Tourism and Social Change in Post-Socialist Zanzibar : Struggles for Identity, Movement, and Civilization 9780739175446, 9780739175439

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Tourism and Social Change in Post-Socialist Zanzibar

Tourism and Social Change in Post-Socialist Zanzibar Struggles for Identity, Movement, and Civilization Akbar Keshodkar

LEXINGTON BOOKS Lanham • Boulder • New York • Toronto • Plymouth, UK

Published by Lexington Books A wholly owned subsidiary of Rowman & Littlefield 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706 10 Thornbury Road, Plymouth PL6 7PP, United Kingdom Copyright © 2013 by Lexington Books All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote passages in a review. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Information Available Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available ISBN Cloth: 978-0-7391-7543-9 (cloth : alk. paper) TM The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of American National Standard for Information Sciences Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI/NISO Z39.48-1992.

Printed in the United States of America

To Mom and Dad, Thank you for your belief and support


Acknowledgments 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8


Introduction: Conceptualizing Movement and Identity in Zanzibar Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari: Negotiating Religion, Ethnicity, Race, and Civilization Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar: Identity Politics in the Era of Tourism Moving Through the Tourism Landscape: The Struggle for Work and Pursuit of Prosperity Contesting Models of Modernity: New Landscapes of Consumption, Mobility and Islam Movement of Haya and Heshima: Emerging Discourses of Gender, Dress and Intimacy The Role of Kinship: Movement in Family Relations and Marriage Strategies Conclusion: The Struggle for Civilization

Glossary Bibliography Index About the Author

1 25 55 87 111 139 165 193 207 211 221 235



Zanzibar may be a very small place, but its people have some of the biggest hearts in the world. I am immensely grateful to all the Zanzibaris who have allowed me to become a part of their lives in different capacities over the past twelve years and for sharing their views about their own lives as well as the state of affairs in Zanzibar. Many of them started out as respondents, but over time, some have became close friends that I cherish dearly. In respecting local norms of haya and heshima, which emphasize not disclosing publicly what should remain concealed I am using pseudonyms to discuss the views offered by all my respondents in this book. I apologize for not being able to thank them here individually, but would like to express my deepest gratitude to them for their friendship and all their support in helping me truly enjoy my experience in Zanzibar for over a decade. Every time I talk with Zanzibaris about my research, they always convey that my analysis should highlight their concerns, as individuals and society at a time when they face growing socio-economic and political instability. In writing this book, I hope that I have done justice to highlight their conditions and concerns to the broader world. In Zanzibar, I would like to highlight the support of two institutions that were instrumental in facilitating my ability to carry out research there. I am indebted to the Zanzibar National Archives and its staff for all their assistance at various periods over the past decade and for sponsoring my research permits in Zanzibar. Members of the archives library were very helpful in assisting me acquire access to various resources at the archives and also for directing me to various individuals within the society and government institutions to carry out aspects of my research. The archives was often the only place to come across other researchers in Zanzibar, and for that access, I am quite grateful to them. I would also like to express my appreciation to Dr. Abdul Sheriff and the Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute (ZIORI) for granting me access to their facilities and library, where I came across various resources, particularly numerous doctoral thesis related to Zanzibar in Dr. Sheriff’s private collection, which I was unable to locate elsewhere. Over the course of working on this project, I have come across countless number of scholars who have helped shaped my interests within the discipline and in relation to Zanzibar. First, I would like to express my ix



utmost indebtedness to my teacher, the late Mohammad Arkoun, for encouraging me, through our wonderful conversations, to abandon Islamic philosophy for anthropology. This has been one decision that I have never regretted. In terms of my anthropological training, I want to acknowledge and thank Paul Dresch, Wendy James and David Parkin for guiding my development within the discipline. In the field, I am grateful to all the scholars with whom I have had the opportunity to discuss my research and learn of their work in Zanzibar. Such discussions at the Zanzibar National Archives and outside, over tea, dinner, at Forodhani, or away from Zanzibar—at conferences, have made passage of time in Zanzibar more meaningful and special for me. An integral component for carrying out any form of research is access to adequate funding. For this, I would like acknowledge the support I received from the Aga Khan Foundation for funding the initial stages of the research in Zanzibar. I would also like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences at Zayed University for providing some professional development funds over the past three years which enabled me to periodically travel to Zanzibar. I have tried to publish aspects of my research on Zanzibar over the past several years. In this book, I have tried to consolidate aspects of those publications. I would like to thank the journal, Encounters, for granting me permission to reprint parts of an article that was published in one of its volumes into this book. Writing this book has been an arduous task and it would have been impossible for me to reach this point without support from professional colleagues. I am extremely indebted to my friend and colleague, James Toth, for reading earlier drafts of the manuscript and providing critical comments and additional guidance for shaping the final text. I coincidently met James as a result of his trip to Zanzibar. We were in Zanzibar at the same time but did not meet there. We actually met in the UAE. The humorous remarks embedded throughout his feedback helped me maintain my sanity through the writing and editing process. I would also like to thank another colleague, Rafael Ruiz-Reyes, at Zayed University, for reading earlier versions of the manuscript and offering his invaluable feedback. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the reviewers who read the manuscript and for offering insightful comments and suggestions for the revision process. Their feedback has enabled me to add greater clarity to my arguments and expand the scope of some of the issues discussed in the book.



Last, but not least, I want to thank my family members from the bottom of my heart for their continuous patience, support, understanding and love throughout this process. Mom and dad’s financial support has been as important as their emotional support at various stages of this research project. I also want to thank my siblings for all their continuing support and encouragement. My wife has also been generously forgiving for all the times I have failed at fulfilling various responsibilities because of the time taken up in completing this project. I want to thank her and my two wonderful children, who are my life, for their love and patience on all those occasions when research and writing took on a greater priority. I also want to apologize to them for missing family vacations and other social events over the past few years and running off to Zanzibar to carry out fieldwork. I look forward to taking them to Zanzibar in the near future, when I am not preoccupied with fieldwork, so I can show them the beauty that I always found and admired in Zanzibar and its people.

ONE Introduction Conceptualizing Movement and Identity in Zanzibar

“People here seem like Arabs but don’t really look like Africans. So, what are they?” 1

Forodhani, the old customs jetty overlooking Zanzibar Channel at the edge of Zanzibar Stone Town, was converted into a local park and inaugurated as Jubilee Gardens in 1935 in honor of the silver jubilees of George V, the British king, and Sultan Khalifa, the Omani ruler of Zanzibar, an archipelago composed of two main islands, Unguja (popular identified as Zanzibar proper) and Pemba, situated off the coast of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean. Zanzibaris have continued to use Forodhani as the place to come and relax and enjoy the sea breeze in the evenings (Kippel 1998: 8). Through the course of the day different age groups dominate the park (Ibid. 12), with old men often sitting around and discussing the ways of the world during the day hours, followed by families and their children visiting the park in the early evenings and the youth loitering around in the night. The park is busiest in the evenings, when one part of Forodhani becomes a local food court, serving an array of cheap local cuisine. Over the past two decades the growing presence of tourists has transformed the park landscape. During the high tourist season, from June through early September and mid-December to end of February, tourists, tour operators, and beach boys 2 frequently outnumber locals at Forodhani in the evenings. 3 For tourists, visiting Forodhani offers an opportunity to access a popular location frequented by locals and bypass the growing number of expensive restaurants in Zanzibar and indulge in a cheap, local meal. 4 Over the course of their visit to Forodhani, as they eat, drink 5 and take pictures of the food and with local men working behind the 1


Chapter 1

food stalls, 6 tourists are often engaged in bargaining for services offered by beach boys or trying to escape from them. In 2009, more than US$2 million was spent on restoring Forodhani Park by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a Non-Government Organization (NGO) based in Switzerland. 7 The restoration transformed the physical orientation of the park. There are now specific areas designated for sitting, with stone benches lined along the sea wall as well as throughout the park and paved areas cover the ground previously dominated by dirt and uneven patches of grass. There now exists a children’s playing area, accessible for a small fee. The darkness which previously dominated the park at night and was only partially lifted by the light from lanterns on food stalls has now been replaced by lamp posts situated throughout the park. Furthermore, to make the park more appealing to tourists, new rules and regulations developed and enforced by the local municipality restrict food vendors to sell food only in one part of the park and require them to wear aprons and chef hats. The other side of the park is dedicated to public use and enjoyment. Prior to this restoration project, which commenced in January 2008, this side of the park, away from the food stalls, had been beset by makonde 8 vendors, who sold wood carvings, beads, souvenirs and other arts and crafts from mainland Africa sought after by tourists. The majority of these makonde vendors were migrant workers that traveled to Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania to sell these goods. Selling their goods in Forodhani provided them easy access to tourists. On the evening of 26 September 2001, the local police raided the area of the park occupied by the makonde vendors. Accusing the vendors of not having permits to sell their goods in Forodhani, the police confiscated all the makonde goods and loaded them in a lorry to be taken away. The vendors surrounded the police and pleaded for their goods to be released, as it was their only source of livelihood. The police refused to listen and as the lorry was about to drive away, the vendors surrounded it and refused to move. The makonde vendors raised their objection in unison, but to no avail. One police officer responded by raising his rifle and without notice shot two rounds in the air, forcing all the vendors to flee. This cleared the way for the lorry to move and as it sped away from the park, the vendors ran after it, shouting, wezi, “thieves.” As these events were unfolding, tourists and locals on the other side of the park remained either unaware or disinterested in the predicament of the makonde vendors and continued to enjoy the local cuisine. One local respondent indignantly remarked, “I hope they will finally kick those mainlanders out.” Immediately after the raid, all the vendors gathered to discuss their strategy to deal with the confiscation of their goods. As they were busy commiserating the loss of their goods, I found, Yona, a young Maasai acquaintance in his 20s from Arusha, 9 mainland Tanzania, who migrated



with his family to engage in business activities in Zanzibar, and inquired about the events of the evening. He responded that this problem was caused by the local Manispaa, “municipality.” He argued that mainlanders have always had problems in Zanzibar because they are African and Christians and that Zanzibaris hated mainlanders, not wanting them around to conduct business in Zanzibar. He then went on to indicate that Zanzibaris had the right to travel to the mainland and live and work there, but Zanzibaris did not want to reciprocate and grant the same privileges to mainlanders in Zanzibar. On the claim of being Tanzanian, Yona emphasized that he had the right to come and work in Zanzibar but this remained problematic since Zanzibaris always tried to harass them. 10 For the next two days after the raid, the side of the park previously dominated by makonde vendors remained free of any commercial activities. Some local Zanzibari families returned and reoccupied the void space. However, on the third day, the makonde vendors were back in Forodhani in larger numbers than before, once again selling their goods. I immediately tracked down Yona to inquire how the makonde vendors returned in light of what had taken place just a couple of days before. He responded that after the raid, the makonde vendors contacted the office of Amani Karume, the President of Zanzibar, 11 who was also a member of the CCM (Chama Cha Mapunduzi, the Revolutionary Party), and the ruling party in Zanzibar as well as on the mainland. A letter was then immediately sent out to the local police instructing them to allow the makonde vendors to conduct their business in peace. With the intervention and support from the president’s office, they no longer had any problems conducting their business activities in Zanzibar. This event reflects one aspect of the antagonism that now prevails between Zanzibaris and newly arriving mainlanders in Zanzibar in the post-socialist era. 12 Political subjugation and economic domination of Zanzibar by mainland Tanzania, rising levels of poverty experienced by majority of Zanzibaris, and growing religious tensions between the predominately Muslim population of Zanzibar 13 and Christians arriving from the mainland represent new strands of identity politics in Zanzibar which surfaced during and in the aftermath of this raid. It brought to the forefront emerging questions of who controls Zanzibar and what is the position of those who identify themselves as Zanzibari within the postsocialist milieu. The identity discourse in Zanzibar lies within the broader historical processes on the isles in the course of which people of different ethnic and racial origins living in Zanzibar have moved through the local landscape and experienced different and divided social realities. An integral dimension of this discourse has historically been formulated through association to other places, such as Arabia and other littoral societies around the Indian Ocean, in addition to Zanzibar. As Zanzibaris have moved through the local landscape, these multiple identities have facili-


Chapter 1

tated the evolution of the competing local discourse of ustaarabu, “civilization” within this particular contested historical experience. Trade has been a major source of movement of people and social ideologies for over two millennia, bringing Zanzibaris into contact with societies from throughout the Indian Ocean region, including the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, South-East Asia, and mainland and Southern Africa (Alpers 1975, Chaudhuri 1985, Horton and Middleton 2000, Nurse and Spear 1985). Swahili culture and language evolved over centuries on the East African coast out of interaction between these peoples (Horton and Middleton 2000: 12, Nurse and Spear 1985: 31). 14 Belief and practice of Islam emerged as a primary marker for defining identity and ustaarabu from this interaction (Middleton 1992). With the arrival of the Busaidi Sultanate from Oman in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries 15 and the subsequent cultivation of the clove cash crop in Zanzibar, new groups of people moved through the islands. Most of the new arrivals were brought from mainland Africa to work, first as slaves on plantations and then as laborers and squatters after abolition in the late 1800s (Glassman 2011: 47). They were also joined by Asian 16 merchants and traders from India, who accompanied the Omani Sultans to assist with exportation of ivory and slaves and in search of new business opportunities (Gregory 1993a: 1). Thereafter, the arrival of British colonial rule in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century 17 transformed the islands by introducing new policies that abolished slavery but simultaneously categorized the people of Zanzibar according to a racially based hierarchy, with Arabs 18 deemed superior to Africans (Bennett 1978: 184). Within this milieu, proximity to Arab ancestry and disassociation from any origins in Africa emerged as additional features for distinguishing ustaarabu in Zanzibar. Subsequently, the rise of anti-colonialism, Pan-Africanism, the age of racial politics 19 in the 1950s (Glassman 2000), independence in 1963 and the events of the 1964 Revolution facilitated the emergence of new markers of difference for articulating identities in Zanzibar. The 1964 Revolution marked a new period in Zanzibar’s history. Numerous groups of people were expelled from Zanzibar after the revolution, mostly Arabs and Asians, who were now politically defined as illegitimate and subsequently socially and economically marginalized (Larsen 2004: 131). The new revolutionary government formed a union with Tanganyika, establishing the country of Tanzania, under the leadership of Abeid Karume and Julius Nyerere. 20 Under this union, Zanzibar surrendered its autonomy and sovereignty, becoming a vassal state less than five months after acquiring independence. 21 The new orientation of Zanzibar toward Africa and the shift in political power from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam 22 (Saleh 2004: 150) marginalized the centrality previously enjoyed by notions of Arabness and to some extent, Islam, for constructing ustaarabu. These markers of belonging in Zanzibar, which evolved and



were shaped by networks of transnational Indian Ocean trade over centuries were forsaken for the demands of the new post-colonial African nation state (cf. Hofmeyr 2012: 585). Under the new regime, notions of mila, “custom,” desturi, “tradition,” and utamaduni, “culture” emphasizing an orientation toward Africa acquired greater prominence for defining ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. Policies of the new African government also restricted the social and economic movements of people and commodities in and out of Zanzibar. The ability of Zanzibaris to trade and interact with people from other areas of the Indian Ocean within the new political discourse became severely restricted and only improved with the liberalization of the political economy in the mid-1980s. However, despite the renewed access to trade and engagement with the wider world, Zanzibar remains politically controlled by the mainland government. This continuing marginalization has shaped the new identity struggle of being wazanzibari, “a person with loyalties toward Zanzibar,” versus being wazanzibara, “showing greater loyalties to the union with Tanganyika” (Cameron 2004: 114). 23 The rising discord between the mainland and Zanzibar is further facilitated by movements of new groups of people from mainland Africa through the Zanzibar landscape in the post-socialist era. With the decline of the clove industry in the 1970s and the subsequent liberalization of the economy in the 1980s, the ruling authoritarian regime, with input only from local elites, turned toward developing tourism in Zanzibar to serve as the primary source of foreign exchange and income to help the isles survive and sustain itself in the new global economy (SMZ 1983b: 2). Promotion of tourism has since fueled a new era of corruption and has become a vital source of revenue for the regime to remain in power (Keshodkar 2005). Over a span of 25 years, tourist arrivals to Zanzibar increased from 19,368 in 1985 to approximately 175,000 in 2011 24 (Source: Zanzibar Commission for Tourism). 25 With this growth in tourism, increasing number of people from mainland Africa, from Tanzania, Kenya, and even as far as from South Africa have also now started migrating to Zanzibar in search of employment and economic prosperity. This largescale migration of mainlanders has substantially impacted the demographic orientation of Zanzibar society in the post-socialist era. Between 1988 and 2002, Zanzibar’s population increased by over fifty percent, from 640,578 to 981,754. Approximations of the 2012 census further suggested that Zanzibar’s population exceeded 1.25 million people (SMZ 2010: 23), thus doubling the islands’ population in less than 25 years. The impact of these different movements, over different time periods, have continuously transformed the local landscape and in the process affected local constructions of belonging. They have facilitated the “strangeness” (cf. Simmel 1971) of Zanzibaris toward each other. Ideas of ustaarabu have also been contested and evolved within this historical experience. While originating in an ethnic and racial discourse, I contend


Chapter 1

that the revived centrality of Islam, preservation of utamaduni and desturi for governing social behavior of local inhabitants, importance of kinship relations and distinguishing oneself as a wazanzibari represent emerging strands for formulating ustaarabu in contemporary Zanzibar. With the large scale migration of new groups of people to Zanzibar, socio-economic processes associated with the growth of tourism, pursuit of a modern life, neo-liberal capitalism, and secularism in the post-socialist era, and the continuing hegemony of the mainland government, the centrality of and the means for preserving ustaarabu to constitute how Zanzibaris identify themselves faces new challenges. Drawing on the works of Pierre Bourdieu on social distinctions (1984) and James Clifford on routes (1997), this book analyzes how these developments in the post-socialist era, now dominated by tourism and the consumption based capitalist economy, impact the ability of Zanzibaris to move through the local landscape, develop new means to re-articulate aspects of their identities within emerging social discourses and embed new meanings for shaping ideas of belonging and ustaarabu for defining their place in contemporary Zanzibar. As Zanzibaris strive to move through the post-socialist landscape, they are pursuing new “routes” to establish their “roots” (cf. Clifford 1992, 1997) for formulating ideas of belonging and preserving ustaarabu. Social interaction between foreigners arriving within the post-socialist era and the local population is giving rise to new forms of social behavior, values, and consumption patterns in Zanzibar society. For those who work in environments catering to the needs of tourists, new socio-economic opportunities have emerged that were inaccessible in the past to move through the social landscape and reformulate aspects of their identities. During previous periods of prosperity on the islands, most recently during the reign of the Omani Sultans prior to the 1964 Revolution, the plantation economy benefited primarily the Omani Arab aristocracy and left the majority of the population impoverished (Sheriff 1991b: 134). However, with the liberalization of the economy since the 1980s, which now facilitates the movements of people and commodities in and out of Zanzibar, new opportunities are accessible for different groups of people to try to develop different dispositions, habitus, and construct new socioeconomic distinctions over time (cf. Bourdieu 1984) to rearticulate aspects of their identities as Zanzibaris. These dispositions facilitate the pursuit of new routes for articulating different Zanzibari roots. Access to different forms of social and economic capital has historically facilitated the ability of Zanzibaris to move through the local landscape. Endowed with various forms of capital, Zanzibaris from different socio-economic and ethnic groups have acquired diverging dispositions and constructed new distinctions to formulate their identities. For example, the ability of Swahili Zanzibaris to identify themselves as Arab, and more specifically, Omani, in the past facilitated specific forms of move-



ments and ability to develop distinctions inaccessible to those labeled as Africans. Conversion to Islam, abolition of slavery and racial policies implemented the British provided access to new forms of capital for Swahili Zanzibaris to move into and establish spaces of social centrality and re-articulate their identities. Emerging social discourses associated with tourism and modernization in the post-socialist era now provides Zanzibaris access to new forms of capital to facilitate their movements. The forthcoming analysis evaluates the extent to which different Zanzibaris are able or unable to access new forms of capital within the post-socialist environment dominated by tourism which then facilitates or restricts their ability to acquire dispositions to move through re-appropriated public and private spaces 26 and shape the distinctions for formulating new routes to articulate their roots at different levels within different existing social institutions of Zanzibar society. In the past, when foreigners from around the Indian Ocean traveled to Zanzibar, they predominantly settled on the islands, integrating themselves into the social fabric of the society. Islam and the claims of Arab ancestry became integrated into Zanzibar society over centuries (Middleton 1992, Sheriff 1987) and gave shape to the evolving discourse of ustaarabu. In contrast, those visiting Zanzibar today stay for a much shorter period of time, leaving either after their vacations have come to an end, in the case of tourists, or in the case of those coming from mainland, returning home when they have accumulated enough wealth to pursue opportunities there. Yet, their movement through the local landscape during their short stay has had an astonishing impact on Zanzibar society. Aided by advancements in technology and modern modes of travel and the various dimensions of global cultural flows (cf. Appadurai 2000), the rate and nature of movement of tourists and migrants in and out of Zanzibar is more rapid than anything ever experienced by the locals before, and far more consequential on the lives of Zanzibaris in this era of globalization. The growing presence of tourists and mainlanders in the post-socialist era further limits access to social spaces that locals previously dominated. The events at Forodhani described at the outset of this chapter offers one example of how Zanzibaris have to increasingly compete for space today. The social production of space provides both the condition for and the symbolic representation of different types of social interaction (Levine 1979: 21) for articulating identities, which are shaped and remade through lived experience, constituted by means of everyday practices (De Certeau 1984). Taking this perspective, I evaluate how the everyday lives of Zanzibaris are changing and in turn affecting their ability to acquire new forms of social and financial capital to facilitate their movements and develop dispositions for articulating their identities in different social spaces. Simultaneously, I examine how the inability of those who are unable to access different forms of social and financial capital within the new social milieu limits their movements through different spaces, and


Chapter 1

with it, the extent to which they can re-formulate their identities. Through this analysis of movements at different levels of Zanzibar society, I propose that to understand any framework of social change, it is necessary to comprehend the nature of movements that are taking place or are restricted in any given space/time that facilitate social change. Movement is fundamental to modern conceptions of identity, as people conceive their lives in terms of constantly moving between relations, people, things, groups and societies (Rapport and Dawson 1998: 33). Socio-economic processes give rise to the different forms of capital (Bourdieu 1984) which facilitate the ability of individuals to move, either as a physical act or as a cognitive exercise for defining consciousness, through different social spaces. Moreover, the continuous production and consumption of social space enables different people to construct their own realities and meanings (Low 1996: 862). With different forms of movements, new spaces are reproduced from existing spaces (cf. Lefebvre 1991: 167) and endowed with a specific value, filled with a particular meaning (Smith 1987: 28) to shape identities articulated within that space. Furthermore, given that all spaces remain interconnected in relative hierarchical power relations (Gupta and Ferguson 1992: 8), any representation of one cannot exist without other, different spaces. Consequently, different forms of movements through these spaces facilitate the rise of new meanings and realities, and in the process, new identities, which are continuously shaped and re-shaped. Since social relations and access to capital vary from one individual to another, there always remains abundant forms of movements through given spaces within which individuals can develop a multiplicity of meanings for articulating their identities. In the post-socialist era, means of cultural production associated with tourism, the neo-liberal economy and the politics of the union facilitate new forms of movements through the Zanzibar landscape. These social processes simultaneously emphasize new modes of immobility and exclusion for those unable or unwilling to acquire various forms social and financial capital. Within this environment, means for identifying oneself as a Zanzibari and preserving ustaarabu and utamaduni are again being reformulated. For some, the presence of tourism is changing Zanzibar culture, while for others, there is no difference, and then there are those who argue that Zanzibar culture is now dying (Saleh 2004: 152-53). The emergence of new modes of conspicuous consumptions enables some to make distinctions on the basis of socio-economic mobility. With the arrival of labor migrants from mainland Africa, many Zanzibaris also increasingly feel the need to defend the islands from their growing presence and influence and to demand autonomy from the prevailing hegemony of mainland Tanzania, and in the process, to revive the debate surrounding the controversial political union (Killian 2008, Shivji 2008). Each of these views is tied down to specific social positions and identities of individuals within shared spaces. The power and capital accessible to them in



these spaces dictates how their identities are rearticulated within the various social discourses. All identities are constructed within specific relations of power (Foucault 1980, Mason 2004). Power facilitates the rise of various distinctions that operate within specific spaces for formulating identities and giving rise to different cultural forms. Those who can, move into positions to exercise power and construct the world—of attributing meaning to space, objects, and time, and of interpreting the meaning of them—and develop systems of classification through which they express and reproduce their status, power and dominance (cf. Lawrence 1996: 14). The post-socialist era has given rise to new discourses of power in Zanzibar, at the level of political competition, the manner in which the state governs its people, the freedom of movement now accessible to women, revival of Islamic religiosity, and socio-economic mobility. These discourses of power facilitate access to new forms of social and financial capital to move in the post-socialist milieu. They have also re-appropriated certain social spaces where there is now increasing interaction between men and women in this traditionally segregated society, as well as between different ethnic and racial groups. Consequently, the extent to which Zanzibaris exercise power accessible to them in different social spaces facilitates the acquisition of new social dispositions to create exclusions and difference for distinguishing themselves from others around them. It is in these re-appropriated spaces that Zanzibaris, as men and women, and as members of different ethnic groups competing in the same spaces, are reformulating different aspects of their identities as Zanzibaris. In the course of this exploration, I will illustrate how and to what degree different forms of movements (or lack of it) taking place today are in turn changing how different Zanzibaris are rearticulating their identities and at the same time, developing new means for perceiving and categorizing other Zanzibaris around them. The formation of identity in any social context is a strategic and positional activity, constructed through marking differences and exclusions between notions of “self” and “other” (Abrams and Waldren 1997: 4). In the process of demarcating boundaries between the self and other, identities provide a source of meaning and experience for the individuals and groups involved (cf. Castells 2001: 6). Constructed in time and space, all identities are also situated within a given field of contending cultural discourses (Calhoun 1994: 12), each highlighting on association with a particular place—the space in which they are constructed and performed (cf. Hetherington 1998: 105). Moreover, for multiple identities to exist, they must remain flexible and cannot be rooted to any one place (Giddens 1991). As hybrid and mobile, due to unstable relation of differences (Gupta and Ferguson 1997: 13), multiple identities emerge in different social spaces. As such, identities become situational and particular iden-


Chapter 1

tities serve as guidelines for social behavior in different social environments (cf. Schlee 1989: 234). Constructions of identities with reference to one particular place remain problematic for Zanzibaris because of their different origins. Zanzibar is home today to many groups of people who have come to Zanzibar over centuries, including people from mainland Africa, the Arabian peninsula, other parts of the Middle East, South Asia, Comoros, and other island communities in the western Indian Ocean. These groups maintain their putative external places of origin as an aspect of the multiple identities they possess in different social spaces in Zanzibar. However, for the earliest inhabitants who originally migrated from the East African coast (Bennett 1978: 3) and identify themselves as Wahadimu (from Unguja), Wapemba (from Pemba) and Watumbatu (from Tumbatu island, situated next to Unguja), how they consolidate and articulate their African and non-African genealogies has impacted and continues to shape their identities in Zanzibar society. For these Zanzibaris, categorized as representing the core of the Swahili community in Zanzibar, 27 the emergence of new spaces and cultural discourses within the post-socialist milieu offers new means to rearticulate aspects of their identities. As Swahilis have moved through the Zanzibar landscape in relations to other ethnic groups, sharing and competing for social centrality in similar social spaces, the use of the term Swahili, as a term of self-identification, has diminished drastically. The Swahili of Zanzibar, composing the majority of the Zanzibari population, use their assumed places of origin as one means of identification in certain social spaces. While the use of the term as a means of self-identification has diminished in certain social spaces, it is often used to describe others, primarily in a derogatory manner (Amory 1994: 67, Blommart 1994: 80). Over the decade in which I have interacted with Swahili respondents in Zanzibar, an overwhelming majority of them identified themselves, in their interaction with me, according to designations such as Shirazi, 28 Wahadimu and Wapemba instead of Swahili. I never asked them the question, “Are you Swahili?” or “would you identify yourself as Swahili?” for asking such questions itself imposed limits on responses they could offer. Instead, in offering them the flexibility to designate their own means of self-identification, the question I always asked was, “how would you identify yourself?” In response, not one of my Swahili respondents chose to identify themselves as Swahili. At that juncture, I brought up the notion of the Swahili identity and some adamantly denied associations of being Swahili, while others expressed reluctant ambivalence to such designation on the argument that they did share certain customs and the language with the Swahili. 29 One respondent bluntly indicated, “We are speakers of the Swahili language, like all Arabs and Indians in Zanzibar, but that should not make us Swahili. They (Arabs and Indians) have also intermarried with other races, but would you consider them Swahili? If not, then why us?” 30



