Zanzibar Revolution Day

Zanzibar Revolution Day

January 12
In December 1963, the African island of Zanzibar won independence from England. A month later, on January 12, 1964, a revolution led by John Okello of the Afro-Shirazi Party overthrew the sultan who ruled Zanzibar. Okello's revolution was bloody. Black citizens of Zanzibar believed that Arab and Indian businessmen, who ran most of the island's commerce, had been unfairly installed by the English colonists. Within the first few days, some 17,000 Arabs and Indians were killed. Many more fled the country, leaving their belongings and businesses to be confiscated by the new government without compensation. Abeid Karume was named president and the country's name changed to the People's Republic of Zanzibar.
Karume began a program of befriending the communist nations of China, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. He accepted their financial aid and technical advisors. The new government seized and nationalized Arab- and Indian-owned businesses and ousted most Europeans from the country. By 1972, Karume's autocratic rule led to widespread dissatisfaction. In April of that year, gunmen assassinated Karume in the Afro-Shirazi Party headquarters. Since his death, Zanzibar (now a semiautonomous part of Tanzania since merging with neighboring Tanganyika) has moved to a more free-market approach to trade, working hard to develop a tourist industry.
Zanzibar Revolution Day marks the occasion of the revolt that installed Karume as president. His son, Amani Karume, is now the island's president. Celebrations are held at the Amaan Stadium and a wreath is officially placed at the gravesite of Abeid Karume.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of The United Republic of Tanzania
2139 R St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-939-6125 or 202-884-1080; fax: 202-797-7408
www.tanzaniaembassy-us.org

Celebrated in: Tanzania

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