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.
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 between them had blurred. Around 3.00 a.m 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 armories and the radio station. The Arab police replacements had received almost no training and despite responding with a mobile force, were soon overcome.
Arming themselves with hundreds of captured automatic rifles, submachine 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 town’s telegraph office and main government buildings were under revolutionary control and the Island’s only air strip was captured at 2;18pm.
The sultan, together with prime minister Muhammad shamteHamadi 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 government. 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 USA 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 revolution saw the 1964 overthrow of the sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab government by local African revolutionaries.
NOTICE BOARD OF ZANZIBAR ISLAND
Visit tourist attractions in Zanzibar Island
What to do and see.
- Visit the Zanzibar National Museums
- Visit the Hamamni Baths
- Visit the Tippu tip House
- Visit the Mangapwani Slave chambers
- Visit the Tumbatu Island
- Visit Chukwani Palace
- Visit the Bukhole Ruins
- Visit the coral cave
- Visit the High court & Africa House
- Visit the old Fort
- Visit the spice Tours and House of wonders
- Visit the stone town and Jozani Forest National Park (The only national park in Zanzibar)