The famous philosopher Voltaire says: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” There is no doubt that there are bright points in Islamic and Arab history that we do not lose sight of, and we do not stop dealing with them, but history also contains dark areas; She did not receive this mention and interaction despite the tragedies and wounds she had.
The Arabs ignored the plight of Zanzibar, while the Jews made the “Holocaust” an inescapable reality, so they wrote profligately about it until they counted 6,000 books annually, and prepared lists of wanted persons from the Nazis for their crimes against the Jews, unlike the Arabs with the story of Zanzibar… We stand before a story forgotten.
What is “Andalus of Africa”? How did Muslims establish an ancient civilization? And how was the extermination of Arabs and Muslims from the East African island? What is the state of Zanzibar now after this bloody history?
The island of Zanzibar, located in the east of the African continent, witnessed a rich Islamic civilization and economic renaissance at the hands of the Arabs, which made it “Andalusia Africa.” It also witnessed one of the largest historical massacres of Muslims; Not less than the massacres of Andalusia.
Zanzibar in the early 16th century was under the control of the Portuguese Empire for two centuries. The stifling of trade and the establishment of trading colonies on the Zanzibar coast by the Portuguese led the Zanzibar elites to invite the Omanis to help them expel the Portuguese.
Accordingly, the Sultanate of Oman took control of Zanzibar by the late seventeenth century, and merchants from the Sultanate came to settle in Zanzibar in the nineteenth century, and during this period the social system that ruled Zanzibar was established, and the rule of Omani dynasties began from the 1930s onwards when many of The Omanis settled and intermarried with the local population.
The economic prosperity of Zanzibar and the Pemba Islands became intertwined in the production of cloves, as the first clove trees were brought to Zanzibar by the first ruler of the Sultanate of Oman, Sultan Sayyid Said, who moved his court from Muscat to Zanzibar in 1828 AD, encouraged the cultivation of cloves and turned Zanzibar into one of The most important commercial centres in Africa; Oman developed trade and economy on the island, through continuous trade flights between it and India and the Arabian Gulf; Especially Iraq and Iran.
The spice trade continued to flourish, and Zanzibar was famous for its wealth and prestige. It was called the “Spice Island”, as it was called the “grove of Africa”, due to the huge development in crops; It was the world’s source for cloves and garlic and was famous at that time for making ivory from elephant tusks.
Ending Arab rule
Zanzibar remained stable until a series of European raids began to scramble for Africa. British colonial influence reached Zanzibar in 1890, and by the middle of the twentieth century, it became a British protectorate.
Although the remaining Omani dynasty came under British administrative control, British rule in Zanzibar did not provide any reliable mechanism for long-term stability, and land, wealth, and power remained in the hands of the Arabs, along with the Asian merchant class.
To ensure the continuity of the presence in Zanzibar, Britain supported the idea of ”African nationalism”, intensified ethnic tensions in Zanzibar, and proceeded to the idea of differentiating between Muslims of African origin and Muslims of Arab origin, and thus began the spark of a long-term policy aimed at the exclusion of Arab Muslims from the African coast in the hands of Africans themselves!
When political circles were established in Zanzibar in 1961, parties were established on ethnic bases, most notably: the Arab-led Zanzibar Nationalist Party, and the African-dominated Afro-Shirazi Party.
In 1963, Zanzibar was independent of Britain, and it became a constitutional monarchy, ruled by Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah, and the Arabs remained at the head of power by winning the parliamentary elections; To the survival of the well-established popular belief that Zanzibar is an extension of the Arab Islamic Sultanate of Oman, not to the African continent.
In view of the failure of the Afro-Shirazi party in the elections, and the continued control of the Arabs on the island due to their skill in managing the country and their control of trade; Britain ignited the strife inside Zanzibar, and proceeded to convince the Africans of Zanzibar that the Arabs would enslave them; For fear of Oman’s control of the strategic island.
The chapters of the historical massacre against the Arabs began in 1964 AD, at the hands of the Afro-Shirazi Party and its followers, who were the original inhabitants of Zanzibar, at the instigation of Britain.
