The 1964 Revolution:
Lumpen or Vanguard?
A.M. BABU 1
The Zanzibar Revolution of January 12, 1964 took Africa by storm and shook the entire imperialist camp as a devastating blow to their well-planned post-colonial strategy for East Africa. The Revolution at once heralded a new era in African politics with far-reaching possibilities. It had the potential of the single spark that starts a prairie fire.
Both friends and foes were stunned by the efficacy of the event, the proficiency that had sustained it for as long as it lasted, and the resolute firmness of the revolutionaries themselves which inspired the people of the two tiny islands to take a bold stand against imperialist arrogance and bullying tactics. Moreover, it inspired the masses of the oppressed not only in East and Central Africa but practically throughout Africa and beyond, who regarded the Zanzibar Revolution as the beginning of their own revolution.
The Revolution was the culmination of a people's struggle against more than two centuries of aggression and oppression by foreigners, by slave traders, by Omani colonialism, and by seventy years of British colonialism. This struggle sometimes expressed itself positively and sometimes negatively depending on the prevailing leadership. The only consistent element throughout all those years was the people's perseverance and resolute determination to achieve a genuinely free society -- free from the shackles of slavery, of feudal landlordism and of colonial humiliation.
This struggle expressed itself negatively, as we shall see, when it had a weak and reactionary leadership which created divisions among the people to the advantage of oppressive forces. On the other hand, it expressed itself positively when it was headed by