Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Sheik Abeid Karume

Abeid Amani Karume (1905 –1972) was the first President of Zanzibar. He obtained this title as a result of a revolution which led to the deposing of Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah, the last reigning Sultan of Zanzibar, 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.

Born at the village of Mwera, Zanzibar in 1905, Karume had little formal education and worked as a seaman before entering politics. He once proudly served as an oarsman for the Sultan's ceremonial barge.

In 1970, four young Persian girls refused to marry the 64-year old Karume. As a result, he ordered the arrest of 10 of their male relatives for "hindering the implementation of mixed marriages." He threatened to deport these men and dozens of other members of the Persian Ithnasheri sect to which they belonged. Because of Tanzanian President Nyerere's pressure, Karume eventually dropped the charges. However, a few months later, the 4 different Persian girls were forced to marry members of his Revolutionary Council and 11 of the girls' relatives afterwards were ordered by a judge to be imprisoned and flogged.

Karume remarked on the situation: "In colonial times the Arabs took African concubines without bothering to marry them. Now that we are in power, the shoe is on the other foot."

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