Though these respondents might continue to identify themselves as Swahili in (public and private) spaces shared with other local Swahilis, in many instances, they overwhelmingly used the term to refer to someone else, usually beggars and others in society whose behavior they considered uncivilized. The Swahili community in Zanzibar has traditionally articulated their identities not with reference to a specific place, but rather, on the basis of genealogy and descent (Horton and Middleton 2000: 17), creating a hierarchical social structure on the basis of privileged ancestry originating in Arabia (Ibid. 19). However, in early twentieth century, social processes resulting from abolition of slavery and racial policies instituted by the British led many African ex-slaves in Zanzibar to identify themselves as Swahili in order to acquire social prominence in this ethnically demarcated society. The Swahili identity, centered on this idea of Arab-centrism (Glassman 2011: 55) subsequently became a euphemism for former slaves (Fair 2001: 35) and its use disappeared by the mid-twentieth century (Glassman 2011: 55). As the term Swahili became more associated with slavery and in light of privileges designated for “non-Africans” by the British, the Swahili began identifying themselves as Shirazi, Hadimu, Wapemba and Watumbatu in order to acquired privileged positions over those identified as Africans (Chachage 2000: 28, Fair 2001: 52, Glassman 2011: 50-52). With centuries of racial intermarriage, the British failed to recognized that various ethnicities in Zanzibar had dissolved and were absorbed, thus making race an unreliable indicator for identification of difference in Zanzibar (Killian 2008: 101). 31 Consequently, the accepted understanding of Swahili culture became structured around essential binary racial terms, African versus Arab (Glassman 2011: 300) and the extent to which the Swahili have been able to move between these demarcations has shaped their ability to position themselves within the ustaarabu discourse in different social spaces (further discussed in chapter two). Questions of memory and identity remain central to the identity discourse in Zanzibar (Burgess 2009: 2). Given the multiple identities that people in Zanzibar can employ to identify themselves in different social environments, one identity that subsumes all of the islands’ inhabitants is that of being Zanzibari. Under British colonial rule, the Nationality Decree of 1958 defined a citizen of Zanzibar as one who either acquired nationality by birth, descent or naturalization within the domain of the Sultan (Ramadhan 2000: 64). After the 1964 Revolution, the ruling revolutionary state re-defined the concept of citizenship, declaring that only a person with at least one African 32 parent could be citizen of Zanzibar (Amory 1994: 127). Notions of race occupied centrality for conceptualizing ustaarabu within the new political milieu. With new social processes facilitating the movements of different groups of people through the Zanzibar landscape in the post-socialist era, some Zanzibaris are acquiring


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dispositions to rearticulate the significance of race for formulating ustaarabu and reasserting their non-African origins. Their movements, or lack of it, dictate the dispositions they can develop for asserting notions of social exclusion and difference from others around them and articulating themselves as Swahili and as Zanzibari. For Zanzibaris, fields of the contending cultural discourses that serve as a site for performance of new identities in the post-socialist era are spaces in which they are moving and interacting with tourists. In a society where one aspect of the identity is increasingly formulated on the basis of religion, new social modes of production and consumption now promote varying levels of secularization and individualism, which is leading many Zanzibari elders to proclaim that their culture is rapidly deteriorating and dying. While elders spend prayer time in the mosque, the youth, primarily those from economically impoverished homes, are increasingly found in clubs, bars, and on the streets in pursuit of income opportunities by providing various services to tourists (discussed in chapters three and four). Economic hardships have also forced many local women, historically confined to the domestic environment and secluded from strangers, to now move through the public sphere in search of employment to support their families. By virtue of their presence in public spaces, they can now engage in new forms of gender interaction (discussed in chapter six and seven). The development of the lucrative tourist and capitalist economy and rising levels of corruption to maintain the ruling regime’s monopoly over it has also created spaces where a new political and ideological struggle between the “Zanzibarization” versus “Africanization” of Zanzibar 33 has been revived (discussed in chapter three). This struggle was most recently shaped by the events of the 1964 Revolution as a result of which Arabs and Asians were expelled from Zanzibar (discussed in chapter two). The Arabs, Asians and other minorities that remained behind as well as other Swahili Zanzibaris who have access to family networks outside of Zanzibar are now able to use these resources, which remained inaccessible during the 20 years of socialist rule following the revolution, to re-establish their economic and social positions in Zanzibar (Saleh 2004: 153, Keshodkar 2010). However, for the majority of Swahili Zanzibaris, lack of economic opportunities in postsocialist era have increased their hardships and introduced new forms of class, gender, ethnic and socio-economic inequalities. Unable to find employment and engage in new forms of consumption now prominent, many of them live in abject poverty. These emerging circumstances limit their movements through specific spaces within which they negotiate their place and identities as Zanzibaris. Consequently, the growing inequalities restrict how they can conceptualize new social models for articulating ustaarabu and with it, ideas about Zanzibari culture. Every Zanzibari maintains distinct ideas of Zanzibari culture, shaped by their specific historical, religious, ethnic, educational and gendered



experience. As each Zanzibari strives to move through the local landscape, their pursuit in maintaining and preserving this “culture” is shaped by the “routes” that articulate specific Zanzibari “roots.” Access to capital facilitates the routes for formulating various roots. However, these routes are developed in conjunction and negotiation with movements of others through the same spaces. Those with capital maintain localization (social centrality) within spaces in which the capital facilitates the formation of specific distinctions, while those lacking capital are subject to displacement (marginalization) in those spaces. Subsequently, as individuals move, with different forms of capital occupying prominence in different spaces, the extent to which they can access capital in other spaces dictates their localized or displaced positions within other spaces. Consequently, with every form of movement, there remains a constant shift between localization and displacement. In light of this ‘nomadism’ (Braidotti 1994), movement results in de-territorialization of identities (cf. Gupta and Ferguson 1992: 9) and facilitates the articulation of multiple identities, each one taking precedence in different spaces and social contexts. Furthermore, this shifting between localization and displacement gives rise to new social models for articulating identities and reveals different interpretations of the same (perceived) history (cf. Braudel 1980: 40). Shifting between ideas of centrality and marginalization has shaped the identity discourse in Zanzibar, as Zanzibaris strive to localize themselves to the islands and at the same time, hold an ideological nostalgic longing for their place of origin (Larsen 2004: 123) which in many instances they have never known. For example, many Omanis and Asians in Zanzibar have only lived in Zanzibar for generations. Yet, they maintain their associations with Oman and India as integral dimensions of their identities in Zanzibar. Similarly, association of Shirazis to Iran enables them to articulate specific identities in Zanzibar. These perceived places of origin outside of Zanzibar, and in some instances, distant from Africa, have facilitated their movements at different periods in Zanzibar history. During the era of British rule, when colonial racial policies displaced Swahili Zanzibaris, the extent to which they rearticulated themselves as Shirazi, Wahadimu, Wapemba and Watumbatu provided them with new means to localize themselves within the prevailing social discourse (Fair 2001: 51, discussed in chapter two). Through their movements within the ethnic, social, and racial Zanzibar landscape, they continue to move between spaces of social centrality and displacement and articulate their different identities accordingly. The growing influence of tourism and interaction with tourists has introduced new modes of centrality and displacement in the lives of Zanzibaris today. The vacation represents something out of the ordinary for tourists, an experience removing them from their ordinary day-to-day life (cf. Graburn 1978: 19). Living in liminality, tourists remain in a state


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of displacement—they do not belong to the culture they visit and have stepped out beyond the bounds of their ordinary social reality (cf. Crick 1989: 332). Accordingly, their perceived ‘contact zone’(cf. Pratt 1992) with Zanzibaris is in a society in which they are displaced and they will only re-acquire social centrality after they leave and return to their places of origin. However, tourists are able to establish spaces of social centrality within the Zanzibar landscape by virtue of the financial resources accessible them during their visit, a capital which many Zanzibaris lack and desperately need for survival (discussed in chapter three), the inequities promoted by the global flow of money (cf. Mowforth and Munt 2009) and unplanned and unregulated tourism development by the local authorities. This centrality allows tourists to occupy Forodhani Park in the evenings during the tourist season and transform a concourse area for the local population for new forms of consumption. With tourists enjoying these new positions of social centrality within the Zanzibar landscape, Zanzibaris consider themselves displaced in spaces in which they previously considered themselves localized. It is such forms of marginalization that Zanzibaris increasingly experience in the presence of tourists and other outsiders which has led many of them to suggest that their “culture is dying.” “Culture” is context, the framework within which social life can be intelligibly described (Geertz 1973: 14). It shows itself as inclusive, formed from shared values, or as exclusive, to represent what is not shared, involving layering, conjunctions and juxtapositions that yield a particular pattern as instances of its own processes (cf. Strathern 1995: 161). The idea of culture as process, which is constantly moving articulates how at different times, in different social spaces, these particular complex patterns of culture evolve and transform for those sharing or competing in common spaces, and how they change as the actors involved move in and out of these spaces. As numerous actors move or have their movements restricted through appropriated and re-appropriated spaces, multiple social models of society and the position of the actors in the inter-connected spaces contribute to the formulation of new identities. The articulation of these identities within different prevailing social discourses brings forth multiple models for contemplating ideas of “culture.” Islam, dominance of Arabs, slavery, Omani and British colonialism, Pan-Africanism, the struggle for independence, the 1964 Revolution and the imposition of socialism historically embedded a variety of meanings at different levels of society for shaping distinctive ideas of Zanzibari culture. In the post-socialist era, practices associated with tourism, new ideas about a modern life, global media, socio-economic mobility tied to the neo-liberal economy, conspicuous consumption, and the Tanzanian union political discourse, appropriate new meanings in different spaces in which Zanzibaris are contesting emerging ideas of culture. Historical



discourses of ustaarabu and utamaduni are embedded with new meanings within these discourses and are reformulated to reflect the changing lives of Zanzibaris today. As Zanzibaris strive to move through these spaces, the extent to which they can move today facilitates the development of dispositions to re-articulate specific identities. Framed within their specific historical experiences, they are embarking upon new routes to legitimize specific roots for consolidating emerging notions of Zanzibari culture. Every form of movement is subject to the power that structures that space (Bourdieu 1984: 110). The ability of individuals to exercise power formulates structures of dominance which attribute specific meanings to a social space and determine the cultural practices within that space. These specific cultural practices arise out of the combination of dispositions, habitus, which are shaped by social capital accessible to individuals within a specific field of social relations (Ibid. 101). Habitus mediates the social experience and conditions of all in a given social context (Ibid. 170) and through specific dispositions, facilitates appropriation of cultural products, distinctions, for different actors moving through the same space (Ibid. 228). These distinctions, over time, facilitate new modes of strangeness, highlighting remoteness in new spaces in contrast to various forms of similarities that might have previously prevailed (Simmel 1971: 145). The dominance of the tourism industry and introduction of the neoliberal commodity consumption economy has transformed this historically agricultural and fishing based society (Barker 1996: 35, 73). The new tourism economy has primarily created low skill jobs in hotels, restaurants, curio-shops, as well as has established an informal sector of the economy where beach boys, prostitutes, and street hawkers now operate. It is primarily within these spaces where many Zanzibaris now earn money and strive toward acquiring different levels of economic prosperity. The pursuit of a modern lifestyle, influenced by tourists and with greater exposure to global cultural flows and media, provides the means through which those achieving any level of economic prosperity are able to develop new practices, and through them, dispositions to mark new social distinctions (discussed further in chapters three and five). By acquiring new commodities such as foreign cars, mobile phones, designer clothes, and build modern homes, Zanzibaris are seeking new avenues to distinguish themselves from those with whom they share certain social spaces. Through these distinctions they are able to highlight new models of remoteness around other Zanzibaris. Zanzibaris who have economically prospered in recent years are now moving out of their old neighborhoods and building private homes with fences, where at one time, the baraza 34 dominated the outside structure of the house (cf. Myers 1993: 457). Consequently, ujirani, “neighborliness,” a common feature of Zanzibar society, is rapidly diminishing (Ibid. 485, Larsen 2004: 136). Engaging


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in such practices have given individuals who now “have power” (wenye uwezo) the ability to create new social distinctions from their neighbors by re-formulating boundaries around spaces that were previously shared (see Myers 2003: 127). As these developments highlight, the extent to which Zanzibaris are able, unable or choose to move through different social spaces within the post-socialist environment facilitates the dispositions and distinctions they can develop to formulate new meanings for negotiating and rearticulating ustaarabu and their identities as Zanzibaris. Movement, as it has been discussed above, with its relationship to fields of power within given spaces and its significance in development of dispositions for giving rise to various distinctions, provides a framework for understanding the processes associated with how all Zanzibaris, through different forms of movements, past and present, are engaged in constructing divergent meanings for articulating notions of Zanzibari culture. Through different routes, Zanzibaris are trying to establish specific roots as Zanzibari. Movement highlights how analysis of culture can be better seen as a series of processes that construct, reconstruct, and dismantle in response to identifiable determinants, within a specific historical context (Wolf 1982: 387 in Bottomley 1992: 11). Shaped by different historical experiences, the spaces through which Zanzibaris are able to move facilitates how they continue to negotiate dimensions of their identities as oriented to Zanzibar and in rearticulating ustaarabu.

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK Ideas about ustaarabu, while historically constituting one strand of an elite Omani Arab ideology and contested by those excluded from it (Glassman 2011), remain an important dimension of the identity discourse in Zanzibar. Despite prevalence of social differences on the premise of ethnicity, race, gender, socio-economic status, notions of ustaarabu gave rise to the unity of Zanzibari culture, first through association with Arabness, but more recently through identification with Islam and local traditions. As foreigners migrated to Zanzibar in the past, they integrated themselves within this social framework. However, the events and aftermath of the 1964 Revolution tore apart the social fabric of society (Cameron 2004: 106) and introduced a new paradigm in race and ethnic relations in Zanzibar. Subsequently, in the post-socialist era, new models of strangeness facilitated by tourism, migration of people from mainland, politics of the Tanzanian union, neo-liberal consumption practices, and influences of globalization, have emerged and challenge the extent to which ustaarabu maintains its prominence in the lives of Zanzibaris. Today, some Zanzibaris have access to new forms of capital previously inaccessible or non-existent to facilitate their movements. As they strive



to move through different spaces, the nature of their movements enables them to develop a variety of way to reformulate ideas of Zanzibari culture. This book, as indicated above, analyzes how these emerging social discourses in the post-socialist era, with a particular focus on the impact of tourism, facilitate/restrict new forms of movements for Zanzibaris and with it, their ability to conceptualize ustaarabu today and rearticulate their identities as Zanzibaris. The structure of the book is laid out to reflect how different forms of movements taking place at different levels in Zanzibar society, between different public and private spaces, are contributing to the formulation of new identities for Zanzibaris to distinguish themselves from others around them. This will be done by integrating histories of a diverse group of Zanzibaris within the framework of the broader changes taking place in Zanzibar society today. The book analyzes socio-cultural processes as they exist in practice within Zanzibar society and are reflected in the various forms of movements experienced by different groups of people through existing and newly emerging spaces within the local landscape. The analysis also examines how Zanzibaris are striving to pursue new routes to define their roots through the dispositions they develop and the distinctions they seek to create and distinguish themselves as members of Zanzibar society. The following chapters examine how different forms of movement have facilitated the shifting of identities in Zanzibar over the past 200 years, which will then serve as the backdrop for analyzing different forms of movements taking place in post-socialist Zanzibar. All forms of movements taking place today in Zanzibar arise out of the historical positions of various individuals and ethnic groups and their struggle for movement in the past. Through their ability to access to new forms of social capital today, Zanzibaris are re-formulating the paradigms through which they now perceive themselves and those around them. With their movements in this milieu, Zanzibaris are further able to able to reflect on meanings associated with ustaarabu from the past and embed it with new interpretations for the future. The second chapter provides the background to examine how movements of different Zanzibaris have facilitated the articulation of different identities in Zanzibar until the end of the socialist era, in early 1980s. The first part of the chapter presents a concise history of movement of identities in Zanzibar. Subsequently, the analysis shifts toward examining how the politics of being Swahili dominated the local cultural and political discourse during the British colonial era, as a result of which newly contested conceptions of being Zanzibari were formulated. The chapter then examines how the 1964 Revolution and ideologies that emerged from it transformed movements of Zanzibaris during the socialist era— more specifically, orienting Zanzibar toward mainland Tanzania and promoting its affinity to Africa. While the Swahili identity historically


Chapter 1

emerged as a dominant identity of reference for the indigenous population in the region, the chapter highlights how new identities subsequently acquired different degrees of prominence within different spaces, as a result of which references to the Swahili identity now occupy a marginal place in some spaces. As Zanzibaris have acquired and continue to acquire new means to move through the local landscape, the chapter offers an insight to comprehend how the contexts in which they identify themselves as Swahili and as Zanzibaris have changed. The third chapter explores social and political developments with the end of the socialist era, in the early 1980s, and how integration of Zanzibar in the global political economy, as mandated by the terms of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank assistance, opened up access to new spaces in which Zanzibaris would move, and in turn shaped the new means for identifying themselves and others around them. The chapter then examines how the new inequalities and the brutality of the socialist experience during the revolutionary era together transformed the political discourse in the new era of multi-party democracy, marred by the violence of the 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010 elections. The chapter subsequently analyses how processes associated with development of the market environment and commodity consumption since the late 1980s, in which tourism has emerged as a prominent economic activity, has created new models of social and economic inequalities, and in turn is giving rise to new ways in which Zanzibaris identify with each other as well the new ‘others’ entering the Zanzibar landscape. The fourth chapter analyzes how lives of Zanzibaris have transformed through their engagement with a range of different tourism based activities. By developing vignettes of movement of Zanzibaris from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds who rely upon tourism for economic survival, this chapter highlights how tourism is creating different spaces within which Zanzibaris are moving and facilitating the acquisition of different dispositions to transform their status and identities. The analysis of movement of these different Zanzibaris in the era of tourism also reveals the prevalence of divided, yet interconnected spaces within which new social meanings and experiences shape specific ideas of belonging. The fifth chapter examines how the dominance of tourism and new patterns of commodity consumption facilitate the rise of new models of strangeness and the appropriation and re-appropriation of spaces within which Zanzibaris are increasingly struggling to move. The first part of the chapter explores how the pursuit of modern life through participation in conspicuous commodity consumption at different levels of society impacts the ability of Zanzibaris to demarcate new boundaries from those around them. The chapter subsequently examines how the ability of Zanzibaris to move is further confined within an increasingly over-crowded, poverty-ridden urban environment, where issues of gentrification, rural



to urban migration and foreign immigration embed new meanings in spaces available in which movement is possible. The final part of this chapter analyzes how in light of new stresses experienced by Zanzibaris, the revival of Islam, after being suppressed during the socialist era, offers new means for Zanzibaris to overcome new modes of strangeness and retain unity within the society. Movement of individuals, men and women, through various public and private spaces in Zanzibar society is facilitated by observance of the social moral code of haya, “modesty,” and heshima, “respect.” These values of the local moral code are considered important features for displaying one’s social identity in Zanzibar (see Saleh 2004: 145). The sixth chapter considers how the movements of women and men have transformed their position and status as Zanzibaris and in the process, given rise to new means for articulating these social ideals. With women acquiring new forms of social capital, their ability to move through the landscape in ways different from the past has transformed their position and status as Zanzibaris and as women in society. Through their movement, some women are now more empowered than before and thus, in a better position to redefine local social values and ideals. The last part of the chapter examines how the newly acquired position, status and identity of Zanzibari men and women is giving rise to new models of gender interaction and ideas of social responsibility for upholding local social ideals. The seventh chapter explores how emerging modes of gender interaction impacts the private space of the family, consequently affecting the ability of Zanzibari families, from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, to maintain various kinship relations and exercise different marriage practices. The first part of the chapter examines how kinship networks play a prominent role in assisting relatives in Zanzibar to overcome their economic hardships and maintain their social status in the post-socialist era. In situations where no such resources are available, new marriage strategies enable individuals and their families to transform their status. The chapter then explores how ideas of “love” have emerged within this context and its impact in promoting new marriage practices, which remain inaccessible to majority of unemployed and financially impoverished Zanzibaris who lack the social capital needed to move into this space and develop such dispositions. The final part of the chapter investigates the context in which another marriage strategy now practiced by Swahili men, hypogamy, to marry women of higher social status, offers these Zanzibaris new means to reformulate their identities. Historically, only Arab men married African women, but now, the ability to move through certain re-appropriated spaces has enabled some Swahili men to marry Arab and European women. While some are able to pursue this strategy through their affluent financial status, others, the financially impoverished Swahili men, are turning to tourist women to achieve this goal. If and when they succeed in moving into this space, the


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strategy facilitates the ability of these men to “mix blood” and develop new dispositions for articulating their identities and reconstructing their genealogies. In the course of reflecting on issues discussed throughout the book, the final chapter, chapter eight, outlines the implications of these new forms of movement in the lives of Zanzibaris in post-socialist era. The chapter underscores the centrality of ustaarabu in the lives of Zanzibaris and summarizes how contemporary developments threaten its significance in articulating ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. The majority of Zanzibaris continue to experience a life of economic hardships. Their misery is compounded by growing political uncertainty and discord, which commenced after the revolution and the formation of the Tanzanian union, and continues in the era of multi-party democracy. As Zanzibaris struggle to challenge the imposition of a hegemonic African identity by the ruling regime and preserve ustaarabu in light of these realities, the chapter concludes by highlighting what new identities are emerging in Zanzibar as a result of new movements taking place within these social, economic and political conditions. As with all other identities, these identities are directly a reflection of the history of movement that has taken place and in that same capacity, have the capability to promote new forms of movements and give rise to new meanings for shaping identities that will emerge in the future. Through the examination of movements of identities in post-socialist Zanzibar, this book does not attempt to pronounce what the Zanzibari identity was, is, or will be as result of the social processes through which it is constantly re-articulated, over time and space or for that matter who is and who is not a Zanzibari. All Zanzibaris perceive themselves in a certain way in specific social environments. Their pursuits of preserving and maintaining ustaarabu emerges out of their specific individual experiences. Also, while parts of the book discuss the history of identity politics in Zanzibar for the purpose of contextualizing the contemporary identity discourse, limitations of space and scope of this project restricts it from serving as a forum for debating the history of identity formation and politics in Zanzibar with that of other African societies. The book will, however, endeavor to develop insights for facilitating such a discussion elsewhere. By applying the frameworks of movement and identity, the forthcoming chapters investigate how the incursion of tourism and various practices associated with it in the post-socialist era have produced new spaces, or re-appropriated existing spaces, within which Zanzibaris are striving to move today and how their movements are giving rise to new dispositions and distinctions, thus affecting the articulation of social identities within the spaces in which they move. Ideas of being Zanzibari have changed in the past and shall continue to do so in the future. This analysis presents how different forms of movements taking place today are contributing to this evolving Zanzibari identity discourse. Tourism,



as a catalyst of social change in Zanzibar in the post-socialist era, has created new spaces in which different Zanzibaris can move. It is through these different forms of movements that Zanzibaris have developed the means to re-conceptualize their place and space within their society and the wider world, thus continuously create new ways to identify themselves as Zanzibaris and in the process keep Zanzibar culture moving. NOTES 1. This question was raised by an Australian tourist visiting Zanzibar in June 2012. Given the extent to which questions of identity of Zanzibaris has shaped their social interaction and movement through the local landscape, this question offers the perfect point of departure for exploring the movement of identities in Zanzibar 2. Beach boys are usually unemployed young men, locals as well as those from mainland Africa, who follow tourists and try to solicit business from them. Beach boys rely upon tips they receive from tourists for offering various services, such as organizing tours, serving as tour guides, selling drugs, and in the case of female tourists, sex (discussed further in chapter three and four). 3. Sundays may be the only day in the week during the tourist season when Zanzibaris outnumber non-locals at Forodhani, as many local families from around Zanzibar town have picnics at Forodhani on Sundays. 4. A meal at Forodhani costs less than US$5, while eating at a restaurant around Zanzibar Stone Town costs a minimum of US$10-US$15. 5. Tourists drinking alcohol at Forodhani has become more common in recent years, though there are laws that forbid consumption of alcohol in public areas in this Muslim society. 6. A majority of food vendors in Forodhani identify themselves as Pembans, many of whom have migrated to Zanzibar in recent decades in search of economic opportunities. They run the food stalls with a group of friends or family members, some of them preparing the food items at home during the day, while others selling them at Forodhani in the evenings (Kippel 1998: 23, Keshodkar 2005: 78). 7. The Aga Khan Trust for Culture has sponsored such restoration projects of public areas in other parts of the Muslim world, including Cairo, Egypt and New Delhi, India. 8. Makonde are a people from Southern Tanzania and Northern Mozambique. They produced wooden statues and other artifacts for tourists that became a source of their income. Today, these objects are generally recognized as Makonde and are sold throughout East Africa. In Zanzibar, those selling these goods are called Makonde vendors, though majority of the vendors are from the Chagga tribe, in the Kilimanjaro area of Tanzania, having acquired the experience of selling these artifacts to tourists in Arusha (Kippel 1998: 28). 9. Arusha is located in northern Tanzania and serves as a prominent tourist gateway to the Serengeti Plains and Mount Kilimanjaro. 10. Similar sentiments were shared by other mainlanders and their supporters in an article in a local newspaper in response to the eviction of the makonde traders from Forodhani (Daily News, September 28, 2001, “MP defends curio traders,” p. 2). 11. Amani Karume was the President of Zanzibar from 2000 to 2010. 12. The post-socialist era in Zanzibar commenced in the mid-1980s, when socialist policies and reliance on aid from other socialist and communist countries were abandoned in favor of reintroduction of the free-market, capitalist economy. These economic reforms were mandated by the International Monetary Fund as part of the bailout package to aid Tanzania’s ailing economy at the time (discussed in chapters two and three).


Chapter 1

13. Over 95 percent of Zanzibari are Muslims. 14. Arab merchants and sailors intermarried with indigenous women from local merchant families on the East African coast (Gray 1962: 11, Middleton 2003: 510). The descendants of these intermarriages furthered the development of modern Swahili, a Bantu language with many Arabic loan words, and of the Swahili culture as an amalgam of African and non-African beliefs and practices overlain by Islam (Bennett 1978: 7). 15. The Busaidi presence emerged at the request of the Swahili to expel the East African coast of other competing Omani dynasties (Bennett 1978: 18, Gray 1962: 85). 16. The use of the term Asian in this book refers to people either originating from or tracing their heritage to the Indian sub-continent (South Asia). I refer to them as Asians primarily because that is the terminology they use to refer to themselves in Zanzibar. 17. The British defeated the Zanzibar Sultanate in the Anglo-Zanzibar war, in 1896, which lasted less than 40 minutes (known as the shortest war in history). Subsequently, the British controlled Zanzibar as its Protectorate, under the puppet government of the Omani sultans. 18. Notions of being “Arab” are by no means a homogeneous category. It includes different groups of migrants from Oman, Yemen, other parts of the Arab world, as well as those Zanzibaris who claim Arab heritage on the premise of centuries of intermarriage between Arab men and African women. 19. During this era, Zanzibaris started distinguishing themselves politically on the premise of their perceived ethnicity or race, using specific categories of Arab, African, Asian, etc. 20. Julius Nyerere was the President of Tanganyika before the union. With the formation of the united republic, Nyerere became the President of Tanzania, and Abeid Karume, the leader of revolutionary Zanzibar, became the Vice President of the new nation. 21. Zanzibar acquired its independence from the British in December 1963 and entered into a union with Tanganyika in April 1964, forming the United Republic of Tanzania. 22. Dar es Salaam was the capital of Tanganyika. Though a new capital, Dodoma, was established for the new Tanzanian republic, in central Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam remains the business and cultural capital of the country. 23. This new identity struggle highlighting anti-mainland attitudes is most prevalent in the political arena. 24. These figures account for international tourist arrivals coming to Zanzibar directly from overseas. They do not account for foreigners that come to Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania, as these tourists would not have to go through any border control to enter Zanzibar. Also, not accounted in these figures are domestic tourists. According to Zanzibar Association for Tourism Investors (ZATI), inclusion of these latter categories of tourists would increase the tourist arrival to Zanzibar to over 220,000 people visiting Zanzibar in 2011 (, accessed 20 July 2012). 25. According to government sources, tourism increased in the 1990s at the annual rate of 16 percent (SMZ 1998: 1) and between 1995 and 2000, 65 percent of all actual employment created in Zanzibar was created in the hotel and tourism sector (United Nations Common Country Assessment for Zanzibar 2001: 25). 26. A space in which “self” is able to restrict movement of “other” becomes a private space and the identities that are articulated in this space remain different from when both self and other access the same space. For example, a house can serve as both a private as well as a public space. As a place for family activities, the house acts as a private space, restricting non-family members from accessing this space. However, at a time of death in the family, members of the broader community acquire access to this space and interact with the family, thus making it more public. Viewed from this perspective, the public and private dimensions of space are not in opposition, but



rather different perspectives of the appropriated and re-appropriated social space. The forces of production emerging from different forms of movement that construct the various meanings for the same space determine the public or private value of the appropriated spaces. 27. In utilizing the term Swahili here to denote people who identify themselves as Shirazi, Wahadimu, Watumbatu, Wapemba, I am distinguishing it from the use of the term as a reference for the Swahili language, which is spoken fluently and in most social environments by most if not all Zanzibaris, irrespective of their ethnic background. While language is an integral part of defining culture, there does lay a distinction between ideas and use of the Swahili language and identification with Swahili culture, as a form of identity. This issue is discussed below and further in chapter two. 28. Those identifying themselves as Shirazi assert claims of origins from Shiraz, in Iran. This identity was articulated by some Swahili Zanzibaris in early twentieth century light of racial policies instituted by the British which discriminated against those categorized as Africans. They advocate their claims of being non-Africans on the premise that their ancestors migrated to Zanzibar centuries before the Omani and intermarried with local indigenous women (further discussed in chapter two). 29. One social model of Swahiliness, most recently identified through the use of the Kiswahili language and represented as a unique Pan-East African culture, was articulated during the struggle for independence on mainland Tanzania (Blommart 1994: 65). Many Zanzibaris, however, do not perceive themselves as part of that history (Arens 1975: 434). 30. Interview, March 2002. 31. There was also a history of racial inter-marriages in Oman, by which generations of Africans became part of Omani society and acquired Arab heritage prior to coming to Zanzibar (Bennett 1978: 54). Furthermore, due to intermarriage between Omanis and Africans, many Omani elite also had African mothers (Glassman 2011: 38). 32. The Revolutionary government distinguished the idea of African on the premise of race, mandating that one parent have their ancestral origins in Africa, thus excluding all Asians and Europeans who may have historically migrated to Africa. 33. This struggle has also been categorized as “Zanzibaraization,” with emphasis on mainland Tanzania (Cameron 2004: 114). Zanzibaris use the term, bara, to refer to the mainland. 34. While the literal meaning of baraza is a bench or sitting area outside one’s house, the term is often used to refer to a place, usually outside one’s house or in a public area where people (usually men) from the neighborhood meet to socialize and discuss affairs of the day. Refer to Loimeier (2009b) for broader discussions on the significance of the baraza in Zanzibar society.

