-West rivalry known as the Cold War era.The British moved a number of warships to the area and had several plans to intervene militarily `should the situation get out of hand.`

According to one such plan code named: “Operation Parthenon,” the island of Unguja, and its airport, was to be seized by parachute and helicopter assault, followed up by the occupation of Pemba. According to some sources, Parthenon would have been the largest British airborne and amphibious operation since the Suez Crisis of 1956, which also involved France and Israel.
The first British warship to arrive in Zanzibar was the HMS Owen, which arrived on January 12 followed by the frigate Rhyl and the Royal Fleet Auxilliary ship, Hebe on January 15 due to inaccurate reports that the situation in Zanzibar had deteriorated. The Rhyl was carrying a company of troops of the first battalion of the Staffordshire Regiment from Kenya, the embarkation of which was widely reported in the Kenyan media. The Hebe was loaded with weapons and the Royal Navy refused to allow an inspection of its cargo by the government of the Revolutionary Council, fuelling suspicion that she was an amphibious assault ship.On April 26, 1964, The people`s Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba united with the Republic of Tanganyika to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which was in the same year renamed the United Republic of Tanzania, Africa`s longest political merger and one of the longest enduring in the world.

One commentator has further speculated that it was probably Okello, with the Youth League, who planned the revolution. The bodies of Arabs killed in the post-revolution violence as captured by the Africa Addio film crew Revolutionary Council was established by the ASP and Umma parties to act as an interim government, with Karume heading the council as President and Babu serving as the Minister of External Affairs. 

Zanzibar stamps during independence in 1963. 
The country was renamed the People`s Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba, the new government`s first acts were to permanently destroy the structure of democracy to ban the ZNP and ZPPP. Seeking to distance himself from the volatile Okello, Karume quietly sidelined him from the political scene, although he was allowed to retain his self-bestowed title of field marshal. However, Okello`s revolutionaries soon began reprisals against the Arab and Asian population of Unguja, carrying out beatings, rapes, murders and attacks on property. He claimed in radio speeches to have killed or imprisoned tens of thousands of his “enemies and stooges”, but actual estimates of the number of deaths vary greatly, from “hundreds” to 20,000. Some Western newspapers give figures of 2000- 4000; the higher numbers may be inflated by Okello`s own broadcasts and exaggerated reports in some Western and Arab news media. The killing of Arab prisoners and their burial in mass graves was documented by an Italian film crew, filming from a helicopter, for Africa Addio and this sequence of film comprises the only known visual document of the killings. Many Arabs fled to safety in Oman, although by Okello`s order no Europeans were harmed. The post-revolution violence did not spread to Pemba. By 3rd February Zanzibar was finally returning to normality and Karume had been widely accepted by the people as their president.

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