A revolution is a complete overthrow of the existing system of governance by a group, which is subjected to it and is being mistreated, exploited, discriminated, humiliated and oppressed.


Revolution is a discontented reaction through violence exercised by the majority of the country’s population ignored to gain recognition or reform when local and moderate means of political or social change fail.

Examples of political revolutions, which had occurred in Africa is: The Egyptian revolution led by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952 and the Zanzibar revolution of 1964 led by John Tito Okello from Uganda.


European powers developed tremendous interest in Egypt after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, linking Egypt with the Orient.

In 1882, Britain occupied Egypt because of her strategic position in the Far East trade. Following the resentment among Egyptians, who were predominantly Muslims, active nationalist movements ensued.

One such movement was led by Sa’d Zaghloul. Among their demands included:

•    Full political independence.
•    Withdrawal of all British troops.
•    The merger of Sudan and Egypt.

In 1919, the nationalist movement organized a series of rebellions all over the country. As a result, in February 1922 the British granted self-independence to the Egyptians

Thus ending the protectorate status over the country. Zaghloul, leader of the Wafd party became the prime minister and King Fuad I became the king.

Upon attaining independence, several other stipulations were made in the movement.

These included:

1.    There was to be an elected parliament.
2.    British forces were to remain in the country and some of the British officers were to continue advising Egyptian the administration.
3.    Europeans in Egypt were to have special courts.
4.    British forces would be responsible for the protection of the Suez Canal.

Thus, it was a political independence by name only but the real power remained in the hands of the British.

In 1936, the Wafd government entered into an Anglo-Egyptian Treaty which expanded the Egyptian independence to some extent e.g. the special European courts were abolished.

Nevertheless, the British forces continued to be stationed on the Suez Canal. The treaty made Wafd party unpopular as the Egyptians the eviction of the British immediately.

Between 1922 and 1952, the Egyptians experienced several problems at the hands of the British and the national government.
  1. The population growth of the Egyptians did not tally with the need for more land.
    2.    Unemployment rate increased drastically.
    3.    Exploitation was intensified, both by the government and landowners.
    4.    The fellahin were overburdened with land tax. Landlords were able to evade the payment as most of them were politically connected.
    5.    The king and the loyal family led a luxurious life, and the king was the greatest landlord.
    6.    The rulers and the rich were favoured by the judicial system which was very corrupt and oppressive.

All these injustices fueled the Egyptians’ resentment towards the government.

This resulted into a number of events:

  1. Frequent demonstrations by workers and students who were now becoming increasingly more radical then ever before.
    2.    The communist organizations intensified their activities, attracting more and more followers.
    3.    Many radical religious movements emerged. The most powerful was the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the atmosphere of resentment, a young colonel, Gamal Abdel Nasser, of the Egyptian army, formed a group called “Free Officers” in 1945.

The aim of the group was to liberate Egypt from foreign domination and to overthrow the corrupt regime in Egypt. The motivation to organize a revolution was increased by the decision of UNO to create a Jewish State of Israel in Palestine.

The Egyptian army was compelled to assist their fellow Arabs, but the army suffered humiliating defeat under Israel. There was then a conflict between the army and the leadership.

Meanwhile, Nahas, the leader of the Wafd party in 1936 went against the treaty with the British and started demanding for the withdrawal of the British troops from Egypt. The British responded by sending more troops to the Suez Canal.

On the 26th January, 1952, the Egyptians responded by holding riots, setting on fire all British property in Cairo. Shops, hotels, cinemas and clubs were burnt down. This day is known as Black Saturday in Egypt.

The following six months were full of confusion as the king tried to exert his power by persecuting the radical political and religious organizations.

On the morning of 23rd July 1952, the leader of the ‘Free Officers’ organization forcefully took over power. The Egyptian king, Farouk, escaped to avoid persecution. General Mohammad Naquib took over leadership.

The country’s constitution was consequently reformed and the monarchy subsequently abolished. Egypt became a republic. Naquib became president and prime minister, while Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser became deputy PM

In 1954, Naquib was removed from power and Gamal Abdel Nasser took over as prime minister.

In 1956 general elections, Gamal Abdel Nasser was elected the first president of the Republic of Egypt.


Zanzibar revolution was a complete overthrow of the Arab government by the Africans who were subjected to it. It was a fundamental alteration of principle and practices of Arab Sultan government by the African people.