TWO Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari Negotiating Religion, Ethnicity, Race, and Civilization

Questions of the Zanzibari identity and political autonomy of the islands have taken center stage in the local political discourse during the postsocialist era and have become a rising source of discord between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. Prominent developments highlighting these tensions include failed efforts of the second President of Zanzibar, Aboud Jumbe, 1 to demand a greater voice for Zanzibar in the Tanzanian union 2 during the 1983/4 constitutional debates (Burgess 2009: 240), 3 Zanzibar’s unsuccessful attempt to join the Organization of Islamic Conference in 1992 without consulting the union government (Chachage 2000: 93), the recent surge in mainlanders moving to Zanzibar, majority of whom are Christians, and the political conflicts and violence accompanying multiparty general elections in the post-socialist era. These developments now facilitate the political discourse of wazanzibari, “a person with loyalties toward Zanzibar” versus wazanzibara, “showing greater loyalties to the union with Tanganyika” (Cameron 2004: 114) through which Zanzibaris strive to distinguish themselves from mainland Tanzanians. Ideas of being “Zanzibari,” as a national identity, were first articulated during the colonial struggle in the 1950s and early 1960s. Prior to that, during the era of Omani and British rule, claims of Arab ancestry and practice of Islam served as markers of difference through which ustaarabu was articulated and those who traced their origins to Africa were categorized as the “other” (Glassman 2011). The subsequent expulsion of Arabs after the 1964 Revolution gave greater precedence to race for formulating association with Zanzibar (Amory 1994) and marginalized the place of 25


Chapter 2

Islam in the lives of Zanzibaris (Purpura 1997). The Tanzanian union invalidated the aspirations for consolidating a Zanzibari national identity. In the post-socialist era, emerging notions of wazanzibari in the political arena have revived the basis on which people in Zanzibar seek to distinguish themselves from those they identify as non-Zanzibaris. In this search for articulating a new Zanzibari identity today, reformulated notions of ustaarabu, based around the centrality of Islam and traditions specific to Zanzibar, offers a mechanism for Zanzibaris to negotiate and overcome various forms of strangeness at a time of increasing social, economic and political uncertainty. As it shaped ideas of civilization in the past, ustaarabu continues serving as a depository for new meanings through which ideas of being Zanzibari are rearticulated and contested. This chapter examines how various formulations for identifying oneself as Zanzibari have transformed historically, as different people have moved through this landscape, and is shaping contemporary notions of being Zanzibari. A brief overview of the historical constructions of the Swahili-Arab identity, followed by a discussion of the impact of Omani and British rule over the past 200 years, will subsequently facilitate an analysis of the aftermath of the 1964 Revolution on contemporary processes for formulating various aspects of identity formation in Zanzibar throughout the rest of the book. The objective of this presentation is not to demarcate between who is and is not a Zanzibari, as shaped by different historical processes, but rather to illustrate how these historically shaped positions facilitate/restrict different forms of movements today for articulating oneself as Zanzibari. Using the vast amount of literature available on the pre-revolutionary history of Zanzibar, I analyze how the historical movements of people in and out of Zanzibar, within the context of movements taking place throughout East Africa, transformed the ethnic make-up and social relations within Zanzibar society, eventually culminating with the events of the 1964 Revolution. Thereafter, I examine the transformations that have taken place in the aftermath of the revolution and contributed to the recent developments in the politics of the contemporary Zanzibari identity under the rule of the revolutionary government. The cultural diversity of Zanzibar consists of peoples from many different areas bordering the Indian Ocean. One group includes those who identify themselves as descendants of Arabs, having migrated to the region over centuries through the avenue of trade and during the rule of the Omani Sultans. 4 Many Arabs intermarried with the indigenous African population, which facilitated the rise of (different articulations of) the Swahili culture (Bennett 1978: 7). Subsequently, the ability of many ex-slaves from mainland Africa to associate with various aspects of the Swahili culture in early twentieth century allowed these individuals to distance themselves from their origins in mainland Africa (Ibid. 38). The Asians that migrated to Zanzibar from India as early as 1811 (Bissell

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


2011: 32-33) and later to other parts of East Africa also developed a greater consciousness of their new country of adoption over generations and consequently lost much of the sympathy for their places of origin (cf. Mangat 1969: 175). The prosperity of Zanzibar and colonial conditions in the Comoros also brought Comorians to Zanzibar over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century, where in light of British racial policies, they also adopted strategies to distinguish themselves as non-Africans on the islands (Walker 2007: 97-98). Ideas of being “Zanzibari” have evolved from broader historical processes reflecting the ability of these different groups of people to move through the Zanzibar social landscape at different times. The most recent of these historical processes was the 1964 Revolution, as a result of which many Arabs and Asians were forced into exile and Zanzibar was “won for Africa,” to be ruled by Africans (Glassman 2000). After the revolution, Swahili Zanzibaris who identified themselves as Hadimu 5 or African mainlanders received favors of the revolutionary state (Chachage 2000: 43), while other Zanzibaris, namely those who identified themselves as Wapemba and Watumbatu, were considered enemies of the state for not participating in the revolution and thus were systematically oppressed (Ibid. 41). 6 While wazanzibari was historically a more unrestricted concept, the events of the 1964 Revolution, policies of the socialist regime and politics of the post-socialist era have created a new paradigm for defining ethnic and race relations in Zanzibar. These developments, I contend, have re-categorized concepts of race, class and ethnicity within the multi-cultural Zanzibar society and shape the politics of the contemporary Zanzibari identity that is further intensified by the presence of tourism in post-socialist Zanzibar.

THE MOVEMENTS OF THE SWAHILI 7 AND THE OMANI Historically, being “Swahili” has taken on different meanings. It was used by Arabs to designate indigenous dwellers on the East African coast and Muslims speaking Kiswahili, as a group distinguished from the rest of the African indigenous population (Trimingham 1964: 31). Swahili is also perceived as emerging from intermarriages between indigenous African merchant families and Yemeni and Omani from the Arabian Peninsula (Middleton 2003: 510). 8 During the British colonial era, Swahili served as a euphemism for slave, and thereafter, demarcated an indigenous Africans from a higher status, non-indigenous individuals of nonAfrican origins (Eastman 1994: 84). In spite of its many uses over centuries and controversies that surround it historical existence (see Keshodkar 2005) an important feature unifying Swahili society, in giving it a sense of cultural identity has been Islam (Middleton 1992: 162). While essential-


Chapter 2

ly a culture of Bantu speaking people, the growth of overseas Indian Ocean trade and the expansion of Swahili settlements along the East African coast over centuries adopted Islam as a vital component of the urban Swahili civilization (Nurse and Spear 1985: 21). Islam penetrated East Africa primarily through the avenue of trade (Lewis 1966: 10, Mazrui and Shariff 1994: 3, Lienhardt 1968: 8). 9 The absence of conquest in the region introduced forms and expressions of Islam that were neither imposed by the rule of the sword nor regulated by the influence of an imported or indigenous ‘Ulema, “Islamic clergy.” 10 Indigenous East Africans were exposed to different practices of Islam over centuries through the avenue of trade with littoral societies around the western Indian Ocean. These traders became the (primary) “agents of Islam” in East Africa (Lewis 1966: 23). The interaction between these groups over centuries gave rise to new Muslim identities for the local people of the region, who rarely thought of themselves as belonging to one ethnic group (Prins 1965). Trade also gave rise to new urban centers along the East African coast where members of various ethnic groups, from the coast as well as inland, came and traded slaves, ivory, and other goods with the Arabs. Over time, social relations improved with those indigenous groups that provided Arabs with economic advantages and political power in the region, in turn enabling the Arabs to establish a class-based society, positioning themselves at the top of the new social hierarchy. 11 As importers of Islam to the region and in light of their new social status, Arabs acquired social centrality and displaced the indigenous populations (Safari 1994: 78) within these urban environments. With the rise of independent urban settlements along the East African coast, the Swahili became the middlemen to trade ventures between the ocean traders and the African interior (Horton and Middleton 2000: 12). Islam, however, remained confined to the coast until the middle of the nineteenth century (Glassman 2011: 24). Urbanity evolved as the defining characteristic of Swahili culture, distinguishing the mwungwana, “freeborn, well-bred” indigenous population that converted to Islam and lived in cities from the mshenzi, “uncivilized, savage” non-Muslim, or rural population (cf. Fair 2001: 16). The waungwana (plural of mwungwana) defined qualities such as elegance, civilized, 12 and good ancestry, originating in Arabia (Horton and Middleton 2000: 18–19). In this new stratified society on the East African coast, members of the Arab aristocracy, those most able to display qualities as waungwana, were positioned at the top of the social hierarchy. Below them were the other Arabs, mostly of Hadrami origin (from Yemen), who themselves were economically marginalized by the Arab elite and maintained a high degree of interaction with indigenous Africans. While the Arab elite refused to teach intricate elements of Islam to the locals (Constantin 1989: 152), the social interaction between the marginalized Arabs and the indige-

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


nous people resulted in intermarriage between the two groups. These marriages between Hadrami men and local women facilitated the acquisition of new cultural and social values and promoted aspects of Arab and Islamic heritage, which were integrated into Swahili culture (Le Guennec-Coppens 1989: 190) and became one defining characteristic of the Waswahili (Arens 1975: 430). The arrival of the Portuguese in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century subsequently transformed the Swahili landscape. With the introduction of armed cargo vessels, the Portuguese seized Indian Ocean trade from the Arabs and the Swahili (Horton and Middleton 2000: 14). 13 They captured numerous independent Swahili settlements along the East African coast and forced its rulers to serve as vassals and pay yearly tributes (Bennett 1978: 8, Gray 1962: 31). Having lost control of trade routes and lacking the military capability to fight the Portuguese, political and mercantile leaders from various Swahili settlements began enlisting Omani naval support to defeat the Portuguese (Fair 2001: 10). In 1652, Omani rulers agreed to aid a Pemban delegation to Muscat and raided Zanzibar (Bennett 1978: 11). The ensuing struggle for domination of the East African coast continued over the next century and ended in 1729, when after losing Mombasa, the Portuguese were finally driven out of East Africa (Ibid. 12). Coming as liberators, the Omanis soon developed their own interests in East African commerce. The Busaidi Sultanate, after overthrowing the Yorubi dynasty in Oman in 1741 and subsequently disposing the Marzui clan of Omanis in East Africa, 14 acquired full control of the East African coast by the end of the eighteenth century (Gray 1962). Under the rule of the Busaidi, now a powerful mercantile empire, Zanzibar evolved into a principal center for Indian Ocean trade along the East African coast (Bennett 1978: 14). Moreover, the rule of the Busaidi initiated a new era of Arab dominance upon Zanzibar. The introduction of the clove crop by Sultan Said, first in Unguja and later Pemba, also initiated movement of new groups of Arabs from Oman and Yemen 15 through the Zanzibari landscape (Bennett 1978: 25). The Arabs from Oman were demarcated as “new Arabs” by the local population and identified as Manga Arabs (Horton and Middleton 2000: 21). Sultan Said also encouraged immigration of Indians merchants from Muscat and Gujarat 16 to facilitate the sultanate’s growing trade operation in East Africa (Bennett 1978: 30, Gregory 1993a: 1, Mangat 1969). 17 The newly arriving Omani Arab immigrants, using their own system of private ownership of land, considered land in Zanzibar as rightfully theirs and created a land-holding system with the support of the Sultan and at the expense of marginalizing the local Swahili landowners. These Omani monopolized the most profitable lands and created an Omani-Arab planter class (Bennett 1978: 27). In Pemba, since cultivation of cloves began later, the local Swahili had a less antagonistic relationship with the


Chapter 2

new Arabs and were able to acquire smaller plantations (Ibid. 28). 18 In Unguja, however, lack of interest by the local Swahili in plantation employment facilitated importation of slaves from mainland Africa for picking cloves (Ibid). By 1895, slaves and recently manumitted slaves accounted for roughly 85 percent of the total African population in Zanzibar (Fair 2001: 29). Having established their dominance in the region, the Omani conquerors used the word Sawahil as the geographical designation for the East African coast and used Swahili as an ethnic term to identify the indigenous population of the East African coast (Horton and Middleton 2000: 16). The ruling Omani elite also made conscientious efforts to distinguish themselves as different from the other new Arabs in Zanzibar, namely the Manga, Hadramis and Shihiris, whom they considered of lower class (Bissell 2011: 36, Glassman 2011: 203) due to their economic conditions (Sheriff 2001: 302). Consequently, the question of lineage acquired precedence for formulating distinctions and defining one’s social status (Mazrui and Shariff 1994: 28). Within this new social structure, all Arab Muslims, on the premise of possessing stronger and “pure” genealogical links to the Arabian Peninsula, maintained higher social status than the Swahili. 19 Religion became the source of ethnic division—it provided the space in which new identities were articulated. A demarcation based on race was not sustainable within this milieu due to a history of intermarriage between Arabs and Africans that prevailed in Oman, which integrated many Africans into Omani society and bestowed upon them Arab heritage (Bennett 1978: 54). 20 Busaidi rule in Zanzibar injected a new dichotomy of “high” and “low” culture on the premise of Islam and established “being Arab” as the norm to be aspired to and in doing so affected notions of Swahili social organization and perceptions of the Swahili identity (Topan 1992: 3). Patronage to Arabs and enlightenment associated with conversion to Islam now defined characteristics of ustaarabu. Within this discourse, the lack of firm racial boundaries dividing Arabs and Africans enabled small classes of successful individuals of African ancestry, as followers of Islam, to penetrate ranks of the dominant elite (Bennett 1978: 55). Such mobility was possible in Pemba due to the high levels of integration between the Arabs and Swahili and concurrently restricted in Unguja due to greater segregation between the Arabs, the local Swahili and the large presence of African slaves from the mainland (Glassman 2011: 34). The Swahili also attempted to integrate themselves within the new ustaarabu discourse through accumulation of wealth and adoption of Arab dress and manners (Fair 2001: 44). Concurrently, intermarriages between Arab men and Swahili women reformulated the ethnic identities and class positions of children from such marriages, who were identified as Omani Arab and became members of the ruling class (Ibid. 97). This included the children of masuria, “slave concubines,” who acquired the

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


ethnic status and class position of Arabs by virtue of their paternity (Ibid. 70). The slaves in Zanzibar, majority of whom originated from mainland Africa and were usually non-Muslims, remained at the bottom of this new social hierarchy and were considered outsiders since they did not have “religion.” 21 Their movements through the local social landscape were further controlled by their Muslim masters (Cooper 1981: 276). A new set of social possibilities to facilitate their movements emerged only with conversion to Islam. 22 By adopting Islam and acquiring new status as Muslims, ex-slaves were able to rearticulate their social identities. Religion now became a defining characteristic of social identity—people from mainland Africa possessed inferior status not because of their African origin, but rather for not having religion, Islam, and thus remained without culture and civilization. Through conversion, which was seen as a social necessity and an Islamic imperative (Ibid. 290), slaves acquired the means to identify themselves as Swahili and the ability to move from one social class to another, and thus, develop new social positions and identities in Zanzibar society. 23 Conversion to Islam also offered slaves access to other forms of capital to move in Zanzibar. By converting to Islam, slaves were now recognized as equal, at least at the religious level, in contrast to their prior inferior designation as “uncivilized” people (Cooper 1981: 291). It further provided ex-slaves an avenue to situate themselves within the social hierarchy and escape from their mainland identity (Cooper 1980: 165). However, those who considered themselves Swahili, the descendants of intermarriage between Arabs and waungwana, indigenous people recognized of “noble birth,” refused to accept former slaves as social equals. To preserve their higher status, they developed new distinctions and classified slaves as having genealogies that included ancestors who were not of noble birth. Thus, ex-slaves maintained their inferior status to the Swahili, who considered themselves freeborn Muslims. As more slaves converted to Islam and attempted to formulate links to Arabs and Swahili, the latter identity became synonymous with former slaves (Eastman 1971: 229, Fair 1994: 211). New markers of identification and social distinction subsequently emerged in Zanzibar, primarily after the abolition of slavery and during the reign of the British to facilitate new forms of movements for those who identified themselves as Swahili (discussed below). As the Swahili acquired new forms of capital to move through different social spaces in Zanzibar, references to being Swahili, as an ethnic identity, acquired different meanings within different social contexts. Ideas of ethnicity serve a founding structure of social difference, a source of meaning and discrimination that loses its significance when cut from the historical context (Castells 2001: 54). The prominence of the Swahili identity began to fade in the late nineteenth century when it was


Chapter 2

increasingly associated with slavery. Its use for self-identification was altered under British rule, when the Swahili and other Africans in Zanzibar acquired new routes to identify themselves as Shirazi, Hadimu, Wapemba and/or Watumbatu. Access to new forms of capital, at different times, facilitated the ability of the Swahili to move through different spaces and develop new social distinctions for rearticulating ideas of being Swahili. In the early twentieth century, as a consequence of British colonial policies, formation of the Shirazi identity now implied Arabness or indigenous Zanzibari ancestry as opposed to African descent (Amory 1994: 118). These policies facilitated the construction of new social spaces in which Swahili Zanzibaris could now move and develop dispositions for articulating their identities in Zanzibar.

IDENTITY POLITICS UNDER BRITISH RULE By the end of the nineteenth century, Zanzibar was transformed into a slave society, with slaves from the mainland accounting for more than 70 percent of the population (Killian 2008: 104). New routes emerged within this environment in which Swahili Zanzibaris could move and assert, and in other cases, refute Swahili roots. After Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890, the Omani sultans retained their throne but remained nothing more than a figurehead (Bennett 1978: 163–64). The arrival of the British, who continued to designate Zanzibar as Arab in origin (Lofchie 1965: 14) propagated new dilemmas for locals to identify themselves as Swahili. The British formulated new markers of belonging, differentiating the local population by race, “tribe,” nation, ethnicity and linguistic distinctions (Chachage 2000: 30). A new social class structure, rigidly defined in terms of racial “purity,” demarcated the population on the basis of their skin color (Mazrui and Shariff 1994: 25). The British categorized communities racially and labeled them in terms of social class, with Asians as traders and financiers, Arabs as junior officials in the colonial government and plantation owners, and all Africans as laborers (Clayton 1981: 15, Flint 1965: 651). The Swahili were identified as Africans within this discourse. Furthermore, the British organized ethnic associations for each group to reflect European conceptions of bound racial categories (Fair 1994: 252, Bissell 1999: 451). 24 The new class structure placed the British at the top, followed by Arabs, and then Asians, who recently immigrated to the region in search of financial and commercial prosperity. All people categorized as Africans were situated at the bottom—the Swahili as well as slaves and other laborers from mainland Africa. Zanzibaris of Comorian descent asserted their identities as French in order to escape their categorization as Africans by the British (Walker 2007: 97-98). The presence of these different ethnic groups in Unguja promoted racial

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


distinctions as a characteristic for organizing social relations (Clayton 1981: 3). Meanwhile, in Pemba, the population largely consisted of Omani and other Arabs and indigenous Zanzibaris, many of whom intermarried and maintained cordial relationships with each other (Bennett 1978: 27). Marrying local women provided the Arabs with land rights in Swahili settlements. Consequently, both the Arabs and the Swahili in Pemba owned plantations and even kept slaves (Middleton and Campbell 1965: 36). 25 In 1897, with the abolition of slavery, former slaves found new means to acquire access to owning land. Many ex-slaves became squatters and entered into contracts with their former masters to rent land, grow their own food crops and build and occupy homes without paying cash rent in return for working during the clove harvest and receiving wages for their labor (Bennett 1978: 189, Sheriff 1991: 118). Former slaves also moved into unoccupied areas and gradually took property ownership by planting trees, building homes and cultivating annual food crops (Fair 2001: 37). However, elite Arabs continued possessing the most fertile lands, while ex-slaves received less fertile zones (Sheriff 1991: 112). Seeking freedom from a servile past associated with plantation work, other ex-slaves left crop harvesting and moved to urban areas in search of new economic opportunities and social possibilities (Fair 2001: 3). Their departure led the colonial government to import laborers from the mainland to work on plantations in order to harvest the annual clove crop (Sheriff 1991: 118). With ex-slaves remaining in Zanzibar and new laborers arriving from mainland (Glassman 2011: 48), people from the mainland now represented a substantial percentage of Zanzibar’s population. Abolition of slavery likewise left many landowners, primarily the middle and lower peasants, heavily indebted to Asian and Arab moneylenders (Chachage 2000: 25) from whom they borrowed money on the future clove crop, with interest charges as high as 25 percent (Bowles 1991: 83). Such financial difficulties enabled the rich peasants to buyout the poorer peasants and subsequently shaped a new social stratum within the indigenous Zanzibari population (Sheriff 1991: 128-29). The poor peasantry was forced to abandon farming and start working for wages (Ibid. 123). In Unguja, the new social class of rich peasants was composed largely of Arabs and a few indigenous Swahili (Ibid. 134), with about two percent of Arabs owning more than 40 percent of fertile land (Ibid. 129). Displaced from their land, many poor Swahili peasants moved to Zanzibar town, where they came into greater interaction with and found greater socio-economic affinity to the working population from the mainland (Sheriff 2001: 309). However, in Pemba, where Arabs maintained smaller land holdings than their counterparts in Unguja (Bennett 1978: 28), the Swahili, who continued to own land at rates comparable to Arabs, lived side by side with them and perceived them as fellow peasants (Sheriff 1991: 129, Tambila 2000: 73, 80).


Chapter 2

The abolition of slavery and the events that followed shaped new ideas of social classes in Zanzibar. The British defined class structure on the premise of race. However, social life for many Zanzibaris remained governed through identification with Islam, under the patronage of the Omani Sultans. Conversion to Islam enabled ex-slaves to escape stigmatism attached to mainland origins (Cooper 1980: 165–66) and acquire the means to integrate into cultural and economic activities of the island (Nisula 1999: 36). As “civilized” members of society they gained access to spaces inaccessible before. With Swahili identified as free born Muslims, of mixed Arab and African descent, who lived primarily in urban areas and spoke Kiswahili (Fair 2001: 30), many ex-slaves and poor indigenous peasants moved to the city, aided by the prospects of higher wages than the countryside and in hopes of asserting a new social identity distinct from their servile past (Ibid. 32). Consequently, associations of being Swahili served as the first step for social mobility in Zanzibar (Glassman 2011: 55). Meanwhile, British policy in Zanzibar aimed to maintain the social prominence of the Arabs, convinced that Arab society was superior to African (Bennett 1978: 184). The British also displayed their support for Arabs through policies that promoted the clove plantation economy. They imposed a hut tax or land rents on all peasants and offered exemptions to those who picked cloves (Sheriff 1991: 120). By 1910, Arabs were classified as “non-native” and exempted from this tax (Amory 1994: 58). Asians and other non-natives 26 were also exempted from the tax. However, every person of “African” 27 origin was subject to pay this colonial tax. Thereafter, during World War II, when limited availability of food led the British government to ration various foods, the Swahili and other Africans in Zanzibar were denied access to rice, considered a staple and status food eaten by all who could afford it (Fair 2001: 49). Such policies favoring Arabs and other minorities, in turn limiting the ability of Swahili Zanzibaris and many of the African ex-slaves to access various resources, compelled these latter groups to formulate new forms of identification to acquire respect as citizens (Ibid. 52). The pursuit of new routes to display “Arabness” in an urban setting enabled the Swahili to formulate their roots as Zanzibaris. British policies empowered ex-slaves to acquire the social capital associated with identifying oneself as Swahili and facilitated their movement to develop dispositions to rearticulate their identities. However, with increasing number of ex-slaves now identifying themselves as Swahili, the term itself gradually became a euphemism for former slaves and people of higher social status used it to identify their inferiors (Fair 2001: 35). The Swahili responded by beginning to identify themselves as Hadimu, Tumbatu, Pemba and eventually as Shirazi to distinguish themselves from exslaves and other African immigrants (Bennett 1978: 38). These new distinctions also facilitated their access to resources previously reserved for

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


Arabs and other non-Africans. On the premise that the earliest settlers in Zanzibar from the Middle East originated from Shiraz, in Iran, and intermarried with indigenous women over centuries, Swahili Zanzibaris acquired this social capital to facilitate their movement in spaces where the British mandated new ideas for distinguishing themselves as nonAfricans. Whether real or imagined, this social capital provided new routes for Swahili Zanzibaris to develop dispositions and formulate nonAfrican roots. By 1931, more than 62 percent of the population identified themselves as Hadimu, Watumbatu, Wapemba or Shirazi, in contradiction of the fact that in 1895, freeborn indigenous African population accounted for less than 15 percent of Zanzibar’s population (Fair 2001: 36). “True Swahili” were now distinguished as descendants of Persian Shirazis who married Zanzibari natives (Eastman 1971: 233). By asserting their non-native status and in seeking greater affinity with Arabs, the Swahili articulated their new identities as Zanzibaris as distinct from all people of mainland African origin in Zanzibar (Glassman 2000: 404). Previously, the Swahili identity provided individuals in Zanzibar the means to distance themselves from African origins. In light of colonial policies, the ‘Shirazi’ identity now enabled certain groups of Swahili to formulate their ‘roots’ outside of Africa, and constitute their identities as Zanzibaris. Their movement within this discourse facilitated access to new forms of prestige and material advantages which subsequently redefined the social structure of Swahili community (Swartz 1991: 50). Facing socio-economic marginalization imposed through British racial policies, majority of Zanzibaris in Unguja who previously identified themselves as Swahili now claimed to be either Hadimu (mostly in South and East of the island) or Watumbatu (primarily in the Northwest of the island). In Pemba, where the Swahili maintained close interaction with Arabs and also owned property (unlike Unguja), they overwhelming identified themselves as Shirazi (Fair 2001: 36). This decline in those identifying themselves as Swahili also correlated with those associating themselves to the mainland (Glassman 2011: 58). The shifting of these identities was reflected in Zanzibar’s census figures during the colonial era. In 1924, approximately 34,000 people were identified as Swahili, but by 1931, the Swahili category disappeared. During the same period, between 1924 and 1931, those identified as Shirazi increased from 26,000 to over 41,000 people. The increase of Shirazi correlated with the decrease in Zanzibaris who identified themselves as originating from the mainland, from 65,000 in 1931 to under 51,000 by 1948 (Sheriff 2001: 307). The 1931 census indicated that roughly 8.7 percent of the population was identified as Arab. However, by 1948, 16.9 percent of the population was categorized as Arab (Lofchie 1965: 74). 28 In the 1948 census, 75.7 percent of the population was categorized as “Africans.” Among the 199,860 people labeled as Africans in Zanzibar’s overall pop-


Chapter 2

ulation of 264,162 in 1948, 41,750 were identified as Hadimu, 46,000 as Watumbatu, 59,750 as Wapemba, and about 51,000 as mainland Africans (Ibid: 71). According to these figures, individuals who identified themselves as Wapemba, Shirazi, Hadimu, Watumbatu accounted for approximately 56 percent of Zanzibar’s population in 1948, while only about 19 percent were identified as those from mainland Africa (Mukangara 1999: 10). 29 By the middle of twentieth century, social classification by ethnicity and race became important markers for defining status in Zanzibar society. British policies facilitated new forms of movements and simultaneously initiated a new racial and ethnic discourse between “Swahili” and other (Amory 1994: 54). The dimension of race as the defining characteristic of social class not only distinguished indigenous Africans from Arabs and Asians, but also created several layers of differentiation among the Africans themselves, primarily between those who did and did not define their identity in association with Arabs. The emerging ideology of race challenged the centrality of ustaarabu and re-appropriated spaces in which the articulations of these new identities were facilitated. Earlier distinctions distinguished between those who were and were not considered Swahili. However, the capital now accessible to the Swahili facilitated new forms of movements and enabled them to formulate different identities to distance themselves from association with Africa and Africans. As notions of perceived places of origin outside Africa acquired significance for the Swahili to identify themselves in relation to other people in Zanzibar, questions of race and ethnicity occupied central stage and subsequently shaped the identity discourse during the “Time of Politics” (Fair 2001: 55, Bowles 1991, Glassman 2000).

THE TIME OF POLITICS: PRECURSOR TO THE REVOLUTION Questions of race and ethnicity acquired centrality for formulating identities in the 1950s with the rise of party politics in Zanzibar. The categories, “Arab” and “African” now became expressions of political rhetoric instead of ethnic identities (Anglin 2000: 40) and advocated race as fundamental for the social organization of Zanzibar society (Glassman 2011: 212). Accordingly, different models based on claims of origins outside Africa acquired new meanings for formulating roots in Zanzibar. While on mainland Africa, anti-colonialism advocated tribal affiliation, in Zanzibar, the struggle for African supremacy over Arab dominance took center stage (Ibid. 42). The ensuing struggle for “Zanzibarization” versus the “Africanization” of Zanzibar eventually culminated into the events of the 1964 Revolution, which uprooted existing structures of privileges but in the process ended up creating new ones (Babu 1991: 244).

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By the 1950s, the population of Zanzibar town had exceeded to more than 45,000 people, not including the tens of thousands of people living outside the official town boundaries (Myers 2003: 78-79). While Arab and Asian elites settled in Zanzibar Stone Town, 30 many of their African servants and other Swahili, Asian, Arab and African laborers lived in Ng’ambo, “the other side,” situated on the other side of the creek (Ibid: 81, Fair 2001: 20). 31 The mainlanders and indigenous Swahili, who were formerly peasants and migrated to urban areas after alienating their land, accounted for the majority of those living in Ng’ambo (Myers 2003: 86). They lived alongside Asian and Arab wageworkers and laborers who immigrated to Zanzibar in the early twentieth century (Bowles 1991: 88). 32 As a result of new patterns of urbanization and growing socio-economic differentiation, class stratification in Unguja evolved more along racial lines, with Arab controlling most of the land resources. Meanwhile, in Pemba, land ownership between the Arabs and Swahili remained relatively equal (Sheriff 1991: 129). Many dispossessed Swahili in Unguja moved to town for new opportunities where they lived and worked alongside mainland Africans. Their interaction promoted greater intermarriage and affinity between these two groups (Bennett 1978: 27). 33 Burdened by similar socio-economic hardships, they increasingly identified the Omani Arabs as the source of their exploitation (Fair 2001: 54). The struggle for resources in these densely populated and socially demarcated spaces between the economically privileged and the rising proletariat resulted in a general strike in 1948. The event highlighted existing political unrest beneath the surface calm, demonstrating that economically underprivileged citizens of Zanzibar were not satisfied with their positions and roles in this stratified society (Bennett 1978: 246). The strike, along with subsequent protests over the expansion of Zanzibar airport and the Anthrax revolt of 1951, or Vita vya Ngombe, “cattle riots” marked the beginning of mass political organization on the islands. In response to the British government’s decision to immunize all cattle in Zanzibar against the threat of Anthrax, which resulted in the local cattle dying at a time of economic prosperity on the islands, peasants rose in revolt against the British administration. The peasants believed that the colonialists were trying to kill the cattle instead of immunizing them (Babu 1991: 221). The revolt initiated the organization of a political movement for freedom from the British (Ibid. 222) for which a framework was present with the establishment of various cultural associations that already existed, but divided along ethnic lines. The nature of their division, each serving the interests of its own group, contributed to emerging racial and ethnic politics (Mukangara 1999: 7) and subsequent growth of communal suspicion and hatred among different communities in Zanzibar (Chachage 2000: 32).


Chapter 2

Since the revolts initially took on a class character rather than an ethnic one (Babu 1991: 221), the new political movement, called the National Party of the Sultan’s Subjects (NPSS), proclaimed its allegiance to Zanzibar’s Omani Sultan, who was still the figurehead ruler of the islands. Ali Muhsin, an Omani Arab from one of Zanzibar’s wealthiest families, led this struggle and espoused notions of Zanzibar nationalism. He initially called for a national identity that subsumed all divisions of race and communities within Zanzibar and emphasized common loyalties to the Sultan and Islam (Glassman 2000: 405). However, to attract broader support from landlords, peasants and members of the urban petty bourgeoisie who did not want to identify with the royal family, the party quickly changed its name to the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP) (Babu 1991: 223). Through the Arab Association’s newspaper, Mwongozi, ZNP loyalists strove to propagate ideas of a national identity in which all Zanzibaris identified with a single, multi-racial nation, “where Islam, respect for the Middle East culture and loyalty to the Sultan acquired social centrality” (see Glassman 2000: 406). The vision advocated an independent, multiethnic and racial Zanzibar united by Islam (Lofchie 1965: 129). This vision of ustaarabu, giving centrality to “Arab-centered civilization” was also official British policy during the colonial period and was incorporated by ZNP for defining Zanzibari citizenship (Glassman 2000: 426). However, in this new vision of a multi-racial Zanzibar, the “other” that was excluded was mainland Africans (Ibid. 407). 34 Many mainland Africans migrated to Zanzibar during the colonial period to work as squatters on the plantations and were primarily either Christians or animists (Clayton 1981: 11). These migrants were also the main source of dissemination of ideas from mainland Africa (Nisula 1999: 35), such as Pan-Africanism, which challenged ZNP’s vision of ustaarabu and emphasized the history of bondage and racial victimization of Africans in Zanzibar (Glassman 2011: 58). The exclusion of mainlanders from the vision of an Arab-Islam based Zanzibar ultimately gave rise to the formation of the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP), in 1957. In response to ZNP’s attempts to introduce voting restrictions, which would have excluded mainlanders and poor Swahili and favored the interests of wealthy Arabs and Asians, the African Association and the Shirazi Association united and formed, first, the Afro-Shirazi Union (ASU) and then ASP (Chachage 2000: 33-34). With support from Africans on the mainland, ASP introduced notions of a Pan-African identity, identifying primarily with the rest of Africa, in contrast to the Arabs, and developed its political agenda based on African racial dominance (Babu 1991: 236). The construct of race was imagined by ASP to realize the modernist dream of building a nation state (Glassman 2011: 287). The precedent for promoting this ideology, however, was entrenched by Brit-

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


ish policies in Zanzibar, where perceptions of identities were based on the “immutable biological traits of blood and genetics” (Fair 2001: 28). Through their newspaper, Afrikan Kwetu, members of the African Association brought forward tribal descent as the defining characteristic of identity for Africans (Glassman 2000: 411), advocating Africans as “sons of the soil” (Glassman 2011: 132). While ZNP received support from many different racial and ethnic groups on the islands, but favored the Arab elite, ASP primarily represented the entire community of people of mainland origin in Zanzibar 35 and the landless and economically underprivileged Swahili population (Babu 1991: 229), specifically in Unguja. The African Association also introduced religious elements in their political rhetoric to appeal to the indigenous Muslim population. Through literature in Afrika Kwetu and use of verses from the Qur’an, they argued that, “whereas God divided humankind into neat, orderly divisions—one race for one continent—the cruel, ignorant oppressors (Arabs) are making a mess of things by trying to deny the racial identities that God had given us (Africans)” (Glassman 2000: 416-17). The religious premise of their argument mandated that since God created Africa for Africans (and not Arabs), association to Africa should be the primary characteristic of social identity in Zanzibar (Ibid. 417). The newspaper also emphasized the history of slavery in Zanzibar, contending that it was always the Arabs who lived as masters and the Africans that suffered as slaves (Ibid. 420). 36 On the basis of this ideology, racism became the foundation of ASP. Political rhetoric in the islands was further intensified with Muhsin’s actions in associating with Egypt’s President, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and favoring his Pan-Arab movement (Petterson 2002: 28). These actions angered the British, 37 who subsequently portrayed the anti-colonial ZNP as an “Arab dominated” organization (Babu 1991: 228). These claims further raised fears in the minds of the African and Swahili petty bourgeoisie that the Arabs would take over again if and when the British left (Ibid: 225). The ensuing struggle for independence unfolded as two different struggles, with different enemies. While ZNP claimed to fight for achieving independence and ending the oppression of British rule, ASP advocated an agenda to rid Zanzibar of the centuries old Arab influence. Notions of race and ethnicity now dictated visions of post-colonial Zanzibar. ASP identified the Arabs as foreigners while the Shirazi and Arab supporters of ZNP regarded the mainlanders as outsiders (Killian 2008: 107). Consequently, rival visions emerged for articulating the identity of the new nation, one based on the rhetoric of civilization and the other emphasizing the significance of race (Glassman 2011: 62). Despite attempts by ZNP to manipulate the 1957 election, the newly formed ASP, led by Abeid Karume, a merchant seaman who owned motorboats in Unguja, managed to win the majority, primarily with the support of urban workers. However, the division of votes was primarily


Chapter 2

based on race (Middleton and Campbell 1965: 50). After ASP’s victory, many Arab landowners who supported the ZNP began evicting squatter supporters of ASP in Unguja and tried to replace them with indigenous agricultural laborers, to acquire their support (Bowles 1991: 99, Bennett 1978: 257). Supporters of ASP responded by boycotting Arab and Asian businesses between 1958 and 1960 and created cooperatives (Middleton and Campbell 1965: 51). These proceedings polarized economic life in the islands and openly displayed hostilities between the Arabs and non-Arabs (Chachage 2000: 35). 38 Communal politics and bitterness between different these social groups deepened into overt racial hatred between 1960 and 1963 (Clayton 1981: 43). Divisions within the ZNP resulted in the formation of a new right wing party, Zanzibar and Pemba Peoples Party (ZPPP), which acquired support primarily from the landowning Swahili in Pemba who wished to avoid any association with the ZNP and ASP (Lofchie 1965: 195). Subsequently, the left wing Umma party, formed in 1963 and led by A.M. Babu, became dissatisfied with ZNP leadership and began propagating a Marxist revolutionary program in opposition to ZNP’s commitment to Islam (Ibid. 258). Conflicts between ASP and ZNP deepened further when the British gerrymandered constituencies during the 1961 election, in turn allowing ZNP to win the majority (Ramadhan 2000: 69, Middleton and Campbell 1965: 57). ASP had won the majority of popular votes, but a ZNP-ZPPP alliance enabled ZNP to acquire more seats in the government (Middleton and Campbell 1965: 62). Bloody riots lasting six days followed the elections in which many Manga, Hadrami and Shihiri Arabs were killed 39 (Bennett 1978: 261). 40 In the 1963 elections, ASP again gained a greater percentage of the popular vote with the support of squatters who had been evicted from Arab owned plantations (Babu 1996: 8) and many of the middle and poorer Swahili peasants who remained economically disadvantaged within the colonial political economy (Tambila 1999: 18). However, gerrymandering once again enabled the ZNP-ZPPP coalition to acquire a majority of seats in the new assembly and subsequently form the new postcolonial government (Clayton 1981: 47). After the elections, ZNP and ZPPP displayed an unwillingness to work with ASP in forming a multicoalition government (Lofchie 1965: 220). For ZNP and ZPPP, participation of ASP in the coalition would have meant that Africans independent of Arab influence could control important ministries (Ibid. 256). The ZNP-ZPPP alliance, which represented the plantation owners, was also supported by the British (Bowles 1991: 103) since clove profits provided an important source of revenue for the colonial government. The new government subsequently created policies that favored mostly the landowning class (Ibid. 261-63). For ASP and its supporters, this ZNP victory symbolized the reinstatement of Arab rule.

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


The new ZNP government immediately implemented oppressive policies characteristic of British rule to create a distinct separation in social relations between the islands and mainland Africa. By the time of independence, in December 1963, ZNP leadership became monarchical, racialist, and linked primarily to the upper class of Arabs in Zanzibar (Clayton 1981: 45). It banned the Umma party, which it considered to be troublesome, and introduced new laws to identify and subsequently expel all officers of mainland origin from the police force (Babu 1991: 239). The police quickly lost confidence in the government and immediately turned into a political enemy (Ibid. 239). On the morning of 12 January 1964, an armed African insurgence, led by John Okello, a police officer in the Sultan’s forces from Uganda, and other African policemen discharged under the new laws and militant members of the Afro-Shirazi Youth League, seized control of an armory at Mtoni, outside of Zanzibar town (Petterson 2002: 49). After acquiring ammunitions, they took control of strategic locations in Zanzibar town (Lofchie 1965: 274). It was not a wellorganized insurgence but it proved to be effective since the Sultan had lost the support of his troops. This insurgence overthrew Arab political, social, and economic rule in Zanzibar and came to be celebrated as the 1964 Revolution. According to Donald Petterson, a US diplomat based in Zanzibar, days following the revolution saw hundreds of Asian and Arab owned shops looted by Africans, their women raped, thousands of them rounded up and put into detention camps. Furthermore, countless number of bloodied bodies of men laid by the sides of the roads, some mutilated with their genitals stuffed in their mouths (2002: 65-68). 41 With large number of people identifying themselves as Arabs living in Pemba, revolutionary violence was immediately exported to Pemba from Unguja (Sheriff 2001: 310). A majority of Arabs killed, however, were Manga and Hadrami Arabs (Petterson 2002: 64) and not the elite landowners and members of the aristocracy, who managed to escape. While the revolutionaries spared the Europeans (Ibid. 58), Asians were also killed in the days following the revolution (Gregory 1993b: 116). Only those Arabs and Asians fortunate enough to have the financial resources and social networks off the islands were able to escape. According to Asian and Omani Arab respondents, while many of Arabs went to Oman, and Asians fled to India and Pakistan, others escaped to Europe and North America as well as mainland Africa, including Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, to live in exile. Ajay, an Asian respondent from a lower Hindu caste, recalled that while his family had relatives in Kenya, they were too poor to leave the islands. During the revolution, they locked themselves in their homes for several days, as they heard the horrors of their Asian and Arab neighbors being dragged from their homes and brutally murdered in the streets below.


Chapter 2

Since revenge was aimed primarily at Arabs, those who did not manage to escape were slaughtered, or if fortunate enough, imprisoned and put in detention camps (Lofchie 1965: 257, Petterson 2002: 106). Salama, an Arab Zanzibari, whose mother’s first husband was an Omani Arab, recalled stories from her mother of how her husband fled to Oman immediately after the revolution with their son, Salama’s half-brother, and left his wife, a Shirazi Zanzibari woman, behind. According to Muhammad, a member of a then prominent Omani Arab family in Stone Town, who was about 15 years old at the time of the revolution, family members blocked access to their homes in Stone Town with heavy furniture, guns and household knives in hand in case the revolutionaries broke through. Members of the family stood guard continuously for seven days, until the streets calmed down. Soon thereafter, family members slowly escaped town and eventually Zanzibar, fleeing to Oman at night with the help of their Swahili servants and associates, in whose care they left their homes to avoid confiscation of their properties by the new government. 42 For many Zanzibari, the revolution tore families apart, sending everyone running in different directions. Though the revolution had no central coordination or post-revolutionary objectives (Babu 1991: 241), it led to the formation of a new ruling government, composed primarily of ASP leaders and few members of the Umma Party. Together, they formed the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council, led by Abeid Karume, who subsequently became the first President of Zanzibar. While Okello led the insurgence, his mainland origins and practice of Christianity denied him the any broad basis of support in the islands (Bennett 1978: 266). Karume himself had mainland origins, his father being from Nyasaland and his mother from Rwanda, and both immigrating to Zanzibar as laborers (Clayton 1981: 17). He claimed to be born in Pongwe, a village in west-central Unguja (Petterson 2002: 35). Immediately following the revolution, the governments of the Soviet Union, East Germany and China recognized the new revolutionary government and sent missions to Zanzibar (Middleton and Campbell 1965: 68), while Western countries, led by United States and United Kingdom made no such effort until a month later (Petterson 2002: 157). Lack of American recognition allowed the influence of the communist countries and aided Babu’s vision of shaping Zanzibar into a socialist community (Ibid. 158). However, Karume did not want to engage in cold war politics and hoped to maintain a balance between East and West (Ibid. 161). With Babu and the Umma party’s influence rising in the shaping the agenda of the new revolutionary government, Karume entered into secret negotiations with Julius Nyerere, the President of Tanganyika, and in April 1964, established the United Republic of Tanzania (Lofchie 1965: 280, Petterson 2002: 187). 43 This alliance took place while Babu was out of the country, which allowed Karume to consolidate his own powers and with protection of mainland, ensured that he would retain political con-

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


trol of Zanzibar (Babu 1991: 244). Consequently, Karume surrendered Zanzibar’s sovereignty (Killian 2008: 111) less than five months after its independence. While the revolution was an insurgence to end Arab rule in Zanzibar, it was also a social revolution with the aim of establishing an egalitarian society by means of “political and economic destruction of Arab oligarchy” (Lofchie 1965: 257). It attempted to uproot the entire structure of privileges that had existed for the past two centuries, under Omani and then British rule. It was supposed to create new spaces within which all Zanzibaris could move freely and make class and ethnic distinctions a memory of the past. However, the rhetoric of race was the primary device used to achieve this goal. Through the revolution, Zanzibar was reclaimed for “Africa” (Purpura 1997: 126). The social capital of race now dictated movement of Zanzibaris through different social spaces in pursuit of routes to redefine their ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. Ustaarabu was supplanted by the centrality of race. The new state became categorically African, ruled by decree and without a constitution, thus limiting people from challenging the regime (Killian 2008: 111). An irony in the ideology of revolution itself was the fact that it sought to establish an egalitarian society, which was the initial goal of ZNP during the struggle for independence, yet by advocating the dimension of race in developing its ensuing policies, it reinforced various inequalities and introduced new forms of strangeness in Zanzibar.

THE AFRICANIZATION OF THE ZANZIBAR STATE Policies of the new scientific socialist-minded, revolutionary government led by Karume sought to create an environment of social and economic equality, but only for Africans, at the cost of marginalizing Arabs and other minorities who enjoyed a superior social status in pre-revolutionary days (Larsen 2004: 131). In pursuing this policy, the new government created conditions for the evolution of new structures of privileges and corruption (Babu 1991: 244) for a new minority of people which, in turn intensified the racial and social divisions (Bissell 2005: 227) within the society. Members of the ASP represented the petty bourgeoisie class in Zanzibar during the colonial era, and after the revolution, its leaders consolidated itself as the new, authoritarian ruling class in Zanzibar (Shao 1992: 47, Chachage 2000: 42). Immediately following the revolution, the new government nationalized all land, and subsequently, after issuing the Land Distribution Decree of 1965, all properties and land confiscated from Arabs and Asians were distributed to poor and landless peasants and other workers (Shao 1992: 50). 44 Land belonging to “freedom fighters,” government employ-


Chapter 2

ees and independent African peasants was not expropriated (Chachage 2000: 40). Through this program, each family received three acres of land. Between 1965 and 1972 about 22,251 families in Unguja and Pemba were given roughly 66,573 acres of land (Shao 1992: 51). Majority of land recipients in Unguja were squatters from the mainland (Ibid: 52) and those Swahili Zanzibaris who identified themselves as Hadimu (Chachage 2000: 43). Furthermore, allocation of land was conditional upon the new definition of citizenship under the revolutionary regime and ASP membership (Ibid. 45). Though these policies attempted to instill values of equality among Africans, corruption associated with the land distribution process initiated a new era of inequalities. Only small portions of fertile land in the shamba, “rural areas,” were actually given to the citizens (Shao 1992: 53), while government officials and ASP supporters received up to nine acres of most fertile lands (Ibid. 57). Moreover, many people receiving the land were not granted deeds to them (Ibid. 53). 45 As a result of this unequal distribution and the inability of many peasants to cultivate the lands that were given to them, the squatter system continued, with peasants working as laborers (Chachage 2000: 47). In situations where people were unable to farm they sold the land for boats (Shao 1992: 62). Others deserted their land or had it repossessed by the government (Ibid. 54). Challenges in adequately cultivating the land resulted in many peasants moving to Zanzibar town in search of work. Consequently, the urban population of Zanzibar town increased drastically, from 68,490 in 1968 46 to 115,131 by 1978 (see Myers 2003: 109). 47 In the course of the new government’s efforts to provide services to Africans, Karume continued to seek revenge on those he categorized as foreigners (Clayton 1981: 123) and rid Zanzibar of all Asians and Arabs. He claimed that they still controlled the economy and thus needed to be deported. He strategically oppressed and persecuted Asians, Arabs and other minorities (Ibid. 123). Many Arab, Asian, and other men of other minorities, such as those from the Comoros were jailed immediately after the revolution and throughout Karume’s rule (Ali Mohamed 2006, Purpura 1997, 2000). In 1971, the government restricted private businesses and traders from operating on the pretext that Asians controlled the economy (Chachage 2000: 41) and subsequently ordered more than two hundred Asian families to leave Zanzibar (Martin 1978: 123). Karume’s revenge against Arabs and Asians also took the form of instituting forced racial intermarriages in 1970 between African men from the Revolutionary Council and Arab and Asian women. 48 He himself took wives from different communities (Clayton 1981: 124). These marriages were given legitimacy under the auspice of ASP’s policy of promoting racial harmony, ethnic reconciliation and eradicating tribalism (Amory 1994: 134), pursued through intimidation and terror. Asian fathers were imprisoned if their daughters married Asian Zanzibari men,

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leading many Asian women of marriageable age to either seek marriage partners on the mainland or remain unmarried (Keshodkar 2010: 230-31). Furthermore, Karume re-defined the concept of citizenship on the premise of promoting racial harmony. He declared that only a person with at least one African parent could be citizen of Zanzibar. However, this new definition of nationality contradicted the provisions of the Tanzanian constitution (Clayton 1981: 127). Notions of being African and identifying oneself as Swahili also acquired new meanings under Karume’s rule. The Swahili who previously made claims of origin from Shiraz were forced to refute their Shirazi identity (Amory 1994: 116). Threatened with imprisonment, more than 18 thousand Swahili Zanzibaris from southern Unguja signed documents denying they were Shirazi (Glassman 2011: 289). The refusal of Wapemba and Watumbatu to identify themselves as African and associate with ASP during the “time of politics” and participate in the revolution led Karume to identify them as the enemies of the state. He punished them as counter revolutionaries (Burgess 2009: 2) and pursued means to constantly oppress them in the same manner as other minorities (Chachage 2000: 41). Prior to the revolution, the Swahili in Pemba, majority of who adopted the Shirazi identity, owned land whereas such was not the case in Unguja (Shao 1992: 52). The economic inequalities between Arabs and Swahili that evolved and shaped new class distinctions during the “time of politics” in Unguja failed to materialize in Pemba. In addition to relative socio-economic equality, relations between the Swahili and different groups of Arabs in Pemba remained cordial due to high degree of intermarriage between them. Within the political framework of the revolutionary state, their association with the Shirazi identity contrasted the newly imposed ideology of “Africanness” for formulating identities in Zanzibar and they were punished for not embracing it. The prevailing underdevelopment of Pemba in contrast to Unguja remains a visible marker of the marginalization of Wapemba for repudiating the revolutionary rhetoric and maintaining their non-African origins. 49 The authoritarian policies of the revolutionary government and growing persecution of “non-Africans” subsequently resulted in many Zanzibaris fleeing the islands. More than ten percent of the population, including the educated and skilled, fled Zanzibar in years following the revolution (Martin 1978: 70, Saleh 2004: 153). Many Arabs fled to Oman and other Gulf States, 50 while Asians either sought refuge in the Indian sub-continent or with relatives in other parts of East Africa, or else migrated to the West with the assistance of various religious and social networks (Keshodkar 2010: 231). This group included the ‘Ulema, the Islamic religious scholars. Fearing close ties of Islamic teaching with the Arab world, the revolutionary state attempted to reduce Islam to an artifact (Turner 2009: 251), using Muslim standards of beauty, modesty and decency but rejecting Islamic learning (Burgess 2009: 302). With the ex-


Chapter 2

pulsion of religious scholars, Islamic learning, the cornerstone for constituting ustaarabu in Zanzibar, deteriorated (Purpura 1997: 136). Religious learning institutions were shut down and religious books were destroyed (Ibid. 140). Furthermore, Karume controlled all religious gatherings in order to discourage any possible incitement of anti-government unrest (Ibid. 138). Through the support of the People’s Liberation Army, a secret police institution established with the assistance of Soviet Union, Karume arrested, tortured, imprisoned critics and controlled all public activity and social behavior (Burgess 2009, Chachage 2000: 73). While the revolution did not aim to uproot Islam, since majority of the population practiced it, the post-revolutionary government created an environment where learning the principles of Islamic doctrines was discontinued. Public aspects of Islamic activity and rituals were discouraged and even condemned (Larsen 2004: 127, Parkin 1995: 205). Islamic institutions were abolished after the revolution but belief in and the practice of Islam remained central to people in Zanzibar (Nisula 1999: 30). With new government policies and the forced departure of ‘Ulema and other scholars, a vacuum now existed where Islam once mapped daily social existence for Zanzibaris. 51 The centrality of Islam, which shaped ideas of ustaarabu in the lives of Zanzibaris, was now displaced. The revolution and the subsequent union with Tanganyika also initiated a new era of political relations with mainland Africa. During his rule, Karume made every attempt to consolidate his power and retain Zanzibar for himself. The union would have dissolved had Karume not been assassinated in 1972 (Shivji 2008). However, after Karume’s death, Aboud Jumbe, the second president of Zanzibar, was forced to increasingly turn to mainland Tanzania for economic and political cooperation. The decline in the export of cloves, Zanzibar’s main crop and the government’s primary source of income, 52 resulting from the revolutionary government’s inability to enhance agriculture and maintain the labor demands (Shao 1992: 81) forced the islands to turn to the mainland (Myers 1993: 404). For much of the socialist era, Zanzibar was ruled by ASP in a one-party system. Subsequently, in 1977, ASP’s merger with the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) to form the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the Revolutionary Party of Tanzania, initiated a new era of one party rule. The unification of ASP and TANU marked a significant curtailment of Zanzibar’s autonomy and led to a slow fusion of mainland and island policies (Myers 1993: 403). Jumbe tried to protect Zanzibar’s interests by successfully introducing the first post-revolutionary constitution in 1979, which established a House of Representatives and created a separation of powers from the Revolutionary Council, thus reducing their influence (Shivji 2008: 193-94). The constitution also introduced universal suffrage, as a result of which Jumbe was elected by 94 percent of the electorate 53 in the first post-revolutionary elections (Ibid. 200). However, Zanzibar’s

