Reasons Behind Zanzibar Revolution
The journalist and broadcaster, Ahmed Rajab, wrote in the Raia Mwema issue of 11 January. Mr Rajab complained rather bitterly at the way Tanganyikan journalists/academics/other experts appear to distort events in Zanzibar – economic, political, cultural historical and even religious. He wondered if this is as a result of a genuine lack of knowledge, or just complete indifference on the part of these so called experts.
The latest ‘expert’ on that score appears to be Mr Deogratias Mushi, who wrote in your January 12 issue on the above subject. One would assume that Mr Mushi would, somewhere in the article, state the actual reasons behind that Revolution. And if you fail to do so then you will not have said anything. The whole exercise (of writing about Zanzibar Revolution) becomes a sheer waste of time! Mr Mushi begins by telling his readers that
[A] “…Zanzibar’s former existence as an overseas territory of Oman”. Zanzibar has never been an overseas territory of Oman. If, anything, it can historically be argued that Oman was once an overseas territory of Zanzibar!
[B] “Frustrated by under-representation in Parliament despite winning 54% of the vote in the July 1963 election …” At the Constitutional Conference at Lancaster House in London, it was Abeid Karume himself who put his signature to the ‘first past the post’ system of voting. Crying ‘foul’ after the event is a sign of being a bad loser.
[C]”The moderate ASP leader Abeid Karume became the country’s new president and head of state …” If you really want to know about Abeid Karume’s moderation you had better talk to Julius Nyerere, for he was the one who had to work with Karume. Who was it who brutally massacred Othman Sahriff, Saleh Saadala Akida, Aboud Nadhif, Khamis Masoud Khamis, Abdulla Kassim Hanga and many, many more? Was it not Abeid Karume who acquired world-wide notoriety for sexually interfering with young teen-aged girls? [Mr Mushi, while researching your article, you really should have asked about how a motor vehicle registration number KZ 1 (one) acquired notoriety in Zanzibar!] And when Nyerere wanted the late Bibi Titi Mohamed touchéred didn’t he send her all the way to Zanzibar? One is tempted to pose the question here: does Mr Mushi really know the meaning of ‘moderate’?
[D] “The Zanzibar Archipelago, now part of the East African republic of Tanzania …” So now Mr Mushi introduces the rather sore subject – the UNION. Mr Mushi, in all fairness, do you know anyone – and here I really mean, ANYONE – who understands how this farce of a union is supposed to function? To answer that question honestly, let us listen to the Union’s chief architect, Julius Kambarage Nyerere ,”Without any question, the manner and the implications of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar is the most misunderstood aspect of Tanzania’s political development. It may not matter very much when foreigners get confused, but unfortunately there are many times when Tanzanians themselves appear to misunderstand it.” And it was Oscar Kambona, Nyerere’s foreign minister, who privately admitted: ‘the aim behind the formation of that Union was to curb the influence of Islam in East Africa’!! That, I am afraid, is the ugly reality of the Tanzanian MYTH!
[E] “By 1964, Zanzibar had a population of around 230,000 Africans – some of whom claimed Persian ancestry and were known locally as Shirazis …” It will be noted that Karume’s party was called the Afro-Shirazi Party, meaning the combination of Africans and Shirazis. Yet by 1967 the “moderate” Karume claimed that the Shirazis – belonging to his Party – were all aliens and therefore had to apply for citizenship. Suddenly large queues of people formed up and down the country to apply for nationality – for a Sh 1/50 fee!! As incredible as it may now sound, those on the queues included Karume’s own Party General Secretary and Parliamentary candidate for the Mlandege constituency in the July 1963 election, man named Thabit Kombo Jecha. This is a question for the Afro-Shirazi(now, CCM) leadership to answer: does that mean when Thabit Kombo contested the Mlandege constituency for the Afro-Shirazi Party he was a foreigner – and not a citizen of Zanzibar?
