THOUSANDS of joyous Zanzibaris and mainlanders packed Mnazi Mmoja grounds to celebrate the 57th Revolution Anniversary as the Indian Ocean semi-autonomous archipelago appears more optimistic about the future.
For the first time in over five decades, the islanders celebrated the revolution day outside the 17,000-person capacity Amaan Stadium, which the Founding Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere inaugurated on January 12, 1970.
Unlike the usual gaieties and day-lasting festivities, yesterday’s event was brief and lacked the usual exuberance due to what President Mwinyi described as budgetary constraints, with the government prioritising improvement of social services.
“I longed to have merrymakings beautifying this important day for our country...but we deemed it appropriate to redirect the budgeted money towards improvement of social service delivery,” charged the president, assuring that the frugal measures were just temporary.
Dr Mwinyi arrived at the Mnazi Mmoja grounds at 8:20am amid deafening applauses from wananchi who waved green, yellow, pink and white-coloured hand-flags that confirmed the presence of Chama Cha Mapinduzi and ACT-Wazalendo members and fans at the grounds under the government of the national unity (GNU) spirit.
But, the president neither received the 21-gun salute nor inspected the guard of honour, which is customarily mounted by the armed forces. He just received the military show and young pioneers’ brass band-led processions.
Zanzibaris had turned up in their thousands to celebrate the “great day” although the celebrations were brief, lasting for less than two hours.
In his brief greetings to wananchi, President Mwinyi reiterated his resolve to transform Zanzibar into East Africa’s business hub, pleading with all islanders to support the government crusade to widen the tax base.
The upbeat mood of the residents of Zanzibar city was stimulated by the Monday midnight fireworks at Maisara grounds on the outskirts of Stone town.
Hooting from vehicles and sea vessels were also common entertainments for the Islanders in celebrating their revolution.
Traditionally, pomp, parades by members of the security and defence forces, singing and enthusiastic wananchi characterise the revolution celebrations.
Zanzibar’s Revolution Day has great historical importance and almost all Zanzibaris celebrate it enthusiastically, with military parades, cultural dances and entertainment shows.
Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan, First Vice-President Seif Sharif Hamad, Second Vice-President Hemed Suleiman Abdallah, second-phase union President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former Zanzibar Presidents Amani Abeid Karume and Dr Ali Mohamed Shein were among the high profile attendees to the lively beamed event.
The Zanzibar Revolution occurred in 1964 and led to the overthrow of the sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab government by local African revolutionaries.
According to the official Zanzibari history, the revolution was planned and headed by the ASP leader Abeid Amani Karume, who subsequently became president of the new Zanzibar People’s Republic.