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new subordinate position to mainland Tanzania was revealed when, in light of the economic crisis of 1980-82, with clove prices tumbling, Jumbe’s cabinet brought up grievances around the union and claimed that Zanzibar’s deterioration was due to the union (Ibid. 203). Jumbe, now also the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, went against Nyerere’s wishes and raised the constitutional question about the structure of the Tanzanian union and Zanzibar’s place in it. He put forward a proposal for the formation of three governments—Zanzibar, the existing union and the government of mainland Tanganyika (Chachage 2000: 4, Shivji 2008: 206). A constitutional crisis followed, as a result of which, Jumbe was forced to resign and quickly replaced by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, a Zanzibari within the CCM ranks. The 1983 constitutional crisis and Jumbe’s resignation maintained CCM’s supremacy over the union— with the one single party controlling the two-government union structure. Under the rule of the revolutionary CCM government, mainland’s political and cultural hegemony became gradually imposed over the islands, whose agents now controlled social, economic and political institutions of Zanzibar (Saleh 2004: 150). The mainland government controlled spaces in which Zanzibaris could move. The hegemony of CCM and mainland politics from the late 1970s onwards altered the vision of self-sufficiency set forth by Karume for Zanzibar. The Western bias of mainland policies precipitated a return to an earlier, colonialist policy direction in Zanzibar (Myers 1993: 405, Myers 2003: 108-09), but this time controlled by mainland Africans. Mainland policies of CCM were given a priority at the cost of undermining Zanzibar’s structural and economic development. The new structures of privileges in Zanzibar favored those who associated themselves to mainland Africa and possessed the power given to them by the ruling bureaucracy. Those with affinity to the mainland and the government acquired new forms of capital to move through the Zanzibar landscape. It is within this environment that corruption flourished and the local economy deteriorated. By 1991, development aid accounted for 84 percent of the Zanzibar government’s budget. However, most of it was embezzled by those with power (Myers 1993: 434). As a result of such practices, one nickname by which CCM was now referred was Chukua Chako Mapema, “get yours early” (Ibid. 403). Foreign aid to Zanzibar increased following the revolution, first from communist countries and then increasingly mainland Tanzania. These sources of revenue enabled the revolutionary government to dictate its rule on the islands. The government’s policies harmed and marginalized ordinary people, often exacerbating their poverty, while enabling a few, through corruption, to climb into positions of privilege (Chachage 2000: 195). With the rule of law mandated by ASP and then CCM, Zanzibar remained colonized by yet another external power (Babu 1996: 17), following the trend that has been a major part of its history for over the past


Chapter 2

200 years, from the rule of the Omani Busaidi Kingdom, followed by the British and now, by Africans claiming Zanzibar for Africa. The revolution only facilitated the upward mobility of the African petty bourgeoisie and their ability, through amassing wealth and privilege, to establish new social models in Zanzibar society. Since coming into power, the revolutionary government created new systems of classification and shaped new social distinctions for Swahili Zanzibaris by controlling the nature of movement that could take place in Zanzibar for over the next 20 years. Only after the liberalization of the economy in 1985, when the socialist experiment was abandoned in favor of encouraging foreign investments to save the crippling economy 54 and international trade resumed again (Chachage 2000: 56) did people in Zanzibar, particularly those who were previously marginalized by the revolutionary government, acquire new means to move through the local landscape. It is also at this point that the Zanzibar government made the decision to invest heavily in tourism for the purposes of acquiring revenues and reviving the islands’ economy (see SMZ 1983a). The post-socialist era has re-appropriated spaces within which Zanzibaris can move and develop new dispositions to reformulate their identities. The Swahili who were forced to renounce their Shirazi origins following the revolution once again asserted their non-African origin 55 and have become self-conscious about the ways in which racial and ethnic identities were manipulated by the government in the name of politics (Amory 1994: 123). With the revival of commerce, Zanzibaris of Asian and Arab origins that fled the islands after the revolution have also returned and are moving through the Zanzibar landscape, either to re-unite with their families who were left behind or to take part in the newly developing, lucrative market economy. The development of new socio-economic processes in the post-socialist era, as numerous events and historical process before is re-appropriating existing social spaces in which different Zanzibaris are striving to move. The struggle for formulating contemporary notions of Wazanzibari, as an identity tied to a specific place, falls within this discourse. Zanzibaris, despite differentiating among themselves with reference to different places of origin, simultaneously stress that they are all Zanzibari, and thus, different from people from mainland Tanzania (Larsen 2004: 123). An association with Africa, aimed at eliminating the roots of ustaarabu which evolved out of centuries of interaction between different people from different parts of the Indian Ocean moving through the Zanzibar landscape, was imposed during the socialist era. With the rising political discourse between the wazanzibari versus wazanzibara rhetoric in Zanzibar today, the quest for developing a Zanzibar identity that embraces all of the islands’ inhabitants and culture remains for succeeding generations to resolve (cf. Clayton 1981: 155). In pursuit of formulating that unifying identity, the question of the Zanzibar-Tanganyika union now serves as a

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


microcosm of the competing and conflicting cultural, racial and territorial nationalism (Shivji 2008: 244). New forms of movements possible in the post-socialist environment now enables Zanzibaris to search for alternatives routes and develop dispositions to classify themselves as members of Zanzibar society. Historically, association with Islam and remoteness from Africa shaped ideas of belonging and civilization in Zanzibar. With Zanzibaris now able to reassert their non-African identities and the CCM government continuing its efforts to impose an orientation toward Africa through the political union, Zanzibar, in the post-socialist era, has become the battleground for re-conceptualizing civilization. It is within such an environment that tourism now thrives in Zanzibar. NOTES 1. Jumbe was President of Zanzibar from 1972 to 1984. 2. The Tanzanian union is based on a two-government structure, the government of Tanzania, which oversees all matter related to mainland Tanzania and unions matters (including Zanzibar), and the government of Zanzibar, which governs only Zanzibar in all non-union matters, similar to a state government in a Federal government system. 3. Jumbe was forced to resign as the President of Zanzibar as a consequence of going against the wishes of the ruling CCM government (Killian 2008: 112, Shivji 2008) 4. The Omanis were by no means the first Arabs to come to Zanzibar. While the rulers of the Omani sultanates established a strong presence in Zanzibar and other parts of East Africa by late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Arabs from other part of the Arabian Peninsula had migrated to parts of East Africa earlier. The Hadramis from Yemen, for example, are considered to have migrated to Zanzibar in the sixteenth century (Hitchcock 2002: 157, Walker 2008). The Omani Sultans started ruling Zanzibar in early nineteenth century. 5. More than 18 thousand Zanzibaris who previously identified themselves as Shirazi were forced to sign documents after the revolution renouncing such identification (Glassman 2011: 289) and subsequently identified themselves as Hadimu identity during the socialist era. 6. Zanzibaris from Pemba faced further punishment and persecution because the new revolutionary government perceived them as “counter revolutionaries” (Burgess 2009: 2). 7. This discussion of the Swahili identity here focuses on the development of the Swahili identity and its relationship to Islam over the past few centuries. There is a greater debate on the rise of the Swahili culture and identity, prior to the rise of Islam, which while important, falls outside the scope of this project. For a further discussion on this debate, refer to works of Allen 1993, Nurse and Spear 1985, Horton 1994, Horton and Middleton 2000 among others. 8. Middleton’s premise is based on the notion that this intermarriage was primarily between sons of Hadramis and Omanis (recognized as Patricians) with daughters of their African trading partners (2003: 515), as a consequence of which both lineage and trade networks were strengthened to shape the Swahili culture (Ibid: 520). The oldest daughters of the Patricians married with their father’s brothers’ son and the later daughters married more distant cousins, but never Africans (Ibid: 513). 9. However, Islam was confined to the East African coast until the nineteenth century (Glassman 2011: 24)


Chapter 2

10. Over centuries, the Shafi tradition of Sunnism has emerged as the prominent branch of Islam practiced by majority of Muslims throughout East Africa. 11. It should be noted that such hierarchical differences and social stratification is a feature found in any mercantile society (Middleton 1987: 110). 12. The idea of being civilized was defined on the basis of practicing Islam. 13. The arrival of the Portuguese and then the British and the Omani also introduced a new era of violence with the pursuits of imperial aspirations around the Indian Ocean (Hofmeyr 2012, Ho 2006). 14. The Mazrui had emerged as a principal threat to the Busaidi in its efforts to prosper in developing commerce in East Africa (Bennett 1978: 16). 15. The Arabs migrating from Yemen were distinguished on the basis of their geographical origins in Yemen, with Hadramis representing those from southern Yemen and Shihiris from the northern areas of country. 16. Gujarat is a state in western India. 17. By 1870, there were approximately 3000 Asians in Zanzibar, mostly Hindu traders (Bissell 2011: 32-33) who were encouraged by the Omani Sultans to migrate and facilitate and finance their trade operations in Zanzibar and East Africa. 18. Cloves were introduced to Pemba in 1872, which coincided with the abolition of slavery (Glassman 2011: 32), as a result of which, a much smaller number of slaves were used on plantations than on Unguja. Consequently, while slaves cultivated majority of the cloves on Unguja, the scarcity of slaves in Pemba led the Arabs and indigenous Pembas to work together on the clove plantations. 19. Among the Arabs, the Omani elite enjoyed higher social status than the Manga, followed by the Hadrami and Shihiri. 20. Many Omani elite also had African mothers (Glassman 2011: 39) 21. While slaves made up a big percentage of the population in Unguja, not all slaves in Zanzibar were washenzi slaves from mainland Africa. There was a category of slaves in Zanzibar called Wazalia, who were born in Zanzibar and were Muslims. They were often servants and it was considered disreputable to sell them (Bissell 2011: 44). According to Colomb, there was no distinction in Zanzibar between a slave and servant (1873: 368 in Bissell 2011: 44). Furthermore, given that Zanzibar was deeply paternalistic, governed by relationships of obligation and subordination, slaves were also tied to paternalistic modes of clientage and occupied diverse place and positions in Zanzibar society (Bissell 2011: 39–44). 22. Teachings in the Qur’an, the holy book of Muslims, mandates that a Muslim cannot enslave another Muslim. According to these teachings, since the only master for a Muslim is God, a Muslim has to release his slave from bondage if the slave converts to Islam. 23. The usage of the Swahili identity, based on conversion to Islam, has been used to define levels of social progress in different parts of East Africa. Alpers argues that conversion to Islam offered some groups, like the Yao, in Malawi, who were involved in trade on the coast, a step toward the modernization of their societies (1972: 192), and also provided them with an external standard to compare and contrast their own values (Ibid. 194). This view correlates with ideas of syncretism proposed by Parkin (1970), who examined the notion of ‘involuntary conversion’ to Islam among the Giriama, on the coast of Kenya. Parkins argued that the adoption of Islamic elements by some, in contrast to animist beliefs and practices, facilitated a long-term process of role differentiation and specialization (1970: 231) in which persons and groups attempted to legitimize or reinforce their social position and relations. In all these instances, the development of a Swahili identity and its relationship to Islam was tied to notions of social superiority, prestige and local politics. “Swahilization” through Islam provided the means for many different groups of people to acquire new social status and power within their immediate surroundings. 24. These different community associations, such as the Arab Association (created in early 1900s—exact date of formation not known), the Indian National Association (created in 1909 to improve access for Asians in trading ([Gregory 1993b: 32]), Shirazi

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


Association (created in 1939 to represent interest of “rural indigenous African” ([Sheriff 1991: 134]) and the African Association (created in 1934 and representing the urban working class, many of whom were fairly recent immigrants from the mainland ([Fair 2001: 53]) were established before the 1940s and facilitated British rule and policies on the islands (Lofchie 1965: 99). 25. While in Pemba there was high degree of intermarriage between Arabs and Swahili, in Unguja, sharper socio-economic class distinctions and less availability of arable land did not facilitate such intermarriages. In contrast, there was much greater degree of intermarriage in Unguja between the Swahili and African from mainland, particularly after the abolition of slavery, in light of their similar socio-economic conditions (Bennett 78: 27) 26. This group of non-natives also included the Comorian Zanzibaris, who were categorized as subjects of the French protectorate of Comoros and held and travelled on French passports (Walker 2007). 27. While the British had no official definition of “African” at the time when the native tax was enforced in 1910, a definition according to the Immigration Decree of 1947 from the Principal Immigration Officer to the Chief Secretary stated that an African was “a person who is a member of an African tribe indigenous to the Protectorate” (in Glassman 2000: 11–12). 28. The official breakdown of the Zanzibar population according to the 1948 census based on ethnicity was as follows: Africans—75.7 percent, Arabs—16.9 percent, Asians—5.8 percent, Comorian—1.1 percent, Goan—0.3percent, European—0.2 percent, other—0.1 percent. Furthermore, in terms of breakdown between Unguja and Pemba, in Unguja, Africans made up 79.3 percent of the population, followed by Arabs—9.3 percent, Asians—8.8 percent, Comorians—1.8 percent, Goans—0.4 percent, European—0.2 percent, Other—0.2 percent. In Pemba, Africans made up 70.9 percent of the population, Arabs—26.7 percent, Asians 1.8 percent, and Comorians— 0.4 percent (Lofchie 1965: 71). 29. According to these figures, Arabs and Shirazi Zanzibaris now accounted for about 75 percent of Zanzibar’s population by 1948 (Tambila 1999: 7), which contradicts the fact that at the end of the nineteenth century, more than 70 percent of the islands population was composed of slaves from mainland Africa. 30. Many Arab landlords and wealthy merchants and traders built mansions in Stone Town because it was the socio-political and ceremonial center of the islands (Bissell 2011: 30), in close proximity to the British and the Busaidi rulers. 31. This does not suggest that poor people did not live in Stone Town. There was no strict segregation on the basis of either class or race in Stone Town in the nineteenth century, but with more and more people moving to town, leading to over-crowding, more people lived in Ng’ambo than Stone Town by the turn of the century (Bissell 2011: 64). It is only after British intervention, through which they sought to create greater organization to the structure of the town through a series of town planning efforts, that Stone Town and Ng’ambo became more divided by socio-economic conditions, culture and race (Ibid. 181). In fact, the 1926 Guide to Zanzibar, published by the colonial government emphasizes the cleanliness and order of Ng’ambo in comparison to the filth, disorder and uncleanliness of Stone Town (Zanzibar National Archives, AB 31/24, “Guide to Zanzibar” 1926). 32. It is important to note that majority of the Asians and Arabs in Zanzibar were not wealthy or part of the social elite or aristocracy. Majority of the Manga and Shihiri Arabs were poor and many Indians were not money lenders or financiers, but small shopkeepers and traders (Sheriff 2001: 303). 33. Between 1953 and 1963, 39 percent of children born among Hadimu in Unguja had one parent from mainland (Sheriff 2001: 307). 34. According to Asian respondents in Zanzibar, another group that considered itself left out of this new vision of Zanzibar was the Hindu Asians, who, as nonMuslims, considered themselves marginalized within the society. A number of Asian respondents have highlighted that while a majority of Muslim Asians ended up sup-


Chapter 2

porting the ZNP, much of the Hindu community of Zanzibar supported the AfroShirazi Party (ASP) and served as the primary financiers of ASP activities, including paying for building the ASP headquarters outside of Stone Town (Personal conversations, January 2011). 35. The reference to mainlanders here is to Africans that migrated to Zanzibar after the abolition of slavery and during British rule. 36. While in most other parts of Africa, the masters and the slaves were Africans, in Zanzibar, Arabs were perceived as the masters and Africans as slaves (Glassman 2011: 140), which further fueled the calls for African supremacy in Zanzibar. 37. One source of British antagonism against ZNP was Muhsin’s support for Gamal Abdel Nasser, against whom the British had declared war in 1956 during the Suez crisis, when Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. 38. Refer to Glassman’s (2011) recent publication on racial thought and violence in colonial Zanzibar for further discussion on political conditions in Zanzibar between 1958 and 1961. 39. Middleton and Campbell argue that about 65 Arabs were killed (1965: 57), while Bennett claims over hundred died, most of them Arabs, with 400 injured (1978: 261). 40. While criminal gangs on both sides were engaged in carrying out violence in the days following the June 1961 elections, the riots in which Arabs were killed by stones were not planned and organized, but were part of ASP’s effort to promote racial terror (Glassman 2011: 218). 41. There remains a great discrepancy in the count of number of people that were killed by the insurgents. Abdulrahman Babu, who went on to serve the post of foreign minister in the revolutionary government, claims that the casualty figures were minimal, kindled by Okello’s wild claims (1991: 241). On the other hand, other accounts provide numbers of casualties in the thousands. Petterson estimates the numbers killed around five thousand (2002: 107), which according to Bennett is a conservative figure (1978: 267). Though the leaders of the revolution downplayed the numbers of those killed, some estimate that approximately 10,000 people were killed (Cameron 2004: 105). Abdul Sheriff, the prominent historian of Zanzibar, asserts that the revolution massacre was genocidal in proportion (2001: 314). 42. According to Muhammad, majority of revolutionaries causing havoc in the streets were not Zanzibaris. He indicated that he and his uncles, who were in their 20s then, often talk about the revolution and the aftermath that followed to this day and from what they recollected of the events of the revolution from their nerve wracking responsibilities of guarding the houses during the revolution. He asserted that the gangs of Africans running through the streets of Stone Town did not speak Kiswahili—they were speaking some foreign language and were often lost in the streets, asking other people around them for directions. In his view, while most of the leaders may have been Africans from Zanzibar, many of the foot soldiers came over in dhows from the mainland, most likely sent by Julius Nyerere, the future president of the union (interview, June 2012). 43. The union was based on secret documents signed by Karume and Nyerere, without consulting members of the Revolutionary Council or the Tanganyika cabinet (Shivji 2008: 1). 44. For Arabs and Asians that owned multiple properties, they were only allowed to keep one, in which they lived. All of their other properties were confiscated as part of the nationalization project. While most owners of multiple properties lost the majority of their assets, according to numerous respondents, one way some Arabs and Asians maintained ownership was by transferring the ownership of houses in the names of either their Swahili servants or their spouses before they fled Zanzibar. This development becomes particularly important when Arabs and Asians returned to Zanzibar after liberalization in the mid-1980s. 45. The consequence of this development becomes a major factor in the liberalization era, now that private ownership of land is allowed. This facilitates new forms of

Historical Articulations of Being Zanzibari


movement through the local landscape. But the government still maintains its socialist policies over land ownership (see Askew 2006) 46. Source: Zanzibar National Archives, Location: BA 92/12 (Basic Statistics of Zanzibar, 1974). 47. The movement of Zanzibaris from different areas of the islands to Zanzibar town in search for work opportunities during and after the socialist era increased the population of Zanzibar town to over 257,000 by 1995 (Source: Zanzibar National Archives, Location: BA 92/26, Zanzibar in Figures, 1995). The population of Zanzibar town increased by a little under 400 percent in less than 30 years under the rule of the Revolutionary government, between 1967 and 1995. 48. While there was a history of marriage between Arabs and Africans, the marriage was always between Arab men and African women, never African men and Arab women. Among Asians, marriages were primarily endogamous, based on religious affiliations, particularly among the Hindu and Shia communities, thus limiting marriage with non-Asian. However, many Sunni Muslim Asians in Zanzibar did marry Africans, but here again, majority of such marriages were between Asian men and African women, and rarely between an African man and Asian woman (see Keshodkar 2010 for greater discussion of Asian marriage practices in Zanzibar). 49. There has been no investment for developing infrastructure, education, electricity in Pemba since the revolution. Consequently, since the revolution, there has been massive migration of Pembans to Unguja and mainland. In 1963, Pembans accounted for 48 percent of Zanzibar’s electorate, which declined to about 37 percent by 1995 (Sheriff 2001: 315). 50. Approximately 8,000 Arabs and Indian refugees who fled Zanzibar were offered accommodations and residency in Dubai, UAE, by the Ruler of Dubai at the time, Sheikh Rashid bin Makhtum (Elsheshtawy 2010: 223-24) 51. During the rule of Aboud Jumbe, Islamic learning was slowly re-introduced in Zanzibar, allowing Zanzibaris to access various religious books, such as the Qur’an, with greater ease (Chachage 2000: 76). However, in light of travel restrictions in Zanzibar, religious scholars were unable to return to Zanzibar until the post-socialist era. 52. In the 1970s, cloves provided 90 percent of the government foreign exchange earnings (Bissell 1999: 451). 53. The 1980 election was a single party election. 54. Seif Shariff Hamad, then Mwinyi’s Chief Minister, and later leader of the Civic United Front (CUF), directed the path towards liberalization for which he gained much popularity in Zanzibar (Shivji 2008: 227), but which irked many hardliners from the CCM leadership and the Revolutionary Council. 55. In 1999, 27.5 percent of the population in Zanzibar identified themselves as Shirazi (Killian 2008: 106).

THREE Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar Identity Politics in the Era of Tourism

The socialist era initiated a drastic period of socio-economic decline in Zanzibar, first under Karume’s totalitarian regime and then the suffocating policies of CCM and the mainland government. Policies advocating scientific socialism, 1 centered on de-emphasis of education, 2 state sponsored violence against the population and politicization of ethnicity (Askew 2006: 21–26), nationalization, dependence on foreign aid, corruption and mismanagement oversaw the rapid deterioration of Zanzibar’s political economy. The gradual deterioration of the economy during the first decade of socialist rule 3 culminated into the economy declining by over 27 percent between 1976 and 1985 (Bissell 2005: 219). More than 10,000 people, many educated and entrepreneurs, also fled Zanzibar during this period (Burgess 2001: 333), forcing the revolutionary government to fill the vacuum of skilled labor with specialists from socialist states (Martin 1978: 60). The revolutionary government sustained its rule over the islands by maintaining a monopoly over clove production. The high price of cloves in the international market served as the primary source of foreign exchange for the government. All other modes of agricultural production were compromised, which forced Zanzibar to become more dependent upon mainland Tanzania to import basic foods (Askew 2006; 26). The local population was also forced into “volunteer” agricultural labor camps to harvest cloves for little compensation. By 1978, the government paid clove producers only seven percent of the market rates, 4 which encouraged smuggling and greater inefficiency in clove production (Ibid. 26). Support from the socialist states, the high price of cloves in the global market and the policy of isolation enabled the revolutionary government 55


Chapter 3

to significantly restrict and control the movements of its population (see Burgess 2001). By the early 1980s, however, the government’s ability to unilaterally impose its policies changed dramatically. The collapse of clove prices in the international market, further dampened by bumper clove harvests, denied the revolutionary authorities much needed revenues to operate the government. Concurrently, aid from socialist states declined as they also faced economic and political challenges. In order to maintain power, the CCM government turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for financial assistance. However, the IMF and World Bank demanded market and political reforms, which challenged the socialist policies of Ujamaa 5 that Nyerere championed during his rule as Tanzania’s President. 6 Unwilling to compromise on his ideologies, Nyerere resigned from office in 1985 (Shivji 2008). 7 Ali Hassan Mwinyi, handpicked by Nyerere and appointed the president of Zanzibar in 1984, became the new president of Tanzania in November 1985. Mwinyi signed the accord with the IMF in 1986 and paved the way for economic liberalization and political reforms in Zanzibar and Tanganyika (Askew 2006: 27). He appointed Seif Sharif Hamad, a Pemban who had climbed up through the ranks of the CCM leadership, as his Chief Minister to steer the liberalization program (Shivji 2008: 227). The new era of economic liberalization revived foreign trade and investments to the islands. The Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) mandated by the IMF, however, required downsizing the government bureaucracy, which resulted in many civil servants losing their jobs and decline in public and social services, such as education, health care and welfare. SAPs also contributed to rise in inflation, deindustrialization and immediate increases in food prices and consumer goods (Bissell 2011: 221, Cameron 2009: 159). The “shock therapy” from the SAPs, continuing decline in clove revenues (over which the state still maintains a monopoly), and lack of industrial infrastructure and skilled local labor subsequently steered the government to invest heavily in tourism to promote economic growth and revive the islands’ economy (SMZ 1983a, Bissell 1999: 471). With new investments in hotels and resorts made primarily by foreign investors, tourist arrivals increased—from less than nine thousands tourists in 1984 (Gössling and Shulz 2005: 46) to approximately 200,000 people visiting Zanzibar by the end of 2011. Such drastic growth, of over two thousand percent, has resulted in tourism becoming the largest economic sector in Zanzibar (Sumich 2002: 39). 8 As investors, many Zanzibaris who lived in exile during the socialist years have also returned and now have acquired new means to move through the Zanzibar landscape. Economic liberalization has further facilitated the movement of new groups of outsiders through the Zanzibar landscape—migrant workers from mainland, who are mostly Christians and often enjoy better economic oppor-

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


tunities than the locals in Zanzibar. The arrival of a new generation of mainlanders to Zanzibar has revived long standing anti-mainland sentiments among Zanzibaris. In the presence of these different groups, the spaces re-appropriated in the post-socialist milieu now facilitate new forms of movements for Zanzibaris to rearticulate aspects of their identities. The dominance of neo-liberalism and capitalism in the post-socialist era has re-constituted how the CCM government maintains its hegemony over Zanzibar. The ideology of Africanization dictated CCM’s authoritarian policies during the socialist era. Today, the extent to which authorities can take advantage of and personally benefit from revenues generated in the capitalist economy additionally facilitates their rule over the population. The IMF mandated introduction of political reforms, but CCM resisted and continued ruling Zanzibar as a single-party government. CCM eventually introduced multi-party elections in 1992, with the first set to take place in 1995, only after pressure was exerted from international donors (Askew 2006: 31). The passage of the Political Parties Act of 1992 revived multi-party democracy in Zanzibar. 9 However, much like the previous experience with multi-party elections, during the “time of politics” in the late 1950s and early 1960s, democratic elections in the postsocialist era became marred by political and ethnic violence. The reopening of political debate has created a space within which ethnic group identities, tied to the historical memories of race based violence and the revolution, once again dominate this social discourse (Glassman 2011: 22). The post-socialist political discourse is further clouded by the controversy of the union and the future of Zanzibar’s place in it. 10 Despite Zanzibar’s quasi-socialist experiment, which lasted for 20 years (see Burgess 2001) memories of the revolution and the ethnic violence and persecution of the socialist regime remain entrenched in the consciousness of many Zanzibari respondents who lived through it. The post-socialist era, now dominated by tourism and integration of Zanzibar into the global capitalist economy under the hegemony of mainland, offers them and a younger generation of Zanzibaris new spaces within which they can move. Through their movement within re-appropriated spaces, they are developing new meanings to contextualize those memories and rearticulating their identities and ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. This chapter examines how political and economic developments in post-socialist Zanzibar facilitate and restrict new forms of movements for Zanzibaris to formulate aspects of their identities. The first part of the chapter analyzes how freedom of movement in the post-socialist era and the return of those previously living in exile shape the abilities of Zanzibaris to re-assert their non-African identities, which were suppressed in the aftermath of the revolution. The chapter then explores how new forms of movements in Zanzibar today have transformed the local as well as the union political discourse and the implication of these develop-


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ments on the future of the Tanzanian union. Given the extent to which tourism now dominates Zanzibar’s political economy, the last part of the chapter examines the context in which tourism evolved and how its growth has shaped the development of new models of social and economic inequalities, in turn giving rise to new routes through which Zanzibaris identify themselves as well as the new “others” around them.

THE RISE OF A NEW CONSCIOUSNESS The liberalization policies introduced by Mwinyi initiated an era of “wild capitalism” in Zanzibar, 11 unabated by any regulations (Askew 2006: 30). The new economic environment relied primarily on foreign capital, including that of Zanzibari in exile, to invest in the islands’ economy. The collapse of the agricultural economy and the devaluation of the local currency, the Tanzanian Shilling (TZS), 12 only allowed those Zanzibaris who had access to a steady supply of hard currency, specifically the US dollar (USD), to take advantage of the new economic environment (Bissell 1999: 472). 13 With limited access to hard currency in Zanzibar, Zanzibaris with relatives abroad 14 were able to acquire hard currency and participate in the market economy (Burgess 2009: 271, Bissell 1999: 471). Many prominent businessmen in Zanzibar today were petty traders in the 1980s who acquired assistance from their relatives abroad (Bissell 1999: 471). However, for the majority of the population, those who were public workers or lacked access to networks outside Zanzibar and earned their incomes in shillings, economic liberalization, with the collapse of all government services, a rise in unemployment, inflation in price of goods, and continuing devaluation of the shilling, initiated a new era of suffering (Bissell 2005: 221). More and more Zanzibaris use the phrase, maisha magumu, “difficult life” with every passing year to reflect their conditions within the new milieu. Along with the rise of new socio-economic inequalities, centrality of ethnicity has also been revived for defining notions of belonging in postsocialist Zanzibar. The failed attempts of the revolutionary government to erase ethnic difference led to the introduction of new models of social inequalities among the local population. Under the rule of the revolutionary socialist government, state policies systematically oppressed all “nonAfricans” (Keshodkar 2005: 130). The liberalization of the economy subsequently facilitated new freedoms of movement for Zanzibaris to engage with the outside world. Zanzibaris who have been able to acquire new forms of capital 15 and move within this environment have developed dispositions to re-constitute how they distinguish their association to Zanzibar.