The Revolution was organized by the ASP under sheikh Aman Karume with the support from Umma party under Mohamed Babu in 12 Jan 1964.

The group of armed people who physically took part in revolution was led by John Okelo – a Lango young man from Uganda who was a secretary of A.S.P young wing in Pemba.

The group attacked the new government and Sultan by surprise. It succeed to capture the police amour in Ziwan then radio station, custrus, airports, post office, hospital and the prison at Mazarin by using knives, axes, hammers, bows and arrows. The armed men got guns after capturing the police station.

The sultan escaped to Mombasa and many officials were killed. Mohamed Shamte went into exile in Arabian. The revolution was successful in Sunday morning 12 Jan 1964, the revolution government was set up with Karume as the president and Hanya the Vice president, Babu and others Asp members were ministers of the new government.

Zanzibar revolution began in Mid 1950s. Before that there were associations which did not press for independence but welfare of different races that lives in the Isle.

Associations before Mid 1950 were based on races:

  • Arab association was formed by Arab rich families against the British to press for compensation to the Arab slave owners after abolition of slave trade.
  • Africans association formed in 1934, it was affiliated to Tanganyika association.
  • Shiraz association formed in 1939 in Pemba to speak for African population like Timbuktu, Hamidu and Pemba.
  • The Indian association.

After 1955 the people of Zanzibar formed political parties to struggle for independence. This was due to economic hardship and crisis in marketing cloves after WWII and colonial exploitation.

The political parties that were formed during struggles for independence were:

Zanzibar Nationalist party (Z.N.P) formed out of Arab association by Sheikh Al Mahsin Barwan 1955. It demanded Multiracial Zanzibar in order to get support from the Africans majority but in principal it served the Arab Minority.

Afro –Shiraz party (A.S.P) it was formed out of African association and Shiraz association in 1957. Sheikh Aman Karume was the chairperson and Thabit Kombo was a secretary. It was a racial party because it was supported by Africans from Zanzibar and mainland.

Zanzibar and Pemba People’s Party (Z.P.P.P) was formed in 1959 by Shiraz racial group that had conflict with people of Mainland origin and ASP. It was formed by Mohamed Shante and Musa from Pemba and Tajo from Zanzibar.

UMMA Party; formed in 1963 by Abdurrahman Mohamed Babu, after splitting from Z.N.P.


  1. To adjust social and economic inequalities between the African Majority and the Arab Minority.
  2. To remove Sultan domination over Africans in Zanzibar.
  3. To eradicate British colonial interest and destroy capitalism in Zanzibar.
  4. To bring socialism in this there will be no exploitation of man by man.


Since the establishment of Arab administration, clove and coconut plantations in Zanzibar in 1840 by Sultan Seyyid Said, Africans were regarded as slaves. This situation created hatred (hostility) between Africans against Arabs.

Zanzibar regained her independence from the British on 10th December in 1963. However, the independence was for the minority Arabs in Zanzibar for Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah kept on holding the reign of Zanzibar as the Sultan.

As a result, they prepared for a revolution from Saturday night at 8: 14p.m on 11th January 1964 and by 12th January 1964, Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah and his officials had fled from Zanzibar hence complete revolution which made Zanzibar free from Sultanate exploitation, humiliation and racialism in Zanzibar.

In addition, on 12th January in 1964, the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar was established and the Late Sheikh Abed Amani Karume became its first President with his political Party the Afro – Shirazi Party (ASP). The ASP was founded on Tuesday 5th February in 1957 after the coalition of the African Association (AA) and the Shirazi Association (SA)


Zanzibaris were deprived/denied of political rights. Political exploitation by the rulers that denied the Zanzibaris the right to vote, a voter could vote if he was able to speak, read and write in Kiswahili /Arabic or English; A voter had to be a Zanzibar resident and had lived in his/her constituency for at least one year; A voter had to be a government employee for at least five years or possesses a certificate for medal of good performance; A voter had to be above 25 years. Such qualifications limited the majority of Zanzibaris the right to vote. Hence, they continued to be victims of severe exploitation and oppression on their own land. However, Zanzibaris did not calm down; they sought the revolution as a means of setting them free.

Land alienation in Zanzibar. The Zanzibaris had no right to own land. Arabs who grew coconuts and cloves in the island occupied all fertile land. Zanzibaris were only recruited as labourers while remained poor peasants. This led to the revolution in Zanzibar.

