ZANZIBAR'S ALI MUHSIN
<<Those of us interested in Zanzibar may already have heard that Sheikh Ali Muhsin, formerly the leader of the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP), and Prime Minister during the brief period between independence in early December, 1963 and the Okello revolution of January, 1964, passed away just a few days ago in Muscat, Oman, where had lived for some years. Sheikh Ali Muhsin had been in ill health for some time.>>
Mike, reading your post I'm overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia and reminded of those Saturday nights when we used to attend the Hizbu(ZNP) rally outside their head quarter at Darajani and agog with excitement chanting "Voti umpeni jogo" (jogo was the symbol of Zanzibar Nationalist Party). Leading amongst Asians was one Ali Raza Nathani (Ali Bom) who had sculpted jogo on his vehicle and went around the stone town campaigning for ZNP with the slogan 'umma hai, voti umpeni jogo'. Poor fellow was the first one to be remanded by the Revolutionary Government.
At the rally we would listen to Ali Muhsin's monologue, hardly realizing the venom that was taking shape. It would not be wrong to say that he was responsible for the destinies of hundreds of Zanzibar Asians. He was a household name in the Zanzibar of 50's and 60's and believed to be the manipulator in making various moves including the Sultan's monarchical position in Zanzibar's initial Government. He was architectural in Zanzibar's treaty with the British Government that stipulated the Sultan's role as merely symbolic with no political power vested in him.
Ali Muhsin was not Zanzibar's Prime Minister but its Foreign Minister and it was he who had disdained Britain's offer of military assistance. It is strange that he exuded so much confidence when in reality if we refer to the books on Zanzibar's Revolution the initial band of revolutionaries had hardly any ammunition and fought with mere pangas, rods and stones. Though Mohamed Shamte became the Prime Minister it was Ali Muhsin who hogged the limelight. No doubt, it was he who as leader of ZNP had steered the low profiled Shamte (leader of ZPPP with whom ZNP had formed a coalition government) to premiership. The expectation was that eventually Ali Mohsin would have taken over the prime minister's post but it was not destined to be so.
Besides, as a leader of ZNP, Ali Muhsin was always at loggerheads with Abdulrehman Babu, another leading ZNP member and a radical politician. Eventually Babu formed his own 'Umma' party that was absorbed into ASP after the Zanzibar Revolution. Ali Muhsin himself was a follower of Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser and to an extent wanted to adopt his ideology. Sadly with the passing away of Ali Muhsin, there would be hardly remnants of ZNP now. Juma Aley, Ibuni Saleh and Amir Abdulrasul have passed away. I don't know if Maulidi Mshangama and Dr. Baalawy still exist. All intellects and academicians but their odd notions led them astray and put us Zanzibaris in all sorts of difficulties.
|Last updated November 2007
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