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


Through this freedom of movement, Zanzibaris are demarcating new boundaries for formulating notions of perceived ethnicity. In defining their origins and identity as Zanzibaris, they are reasserting their disassociation with mainland Africa. In the most prominent example, those who were forced to renounce their Shirazi origins following the revolution are once again affirming these non-African origins. By contesting the centrality of race, the marker continually used by the revolutionary government, they are re-formulating the basis for articulating their roots in Zanzibar (Amory 1994: 123). 16 Zanzibaris who fled after the revolution are also returning, in many cases with foreign passports and financial resources to facilitate their movements through the local landscape. Many Zanzibaris of Asian, Arab and Swahili origins have returned to Zanzibar either to re-unite with their families who were left behind or take advantage of the newly developing, lucrative market economy. With the forms of capital they are able to access to facilitate their movements, these Zanzibaris, as individual and as members of specific ethnic, religious communities (see Keshodkar 2005) are developing different routes and dispositions to maintain social centrality and reconstitute their identities in spaces in which they move. The return of Zanzibaris from the Arabian Peninsula has revived the formation of strong ties between the two regions. Many Zanzibaris fled to Oman and other Gulf countries, where in light of their educational credentials and entrepreneurial skills, they acquired well-paying employment in the public and private sectors in their new homes. While they still continue to reside in those nations, many of them now frequent Zanzibar and Pemba on a more regular basis, particularly during the winter months, June through August. 17 Through their return, they are also seeking to renew their social ties to Zanzibar, either by investing in businesses or properties or through marriage. 18 Many Zanzibaris returning from Oman are acquiring properties throughout Unguja and Pemba. These properties serve as their retreats when visiting Zanzibar. Elderly respondents also often cite their childhood memories and previous family history as the basis for renewing their attachment to Zanzibar. In the words of Abdullah, an Omani Zanzibari respondent in his late 60s, who fled Zanzibar soon after the revolution and has lived in Oman since 1966, now with an Omani passport, “I may live in Oman, but my heart has always been in Zanzibar.” 19 Every year since the late 1980s, Abdullah has made the pilgrimage to Zanzibar alone, since his wife and children are not as interested as he is in reconnecting with their past. Though he lives in Oman for most of the year, Abdullah is emphatic that Zanzibar is his home. Since his return, he has purchased numerous properties in Zanzibar Town and around the island, and has built a house in Pemba. Abdullah’s story is similar to that of the other Zanzibaris returning from Oman whom I encountered in Zanzibar. Many of them are also investing their disposable wealth in


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business opportunities throughout the islands. The capital accessible to these Zanzibaris enables them to establish new spaces of centrality to facilitate their movements and formulate their roots in Zanzibar. In addition to re-establishing their foothold in Zanzibar, the Zanzibaris returning from the Gulf are also engaged in transforming the role of various institutions within the society. With government institutions failing to meet the basic needs of the population, development of private social, educational and medical institutions recently built under the patronage of Omani and Gulf Arabs, funded by individuals and organization in the Middle East, are now prominent throughout Zanzibar (Turner 2009: 238). Zanzibar University, the first post-secondary academic institution in Zanzibar, was established in 1998, and funded by Dar al Iman, a charity foundation funded by the royal family in Saudi Arabia. Mahad Istikamaa, a non-profit organization funded by Omanis, and situated in Tungu, 20 miles outside of Zanzibar Town, offers Islamic and secular primary and secondary education to students from throughout Unguja and Pemba. In addition to their main campus in Tungu, Mahad Istikamaa also offers satellite campuses in northern areas of Unguja and Pemba. Similar kind of private schools funded with money from the Gulf operate throughout the islands (see Loimeier 2009a). Other charitable institutions and hospitals funded by Gulf money are also prominent throughout the islands to assist Zanzibaris. The religious orientation of these institutions is reviving the prominence of Islam, a historical marker for constituting ideas of ustaarabu on the islands which was marginalized during the socialist era, for rearticulating Islamic identities in Zanzibar (Turner 2009). The displacement of Islam and the centrality occupied by race during the socialist era has transformed the place of religion in society and shaped new hostilities among local Muslims. With greater emphasis placed on ethnicity and race, locals that identify themselves as Arabs and Africans often tend to pray in separate mosques (Anglin 2000: 40). Among the Swahili, Pemban and Hadimu respondents often refused to attend the same congregations. Mzee, a 75-year-old Muslim, born in Mozambique, raised in Zanzibar and served in the revolutionary army, identifies himself as Hadimu. He refuses to socially interact or pray with Pembans in the same mosque, on the premise of labeling them as Arabs. He argues that the Swahili who now identify themselves as Shirazi fall within his definition of Arabs in Zanzibar today. In his view, Arabs remain as the “other.” While referring to Arabs, he constantly evokes racial differences that evolved as markers of difference during the “time of politics.” He associates the return of Arabs from Oman as the revival of hardships Africans faced before the revolution, yet refuses to hold CCM responsible for the hardships he currently endures. This view of Arabs, while grounded in a certain memory, is further fueled by recent political tensions on the islands (discussed below). For Zanzibaris like Mzee, affili-


Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


ation with mainland serves as an important marker of belonging in Zanzibar. However, since mosque attendance is a significant aspect of membership for individual men in Swahili society (cf. Swartz 1991: 76), the segregation he asserts suggests that issues of race and class are either resurfacing or never disappeared within the social milieu of Zanzibar. Pemban respondents similarly advocate such forms of separation from other Swahili Zanzibaris. They consider themselves as more religious than other Zanzibaris around them and display an unwillingness to pray with those whom they categorize as African. For Pembans, in particular, life under the rule of the revolutionary government has been one of continuous trauma and persecution. The government punished Pembans for not participating in the revolution (Tambila 2000: 97). With no investments in Pemba’s economy and infrastructure 20 and political marginalization of the people, many Pembans were deprived from acquiring land as part of the land distribution in the 1960s and often faced starvation due to the governments focus on clove production 21 (Askew 2006: 26). Many of them subsequently left Pemba and migrated to Unguja and the mainland, leading to a substantial population decline (Sheriff 2001: 315). 22 With no access to land in Zanzibar, these migrants lived in neighborhoods formed from illegal settlements of land formerly distributed by the government (see Myers 1996) and in vacated and dilapidated structures around Stone Town (Keshodkar 2013). Pembans respondents in Unguja continue to maintain a strong association with Pemba, indicating their desire to return, but are deterred by prevailing economic conditions there. Living in Unguja, their assertions of being Arab or Shirazi are stronger than ever before. Othman, a 45-yearold Pemban who identifies himself as a Hadrami Arab, has lived in Unguja for over 20 years. He migrated to Unguja in the early 1990s to help his family back in Pemba. After marrying a Pemban woman in Unguja, he insists that his children should interact primarily with other Pembans or “they will lose their identity around these mainlanders.” 23 Othman, along with other Pemban and Zanzibari respondents, often utilize the term, ushenzi, “uncivilized,” to refer to those with association to mainland Africa. 24 Through such attitudes, the discourses of civilization and barbarism have been re-conceptualized once again in opposition terms (cf. Glassman 2011: 291) in shaping the identity discourse in post-socialist Zanzibar. The development of specific attitudes toward re-conceptualizing ideas of ustaarabu today is also displayed by other ethnic groups in Zanzibar. Among the Asians of Zanzibar, 25 who are predominately Muslim, this era of economic liberalization offers them the opportunity to participate and engage in local trade and private businesses, which they dominated before the revolution (Keshodkar 2005: 149). More importantly, the freedom to move again has renewed their orientation toward the Jat, “caste based religious group,” 26 which additionally serves as a marker for em-


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phasizing their non-African identities. For many Asians in Zanzibar, the Jat increasingly offers a trans-national orientation. It provides access to resources through which, as one Asian respondent asserted, will enable them “to leave Zanzibar if an event like the revolution were to take place again.” 27 In the post-socialist era, Asians that are now positioned to benefit from accessing these trans-national Jat networks are able to significantly transform their social and economic position not only within the Jat, but also vis-à-vis other Zanzibaris (Keshodkar 2010). With support from religious and family networks abroad, inaccessible for over 20 years, some Asians have re-vitalized businesses deserted by other Asians after the revolution and started their ascent toward financial prosperity. Jamshed, an Asian respondent in his 70s, established an antique furniture business from goods that affluent Asians left behind after the revolution. Selling this furniture to beach resorts enabled him to improve his financial conditions and invest in other businesses. Others who managed to acquire support from family and social networks abroad also have achieved new levels of financial prosperity. Through the forms of capital they can now access, these Asians enjoy new positions of centrality within their Jat, the Asian community and Zanzibar society at large (Ibid. 231). In this new era of the market economy dominated by tourism, new groups of people from mainland Tanzania are also migrating to Zanzibar, majority of who are Christians. More educated and skilled than Zanzibaris, mainlanders are better positioned to take advantage of new economic opportunities in tourism. As the number of mainlanders in Zanzibar continues to grow, Zanzibaris detest their presence and the influence of Christianity in this predominately Muslim society. Zanzibaris also perceive their presence as a reminder of the suffering they have endured for the past 40 years. In advocating the centrality of Islam, Zanzibaris continue to categorize mainlanders as uncivilized and thus, as outsiders in their society. Many respondents assert that until 1994, people traveling from the mainland required a passport to travel to Zanzibar. However, new legislation passed before the 1995 elections granted mainlanders freedom to travel to Zanzibar without any identification, consequently undermining the semi-autonomous status of Zanzibar under the Tanzanian Constitution. These tensions manifested in the events at Forodhani, described at the outset of the book, and contribute to contemporary identity politics in Zanzibar. Joseph, now in his 30s, from the Sukumu tribe in western Tanzania, migrated to Zanzibar in 1996. He traveled to Zanzibar without a passport. For over 15 years, Joseph has worked as a night guard and performed other odd jobs during the day. The flourishing economic environment in Zanzibar and lack of opportunities in mainland Tanzania provided him with the incentive to migrate. 28 Joseph argues that since Zanzibar is a part of Tanzania, he has the right to travel here in the same way

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


that Zanzibaris enjoy the freedom to travel and move around mainland Africa without any documentation. Despite living in Tanzania, Joseph claims to experience a great degree of marginalization in Zanzibar, for reasons that he is from the mainland and is Christian. Living with the social stigma attached to mainlanders, Joseph finds it difficult to socially interact with many Zanzibaris. Since moving to Zanzibar, he married a Christian woman from the Chagaa tribe, 29 whom he met in Zanzibar. Both of his two children were born in Zanzibar, but are unable to claim Zanzibari citizenship. 30 Joseph and his family primarily interact with and live around other people from the mainland. Joseph contends that Zanzibar is his home now and has no reason to leave. However, his movements through the Zanzibar landscape are nevertheless confined to spaces where others around him also share the characteristics of being Christian and recently migrating from mainland Tanzania. The social capital that Zanzibaris and mainlanders can access in the post-socialist environment has shaped new modes of social consciousness for facilitating different forms of movements and demarcating new boundaries for articulating their identities in Zanzibar. Their movements are further conditioned within the emerging discourse of political liberalization, which, after twenty years of introduction, remains largely unfulfilled. The political reforms were aimed at promoting multi-party politics in Zanzibar. However, the mandate undermined the supremacy of CCM single party rule and the two-government union structure (Shivji 2008: 232) that has served as the basis of legitimacy and sovereignty for the CCM government in Zanzibar. CCM’s unwillingness to give up power has intensified identity politics in Zanzibar. Consequently, questions of ethno-racial ties to claim legitimacy (Killian 2008: 100) and revival of historical memories and narratives of the revolution (Glassman 2011: 22) have taken center stage for constituting contemporary notions of being wazanzibari. The emerging political discourse demands of Zanzibaris to place the rhetoric of ethnicity and race rather than issues of public welfare and effective governance at the forefront for determining questions of legitimacy of the government in the post-socialist era.

WAZANZIBARI VS. WAZANZIBARA: THE SECOND TIME OF POLITICS 31 Failing to deliver adequate systems of governance, public welfare and support systems for the population over the past forty years, the revolutionary government has relied on using systems of patronage, cooptation, force and manipulating the rhetoric of ethnicity and race to sustain power (Cameron 2009: 162). For the CCM, which continues to enjoy majority of popular support on mainland, losing power in Zanzibar is equated


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with collapse of the Tanzanian union (Tronvoll 2006: 239). This question of the union, which Zanzibaris claim has robbed Zanzibar of its sovereignty and turned into a vassal state (Askew 2006: 35), lies at the center of the contemporary political discourse on the islands. For Zanzibaris, notions of a separate, distinct Zanzibari identity are framed within Zanzibar’s status as an independent nation, 32 with the enduring influence of Islam as a prominent organizing principle on the islands (Tronvoll 2006: 230). However, Karume surrendered Zanzibar’s sovereignty, with the union offering him stability and support from Nyerere’s forces in stemming threats of counter-revolution (Askew 2006: 35). The formation of the union was primarily based on personally agreed terms, conducted in secrecy without consultation from the larger citizenry (Tronvoll 2006: 227). Since the formation of the union, the hegemony of mainland over Zanzibar has increased under the two-tier government system. The imbalance of power is evident in the representation of the union parliament, where Zanzibar presently holds only 55 out of 357 seats (Ibid. 228). Restrictions on movements of Zanzibaris and on Zanzibar’s autonomy under the single-party rule have accentuated the hegemony of the mainland in dominating the political discourse of the union (Shivji 2008: 225). The two-government structure enables the mainland CCM government to undermine Zanzibar’s interests in non-union matters (Ibid. 212). The policies with which CCM ruled Zanzibar during the socialist era have continued to shape their rule in the era of political liberalization. However, with the rise of a new consciousness among Zanzibaris to emphasize their non-African origins, questions of Zanzibar’s place in the union have risen to forefront of the contemporary political discourse. One term of the IMF bailout required the union government to develop political reforms and introduce multi-party elections. By 1990, CCM, still being the only party running in the elections, retained political power and control of Zanzibar. Subsequently, growing pressure from international donors financing the government’s operating budget (Myers 1996: 232) and escalation of political tensions on the islands led CCM to introduce multi-party elections in 1992 (Chachage 2000: 90). Almost immediately, Hamad, now ex-minister of the CCM, 33 established the Civic United Front (CUF). Promoting the ideology of utajarisho, “enrichment,” CUF advocated the principles of the revolution, arguing that the CCM lost its mandate to rule by betraying the core values of the revolution through mismanagement, corruption and civil rights abuses (Glassman 2011: 288). 34 CUF also rallied to fight for and retain the semi-autonomous status of Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania (Anglin 2000: 42). It argued that Zanzibar’s status was undermined, initially by Karume and the merger between the ASP and TANU. CUF emphasized its support for the continuation of the union, but under a re-structured three-government system (Burgess 2009: 271) previously forwarded by Jumbe.

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


With the next elections in 1995, CCM encountered genuine opposition for the first time since coming to power. The CCM government responded by using every means at its disposal to suppress democratic participation and maintain its hold on power. Practices such as illegally detaining members of the opposition party and sacking government employees suspected of being CUF sympathizers became a common feature of the new political landscape in Zanzibar (Killian 2008: 115). In one instance, at a CCM rally in October 1993, Salim Amour, the President of Zanzibar and CCM presidential candidate, openly declared that the state would use force to finish the opposition if the need arose (Chachage 2000: 91). CCM’s efforts to divert attention from its post-colonial governance included labeling the opposition as “Arabs” and depicting CUF as foreign agents looking to restore the sultanate 35 (Cameron 2009: 162). Consequently, territorial and ethnic identities that previously prevailed in Unguja and Pemba were revived, with CCM more popular in Unguja among the Hadimu, and CUF acquiring more support in Pemba from Swahili Zanzibaris who again identified themselves as Shirazi (Chachage 2000: 90). 36 The contemporary political battle between CUF and CCM re-kindled the rhetoric and ideology between the labels of “Arab” and “African” that existed prior to the revolution. Within the framework of contemporary political rhetoric, CUF is defined as the heir of the ZNP from the post-revolutionary period, while CCM presents itself as the guardian of the revolution (Anglin 2000: 42). Supporters of CCM claim that if CUF came into power, Africans would be driven off the islands (Tronvoll 2006: 231). Meanwhile, CUF uses the anti-mainland sentiment in Zanzibar, associating the ruling government primarily as an instrument of mainland domination (Glassman 2011: 292). The evolving political conflict has resulted in controversies in all the elections of the post-socialist era, each marred by irregularities, political intimidation and violence. In 1995, Hamad received overwhelming support from Pemba and urban areas of Unguja and was declared the initial winner only to have that decision overturned a few days later, declaring Salim Amour the winner and the ballots being immediately destroyed (Anglin 2000: 43). 37 The election results were declared flawed and manipulated by international observers (Tronvell 2006: 234). Fearing persecution and imprisonment, many Zanzibari respondents privately indicated that on the night before the elections, hundreds of small boats crowded with voters from mainland descended upon Zanzibar (Ibid. 231). When they complained to the authorities, their concerns were dismissed. The police and the military were actively involved in subverting the election process. CUF refused to recognize the new government and boycotted the Zanzibar House of Representatives for the next three years (Ibid. 234). In leading up to the next elections, in 2000, the CCM government again repressed opposition supporters. Between 1995 and 1998, the


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government was involved in widespread human rights violations and many CUF supporters and Pembans working in the government bureaucracy were fired (Tronvell 2006: 234). Only after a Muafaka, “agreement,” brokered by the British Commonwealth in 1999, CUF recognized the ruling government on the condition that the government reforms the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC). 38 However, with the 2000 elections approaching, the government responded by doing nothing, and the unreformed ZEC organized the elections (Ibid. 234). Consequently, controversy again prevailed over election procedures in 2000. International observers present in Zanzibar condemned the electoral process (United Nations 2001: 30), as in 1995. The election was marred by numerous irregularities, widespread manipulation, including tampering ballot boxes (Petterson 2002: 270). Many Zanzibaris claimed that they lined up from early hours of the morning to vote on election day but hours passed and the polling stations did not open until much later. They were denied the right to vote and CCM was declared the winner again. Once more, on the eve of the elections, CCM shipped voters from mainland to tilt the results in their favor (Tronvoll 2006: 231). Amid much controversy, Amani Karume, 39 the CCM candidate and son of Abeid Karume, was declared winner of the presidential election with a narrow margin of victory. In the aftermath of these elections, as back in 1995, election fraud led to social unrest and violence in the streets of Zanzibar. CUF refused to recognize the election results and once again boycotted the House of Representatives. CUF supporters were harassed and arrested 40 and the violence culminated in riots on 27 January 2001, when numerous opposition supporters were killed. Security forces killed, beat and raped indiscriminately in Pemba and urban areas of Unguja, forcing more than 2000 Zanzibaris to flee to Kenya as refugees (Tronvoll 2006: 235). This violence had its roots in the revolutionary era, emerging from CCM’s unwillingness to tolerate genuine political opposition (Petterson 2002: 270), which challenged its manifesto of socialism and self-reliance (Chachage 2000: 96) and by claiming that Zanzibar was essentially African by nature. In the course of the riots, those killed were primarily Pembans and supporters of the opposition party. While the government claimed that less than 30 people died in the clashes between the protesters and the police and about 2000 fled to Kenya, many Zanzibari respondents assert that hundreds of people were killed in both, Unguja and Pemba, resulting in people once again fleeing Zanzibar. Following the violence of the 2000 elections, many international agencies suspended their activities in Zanzibar. Consequently, the CCM lost international aid it required to run the government. Similar developments took place after the 1995 elections, when international agencies withdrew their financial assistance (United Nations 2001: 30). They agreed to resume normal relations contingent on fair and free elections and fair treatment of political opposition (Chachage 2000: 7), resulting in

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


the Muafaka in 1999. In 2000, with foreign aid lost and clove profits down, the government turned to the rising tourism market for generating revenues to stay in power (Petterson 2002: 269, SMZ 2003: 105). In 1995, tourism accounted for 19 percent of Zanzibar’s GDP (Chachage 2000: 186), but by 2001, tourism and other activities in the service sector related to tourism represented an estimated 52 percent of Zanzibar’s GDP. 41 Between 2000 and 2002, over 53 percent of all projects approved by the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency (ZIPA) 42 were in the tourism sector (Hitchcock 2002: 164). However, locals argue that Zanzibar has only attracted “briefcase” investors, who require enough money to first fill the pockets of CCM leaders before commencing their projects. Locals have also been dispossessed from their land by the government, who then sells it to investors in the “tourist zone” (Chachage 2000: 189). 43 With economic liberalization, foreigners could now lease land for periods of thirty-three, sixty-six or ninety-nine years (Shao 1992: 95). A rising culture of government corruption and embezzlement of public funds has contributed to bad governance, lack of infrastructure and underdevelopment of Zanzibar society in the post-socialist era (United Nations 2001: 30). The greed and selfishness of politicians gradually increased with the development of the free market enthusiasm concurrently with it the vast unemployment and intensified poverty among the local people (Babu 1996: 13). During the socialist era, the establishment of systems of patronage and clientelism facilitated the control of resources and centralization of power. In the post-socialist era, access to revenues from tourism has enabled CCM officials to expand the system of patronclient networks and maximize their control over the political discourse and the production of everything within the state (Askew 2006). Despite CCM’s dominance over Zanzibar, fluctuations and uncertainty in the tourism market, resulting from the violence following the 2000 elections and the events of September 11, 2001, in the United States, compelled the government to enter into Muafaka II with the opposition in October 2001 to end hostilities between them. 44 Many Zanzibaris with whom I spoke at the time 45 expressed skepticism about the agreement, arguing that previous agreements were signed but nothing changed. They argued that the government signed the agreement only because it was the only way possible for its members to get money into their pocket but that when the time comes, this agreement, like all others before it, will not be honored, and again result in political violence. After the first two democratic elections, Zanzibar had fallen into a pattern where investments dried up leading up to and in the immediate aftermath of the elections. Once mass chaos was averted after the elections, the investments returned (Kaplan 2010: 315). Once the Muafaka II was signed, international aid and tourists poured back into Zanzibar. However, as Zanzibari respondents predicted, CCM once again failed to implement any reforms. In leading up to the 2005


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elections, CCM made overt threat to the opposition at political rallies. Karume warned the opposition to not forget the violence of the revolution and Benjamin Mkapa, the President of the Union, forewarned that Zanzibaris on the mainland would be expelled if CUF won (Cameron 2009: 163-64). In the elections that followed, ZEC interference, voter fraud, irregularities, and intimidation by CCM youth militias, guaranteed yet another victory for CCM. With a heavy military presence to discourage any protests after the election, the only option available to CUF was to renounce the new government (Tronvoll 2006: 238). Despite calls for an inquiry into the results of the elections by CUF, numerous respondents indicated that fatigue from previous experience of election violence and the general improving state of the tourism economy did not provide an incentive for CUF supporters to engage in protests. However, after losing yet another election, CUF issued an ultimatum, warning widespread instability if there was yet another flawed election (Cameron 2009: 169). The stage was thus set for the 2010 elections. With the failure of the past two Muafaka to break the political impasse between the two parties, rising numbers of tourist arrivals to the islands since 2005, 46 and with CUF’s new ultimatum of instability, there was a general fear among Zanzibaris that the aftermath of the 2010 elections would bring wide spread chaos to the islands (see Bakari 2011). The political map of Zanzibar had also changed drastically over the course of the past three elections, with CUF’s base in Unguja growing dramatically and the CCM base in Pemba declining (Killian 2008: 113). Under the direction of the unreformed ZEC, voter registration problems prevailed, with many Pembans not allowed to register (Makulilo 2011: 273). 47 Not having recognized the official government since the previous elections, CUF indicated that it would only participate in the elections when a new constitution was in place (Ibid. 276). However, after Karume’s unsuccessful efforts to amend the constitution to grant him a third term, 48 a private agreement between Karume and Hamad in November 2009 led to the development of maridhiano, “reconciliation.” The maridhiano proposed a new Government of National Unity (GNU) to save Zanzibar from political turmoil (see Bakari and Makulilo 2012). Many respondents indicated that this was the only possible way for Hamad to govern Zanzibar, since the CCM would never relinquish power. The passing of a referendum in July 2010 created the pathway for formulating the new government. Subsequently, in the October 2010 elections, Ali Mohamed Shein, a former vice president of Tanzania and a CCM member, won 50.1 percent of the vote, and become the first Pemban born president of Zanzibar. Hamad, the CUF general secretary, received 49.1 percent and lost, but assumed the new position of First Vice President of Zanzibar. 49 With the installment of the GNU after 2010, questions of political impasse were temporarily resolved. Political competition was compromised

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


in the name of unity through the cooptation of CUF leadership into this new, temporary political arrangement (Bakari and Makulilo 2012). However, the arrangement failed to address questions of Zanzibar’s autonomy, a core principle in CUF’s ideology. The arrangement of the GNU is viewed by many Zanzibaris as a temporary solution, but an important step forward, to ensure peace and tranquility at a time of growing economic prosperity. The next election, in 2015, is supposed to be multiparty, plural and democratic. Prior to those elections, in 2014, a constitutional reform on the state of the Tanzanian union is also scheduled to take place, with many Zanzibaris demanding a referendum to determine Zanzibar’s future. A prominent Zanzibari politician indicated that in the past, individuals, even in private spaces, could never debate about the union. However, under the auspices of the GNU, the issues of the union and arguments for secession have become public discourse among politicians from both parties openly discussing Zanzibar’s future in the House of Representatives and with their constituents. 50 To what extent these discussions and debates will translate into meaningful political change after the 2014 constitutional reform and the subsequent 2015 elections remains to be seen. The political discourse in post-socialist Zanzibar has evolved into an ongoing ideological struggle between “Africanization” of Zanzibar versus the “Zanzibarization” of Zanzibar, or as supporters of CCM cynically claim, the “Arabization” of Zanzibar. Despite the presence of a multiparty system and democracy, the government of Zanzibar identifies itself as Serikali ya Mapunduzi ya Zanzibar (SMZ), “Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar.” Furthermore, the CCM government has continued emphasizing the event of the revolution as the core of its existence, evident in the motto of the state run government television, advocating, Mapinduzi Daima, “Revolution Forever.” These symbolic tools of power continue to reiterate that under the existing political framework, Zanzibar will remain oriented toward Africa. The present political environment epitomizes the conflicts that have historically prevailed in Zanzibar but shaped within new emerging social discourses. Issues of race and ethnicity that existed in Zanzibar in one form or another for at least the past two centuries have been re-introduced today. The British defined race as the marker for identity and provided the Arabs with positions of privilege in light of their conviction that Arab society was superior to Africa (Bennett 1978: 184). The revolutionary state subsequently instituted policies asserting African dominance on the premise of race. Through the mechanism of the state, the revolutionary government systematically oppressed all non-African minorities and punished the Pembans and Shirazi for refuting African origins. By imposing a specific ideology of the African identity on the population, the revolutionary state controlled different forms of movements through the Zanzibar landscape, and in turn articulated social spaces of


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exclusion and difference that now shape the identity discourse in Zanzibar. Today, however, intersection between emerging discourses of wazanzibari, revival of Islam, gender interaction, rise of new socio-economic class inequalities and capitalist consumption patterns 51 compete with the centrality occupied by notions of race in some spaces for articulating ideas of being Zanzibari. The reformulation of ustaarabu reflects one such effort to displace the centrality of race for constituting ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. Developments in the post-socialist era, such as tourism, new forms of consumption, influence of global media, are re-appropriating existing social spaces in which Zanzibaris are now striving or struggling to move. Zanzibaris, despite differentiating between themselves with reference to places of origin, simultaneously stress that they are all Zanzibaris, and thus, different from people from mainland Tanzania. The rising opposition within the wazanzibari-wazanzibara discourse and questions about Zanzibar’s place in the Tanzanian union are empowering Zanzibaris to develop new dispositions to re-articulate their identities in Zanzibar. Association to Africa and questions of race and ethnicity continue to remain at the center of the political discourse. If past and present political developments are any indication, they will continue to be in the future. It is within such an environment that tourism now thrives as the dominant economic activity in Zanzibar.