Monopolization of trade by foreigners. Asians of Indo-Pakistan origin controlled the commercial life of Zanzibar. The Asians were mainly Arabs and Indians who controlled the commercial sector in Zanzibar while the majority of Zanzibaris had nothing to own; furthermore, they from time to time set high prices for goods and services, as a result, the poor Zanzibaris could not afford something, which created grievances and hostility between the Zanzibaris against the Arabs in Zanzibar.

The question of taxation: The government of Zanzibar under Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah introduced various forms of taxes that Africans (Zanzibaris) had to pay. Furthermore, the taxes were high such that the majority poor who were mainly the Zanzibaris failed to pay, thus they developed economic grievances against the sultanate regime in Zanzibar something, which precipitated the Zanzibar revolution of January 1964.

The role played by John Okello: He was a man from northern Uganda who settled in Zanzibar in 1952 and worked as a painter; additionally, he had attained revolutionary training in Cuba. He was an official of the A.S.P. (Afro-Shirazi Party) in Pemba Island. He developed a belief as early as 1961’s of involving himself in a revolutionary army to overthrow the sultanate regime in Zanzibar. Okello was a man of determination, a skilled technician who was endowed with organizational capabilities. He acted as an instrumental and logical organizer (mastermind) of the revolution.

The fall in of the clove price in the world market created many problems in Zanzibar. The government under Sultan Jamshid Bin Abdullah reduced government expenditures on social services like health care, education, a measure, which led to social sufferings, and unemployment in Zanzibar, the people of Zanzibar came together as one people to overthrow the Sultan from power hence, Zanzibar revolution.

The election result of 1961 and 1963. These elections were not fairly conducted on the side ASP. The Africans were not satisfied with these elections which gave power to Arab Minority hence they decided to overthrow the government.

Economic difficulties caused by the World wide drop in price of cloves. This made government to reduce expenditure on social service, schools were closed, teachers became unemployed and medical facilities were cut down. This gave rise to group of unemployed who were suffering peasants to join and over throw the government.

Historical differences and grievances between Arabs and Africans in Zanzibar, since the establishment of Arab administration and clove plantation in Zanzibar by Seyyid Said. Since then the relation between Arabs and Africans determinate Arabs made Africans slaves. So Africans brought revolution against this domination.

British colonial legacy. The British left the Arabs to dominate all key sectors because they were their friend and puppets. Africans were less favored in employment opportunities example in civil services etc.


Sultan Jamshid Bin Abdullah left the island of Zanzibar for Britain with his state officials something, which granted Zanzibar its full independence following the holy revolution. Thus, Zanzibar became a revolutionary independent country on 12th January 1964 and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume became its first President.

Social stratification was dismantled soon after the revolution; stratification such as religious differences, races and status were well checked by the new government under Karume.

Zanzibar revolution facilitated the establishment of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar on 26th April 1964, the idea which came into effect on Friday 22nd April 1964 when the two heads of the states signed the articles of the Union.

Zanzibar revolution gave Zanzibar an international recognition as a sovereign state and that she became a member of both the United Nations Organization and Commonwealth of Nations.

It led to nationalization of all major means of production such as land, roads, commercial companies and banks which were previously owned by the few Arabs, Indians who were basically rich. After the nationalization, they were taken and owned by the new independent revolutionary government on behalf of the public. Furthermore, the land, which was owned by minority rich Arabs and Indians, was as squarely and properly re-distributed amongst the majority of Zanzibaris.

Zanzibar revolution guaranteed all Zanzibaris their political rights which they were denied before as from time to time started holding periodic elections.

Benefits of Zanzibar Revolution

The Africans who had lost their land got it back. The government nationalized plantations and distributed among Africans to grow crops.

The government-built schools and colleges to provide educatation freely up to university level.

The government promoted peoples’ participation in government- high ranking jobs which were held by the Arabs were given to Africans. To date the head of government is African.

The government built good houses in different areas and distributed them to people freely; they were built in Uelen, Chakechake, and Mkwajuni.

Transport – Government brought ships like MV Mapinduzi, MV Maendeleo to provide transport to the people, also government constructed roads to improve means of transport.

People were given citizenship – Before revolution, people of Zanzibar were known as citizen of Sultan but after revolution people were given citizenship of Zanzibar.

It led to the The union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar 26 April, 1964.

