AS the 21 days of mourning late president John Magufuli end, Tanzanians today remember the first president of Zanzibar, Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume who was assassinated on April 7, 1972.
Zanzibar government organised a series of prayers, from Thursday last week for departed in Zanzibar, and the United Republic of Tanzania. Ministers were assigned to officiate at the prayers organised by various religious authorities in collaboration with relatives of the deceased in their home areas.
The climax of prayers is today when leaders, religious clerics, and ordinary people join together at the Kisiwandui area special prayers in memory of Zanzibar’s founding President Mzee Abeid Amani Karume.
According to the prayer week schedule, late Sheikh Idrissa Abdulwakil - the third president of Zanzibar, the late Aboud Jumbe - second president of Zanzibar and late union vice president Dr Omar Ali Juma were remembered in the prayers.
Prayers were also for the late former first vice-president, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, the late Ramadhani Faki - former Chief Minister; the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and the late Karume who are remembered as founding fathers of the United Republic of Tanzania.
At different occasions, State Minister- Regional Administration, Local Government and Special department Mr Masoud Ali Mohamed, and the Minister of trade and industries Mr Omar Said Shaaban, said it was important for the people to keep on remembering the deceased leaders for their work for the country.
“As we still mourn our great leader Magufuli, let us also remember our revolution hero, Mzee Karume who stood firm to free Zanzibar from colonial backed government in 1964,” Mr Mohamed said as many people talked about late Karume. Karume is remembered in many areas of development plus being a charming man with jokes, and mixing freely with people.
He enjoyed sitting with ordinary people and play the traditional mancala board game (bao), walking, and even riding a bicycle. In 1964, Karume led a successful revolution which led to the birth of the ‘Republic of Zanzibar’ and his first quick move was to initiate the formation of the current United Republic of Tanzania. Karume was swift in reforms and nation building.
He spared no effort in making sure that Zanzibaris live decent life by improvement of housing (Michenzani blocks), infrastructure development (roads, water supply, and electricity), agriculture, as he declared health and education free of charge for all Zanzibaris.
Many admired and loved late Karume for his compassion and integrity, but 49 years after the death of the Karume, but what does the future hold for Zanzibar without him? Most people here from both the opposition parties and Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) agree that late Karume was a man of people and a committed leader, whose his steps are worth following.
Normally the memorable recorded speeches of Karume are played in public radio and television, while CCM members and supporters praise him by implementing his plans. President Hussein Ali Mwinyi says all the good things started by Karume should be inherited and enhanced.
“No business as usual, and laziness should not be allowed. Karume was a hardworking leader let us do the same for our nation regardless of political differences. Leaders must be quick in finding solutions to challenges facing people,” Dr Mwinyi says.
Many people are happy with Dr Mwinyi because of his determination to ensure reliable supply of electricity and water prerequisite in achieving development goals as par national vision 2050 and Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs-2030).
Although between 1980s and 2010 people including pregnant mothers were asked to pay for the health and education services in government facilities and schools, Zanzibaris are currently enjoying free health care and education as originally declared by late Karume.
Thanks to retired President Ali Mohamed Shein for reviving the free health care and education (from primary to secondary), and the trend has been inherited by the incumbent president Hussein Ali Mwinyi.
Dr Shein who was elected the seventh president of Zanzibar in 2010, abolished labour fee for pregnant mothers before re-declared health care free of charge for all people regardless of wealth status, then followed by declaring compulsory level of education free in 2015. The free services are late Karume’s legacy.
Mr Othman Mzee, 76, a small farmer says most of the social, economic and political legacies of late Karume are being practiced now indirectly or directly and people particularly remember Karume for leaving the country safe. “The only best way to remember late Karume is by enhancing what he left particularly unity, and love among citizens, and maintaining the union between Zanzibar and mainland."
Ms Asha Mohammed, a University student said that Karume should also be remembered for his great role in fighting corruption, laziness and promoting financial discipline including workable planning and procurement.
She said “We should learn that through better planning and utilisation of public funds, late Karume managed to build modern houses (at that time) for its resident. The storey building at Michenzani, Gamba, Makunduchi, and in Pemba show late Karume’s commitment.”