On the morning of January 12, 1964, an armed uprising erupted under the leadership of the tyrant “Obeid Karumi”, which was called the Zanzibar Revolution; Which wants to change the social system that has oppressed Africans for years, but what happened in the aftermath of this revolution was bloody revenge against the Arab and Muslim population of Zanzibar, after years of racist propaganda, with the help of Ugandan Christian “John Okello”, a member of the Afro-Shirazi Party, who recruited 600 A mercenary to occupy police stations and steal weapons, he received support from Tanganyika (currently Tanzania) and Britain until he overthrew Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah and his government.
And within 6 hours, he controlled all the joints of the island, then “Okello” began a systematic ethnic cleansing against the Arabs and the African Muslim population, which claimed the lives of more than 20 thousand Muslims, in addition to the acts of rape, looting and the seizure of Muslim lands and property, and “Obeid Karumi” was installed as head of state. new.
After the capture of Zanzibar, the election result was annulled, the last Arab sultan, Jamshid, fled the country, and a federation was announced between the archipelagos of Zanzibar and Tanganyika, to form what is now known as the state of Tanzania, with Dar es Salaam as its capital.
The Christian priest “Julius Nyerere” took power in Tanzania with the support of the West, abolished many of the Islamic religious rites in Zanzibar, and began imitating Kemal Ataturk in removing the Islamic character from Zanzibar.
Some of the live scenes of the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Zanzibar were filmed by Italian TV in the documentary Goodbye Africa in 1966. The documentary presented the Zanzibar massacre among the African atrocities that occurred after the independence of the countries of the continent, and the viewer sees on the ground how the Arabs were being driven to death. identity, and the mass graves that contained their remains.
With the revolution of 1964 AD, “Universal African nationalism” would have overtaken “Zanzibar African patriotism.” Pan-Africanism believed that “Africa is for Africans,” and the concept of Africans that they are the blacks of origin and all others who came from different parts of the world are pure invaders. The Arabs, in the opinion of this nationalism, are invaders, and getting rid of their heavy presence is a national gain, not an insult.
The leader of the revolution, John Okello, is African, but not Zanzibar. He came to the island in 1959, among the Africans who were attracted by the labour market in Zanzibar.
Thus, “Okello” – the foreigner from Zanzibar – overthrew a fourth-generation sultan on the island, who had the authority over the Muslim people completely, and the Islamic identity of Zanzibar deepened from the alienation of the leader of this revolution from the Zanzibar homeland; Who accompanied his Christian faith in his revolution against the Muslim Arabs.
It is strange that the “Zanzibari patriotism” did not surrender to the invasion of the revolutionary “Okello”; The first act of “Karumi” after his appointment as Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council by “Okello” was to get rid of “Okello” himself as a stranger Zenim, and he succeeded in his endeavor within 50 days.
It was expected that Zanzibar, after this genocide of Muslims, would turn into a Christian or communist island, especially after the curtain of oblivion fell on this massacre, but what happened was the opposite! Britain and its agents did not win what they wanted.
In the face of this Western and Arab media disregard, the Muslims of Zanzibar refused to have a presence in the region, in which the proportion of Muslims currently stands at more than 98% of the total population. Zanzibar has so far been characterized by Arab historical monuments and Islamic features. The houses and palaces built by the Omani Arabs, and the mosques that represent various Islamic sects, have made tourism the first economic resource in Zanzibar so far.
Zanzibar has become part of Tanzania, but it enjoys political as well as religious autonomy, as the political structure of Tanzania is divided into the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. Tanzania has stable relations to a large extent, and peaceful coexistence of all sects, religions, and races.
The efforts of the Islamic awakening also flourished in Zanzibar; From guidance, preaching, sponsorship to orphans, and aid to the poor and the needy, its manifestations appeared in the increase in the number of visitors to mosques and the number of people wearing the hijab.
In conclusion, there may be many accounts of the Zanzibar Revolution, but it is clear and certain that the Arabs left clear imprints and an Islamic tint that the British occupation, the Pan-African movement, and the Marxist thought could not erase despite the bloodshed.
Here, Andalus of Africa differed from Andalusia of Europe!