Sunday, January 13, 2008

Zanzibar Revolution Commemorated 44 Years Later

Zanzibar revolution saluted, but the poor seek better deal

2008-01-13 10:28:21
By Lucas Lukumbo in Zanzibar

Celebratory military gunshots and fireworks rent the Zanzibar atmosphere for about ten minutes on Friday mid-night in remembrance of the day, 44 years ago, when the Isles woke up to the African revolt against the Arab minority dynasty which had ruled the spice islands for more than 130 years.

While many Zanzibari residents enjoyed the firework display commonly known here as fash fash, one elderly woman did not.
She is Mtumwa Habib Amour, the wife of one of one of the gallant Zanzibaris, Salum Mohamed Abdallah (75) who actively took part in the up-rising on that fateful January 12, 1964.

Mtumwa was born blind in 1959, five years before the revolution day and was married to the revolution hero Salum Mohamed Abdallah in the year 1991.

She thus couldn`t see the fireworks display but only hear the sound.

Neither Mtumwa nor the revolutionary have lost hope for their future.

They have stated in no uncertain terms that they would rather nurse their poverty rather than be subjected again to the subjugation that some elements in the Isles would like to plunge the country into.

Salum who actively participated in the uprising to oust the Arab dynasty says the aim of the uprising was to make sure that the helm of power was vested into the hands of the people of Zanzibar themselves.

We were humiliated, but our children are now enjoying the fruits of the revolution. We had no water, electricity and health services, but now these things are in plenty, he narrates.

He says at that time one could not reach the District Commissioner or any other leader for that matter.

Now you can just knock at any leader?s door and the door would be opened for you, he says, adding, nowadays people go to health centres and being charged very minimum fees. It was not the case in those days.

He says the revolution has made the people in the Isles free from the colonial yoke which had perpetrated oppression and dictatorship.

He remembers that after the revolution, the government in Zanzibar had provided the people of Zanzibar with land to cultivate at least three acres for each family, saying it was unthinkable for black people to own land during that time.

The revolution hero said that the Zanzibar government should fine-tune the objectives of the revolution.

He says the situation now was that those with something were the ones who were being given attention especially in bank loans.

He also advised that business people should also be controlled, saying that with trade liberalisation, businessmen were importing goods cheaply but sold them at very high prices.

He says the government should see to it that prices were not going up as soon as it announces salary increases.

These kinds of business people are frustrating efforts by the government to enable people enjoy the fruits of the revolution and to re-kindle hope for their populace, he says.

On the union between the Mainland and Zanzibar, Salum said, without it there would be endless turmoil in the Isles. Those who do not want it would like to plunge the country into turmoil, he says.
They want us to be subjected to blood-shed and slavery again, he said, his voice choked with emotion.

He said in the year 1989 he went to the Zanzibar State House to ask for help from the former president Dr Salmin Amour to present his case over construction of a house which he said he could not afford.

He said officials in the State House did not allow him to see the president and were not even interested in hearing what he had wanted to tell him.

This is wrong for our presidents. Why should they not open their doors for the people, specially for people who risked their lives for what they are enjoying now? he queries.

They only allow people who are wealthy. That is unfair. A person like me with that background and a blind wife should at least make the president sympathetic. Even shaking hands with the president could make us happy, he says.

Another revolution hero, Bakari Mmanga Pili ( 65), says he has now given up asking for help from the authorities saying, I now eke out a living selling mangoes at the Darajani market. I have lost hope in asking for help.

Sixteen out of my 23 children are alive, but none of them has a job. In fact I am helping them to eke out a living.

Seven of my children died before enjoying the fruits of revolution in which I participated, he says.

He says prices are going up every day in the Isles, saying, we can no longer build good houses because the prices of building materials are rising every day. He asked the government to make Zanzibar conducive for investors so that more employment could be created.

Ahmed Haji ( 20) says that for the revolution to be meaningful for the youth, employment must be created so that they could engage themselves in production.

We youths have no employment and we really cannot see how the revolution has been helpful to us.

The worst thing is that even after we have managed to employ ourselves through self-help initiatives, the Zanzibar council authorities are intimidating us by chasing us away from the strategic places without showing us the alternative, he laments.

Mhusin Said (19) says there has not been an effort to formulate ways of employing the youth who he said was the bulk of the population the Isles.

Even when the youth form economic groups, no help is extended by the authorities. The least they do is to harass us and confiscate our goods, he says.

Both Nuhsin Said and Ahmed Haji think that the doctrines of Zanzibar leader of the revolution, first president Abeid Amani Karume are to some extent let down.

Abeid Amani Karume stood for improvement of lives for the entire Zanzibar population, Muhsin says.

SOURCE: Sunday Observer

Zanzibar Revolution revisited

2008-01-12 10:24:28
By Guardian Reporter

As Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume presides over Revolution Day celebrations in Zanzibar today, mixed views have been given on how the current generation of Zanzibaris sees the landmark revolt, which toppled the Arab Sultanate in 1964.

President Jakaya Kikwete and other high-ranking government and CCM officials will attend the occasion at Amaan Stadium in Zanzibar.

Information received from Zanzibar reveals that CUF secretary general Seif Shariff Hamad has also been invited.

The CUF secretary general`s appearance at the Revolution Day ceremony could indicate a move towards political compromise, as muafaka talks according to both CCM and CUF officials are progressing well.

With the Revolution being celebrated in its 44th year, The Guardian has sought views from across the spectrum on how the current generation of Zanzibaris perceives it and its outcome.

Speaking to for comment yesterday, Prof Haroub Othman of the University of Dar es Salaam said the relevance of the Revolution still remains because one political regime was replaced by another.

He said: ``It was a social revolution. It was aimed at bringing about social justice, equality and unity regardless of one`s tribe or religious affiliation.

These goals have not been fully attained 44 years down the line. As a result of this, there is very serious disunity.``

On the other hand, a renowned CCM cadre from Mkunazini in Zanzibar, Baraka Mohammed Shamte, said that the main problem with the current generation of Zanzibaris is that they did not experience the evils of regimes that existed prior to the Revolution. He said that people were now moving away from the tenets of TANU and Afro-Shirazi Party.

``In the past, leaders were groomed before ascending to positions of authority. Right now, a young person joins the party today, tomorrow he holds a major party position, and within no time he is a minister.

We get problems like the Band of Tanzania scam because we are no longer grooming our leaders, who are more inclined to forget the poor and embrace the rich,`` noted Shamte.

Contacted for his views on the same issue, Prof Mwesiga Baregu of the University of Dar es Salaam said the achievements of the Revolution were manifested to an extent by removing classes, and Arab master and African slave mentality.

``Although this problem may in a way be seen in the differences between CCM and CUF, that mentality is no longer socially accepted in Zanzibar,`` noted Prof Baregu.

He said there was a possibility that some ``bankrupt`` politicians could still exploit that mentality for their own ends.

The political science professor said the political stalemate in Zanzibar could end with having a Constitution that reflected a social contract.

For her part, CUF legislator for Chakechake Fatma Maghimbi said when asked if she would attend the celebrations that she would not because she had not been invited.

She said the provision of adequate basic social services was the only way to make today`s generation of Zanzibaris understand the goals of the Revolution.

She complained that water, electricity and transport services were seriously inadequate in Pemba.

SOURCE: Guardian

No comments: