|1st President of Zanzibar|
26 April 1964 – 7 April 1972
|Succeeded by||Aboud Jumbe|
|1st Vice President of Tanzania|
29 October 1964 – 7 April 1972
|Succeeded by||Aboud Jumbe|
|President of People's Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba|
January 1964 – 25 April 1964
|Born||4 August 1905|
|Died||7 April 1972(aged 66)|
|Political party||Afro-Shirazi Party|
Abeid Amani Karume (August 4, 1905 – April 7, 1972) was the first President of Zanzibar. He obtained this title as a result of a violent revolution which led to the deposing of the last Sultan of Zanzibar Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah 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.
Allegedly born at the village of Mwera in 1905, Karume had little formal education and worked as a seaman before entering politics. He left Zanzibar in the early years of his life, traveling among other places to London, where he gained an understanding of geopolitics and international affairs through exposure to African thinkers such as 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
On December 10, 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. 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.
Karume was not in Zanzibar on January 12, 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. The revolution was violent, short, and the revolutionaries prevailed. Thousands of Zanzibaris, mostly Zanzibari Arabs & Indians, were murdered, with relatively few casualties on the revolutionary side. 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.
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 and Pemba. 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.
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 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.
Assassination and legacy
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. Some people celebrated his death, as different parts of the country did not like the self-proclaimed president who was never a person from Zanzibar by origin. It is believed he came from Uganda. Reprisals followed against people suspected to have been opposed to Karume's regime. 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.
- Uwechue, Raph (1991). Makers of Modern Africa. Africa Journal Limited.
- Sheriff, Abdul (1991). Zanzibar Under Colonial Rule. James Currey Publishers. ISBN 9780852550809.
- Petterson, Donald (2004). Revolution in Zanzibar: An American's Cold War Tale. Basic Books. p. 28. ISBN 9780813342689.
- Okello, John (1967). Revolution in Zanzibar. East African Pub. House.
- Mwakikagile, Godfrey (2004). Tanzania under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African Statesman. Fultus Corporation. p. 131. ISBN 9781596820050.
- "Tanzania: Prisoners of conscience face treason trial in Zanzibar". Amnesty International. January 27, 2000.