Karume Day – April 7
Karume Day is observed every April 7 to commemorate the assassination of Abeid Amani Karume, a former President of Zanzibar and Vice President of Tanzania. Did you know that Abeid Karume was opposed to the 1964 revolution that led to his election as Zanzibar’s first President? Karume Day celebrates Karume’s legacy and his role in establishing Zanzibar as an independent entity. Karume Day is a public holiday in Tanzania and Zanzibar. A memorial service is usually held at the grave of Zanzibar’s founding president. The ceremony involves a traditional gun salute, wreath-laying, and speeches about Karume’s legacy and accomplishments.
HISTORY OF KARUME DAY
Many people believe that Abeid Amani Karume was born in Mwera village, Zanzibar, in 1905. According to other sources, Karume was born to a slave woman from Ruanda-Urundi, and came to Zanzibar as a child. Karume, who had little formal education, became a seaman in 1920 and rose to crew leader. He later traveled to several countries around the world, including London. During his travels, he met several African thinkers, such as Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, and gained an understanding of geopolitics and international affairs.
Karume became the president of the Black African Immigrant Social Work Institute in 1957 and later formed an alliance with the Shirazi Association to establish the Afro-Shirazi Party. On December 10, 1963, Zanzibar gained independence from the British, and the Sultan of Zanzibar became a constitutional monarch. On January 12, 1964, a revolution in Zanzibar deposed the monarch and Arab elites. John Okello, a Ugandan, led the revolution, which ended the same night.
Following his takeover of the islands, Okello invited Karume to become President of the People’s Republic of Zanzibar. Okello also invited and appointed Marxist politician Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu to the Revolutionary Council. Karume used his position and political skills to move against Okello and request Tanganyikan police officers to maintain order on the islands. Karume declared Okello an “enemy of the state” and barred him from returning to the country as soon as he left.
In April 1964, Karume joined forces with Tanganyikan President Julius Nyerere. This union became the United Republic of Tanzania, with Karume becoming its first vice president. In April 1972, four gunmen assassinated Karume at the headquarters of the Afro-Shirazi Party in Zanzibar Town.