[F] “In January 1961 both the ASP and the ZNP won 11 of the available 22 seats in Zanzibar’s Parliament…” Then, Mr Mushi continues, “The ZNP entered into a coalition with the Zanzibar and Pemba People’s Party (ZPPP) and this time took 13 seats…” Mr Mushi fails to inform his readers of the date of the election that enabled the coalition to win 13 seats. Also, Mr Mushi, please, where did this ZPPP suddenly spring from. According to you it was not there in January 1961!
[G] “To maintain control, the coalition government banned the more radical opposition parties, filled the civil service with its own appointees and politicized the police …” At the time of the coalition government both the police and the civil service were under British (Colonial) control: The Police Commissioner was a man named Roy Biles (he reported to the British Resident) and the Head of the Civil Service was a man named Philip Robertson (he, too, reported to the British Resident). Mr Mushi, will you please NAME the ‘more radical opposition parties’ that were banned by the coalition government otherwise your statement might be tantamount to LYING!
[H]”Electoral fraud was suspected by the ASP and civil disorder broke out, resulting in 68 deaths.” Mr Mushi, with respect, do you mean to say there are no electoral frauds – not suspected, but real ones – in today’s elections in Tanzania? Let’s put that particular question to Dr Willbrod Slaa of CHADEMA and see what response we get!
So Mr Mushi talks about ‘suspected electoral fraud’ that led to ‘civil disorder breaking out’ and resulting in 68 deaths. Here I would like to briefly touch on the events of late October/early November 2010. Suddenly, in the middle of vote counting, two CCM ‘big wigs’ from Tanganyika, Ben Mkapa and Ali Hassan Mwinyi appear in Zanzibar. And here I am going to scream: WHY! What in God’s name were these two doing in Zanzibar when they could have remained in Tanganyika and help their party win there. And Mr Mushi was telling his readers about ‘suspected fraud’ in 1961! The Mkapa/Mwinyi – along with the Tanganyika Army – presence in Zanzibar is nothing ‘suspect’, it’s REAL, old boy – and in 2010!! [This Ben Mkapa, incidentally, is the very same guy who brutally gunned down Muslim demonstrators at Mwembe Chai in March 1998.] And, to top it all, the Zanzibar Electoral Commission went on to publish the following set of results:
Professor Ibrahim Lipumba ……………67%
Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad ……………..49.1%
How on earth does it become possible for the two CUF candidates to have such a wide margin of difference in their popularity among Zanzibar voters? And if that margin is at all possible, then, surely it should be the other way round – implying that, in any event, Maalim Seif would be much, much more popular than the Tanganyikan Professor Lipumba. But it was you, Mr Mushi, who introduced the subject of electoral fraud – relating to the 1961 elections; so perhaps YOU can deal with it – in 2010!
[I] “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.” With this last quote I think you are mostly right, Mr Mushi. And to find a suitable answer to this problem of the behaviour of John Okello and his cohorts I think you will be well advised to consult a recent publication: Good-bye Uhuru, Good-bye Colonialism by a young intellectual, Dr Harith Ghassany. In researching this book Dr Ghassany took pains to locate and interview some of the self-styled revolutionaries of 1964. It is amazing how these Ghassany interviewees are bitter about the fact that the substantial majority of those who came to power and other positions of responsibility in 1964 were an irresponsible bunch of illiterates. Coupled with the fact that Abeid Karume himself personally butchered the intellectual wing of his party, that ensured the chaos that prevailed in Zanzibar to this day. And the Julius Nyerere take over in April of that year merely exacerbated the already sorry state of affairs!
Mr Mushi, like most of your Tanganyikan media colleagues, your reporting on Zanzibar is largely inaccurate. But what really disappoints me is your failure to mention that, according to the Wikileaks cables, the current regime – the ‘Mapinduzi Daima’ dating back to 1964 – is corrupt to the core. And this is the very same regime that came about as a result of the slaughter of, to quote your own figure, 20,000 innocent and defenceless Zanzibaris! Oh, Mr Mushi, ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ your Bible teaches you. Or so I am told!
Barack M. Shinuna
Monday, 17 January 2011
The above article was originally submitted to the Daily News (Dar-es-Salaam) on 19 January as a response to the Mushi article on Zanzibar Revolution. It appears that the Editor lacked the moral courage to publish it.