Abeid Amani Karume (4 August 1905[1] – 7 April 1972) was the first President of Zanzibar. He obtained this title as a result of a revolution which led to the deposing of Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah, the last reigning Sultan of Zanzibar, in January 1964. Three months later, the United Republic of Tanzania was founded, and Karume became the first Vice President of the United Republic with Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika as president of the new country. He was the father of Zanzibar's former president, Amani Abeid Karume.

Abeid Amani Karume
عبيد أماني كرومي
Karume in 1964
1st President of Zanzibar
In office
26 April 1964 – 7 April 1972
Preceded byHimself President of People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba
Succeeded byAboud Jumbe
1st Vice President of Tanzania
In office
29 October 1964 – 7 April 1972
PresidentJulius Nyerere
Preceded byPosition Established
Succeeded byAboud Jumbe
President of People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba
In office
12 January 1964 – 25 April 1964
Preceded bySir Jamshid bin Abdullah (Sultan of Zanzibar)
Succeeded byPosition Abolished (Julius Nyerere As President of Tanzania)
Personal details
Born(1905-08-04)4 August 1905
Nyasaland (now Malawi)
Died7 April 1972(1972-04-07) (aged 66)
Zanzibar City, Tanzania
Manner of deathAssassination by gunshot
Resting placeKisiwa Nduwi, Zanzibar Town
Political partyAfro-Shirazi Party
SpouseFatma Karume

Early career edit

Allegedly born at the village of Mwera, Zanzibar in 1905, Karume had little formal education and worked as a seaman before entering politics. He once proudly served as an oarsman for the Sultan's ceremonial barge.[2] He left Zanzibar in the early years of his life, travelling among other places to London, where he gained an understanding of geopolitics and international affairs through exposure to African thinkers such as Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi. Karume developed an apparatus of control through the expansion of the Afro-Shirazi Party and its relations with the Tanganyika African National Union party.

Revolution in Zanzibar edit

On 10 December 1963, the United Kingdom granted full independence to Zanzibar after the Zanzibar National Party (ZNP) and Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party won the elections. The Sultan was a constitutional monarch.[3] Initial elections gave government control to the ZNP. Karume was willing to work within the electoral framework of the new government, and actually informed a British police officer of the revolutionary plot set to take place in January.[4]

Karume was not in Zanzibar on 12 January 1964, the night of the revolution, and was instead on the African mainland. The instigator of the rebellion was a previously unknown Ugandan, John Okello. 2,000 - 4,000 Zanzibaris, mostly Zanzibari Arabs & Indians, were murdered, with relatively few casualties on the revolutionary side. Many more were raped and images of mass-killings and mass-graves invocative of genocidal episodes were published in the world media causing immediate alarm and embarrassing the Nyerere Government. The Zanzibar Revolution brought an end to about 500 years of Arab domination on the island during which the Arab Slave Trade, most significantly, had resulted in a strong resentment among the majority African population.

Power struggle edit

Having taken control of the island, John Okello invited Abeid Karume back to the island to assume the title of President of the People's Republic of Zanzibar. Other Zanzibaris in foreign territory were also invited back, most notably the Marxist politician Abdulrahman Mohammad Babu, who was appointed to the Revolutionary Council. John Okello reserved for himself the title of "Field Marshal", a position with undefined power. What followed was a three-month-long internal struggle for power.[5]

Karume used his political skills to align the leaders of neighboring African countries against Okello and invited Tanganyikan police officers into Zanzibar to maintain order. As soon as Okello took a trip out of the country, Karume declared him an "enemy of the state" and did not allow him to return. Given the presence of Tanganyikan police and the absence of their leader, Okello's gangs of followers did not offer any resistance.

Karume's second important political move came when he agreed to form a union with the Tanganyikan president Julius Nyerere in April 1964. The union ensured that the new country, to be called Tanzania, would not align itself with the Soviet Union and communist bloc, as A.M. Babu had advocated. Given the new legitimacy of Karume's government (now solidly backed up by mainland Tanganyika), Karume marginalized Babu to the point of irrelevance. The Marxist leader was eventually forced to flee Tanzania after being charged with masterminding the assassination of Karume in 1972.[6] As a result, Karume was rewarded with the post of First Vice-President.[7]

Personal life edit

In 1970, four young Persian girls refused to marry the 64-year old Karume. As a result, he ordered the arrest of 10 of their male relatives for "hindering the implementation of mixed marriages."[8] He threatened to deport these men and dozens of other members of the Persian Ithnasheri sect to which they belonged. Because of Tanzanian President Nyerere's pressure, Karume eventually dropped the charges.[8] However, a few months later, the 4 different Persian girls were forced to marry members of his Revolutionary Council and 11 of the girls' relatives afterwards were ordered by a judge to be imprisoned and flogged.[8][9]

Karume remarked on the situation: "In colonial times the Arabs took African concubines without bothering to marry them. Now that we are in power, the shoe is on the other foot."[8]

Karume on Tanzania 200 shillings

Assassination and legacy edit

Karume was assassinated in April 1972 in Zanzibar Town. Four gunmen shot him dead as he played bao at the headquarters of the Afro-Shirazi Party. Reprisals followed against people suspected to have been opposed to Karume's regime.[10] During his tenure he was able to nationalize land owned by Arabs and Indians and re-distribute the land among the poor majority Zanzibaris. He also established a system of free education and health services for all Zanzibaris regardless their race, color or ethnicity. Apart from that, he engaged in construction of many houses available to the people of Zanzibar a very affordable rents. Amani Abeid Karume, Abeid's son, was elected two times as the president of Zanzibar, in 2000 and 2005 by a popular majority and handed over power in late 2010 to his successor Ali Mohamed Shein.

See also edit

References edit

  Media related to Abeid Karume at Wikimedia Commons

  1. ^ Uwechue, Raph (1991). Makers of Modern Africa. Africa Journal Limited.
  2. ^ Meredith, Martin (2005). The fate of Africa : from the hopes of freedom to the heart of despair : a history of fifty years of independence (1st ed.). Public Affairs. p. 222. ISBN 1-58648-246-7. OCLC 58791298.
  3. ^ Sheriff, Abdul (1991). Zanzibar Under Colonial Rule. James Currey Publishers. ISBN 9780852550809.
  4. ^ Petterson, Donald (2004). Revolution in Zanzibar: An American's Cold War Tale. Basic Books. p. 28. ISBN 9780813342689.
  5. ^ Okello, John (1967). Revolution in Zanzibar. East African Pub. House.
  6. ^ Mwakikagile, Godfrey (2004). Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African Statesman. Fultus Corporation. p. 131. ISBN 9781596820050.
  7. ^ Maundeni, Zibani (2010). "Developmental States: Their Historical Absence and their Emergence in Post Conflict Southern Africa". Open Area Studies Journal. 3: 33. doi:10.2174/1874914301003010030.
  8. ^ a b c d Meredith, Martin (2005). The fate of Africa : from the hopes of freedom to the heart of despair : a history of fifty years of independence (1st ed.). New York: Public Affairs. p. 223. ISBN 1-58648-246-7. OCLC 58791298.
  9. ^ "Forced Marriages In Zanzibar Studied By U.N Commission". The New York Times. 9 April 1972. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 11 December 2022.
  10. ^ "Tanzania: Prisoners of conscience face treason trial in Zanzibar". Amnesty International. 27 January 2000.