TOURISM IN ZANZIBAR Package tourism, as the primary means for bringing tourists and their cultural practices to Zanzibar today, has become an integral part of the islands’ neo-liberal, cash economy (Sumich 2002: 42). Based primarily on investments by foreigners, who remain its primary beneficiaries, tourism serves as a major source of income for the state but has yet to benefit the majority of the local population (Keshodkar 2005). Over the past 25 years, only limited numbers of Zanzibaris have acquired access to different forms of capital, through political patronage or support from various networks, to engage in and benefit from different tourist-based activities. The dominance of tourism and growing number of migrants from the mainland further limit how Zanzibaris can move through the local landscape. As tourism re-appropriates spaces in which Zanzibaris are now moving, the nature of their movements through these spaces facilitates their ability to develop new dispositions and social distinctions for classifying themselves and others around them, and in the process, re-constitute various aspects of their identities. Tourism is not a recent phenomenon in Zanzibar, but the rate and types of tourists visiting Zanzibar over the past 25 years have changed

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


drastically. Before 1964, according to the Tourist Information Bureau of the British colonial government, 2,777 tourists visited Zanzibar in 1961 alone, with majority of them coming from passenger liners anchored in the town harbor for a day (British Information Services 1963: 15). 52 After the revolution, the isolationist policies of the ruling government discouraged the arrival of foreigners to Zanzibar. 53 Tourism was re-established under the guidance of the Tanzanian Friendship Tourist Bureau in late 1964. However, all visitors now required entry permits 54 and could stay no longer than three days on the islands. 55 Furthermore, while visiting Zanzibar, their movement was extensively controlled and monitored. 56 After 1975, in response to the decline of the clove industry on the islands, ASP passed a resolution to develop tourism and encourage foreigners to visit Zanzibar to learn of its rich history of African music, sculpture, poetry and crafts (Chachage 2000: 78). The government built the Bwawani hotel outside Stone Town and by 1983, there were ten tourist hotels and guest houses in Zanzibar (Ibid. 186). 57 Yet, relatively few tourists visited Zanzibar due to high levels of control imposed on their movements by the government (Petterson 2002: 259). A new tourism policy was implemented by the revolutionary government only during the liberalization era. Almost immediately, tourist arrivals increased, with 19,368 tourists visiting Zanzibar in 1985 (Chachage 2000: 186). Since then, according to the figures from Zanzibar Commission of Tourism, tourism has grown at an annual rate of 16 percent, with close to 100,000 people visiting Zanzibar in 2000 58 and more than 125,000 tourists arriving every years since 2005 (Table 3.1). 59 The Zanzibar government further aspires to increase tourist arrivals to 500,000 people per year by 2015 (ZATI 2008: 11). Tourism contributed 19 percent to Zanzibar’s GDP by 1995 (Chachage 2000: 186–87) and increased to about 27 percent of the GDP by 2012. 60 While fishing and agriculture are still considered the mainstay of the economy, representing about 25 percent of the GDP, 61 the service sector, which is predominated by tourism, represents 51 percent of Zanzibar’s GDP (Sharpley and Ussi 2012) Government literature claims that it embarked on promoting tourism in order to enhance mutual understanding of the various socio-cultural groups living in Zanzibar and to increase foreigners’ knowledge and appreciation of Zanzibar’s culture, history and people. Furthermore, tourism was identified as a tool for promoting local employment and economic development (SMZ 1983a: 3). In pursuing “cultural” tourism to create a specific niche for “organized sustainable high class tourism,” the authorities aspired to highlight and develop means to conserve traditional Swahili culture, identified as the dominant Zanzibar culture (Ibid: 168170). However, in promoting their notion of Swahili culture, the government has relied on images of Zanzibar as the “spice islands,” referring to the prosperity of the country in the nineteenth century under Omani rule. In promotional literature, the government also describes the streets of


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Stone Town as possessing an “Arabian Nights charm” to attract visitors. Through this process, the government is reviving the idea of Zanzibar as the pinnacle of an Arab civilization (Bissell 2005: 234), which it ironically tried to systematically eliminate during and after the 1964 Revolution. Table 3.1. International Tourist Arrivals to Zanzibar, 1985 – 2010 Year

Total Number of Tourist Arrivals


Total Number of Tourist Arrivals





















































Source: Zanzibar Commission for Tourism, 2010.

Tourism development in Zanzibar was initially identified as part of a broader process of economic diversification, in conjunction with the development of other sectors of the economy. 62 However, processes of corruption, mismanagement and lack of infrastructure development resulted in deindustrialization throughout the island. Capital intensive hotel and resort development by foreigners required the least investments by the authorities and guaranteed the most income for them and the state. Consequently, with unregulated, uncontrolled and corruption infested tourism development, Zanzibar evolved into a destination for mass tourists in search of sun, sand, sex and increasingly, drugs. Between 1995 and 1999, ZIPA approved only nine projects for development in agriculture and fishing, previously the backbone of the country’s economy, and about 70 out of 121 projects in the same period in sectors associated with tourism (United Nations 2001: 25). More than 72 percent of all investments in Zanzibar between 1997 and 2007 were in the tourism sector (SMZ 2009: 92). Tourism also contributes up to 80 percent of the government’s annual revenues (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). In the absence

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


of government regulations to monitor tourism growth, there remains virtually no local control over the sector and majority of tourism earnings are repatriated outside Zanzibar (Chachage 2000: 189). The tourism development plan prepared by the World Tourist Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for the Zanzibar government in 1983 further cautioned against building beach resorts in the vicinity of villages, for such development would disrupt village life (SMZ 1983a: 176). 63 Despite this warning, majority of the hotels and beach resorts in Zanzibar are situated around villages and have taken over the land which locals use for fishing camps, landing sites and seaweed farming. The 1995 National Land Policy mandates that all land is public land. However, government officials have blurred the distinction between the public and private domain (Askew 2006: 28) for their benefit. Misusing their powers, they have seized beach front properties and commercial plots around villages and sold them to investors, or handed them to political patrons and family members (Myers 1999: 232). The prospects of increasing number of tourist arrivals to Zanzibar continue to fuel such practices. Today, majority of tourists visiting Zanzibar arrive from Europe or North America, primarily on package tours 64 or as backpackers. These tourists exhibit different social practices while visiting Zanzibar. Package tourists come for a short, fixed period of time, with their itineraries predetermined, stay in their designated beach resorts, and then leave. 65 Package tourism has become prominent in Zanzibar due to the investments made by Italians on the islands, who are the largest foreign investors and largest number of tourists visiting Zanzibar (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). With the development of package tours, most tourists arrive on chartered planes, head straight to the shamba, “rural areas” (where the beach resorts are situated), spend their entire vacation at the resorts, and then fly back home. Backpackers, on the other hand, stay in Zanzibar from a few days to weeks and in some cases even for months. Most backpackers are usually traveling through Africa without a set itinerary and visit Zanzibar en route to elsewhere (Keshodkar 2005: 136–45). The increasing presence of backpackers has contributed greatly to the rise in the number of beach boys around in Zanzibar (article in Daily News, September 24, 2001, “Isles disowns unofficial guides,” p. 3). 66 With backpackers and low budget tourists seeking cheaper deals, beach boys, in pursuit of individual financial success, offer an extended range of services such as tours, curio, sex, drugs or whatever tourists desire, often at discounted rates (Sumich 2002: 40). 67 For their services, beach boys earn anywhere from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars a day, largely through tips from tourists and commission from business vendors. Their earning potential is determined by their ability to interact with tourists and solicit their services, for which they often have to know foreign languages, such as Italian and English.


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Majority of beach boys in Zanzibar have arrived from the mainland, having expertise in foreign languages from previous exposure to tourists (see Peake 1984). High levels of local unemployment and need to maintain newly acquired or desired consumption patterns have also led many Zanzibari teachers, clerks and youth to enter the beach boy trade (Sumich 2002: 40-41). 68 Foreign ownership of majority of tourism businesses and problems with governance has resulted in Zanzibaris receiving minimal financial benefits from the tourism industry. Many respondents indicate that the Italian resort owners made their way down to Zanzibar from the Kenyan coast (see Beckerleg 2004: 21, Sharpley and Ussi 2012) in the early 1990s, when political violence there crippled the tourism industry in Kenya. Furthermore, their tourism investments are often a pretext for conducting illegal activities such as drug trafficking and money laundering in Zanzibar due to laxity in law enforcement and prevailing government corruption (cf. Chachage 2000: 188). Foreign investors readily admit paying bribes to government officials on a regular basis. They also utilize Zanzibari partners to circumvent local laws and tax codes 69 and acquire interested properties (see story of Ali Sultan Issa in Burgess 2009: 10). 70 The lack of adequate legislation and enforcement of law monitoring the activities of tourist operators also promote the exploitation of the local workforce. Most tourism based employment occupied by Zanzibaris is low skill, low paying, temporary, and menial (Chachage 2000: 189). Furthermore, with increasing competition from people coming from the mainland in search of employment, Zanzibaris account for less than five percent of those directly employed in tourism (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). Growth in tourism has contributed to uncontrolled migration of people from the mainland to Zanzibar. Migrants from mainland Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Comoros, and from even as far as South Africa make up the majority of employees in hotels throughout the islands. People from the mainland possess the educational background, the linguistic skills and the willingness to work in tourism, in contrast to Zanzibaris, who often have lower education and are less qualified due to systematic decline of the islands’ educational system over recent decades. 71 Consequently, people from the mainland are easily employed by foreign hoteliers, who want to ensure that their staff can interact with the hotel guests in foreign languages. 72 This influx of mainlanders contributes to problems of higher unemployment within the local population. Since majority of these immigrants are non-Muslims, many Zanzibari respondents argue that their presence and social practices, along with that of the tourists, are contributing to the moral decay of their society. The lack of opportunities back on the mainland is leading many of these migrant workers to become permanent residents in Zanzibar. With the ruling government perceived as an instrument of mainland domination (Glassman 2011: 292), the rising number of mainlanders moving through

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


the Zanzibar landscape on a more permanent basis evoke anti-mainland sentiments and antagonism among Zanzibaris. One group of mainlanders often scrutinized and criticized for their activities in Zanzibar are the Maasai. The Maasai have migrated to Zanzibar from mainland Tanzania and Kenya to work as security guards in resorts and to perform “African” dances for the tourists. For European tourists visiting East Africa, the Maasai represent an exotic view of Africa, and tourists want to consume this image of Africa (see Bruner 2001). The rise in demand for this African experience guiding the “tourist gaze” (cf. Urry 1990) had led the Maasai to migrate to Zanzibar in large numbers. Many of them, men and women, are visibly recognizable in public spaces by virtue of their traditional Maasai outfits, which reveal parts of the bodies, including their torso, arms and legs. In a society where Islamic ideals of public modesty require covering one’s body in public spaces, this display of Maasai “nakedness” is overwhelmingly cited by Zanzibaris as the primary source of their ushenzi demeanor. Yona, a Maasai respondent in his late 20s, indicated that he did not wear the traditional outfit back in Arusha, from where his family migrated, but because this is what the tourists here desired, many of them wore their traditional clothes in Zanzibar. 73 The Maasai, moving through this space created by tourism, use the social capital accessible to them, defined by their image, to pursue their economic interests in Zanzibar. In many instances, the Maasai have migrated to Zanzibar with their families. 74 Pursuing a diversity of business interests, Maasai elders are often involved in selling traditional medicines in the Darajani area, the main market area of Stone Town, their women making and selling traditional beads, small packets of coffee and other artifacts, and the youth primarily involved in activities around tourists and in hotel environments. Due to their exotic appeal in the eyes of the tourists, young Maasai men primarily engage with tourists, often offering sexual services to European women and men, young and old, providing interested tourists the opportunity to experience the “exoticness” of Africa. 75 In tourists dominated areas, Yona was often in the company of white female tourists. When discussing his interaction with these women, Yona contends that while white women desired his company because he was a Maasai, this interaction provides him the opportunity to “taste” white women and make money from them. 76 Through such practices, both parties treat each other as objects (cf. Nash 1978: 40). 77 Zanzibari respondents assert that the presence of the Maasai, while increasingly attractive to the eyes of tourists and entrepreneurs employing their services, serves as a visible reminder to them of the dominance of mainland Africa on the islands. Irrespective of their political leanings, Zanzibaris express their annoyance at seeing the Maasai moving through the local landscape. They contend that the presence and behavior of the Maasai, particularly their youth that parade female tourists in public,


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contributes to the moral decay of Zanzibar culture. As a consequence of this public visibility, which serves as a marker of their difference for Zanzibaris, the Maasai have become scapegoats when questions of morality now surface in Zanzibar society. In March 2002, there was an alleged incident where a Maasai youth agreed to find a female prostitute for two Italian tourists. 78 Unable to find one to the liking of the customers, he agreed to prostitute himself for USD300. However, he incurred serious injuries while providing the service and was admitted to the hospital. The news of this story or perhaps fable created a moral uproar among Zanzibaris, who blamed the rising practices of lewdness and prostitution in Zanzibar on the Maasai and other mainlanders. For months following the incident, local children often called every passing Maasai, “300 dollars.” In social gatherings, friend commonly used the term, Maasai, as a way to insult or demean their friends. The incident was damaging to Maasai status and reputation. However, with Zanzibaris suffering great financial hardships in the era of economic liberalization, blaming the Maasai for social problems became a means for them to rationalize their misfortunes on those against whom they can react. These actions provided them with the means to resolve psychological tensions caused by the ambiguities of their present situation (cf. Lienhardt 1975: 123). Furthermore, while the validity of this story might be questionable, the responses that emerged from the local population illustrate the new contours of Zanzibari expectations of tourism. In an era where Zanzibaris face greater political and economic marginalization, the abuse of the Maasai serves one mechanism for highlighting the moral superiority of Zanzibar over the perceived uncivilized mainland. While the Maasai were morally reprimanded for their role in the above incident, the Italian tourists involved were not castigated for their actions. The cash power that tourists possess provides them with the capital to move through Zanzibar landscape and pursue practices to fulfill their vacation experiences. With an army of beach boys to provide sexual services, sex tourism has become an important dimension of tourist practices over the last decade. Single female tourists, young and old (in their 40s, 50s and 60s) in the company of young African men have become a common sight throughout Zanzibar. 79 Indulging in their African experience, these women often pay for all the costs of their poor, young local partners during their stay (Sumich 2002: 42). 80 However, this agenda of sun, sand, and sex is quite different from the kinds of tourists that historically visited Zanzibar. Under British colonial rule, tourists that visited Zanzibar would be categorized as the “leisure class” (cf. Veblen [1899] 1973). 81 They were primarily families of British aristocrats and colonial bureaucrats traveling around parts of the British Empire in East Africa, visiting Zanzibar during while their passenger liners anchored in the harbor for the day (British Information Services 1963: 15). The manu-

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


als directed at these tourists highlighted rich details of Zanzibar’s history, places to visit on the isles, profile of people living here, information about the local flora and fauna and guide to cultural activities on the islands. 82 Only since the late 1990s has the tourism landscape in Zanzibar been dominated by package tourists and backpackers, by beach boys and prostitution (SMZ 2003: 93). The growth of mass and package tourism is facilitated by the fact that only about one third of Zanzibar’s accommodations are considered of international tourist standards (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 83 Many local traders claim that independent, middle and upper class tourists are still coming to Zanzibar with their families but due to the recent history of political instability and recent world events, first with events of 11 September 2001 and then the recession of 2008-9, their numbers have not increased on a consistent basis. However, from the point of view of all locals, every tourist visiting Zanzibar can still be categorized as member of the “leisure class.” Tourists, with the cash power they possess, are able to travel to Zanzibar for leisure. They willingly move through the local landscape, to enjoy an exotic experience. Meanwhile, many Zanzibaris move through tourism spaces out of necessity, often catering to tourists because it is the only way possible for them to escape abject poverty. 84 Tourism is now one of the largest sources of foreign exchange earnings in Zanzibar (Gössling 2003: 178), which locals need to survive in the market economy. 85 Prevailing economic conditions have led many Zanzibaris to abandon subsistence fishing and farming, the previous dominant economic activities, in favor of entering the emerging market economy. Employment in the formal and informal sectors of tourism remains low paying, but provides higher earning capacity than in the traditional farming sector (Barker 1996: 35). 86 In the absence of other opportunities and with local unemployment steadily rising, 87 many Zanzibaris take up various forms of menial and informal employment in tourism. In light of these circumstances, how tourists spend their money has great implications for survival of Zanzibaris. Tourists, with their relative wealth, different dress, distinctive styles, and conspicuous consumption practices, also epitomize modernity and modern life in the eyes of many locals. Tourism is a commodity consumed by tourists (MacCannell 1992: 61). However, through their presence in places like Zanzibar, which lie at the margins of global capital development and accumulation primarily benefiting the “first world” (cf. Mowforth and Munt 2009), tourists, as agents of modernity, represent the domination of global capitalism and values, priorities and ways of life associated with it (Hall 1992). The emphasis on capitalist consumption driven by neo-liberal notions of modernity and promoted by tourism also increasingly shape ideas of selfhood, identity and epistemic reality (cf. Comaroff and Comaroff 2000: 293–95) for those that want to engage in these forms of consumption. For Zanzibaris, these models of modernity


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are conceptualized and experienced through a modern lifestyle, achieved through Western dress, practices and occupation, in turn challenging existing traditions and lifestyles (Sumich 2002: 42). 88 One area in which the globalizing hegemony of Western tourism has transformed the socio-economic environment in Zanzibar is commodity consumption. Prior to the liberalization of the economy, there was a scarcity of imported goods in Zanzibar, 89 but markets have changed dramatically in the prevailing capitalist environment. Many goods now imported into Zanzibar are, first and foremost, available for the benefit of tourists visiting the island, as they often have the cash power to purchase them. As tourists consume various goods and interact with locals, they promote their “emotional pleasures of consumption” (cf. Sharpley and Sharpley 1997: 236) on to the local population. Subsequently, as Zanzibaris strive to consume similar goods, they become beneficiaries of tourists’ consumption practices. 90 However, affluent Zanzibaris are more likely able to afford these commodities, while the rest of the population can only strive to develop the financial capabilities to do so. 91 In light of growing socio-economic inequalities, such practices advocate notions of happiness within the framework of material consumption and progress (cf. Mowforth and Munt 2009: 37). Work in tourism offers prospects of higher wages, thus enabling individuals to engage in various forms of consumption. 92 Through their movement in tourist spaces and new consumption practices, these Zanzibaris are able to develop new demarcations between themselves and others around them and, in turn, formulate new forms of social differences within the society. Movement of outsiders through the local landscape has represented an integral dimension of the historical experience and identity discourse in Zanzibar. However, the arrival of tourists on a large scale in the postsocialist era is a new phenomenon in Zanzibar. People in the past often made Zanzibar their home and became a part of Zanzibar society. Those arriving today, however, visit for an extremely short period of time, consume the place, and have a greater impact on the population after their departure. Concurrently, large-scale migration of people from the mainland amplifies a new era of African domination over Zanzibar. In an era when majority of Zanzibaris are increasingly struggling to benefit from and take advantage of the prosperity that was promised with the development of the free market and tourism, the arrival and movement of these groups of people in large numbers has situated Zanzibaris in a position where they have to compete with these non-Zanzibaris to move through the changing landscape. The ability of Zanzibaris to cope with and accommodate the movements of these other peoples increasingly facilitates how they are able to transform their social and economic position in society. The re-appropriation of these spaces is providing Zanzibaris with access to new forms of capital to facilitate their movements and

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


develop dispositions to demarcate new boundaries for distinguishing themselves as Zanzibari. Identity is a relative notion that depends upon the position of the observer as much as the observed (Horton and Middleton 2000: 199). With Zanzibaris who choose to be involved in various aspects of tourism and attempt to move from positions in which they can observe and are observed by others around them, the nature of their movement affects how their positions are transformed in different spaces. This chapter outlined how the creation of new spaces for asserting ideas of belonging afforded to Zanzibaris with the collapse of socialist rule, coupled with the transformation of the local political discourse and arrival and dominance of tourism now facilitate/restrict the ability of Zanzibaris to move. The forthcoming chapters offer vignettes of movement within the prevailing tourism discourse at different levels of society. Exploration of how and what dimensions of society, gender and family relations are shifting document the extent to which Zanzibaris acquire different forms of power to move and rearticulate their identities and reformulate ustaarabu in the era of tourism. NOTES 1. While Nyerere pursued the model the of African socialism, based on the principle of Ujamaa, with emphasis on traditional communalism, on the mainland, Karume primarily turned to Eastern European nations and China to shape the model of socialism in Zanzibar (Askew 2006: 16-17). 2. Karume’s sense of intellectual insecurity came from his own lack of formal education influenced, distrust of intellectual and potential counter-revolutionaries, and influenced his policies on education (Askew 2006: 24). Education under the socialist rule focused on government propaganda and ideological training, with students having to memorize Karume’s speeches (Burgess 2001: 328 in Askew 2006: 25). 3. Under colonial rule, Zanzibar maintained a positive current account balance of trade, with greater capital revenues than expenditures. For example, in 1952, the colonial government has 1,518,831 British GBP pounds in capital revenue and 1,436,520 British GB Pounds in capital expenditure (Source: Zanzibar National Archives “The Yearbook and Guide to East Africa, 1953” London: Robert Hale, Ltd, Location: BL 7/ 15). However, in the first year of rule under the revolutionary government, Zanzibar experienced significant negative current account balance, with 1964-65 figures indicating 2,692,800 Tanzanian Shillings (TZS) in capital revenue and 9,807,900 TZS in expenditures. By 1972-73, the negative current account balance ballooned significantly, with 23,068,797 TZS in capital revenue and 100,181,550 TZS in expenditures in running the state (Location: Zanzibar National Archives, “Basic Statistics of Zanzibar, 1974,” Location: BA 92/12). With the state unable to develop adequate sources of revenue to cover its expenses, it primarily relied upon aid from socialist states to stay in power. 4. In 1956, the British Colonial government paid 56 percent of the market rate to cloves producer. However, after the revolution, in 1967, the revolutionary government paid only 12 percent of the market rates for the cloves (Askew 2006: 26). This proportion continued to decline. 5. Ujamaa was based on the principle of self-reliance, emphasizing the traditional African model of communalism.


Chapter 3

6. Despite the outlook of socialism under Nyerere’s rule, with the emphasis on self reliance, the Tanzanian government relied upon foreign investments, and advise from the World Bank and American consultants, like McKinsey (Caplan 2007: 681). 7. Though Nyerere stepped down as the President of Tanzania in 1985, he retained the position of Chairman of the CCM until 1990, when Mwinyi took over. 8. The majority of private investment projects approved by the Zanzibar government remain in areas of tourism and hotel development (Hitchcock 2002: 164). 9. The ability to organize into political groups came with various stipulations. All political parties had to protect the national consensus, and registration of parties could not be based on religious, ethnic, racial or regional interests. The new law also prohibited any parties from proposing dissolution of the union and from carrying out political activities in only one part of the union (Tronvoll 2006: 233). 10. Zanzibaris increasingly argue that the union was illegal and are demanding greater sovereignty (Tronvoll 2006, Askew 2006: 35). 11. Zanzibar’s economy was liberalized before that of the mainland, thus allowing Zanzibaris to bring in goods and make significant profits (Bissell 1999: 471). Zanzibar’s economy flourished until about 2000 because tariffs in Zanzibar were lower than on the mainland (Burgess 2009: 292). 12. The Tanzanian currency has declined significantly in the liberalization era. In 1986, the official exchange rate was 1 US dollar (USD) = 40 Tanzania Shilling (TZS). By 1993, 1 USD = 370 TZS. By the year, 2000, 1 USD = 800 TZS, and in 2012, the exchange rate was about 1 USD = 1570 TZS (Source: Bank of Tanzania and the currency exchange website, Oanda, With devaluation of the currency, the value on income has declined significantly. In 1988, an average Zanzibari earned 2551 TZS per month, which, in proximity of the 1986 conversion exchange rate would equal to about US $64 per month (Source for 1988 income, Zanzibar National Archives, “Employment Statistics and Earning Statistics, 1988–92, Location: BA 92/24). By 1994, the average monthly wages for laborers was approximately 6,000 TZS, which if using 1993 exchange rates, would equal to a monthly salary of US $16 per month. By 2000, a laborer earned about 30,000 TZS per month (Keshodkar 2005), which would equate to about $37 per month. Recent observations and interviews with respondents indicate that the average salary in Zanzibar in 2012 was approximately 150,000 TZS per month, which according to the exchange rates, equates to about $95 per month. The devaluation of the Tanzanian Shilling and the rise in salary tied to inflation highlighted here will be discussed in subsequent chapters. 13. In 1983, when the country’s economy was in dire conditions, the government passed the Economic Sabotage Act. As a result, thousands of people were detained on the charges of smuggling resources from the country and selling them in the international market and for dealing in foreign currencies, which undermined the local currency (Askew 2006: 29). One Zanzibari respondent, of Asian origin, was detained under this new legislation in 1983 and imprisoned for six months on the accusation that he was hiding US dollars. 14. Many of the relatives abroad were Zanzibaris that fled the islands leading up to and after the revolution and now made their homes either in the Arabian Peninsula, South Asia, Europe and North America. 15. Some forms of capital prevalent in post-socialist Zanzibar include access to political power through patronage, acquire stable and “respectable” employment or business, benefit from support of social networks based abroad, pursue higher education, acquire foreign citizenship, engage in conspicuous consumption, enter into marriage with someone of higher social status. 16. In chapter one, I had indicated how many Swahili Zanzibaris increasingly asserted their identity as Shirazi and not Swahili. This form of self-identification may be contextualized as a means through which these Zanzibaris are trying to distinguish themselves from other Zanzibaris that they define as the “other.”

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


17. The winter months in Zanzibar coincide with the summer months in Oman and the Arabian Peninsula, when temperatures there exceed 45 degrees Celsius on a daily basis. 18. Many Omani Zanzibaris still engage in cross cousin and parallel cousin marriage. Through their movement in Zanzibar, some of them are engaged in acquiring brides from Zanzibar to take them back to Oman. However, I have not come across scenarios where women from Oman are coming as brides to Zanzibar. According to Mailys Chavin, a French ethnographer that I met in Zanzibar and whose current research focuses on migration and marriage patterns of Zanzibari Arabs living abroad, such practices are increasingly tied to nostalgia of these “exiles” to re-connect with Zanzibar at one end, and the opportunity for those in Zanzibar to escape from the prevailing economic hardships in pursuit of greater economic prosperity and commodity consumption outside (conversation, July 2012). 19. Interview, June 2012. 20. Even in the post-socialist era, Pemba accounts for only 6.1 percent of total foreign investment in Zanzibar (Myers 1996: 234). According to the 2002 census, Pemba constituted 37 percent of Zanzibar’s total population. 21. Pemba produces up to 85 percent of Tanzania’s clover harvest and is the main source of wealth in Zanzibar (Myers 1996: 234). 22. In 1963, the population of Pemba made up 48 percent of the electorate of Zanzibar. By 1995, the population of Pemba accounted for only 37 percent of the islands electorate (Sheriff 2001: 315). 23. Views shared by Othman during interviews in December 2001 and January 2011. 24. The term was commonly used during the colonial era to refer to people from the mainland on the premise that they were not Muslims, and thus uncivilized (discussed in chapter two). 25. Asian Zanzibaris predominately originate from the Indian sub-continent, and are locally referred to as mhindi, “a person of Indian origin.” 26. Though the notion of Jat has historically prevailed to designate the idea of caste among Hindus, in Zanzibar, all Asian Zanzibaris, irrespective of their religious affiliation, use the term to relate to their religious group within Hinduism and Islam. Even Goan Christians are considered a Jat in Zanzibar (see Keshodkar 2010). 27. Interview, April 2002. 28. Lower trade tariffs in Zanzibar in comparison to the mainland in the 1990s were the primary reason the economy flourished in the early years of economic liberalization (Burgess 2009: 292). However, under the Presidency of Abeid Karume, in 2000, trade tariffs in Zanzibar were harmonized with the mainland, in turn killing trade in Zanzibar, with Zanzibar tax revenues declining from 6 billion Tanzanian Shillings before harmonization to 500 million Tanzanian Shillings after the harmonization of tariffs (Ibid. 299). 29. The Chagaa are an ethnic group situated in the Kilimanjaro region of mainland Tanzania. 30. According to the Zanzibar Act of 1985, an individual can be a citizen of Zanzibar only if they lived in Zanzibar before and up to 12 January 1964, or was born in Zanzibar before 26 April 194, or was born in a family where one parent was defined as a Zanzibari according to the prior two conditions (in Tronvoll 2006: 232). Based on these definitions, Joseph’s children cannot acquire Zanzibari citizenship. 31. With the revival of the rhetoric of race, which occupied center stage in the 1950s, A. M. Babu has categorized the contemporary political discourse as “The Second Time of Politics” (1991). 32. Zanzibar received its independence from the British in December 1993. Zanzibaris claim that their independence was lost five months later, in April 1964, when the Tanzanian union was established by virtue of secret and personal agreements between Karume and Nyerere (Shivji 2008; discussed in chapter two).


