Chapter Two Review: Pan-Africanism or Pragmatism

Chapter two of the book deals with the pre and post Revolution political environment of Zanzibar. In this chapter, we are introduced to more important characters of the Revolution including Kassim Hanga and John Okello. The chapter also continues to illustrate the continued involvement of Tanganyika in Zanzibar politics.

The chapter begins with ZNP in power. ZNP more than anything feared invasion by the mainland. This is evident in their policies including ordering the Zanzibarisation of the police force by releasing 270 mainland men, 90 of whom were from Tanganyika. These men were released without compensation and it is speculated that they later joined the Revolution on the side of ASP.

ZNP fear politics did not end with the police force. In 1963, they passed the Social Decree, under which a society considered undesirable could be banned and have its property confiscated. The Umma party was banned under this law.

The ZNP government was warned by the British of its vulnerability and urged it to seek a defence treaty with Kenya or Britian. It is clear that fear and hatred of the others had blinded the ZNP to the extent that it needed British intelligence to warn them of the impending insurrection.

The chapter also dwelves into the numerous rumours surrounding the Revolution but then settles on the widely accepted theory that the insurrection was conceived, planned and executed by the ASP Youth League under the leadership of Seif Bakari, Abdallah Natepe, Said wa Shoto, Abdulla Mfarinyaki et al. John Okello was later enlisted to assist the group which later came to be known as the Committee of 14.

The chapter also discusses the involment of key figues such as Abeid Karume, Aboud Jumbe and Thabit Kombo who formed the core of the post Revolution government. John Okello was ultimately eased out of Zanzibar and declared persona non grata in large part because Karume did not trust him.

Although Western countries were slow to recognize the new government because they feared communist influence in the isles, a fear mostly based from the fact that some key figures in the Revolution were trained in Cuba, African countries and the East African bloc were quick to recognize the Revolitinary Government and infact Tanganyika immediately offered personnel assistance.

One thing is clear from this chapter, Tanganyikan involvement in Zanzibar begun before the Revolution of 1964. This fact is important to note for anyone who wishes to understand the Union between the two countries.

While the story of the Revolution is complex and can be a bit confusing reading it for the first time, the author does a splendid job of trying to decomplexify if you will the politics surrounding the Revolution. To better undertand this chapter requires one to take time with it and if possible read it twice or thrice.

The history of Zanzibar before the Revolution and the Union should be a topic that is taught in all schools across Tanzania. We should embrace the history and own the narrative that ultimately our Union is not merely political but economic and social in nature and the seeds of which were planted years before 26 April, 1964.

The Union is discussed in Chapter 3 and I am looking forward to the insight I am sure to gain.

Thomas Joel Kibwana.

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