Strengths of the Zanzibar Revolution

It removed the colonial regime from power by force

It managed to adjust the social and economic inequalities in African country

It manages to uphold the African dignity

It managed to bring African independence

It promoted unity and solidarity among the Africans

Weaknesses of decolonization through revolution

Loss of lives during revolution process some people loose lives this is due to the use of dangerous weapons during the struggle that resulted to bloodshed.

Destruction of properties, such as infrastructures like offices and houses.

Fear and insecurity

Low level of consciousness and political awareness

Lack of clear political structures for movement organization.

Lack of patriotism


Qn: Explain the historical significance for the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar in 1964.

Qn: What were the reasons behind for the 1964 Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar?

Qn: The amalgamation between Tanganyika and Zanzibar was a historical phenomenon. Discuss.

The Union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika was an incidence in which the leaders of these countries joined together to have one country (Tanzania). J.K Nyerere of Tanganyika and Abeid Aman Karume of Zanzibar did this.

It was formed from 26th April 1964 where the members (leaders) agreed to share among other things like defense, police, state of emergence and external affairs.

However, the reasons behind the Union can be grouped into internal and external factors in a sense that there were some forces within and that from outside Africans

These can be well explained as follows: –

Due to the role played by Pan- Africanism since that pan Africanism had for a long period been motivating all Africans to unite in order that they can fight for colonial injustices, oppression and exploitation in that case Nyerere and Karume being inspired with this idea of Pan – Africanism, they decided to be the first African countries unite.

Influence of western countries like USA, British and France. This is because the countries regarded Zanzibar as Cuba because she bought the idea of communism which was a danger to the western Brock to be free from communism spread, they decided to pressurize the president of Tanganyika to find the way out by conversing Abeid Aman Karume to Unite

Nyerere and Karume had a very long historical friend ship in a sense that Nyerere influenced the formation of ASP and Zanzibar Revolution thus to cement their friendship Union became to be very important.

Internal opposition within Zanzibar after the revolution done by a group of radicals who in a sense spread opposed and challenged Karume as Karume became unsecured it later precipitated for the Union in order to contain over these radicals.

Close relationship between TANU and ASP as major political parties in these two countries had a very close relationship due to the fact that they all had common interests to unite Africans since ZAA and TAA in Zanzibar and Tanganyika respectively in this case the Union would further their close tie they had.

Proximity / closeness of the two countries played significant role to the Union simply because Zanzibar and Tanganyika geographically are too closer and it is said that the distance from Dar-es-Salaam to Unguja is shorter than the distance from Unguja to Pemba this significant that that people used to leave regular contact in trading activities, therefore Union to them was not a now thing.

Zanzibar and Tanganyika experienced same colonialism because they were all under British rule being under the same rule; they experienced the same burden and administration this eventually made them to unite together so that they can keep on adopting same experience they had.

Close relationship that the people of Tanganyika and Zanzibar had this are because most of the people in Zanzibar came from Tanganyika as Arabs took them during the slave trade. Thus the Union would help people of these countries to enjoy much with former brothers and sisters whom they separated each other.


Low or no public awareness; most people in both countries have little information about the details of which are and which are not union matters. E.g. the current sagas about weather gas and oil exploration are union matters or not clearly indicate this gap

Unequal distribution of national resources;

Political misunderstanding – between the ruling party CCM and the oppositional party CUF; in spite of the ongoing talks ‘Muafaka’  there hasn’t been any trustful conclusive agreement about how to resolve political problems in Zanzibar

Historical disunity between Pemba and Unguja Islanders; each part of the island support own political party. This too, jeopardizes the union

Union structural problem; the structure of the union is based on one union government called the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania (URT) and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. This structure is more or less acceptable by some groups of people in Tanzania. Eg the “G55” move which comprised of some MP`s who wanted a third government of Tanganyika alone show the existence of the structure of the union

Status of Zanzibar; since the union began, there were immense concern about the status of Zanzibar. Should it be called region/province within the union, should it be called the state or a country or what. There has been several debate about what is the status of Zanzibar and unfortunately none of such debates has come with conclusion

Constitutional problem; there is also a problem about which constitution should be used in Zanzibar. So far there is the constitution of the union and that of Zanzibar. The union constitution states that Zanzibar is part of Tanzania while that of the islands states that Zanzibar is a State

Generally, it should be put in mind that the Union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika brought much benefits to the people concerned because people are free to move from one place to another, they also share many aspects such as social, political and even economic matters though to some extent there are many changes resulting from such Union to the extent that other members decide even to pull out from the Union.





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