- ZANZIBAR PROFILE;
The Zanzibar Archipelago, now part of the East African republic of Tanzania, is a group of islands lying in the indian ocean off the coast of Tanganyika. It comprises the main island of unguja (also known as zanzibar), the smaller northern island of pemba and numerous surrounding islets. Zanzibar had been granted independence by Britain in 1963.
- HISTORICAL BACKGROUND;
With a long history of Arab rule dating back to 1698, zanzibar was an overseas territory of Oman until it achieved independence in 1858 under its own sultancy. By 1964, the country was a constitutional monarchy ruled by sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah. Zanzibar had a population of around 230 Africans – some of whom claimed persian ancestry and were known locally as shirazis – and also contained significant minorities in the 50,000 Arabs and 20,000 south Asians who were prominent in business and trade. The various ethnic groups were becoming mixed and the distinctions bwetweenthem had blurred.
Around 3.00 am on 12 January 1964 , 600 -800 poorly armed, mainly African insurgents, aided by some of the recently dismissed ex – policemen attacked Unguja’s Police stations, both of its police armouries and the radio station. The Arab police replacements had receved almost no training and despite responding with a mobile force, were soon overcome. Arming themselves with hundreds of captured automotive rifles, sub machine guns and bren- guns, the insurgents took control of strategic buildings in the capital, Zanzibar town. Within six hours of the outbreak of hostilities, the towns telegraph office and main government buildings were under revolutionary control and the islands only airstrip was captured at 2 ;18 PM; the sultan, together with the prime minister MuhammedshamteHamadi and members of the cabinet, fled the island on the royal yacht seyyidKhalifa and the sultan/s palace and other property was seized by the revolutionary goverment. At least 80 people were killed and 200 injured, the majority of whom were Arabs, during the 12 hours of street fighting that followed. Sixty one American citizens, including 16 men staffing a NASA satellite tracking station, sought sanctuary in the English club in zanzibar town and four US journalists were detained by the island/s new government. The revolution was planned and headed by the ASP leader – AbeidAmaniKarume.
However, at the time Karume was on the African mainland. The ASP branch secretary for pemba, Ugandan born ex – policeman John Okello, had sent Karume to the mainland to ensure his safety. The Zanzibar revotution saw the 1964 overthrow of the sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab govenment by local African revolutionaries.