Chapter 3

33. Hamad was expelled from the CCM in 1988 and arrested on charges of sedition for advocating greater autonomy for Zanzibar and subsequently imprisoned for 30 months, from May 1989 to November 1991 (Burgess 2009: 261). 34. In critiquing the rule of CCM, the utajarisho ideology claims to promote ideas of individual development, proposing that national resources of the state should be utilized for the benefit of the entire public, to bring prosperity or good life for all citizens (Burgess 2009: 271). 35. In the 1950s, ASP had similarly depicted ZNP and Arabs as foreigners who wanted to restore the sultanate as a space of Arab privilege (discussed in chapter two). 36. In light of the suffering Pembans faced during the socialist era, support for ASP/ CCM in Pemba has declined dramatically, from 43 percent in 1963 to just about 17 percent by 1995 (Sheriff 2001: 315). 37. The announcement declaring CCM as the winner of the elections was made by the Zanzibar Election Commission (ZEC), which claimed that CCM’s narrow victory was based on the overwhelming support CCM received in central and southern Unguja (Myers 1996: 235). 38. The ZEC was considered largely responsible for the results of the 1995 elections. Many members of the ZEC were supporters of CCM. 39. There was a symbolic element in the success of the younger Karume. In light of the prevailing political problems, he represented, through the association with his father, the values and ideals of the Revolution, which CCM claims to be upholding. 40. Much of the harassment was carried out by the CCM youth militias, which were becoming more and more violent with each election (Killian 2008: 115) and also by police and government troops. 41. This figure was highlighted by Issa Mlingoti, then director of Commission of Tourism, SMZ in an interview on October 10, 2001. 42. ZIPA is a government agency, run by CCM bureaucrats. 43. The government had developed five tourist development zones—Zanzibar Stone Town, Kiwengwa, Nungwi, Paje, Bwejuu and Jambiani (Gössling and Schulz 2005: 46). It is important to recognize that Pemba was not included as an area of tourism development, though it faced much higher degree of poverty and under development than Unguja. Despite the prevalence of these tourist zones, Zanzibaris throughout the island have found themselves in situations where they were forced to sell the land, particularly along the coast. Though the state had transitioned from a socialist economy to a private economy, with the passage of the National Land Policy in 1995, the Tanzanian government has implemented the policy of eminent domain and declared all land as public land, under the control of authorities (Askew 2006: 28). However, government official often sells this public land to private investors. Soon, throughout the northern and eastern coast of Unguja, people built fences on land they had acquired from the government officials, with deed to the lands. One condition under which this transfer of land took place was that people who lived in the vicinity, who had previously used the land, were compensated for the loss of economic trees on the land (Myers 1996: 229). Subsequently, the villagers in these areas of development lost all rights of claim to those plots of land. 44. According to this Muafaka, the government would restructure the ZEC, create a permanent voter register, and a Muafaka commission would oversee the implementation of the agreement (Tronvoll 2006: 236). 45. I was living in Zanzibar when this Muafaka was introduced and negotiated. 46. 2005 was the first year that Zanzibar broke the 100,000 tourist arrivals per year barrier. Since then, at least 125,000 tourists have been visiting Zanzibar per year (Source: Zanzibar Commission for Tourism), with approximately 200,000 tourists arriving in 2011. 47. Zanzibar was without electricity for about four months, from October 2009 to February 2010. It was also during this time that voter registration was supposed to take place in Zanzibar. Often, due to lack of electricity, government offices remained closed, thus not enabling Zanzibari voters to register to vote. The official explanation

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


for loss of electricity was that the undersea cable that brought electricity to Zanzibar from mainland was damaged. However, as I was in Zanzibar in January 2011 for a period three weeks, there was a general consensus among Zanzibaris that I interviewed that mainland was punishing the islands for going against the wishes of the government. The logic argued by many was that by punishing Zanzibar during peak tourist season, Christmas time, Zanzibaris would be brought “brought to their knees.” 48. According to respondents, there was much opposition to the idea of Karume running for a third term from the CCM leadership in Zanzibar, as many of them had been waiting for their turn to take up higher positions of leadership and enjoy the benefits of their new position. 49. The reviewer has pointed out, and which my observations also confirmed, that many CUF supporters claimed that with Hamad’s losing to the CCM, the election was stolen again but the GNU brought an end to violence of past elections. 50. Interview, July 2012. The politician wanted to maintain conditions of anonymity. 51. All these discourses are discussed in subsequent chapters. 52. According to the Chalmer Wright report, 2,700 tourists visited Zanzibar in 1960. The lack of adequate high class hotels and complaints of debris and rubbish were often cited as reasons why more tourists did not visit Zanzibar (Zanzibar National Archives, “Study of the Tourist Industry—The Chalmer Wright Report,” Location: DO 15/6). 53. According to a memo from the Ministry of External Affairs and Trade, Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, tourism to Zanzibar was effectively stopped in February 1964, with promises to reopen tourism soon. In a letter dated 17 July 1964, the manager of Zanzibar hotel complained to External Affairs of the economic damage businesses faced with lack of tourists on the islands (Zanzibar National Archives, “Documents about Tourism General, 1964–1984,” Location: DO 15/17). 54. Despite Zanzibar being a part of the Tanzanian Union, all visitors from mainland Tanzania were required to obtain permits to visit Zanzibar. 55. Zanzibar National Archives, “Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dar es Salaam, February 1964—October 1977, Location: FF 8/1. 56. Officers from the Tanzania Friendship Tourist Bureau met all guests at their point of entry in Zanzibar and tourists were given pamphlets highlighting the dress code for visitors (Zanzibar National Archives, “Idara ya Utalii, July 1978—Feb 1984,” Location: FF 8/6). Tourists were given a lecture about local customs upon arrival and faced expulsion if they wore shorts or were seen transgressing local norms. Women were also given Kanga, a long piece of cloth that Swahili women wear (discussed in chapter six) to cover themselves (Burgess 2002: 306). 57. Prior to the revolution, there were only two hotels in Zanzibar, both operated by British expats living in Zanzibar. More hotels were not built due to lack of infrastructure throughout the islands (Zanzibar National Archives, “Tourist Information Bureau, August 1958—February 1961,” Location: AK 19/5). 58. One reason for the decline in tourist arrivals between 2000 and 2004 was the violence that followed the 2000 elections, after which many Western nations listed Zanzibar on their travel watch list and advised their citizens against travel to Zanzibar. Another reason contributing to the decline was the aftermath of the 11 September attacks in the US, as a consequence of which, Western tourists refrained from traveling to Muslim countries. 59. Given the rise of government corruption in recent years (Saleh 2004: 145) and with the increase in revenues that the government collects through different forms of taxes imposed on tourists coming to Zanzibar, the tourist figures released by the government should be analyzed further. However, due to limitation of space and focus of this project, I shall only mention it here that because the government is liable to account for all the taxes collected on the basis of tourist arrivals, taxes collected from tourists not accounted for could easily find its way in the pockets of various officials. Furthermore, there is also the possibility that some hotels may not provide the actual


Chapter 3

number of tourists residing in the hotels, especially with regards to local Tanzanian tourists who are not required to fill out any forms nor go through any government procedures to come to Zanzibar, in order to cheat the government by not paying those taxes, thus altering the tourist count. This latter possibility was brought to my attention by Georg Deutsch, a historian conducting research in Zanzibar (conversation in January 2004). 60. Due to lack of availability of official figures, the mentioned figure was acquired from the Zanzibar Association for Tourism Investors website, which works closely with the Zanzibar Investment and Promotion Agency, an arm of the Zanzibar government, in an article titled, “Zanzibar focuses on tourism,” 2 November 2011, http:// (accessed 10 June 2012). 61. Agricultural and seaweed farming, Zanzibar’s main economic activity after the decline of clove production, accounted for 53.2 percent of the country’s GDP in 1984. However, by 1999, agriculture accounted for only 38.1 percent of GDP. Furthermore, 74 percent of this 38.1 percent of agricultural production was based in Pemba, where clove farming is still the main source of livelihood (United Nations 2001: 8). 62. Zanzibar National Archives, “Report by Tourism Consultant, Boris Vukonie, 1982,” in Ripoti Za Safair za kikazi na Study Tours, March 1982—November 1983. Location: FF 9/20. 63. The consultants from the WTO also indicated that beach tourism should not be developed in Zanzibar for the reason that competition in that sector was well developed and entrenched as a consequence of which, many countries are not successful. (SMZ 1983b. Zanzibar National Archives. “Tourism Seminar—1983.” Location: FF 2/ 12). 64. Package tours account for 65 percent of all tourist arrivals in Zanzibar (Honey 2008: 263) 65. Tourists visiting Zanzibar stay for an average of six nights. A decade ago, the length of the average stay was one or two nights (Honey 2008: 263). 66. When I first visited Zanzibar in 1998, I hardly recalled coming across beach boys, yet by 2012, the island was swarming with them. 67. Locals often refer the beach boys through the term, paapasi, “cockroaches” due to their behavior and practices which disregard and violate local cultural values. 68. Many of the early Zanzibari beach boys originally were merchant marines, who had acquired knowledge of English outside, and thus were able to use it in communicating with tourists visiting Zanzibar (Sumich 2002: 40). 69. A variety of taxes and levies imposed upon hotels include the Value Added Tax—20 percent, which for smaller hotels is 15 percent, $5 per person per night bed night fee, the Zanzibar Social Security Fund tax—10 percent, Pay as You Earn tax—20 percent, a Skills Development Levy tax—5 percent, in addition to excise duties, a tourism license fee and land lease payment. There is an additional 30 percent income tax levied by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 70. In numerous interviews, Zanzibari respondents who presently have stakes in hotels and resorts throughout the island indicated that by utilizing their services, registering the hotels in their name, foreigners avoid paying the heavy charges levied upon foreign investors by the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency (ZIPA) to make investments in Zanzibar. In return for helping the foreigners acquire the properties the Zanzibari “owners” receive some percentage of the profit from the hotels. 71. Zanzibaris, being Muslim, also often cite religious and cultural reasons, such as having to interact with strange men and women and Islamic injunctions on handling alcohol, for refraining from working in hotels. 72. Since 2001, many of the new migrants from mainland no longer have the qualifications to work in tourism and thus engage the informal sectors of the economy which cater to tourists and tourism, such as operating curio shops, restaurants and businesses catering to workers from the mainland, and prostitution (Gössling and Schulz 2005: 52). 73. Interview, January 2002.

Movements in Post-Socialist Zanzibar


74. When the Maasai came to Zanzibar, some family members would always stay behind on the family/clan pastoral lands and when the migrating individual was required back at Maasai land, they were temporarily replaced in Zanzibar by family members. This system has ensured that the Massai families maintain a constant presence in Zanzibar in pursuit of their economic activities, while at the same time ensuring that they can return “home” to fulfill their social obligations (Chauvin 2010; conversation with Mailys Chauvin in Zanzibar, July 2012). 75. According to Chauvin, very few Maasai men engage in prostitution because they would face severe forms of reprimand from the council of elders for violating traditions norms of behavior. She indicated that while some young Maasai men do engage in such practices and pay the consequences for it, often these young men are not Maasai, but from other tribes and areas of mainland, who put on the Maasai garb, due to its tourist appeal, and engage in offering sexual services to tourists (2010, conversation in Zanzibar, July 2012). 76. Interview, January 2002. 77. Similar practices prevail between tourists and beach boys in the Swahili community of Lamu, Kenya (Peake 1984, 1989). 78. I was living in Zanzibar at the time of this incident. 79. It is quite uncommon to come across situations where Zanzibar women were engaged in similar practices, especially in public shapes. Observations and conversations with respondents confirm that in private spaces, Zanzibari women do engaged in prostitution, but often not with tourists. In majority of cases where tourist men were in company of African women in public spaces, these women were predominately from the mainland. 80. While the beach boys are a holiday indulgence for the tourist women, many beach boys perceived these women as their ticket out of Zanzibar, with hopes that the women will marry them (Sumich 2002: 45) 81. Zanzibar National Archives, “Chalmer Wright Report,” p. 59-60. In “Study of the Tourist Industry,” Location: DO 15/6. 82. Manuals are located in the Zanzibar National Archives under the section BA 109/1, 109/3, 109/8. 83. Many lower grade hotels are owned locally and reflect the lower standard of service and accommodation (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 84. With the average per capita income estimated to be US $557, 49 percent of the population in Zanzibar live below basic needs poverty line (SMZ 2010: 12). 85. Zanzibaris rely upon foreign currency, often US dollars or Euro, because the local currency, Tanzanian Shilling has been devalued substantially during the postsocialist era, subsequently impacting their ability to purchase goods in the local market. 86. Income from tourism-related employment is on an average 43 percent higher than in traditional occupations (Gössling 2003: 195). 87. Unemployment among Zanzibaris has risen from an estimated 25 percent in 2000 (United Nations 2001: 24) to over 34 percent by 2009 (ILO 2009). 88. While economic power is deemed as the basis of the higher social status that tourists enjoy, many elderly locals consider tourists morally inferior because of their behavior while visiting Zanzibar (see Saleh 2004). 89. Many imported goods were only available on the black market, smuggled into Zanzibar, in light of the government crackdown on foreign goods (Askew 2006: 29— 30, Burgess 2001). 90. As locals increasingly tried to emulate the practices of tourists, many of the goods and services produced for tourists eventually entered into the domain of indigenous culture (cf. Bruner 1991: 244). 91. For example, owning a mobile phone has now become quite fashionable in Zanzibar. Not only do Zanzibaris want to own mobile phones, but they frequently want to upgrade them, as this reflects notion of status, being modern. Many respondents have indicated that the way in which Zanzibaris are consuming the mobile


Chapter 3

phone lifestyles is one of the major challenges in encouraging people to provide for their families. To be perceived as important, it is vital to be seen talking on the phone, or accessing resources on the phone. However, in addition to the cost of the phone units themselves, many Zanzibaris who have limited financial resources, end up spending large percentage of their cash reserves on purchasing phone credit (see Pfaff 2010). 92. The average salaries of those working in the hotel industries have improved over the past 10 years. In 2000, the average monthly salary of a hotel worker was 30,000 TZS (US $30). By 2012, the average salary of hotel workers, at the higher end, was about 150,000 TZS (US $100). Respondents working in hotels argued that though the salaries have increased, they do not keep up with the rise in rate of inflation. According to a study commissioned by the Zanzibar government, in 2009, the per capita GDP was US $557 (SMZ 2010), which equates to a monthly salary of about US $46. Consequently, those working in tourism earn far more than in non-tourism sectors of the economy.

FOUR Moving Through the Tourism Landscape The Struggle for Work and Pursuit of Prosperity

The post-socialist environment has increased economic hardships on Zanzibaris. Local unemployment exceeds 34 percent twenty five years after Zanzibar’s integration into the global capitalist economy (ILO 2009). Zanzibaris earn an average of US $557 per annum and more than 49 percent of them live below basic needs poverty line (SMZ 2010: 12). Furthermore, the value of the local currency continues to decline and the cost of living surpasses beyond what most people earn. Majority of Zanzibaris lack the financial capital required to engage with new forms of consumption within the prevailing capitalist market economy. Unable to move and facing greater economic marginalization, employment in the formal and informal sectors of tourism, when attainable, offers Zanzibaris a mechanism to improve their social and economic conditions, as the prospects for earning in tourism are much higher than other sectors of the economy. 1 Through work in tourism, Zanzibaris can earn more money and formulate new routes for developing dispositions and distinctions for articulating their socio-economic status in Zanzibar. Despite the growing prominence of tourism, majority of tourism employment remains unstable and seasonal. Competition from better educated and skilled workers migrating from mainland often limits the kinds of employment that Zanzibaris can acquire in tourism. Furthermore, oversupply of labor from the mainland and manipulation of labor laws have empowered hoteliers to replace majority of their staff on an annual basis. Thus, many workers in the tourism industry remain constantly on the move, in search of new employment every year. Among Zanzibaris, 87


Chapter 4

religious and cultural norms further discourage local women from taking up formal tourism employment. Consequently, only a small percentage of local women work in formal sectors of tourism, with many others participating in informal sectors of the tourism economy (see Demovic 2007). Tourism, as a prominent mode to interact with outsiders, also serves as a major conduit for Zanzibaris to access the rest of the world, the ideas, customs and pleasures (cf. Waldren 1997) through which they are constructing their understanding of modernity. However, tourism is simultaneously the most threatening of all late twentieth century forms of globalization to Swahili society, leading to the financial and cultural exploitation of the Swahili population by outsiders (cf. Horton and Middleton 2000: 197-98). As the dominant economic activity on the islands, engagement with formal and informal sectors of tourism offers one of the few options available to cope with and overcome prevailing economic hardships for those seeking a modern life in contemporary Zanzibar. In the post-socialist era, Zanzibaris that have integrated themselves within systems of political patronage or have received financial assistance from social networks 2 primarily occupy positions of centrality in accessing and enjoying the luxuries of modern life. These networks, as forms of social capital, facilitate access to the financial capital required to move through re-appropriated spaces for formulating new modes of centrality. For everyone else, pursuit of opportunities in tourism offers a mechanism to move into these spaces of centrality. In majority of instances, the extent to which Zanzibaris benefit from various networks remains instrumental to their socio-economic mobility today. This chapter examines the circumstances under which pursuit of economic prosperity through opportunities in tourism enables Zanzibaris to facilitate different routes for articulating their place in Zanzibar society. The chapter presents vignettes of movements through the Zanzibar tourism landscape and evaluates how the levels of access to various networks enables Zanzibaris to acquire the capital to move and transform their socio-economic conditions. Integrated within the discussions of other social changes taking place in contemporary Zanzibar, these vignettes highlight how the lives of Zanzibaris have been transformed in the presence of and practices associated with tourists and tourism. The individuals discussed in this chapter represent different segments of the identity discourse that have historically emerged in Zanzibar, from different ethnic, social and economic positions, all with different levels of access to various networks. Their stories highlight the circumstances of many Zanzibaris within the broader society who are similarly struggling in the postsocialist milieu and turn to tourism to gain access to new spaces of centrality. The movements of Zanzibaris discussed in this chapter illustrates the prevalence of divided, yet interconnected spaces within which new social meanings and experiences are now appropriated and shaping

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


models of strangeness and differences for negotiating ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. The movements of one group of Zanzibaris not discussed in this chapter are that of local women. Local cultural and religious norms discouraging non-family, male-female social interaction limited levels of access into the private lives of Zanzibari women working in tourism. 3 The gendered focus on the lives of Zanzibari men here does not in any way propose that women are not engaged in any form of tourism work or are impacted by it. Rather, rise of new social discourses within the tourism environment have transformed gender interaction among Zanzibaris and I explore this issue in greater detail later (chapter six and seven). The analysis here is based on the data that has been accessible to me 4 within the broader framework of highlighting how Zanzibaris are economically struggling to move in the post-socialist environment and using avenues of tourism to facilitate their movements.

OTHMAN: THE SEARCH FOR EMPLOYMENT AND SURVIVAL Othman, now in his 40s, migrated to Zanzibar from Pemba in 1995 in search of employment. Though born, raised and educated in Pemba, lack of opportunities and the need to support his family forced him to leave, like thousands of other Pembans, who have migrated to Unguja or the mainland in recent decades. Othman’s father, Ali, married fifteen times and Othman’s mother was the last wife, leaving Othman the burden to care for his ageing parents. Othman wanted to remain in Pemba and work for the government. However, in light of his Hadrami and Comorian ancestry and political persecution faced by Pembans since the revolution, he found it impossible to acquire employment in the government. 5 Unable to benefit from his education, 6 the only options remaining in Pemba were either farming or fishing. Consequently, with assistance from family members who migrated to Unguja years before, he embarked on the journey and found employment in a hotel office in Zanzibar town within six months of arriving in Unguja. Upon arriving in Zanzibar, Othman soon encountered difficulties in maintaining a job in the tourism industry. He was only granted a oneyear contract, two months of which he had to work as an intern without compensation, a common experience iterated by many respondents working in tourism. When the contract expired, he was released and had to search for new employment. Many hoteliers hire their staff on oneyear contracts because local labor laws require them to provide employees that have completed more than one year of service a reasonable rise in wages, medical insurance and pension. According to Othman and other respondents working in hotels, when their contracts expires, they are


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released and replaced by those who are often willing to work for either the same salary, if not for lower wages. Aided by the fact that that unemployment in Zanzibar has continually increased in the era of liberalization, from 25 percent in 2000 (United Nations 2001: 24), to over 34 percent by 2009 (ILO 2009) 7 and with ample number of skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers from the mainland constantly searching for employment, employers could dictate such working conditions on their employees. After being laid off from his first job in the hotel sector, Othman found it very difficult to find another job, even though he now had some experience. He remained unemployed for eight months. Despite continuous increase in hotel capacity, with more than 180 accommodation units added between 1999 and 2002 (SMZ 2003: 91) and eclipsed by the addition of another 3056 rooms between 2005 and 2011, 8 Zanzibaris still find it difficult to gain meaningful employment in the tourism industry. Many hotel jobs are often filled by workers from mainland Tanzania and other parts of East Africa, who possess higher level of educational qualifications, skills and proficiency of foreign languages in comparison to their Zanzibari counterparts. As a consequence of the decline in the education system following the revolution until today (United Nations 2001: 16), most Zanzibaris find themselves ill-equipped to compete in the job market (Ibid. 24). 9 Lacking linguistic skills and education, most Zanzibaris only qualify for low level, low paying employment in hotels, such as cleaning, washing and housekeeping, which many find demeaning. In contrast, workers from the mainland often occupy higher paying positions in hotels, which require greater interaction with guests and at the management level. Unable to maintain stable employment, Othman performed odd jobs in the informal sectors of the economy for several months. He applied for many positions but remained unsuccessful. The inability to find formal employment has led many Zanzibaris to seek work in the informal sectors of the economy. By 1999, the informal sector represented 61 percent of all employment in Zanzibar (United Nations 2001: 24) and continues to increase with the arrival of mainlanders (Gössling and Schulz 2005). Due to the seasonal nature of employment with tourism, 10 many Zanzibaris also have to seek alternative means to survive during the off season. Many of them survive by farming, fishing or selling goods in the market. Uneducated Swahili women often end up working as servants in homes of more affluent Zanzibaris. Those unable to find any form of employment resort to prostitution and beach boy activities, which have increased substantially over the past decade. However, Othman and majority of Zanzibari respondents consider these latter activities as without haya, “modesty” and heshima, “respect,” social ideals of this traditional Muslim society. Othman indicated that he would rather starve, which he has during periods of unemployment, than engage in activities which

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


would compromise his observance of haya and heshima. Othman asserts that it is important to hold on to some formal employment because it bestows notions of status and respectability on the individual in society, in turn enabling them to maintain observance of haya and heshima. The need for formal work has led to exploitation of employees working in the hotel environments in Zanzibar (cf. Chachage 2000: 189). Despite government mandates requiring hotels to hire locals (Gössling and Schulz 2005: 52), the only routes often available for Zanzibaris to find employment in hotels is through networks of family and friends. Moreover, since majority of hotel employees are laid off every year, 11 these networks become vital for acquiring employment at other hotels for the subsequent year. People working in the hotel environments are always on the move, constantly moving around the island, from one hotel job to another. Those who are fortunate find employment for the next year, while everyone else has to find other ways to survive and continue searching for employment. After eight months of unemployment, Othman finally acquired formal employment in a hotel restaurant through the assistance of his networks of Pemban in Zanzibar. Upon starting his new job, Othman married Mariam, a Pemban by origin who was born and raised in Zanzibar. Though Mariam worked before the marriage, Othman was against the idea of her working after their marriage. Male respondents often indicated that their respectability in society was damaged if their wives had to work to support the family (discussed further in chapter six). Despite the need for the additional income, Othman argued that he did not want his wife to work also because there were no suitable, respectable jobs for women in the tourist environment. Tourism involves interacting with foreign, strange men, thus categorizing such work as without heshima. Since Mariam was not well educated, she would not find anything that was suitable. He preferred that she stay at home and focus on the upbringing of their children. Though times were financially hard, Othman, like many others Zanzibaris in a similar financial situation, insisted that he is not willing to compromise his cultural and religious values for financial gain. Othman was fortunate enough to retain his second hotel job for the next three years. During that time, he acquired experience, upgraded his skills and contributed to his social networks by helping other Pemban associates acquire employment. However, with a change in the hotel management, 12 Othman lost his job yet again. With his experience, Othman expected a promotion and a higher salary. On the contrary, the new management wanted to reduce his salary and he was unwilling to accept the new terms of employment. 13 Othman quit his job and through his social networks, acquired new employment in a restaurant in Stone Town, owned by a Pemban who was his older half-brother’s friend. He managed to work there for the


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next four years. Since Othman’s half-brother was an associate of the restaurant’s owner, he was assured employment for as long as he desired. However, his salary remained stagnant and fluctuated with the tourist season. He earned his normal salary during the tourist high season, but when business declined in the off season, the only options available were to either have the restaurant shut, which would mean no salary at all, or to work for half wages and having the restaurant open few days a week. Despite rise in tourists numbers, locally owned restaurant have suffered drastically. Due to excessive competition, local restaurants increasingly struggle to attract customers. This has led to the decline of many restaurant businesses. Furthermore, many tourists often eat at Forodhani, where an entire meal, in relatively unhygienic conditions costs about 5,000 shillings ($4), in comparison to spending a minimum of 10,000 shillings ($8) in a restaurant. Consequently, restaurants end up losing potential customers. Unable to cope with these operating conditions, the restaurant in which Othman worked closed down. Othman has since continued bouncing from one form of employment to another, creating greater instability and reducing his ability to adequately provide for his family. Convinced that he will not be able to acquire stable, long term employment in the tourism industry, he has now shifted his goals and wants to start his own business. Othman argues that the prospects of running a business offer a sense of stability and greater respectability in a society (see Pfaff 2010) in which there is growing instability. For Othman, running his own business would increase his respectability because he would no longer have to “work as a servant for others” and would control his own destiny. However, prospects of saving money to start a business remain unachievable with his current salary barely keeping the family over poverty level. In a society that is increasingly dependent on imported commodities, food and otherwise (SMZ 2003: 25), 14 since Zanzibar cannot produce enough for itself and the influx of people now coming to the islands, 15 Othman finds himself in a situation where he is trying to cope with his prevailing circumstances by once again turning to his networks, family and friends. He is hoping to establish a business with their support which would help him meet basic living expenses. If and when he is able to establish a business, Othman wants to return to Pemba and support his mother there. He argues that life in Zanzibar has deteriorated drastically, socially as well as economically, in terms of rise in crime, decay of social and cultural values, and lack of economic opportunities. He does not want his children exposed to such an environment. However, given his existing circumstances and financial hardships, he has been unable to move toward that goal. While being able to move into some new spaces with the assistance of his networks, he still struggles to acquire the capital required to move into other spaces that he desires to improve his financial and social conditions.

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


MUHAMMAD: A LIFE OF CONNECTIONS Muhammad is a third generation Zanzibari of mainland origin. His great grandfather, from the Sukuma tribe in north-western Tanzania, migrated to Zanzibar in early twentieth century. Muhammad’s grandfather, Yusuf, was born in Zanzibar, and married a Zanzibari woman of mainland origin. Muhammad’s father, Mahmoud, worked for the revolutionary government. Mahmoud’s employment was acquired through kinship ties with members of the Revolutionary Council, which has also bestowed the family with high levels of access and privilege since the socialist era. In 1976, Mahmoud married Muhammad’s mother, Mariam, who was divorced at the time. Mariam’s grandfather, Abdullah, was first generation Zanzibari, of Omani descent and married a Shirazi Zanzibari whose ancestors, Muhammad claims, migrated to Zanzibar from Oman. Muhammad, now in his mid-30s, identifies himself as a Zanzibari, but at the same time displays much attachment to mainland Africa. On numerous occasions when issues of his identity surfaced in our conversations, he used the categories Zanzibari or Sukuma to identify himself. He never identified himself as a Swahili. However, his primary circle of friends consists of Swahili Zanzibaris, who identify themselves as either Shirazi or Hadimu. Muhammad and his friends often used the word Swahili (in my presence) when talking about Zanzibari culture, which in their view is based on “Swahili” traditions and values. Muhammad’s experience as a Zanzibari has been shaped by the social capital he and his family acquired through their patronage to members of the ruling government. Through the use of the family’s political connections, Muhammad moved to Kenya in the early 1980s to acquire his primary, secondary, and university education. He returned to Zanzibar in the early 1990s after completing his education. Not having an interest in joining politics at the time, he worked with his father and operated a garage in Stone Town. It was then that tourists started visiting his garage to enquire about renting motorcycles to travel around the islands and for supplies such as postcards, batteries and camera film. Recognizing the business potential, Muhammad started renting motorbikes and opened up a number of other businesses catering to tourists. In the flourishing economic environment in Zanzibar in the early 1990s, Muhammad subsequently engaged in other businesses, importing clothes, health commodities and electronic items from Dubai. He operated these businesses as a wholesaler, trading goods between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam. These ventures enabled Muhammad to expand his business networks on the mainland and the Arabian Gulf. Political ties in the government through his ukoo, “clan” provided Muhammad with the means to operate these


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businesses without any problems, being able to travel abroad and ship goods through Zanzibar customs without any restraints. 16 As tourism increased and business prospects improved, Muhammad opened up an Internet café, which became an instant success. Along with the tourists, beach boys became frequent customers, many of whom use the Internet to network with people on mainland and even as far as Europe to promote their services. Many local youth also took advantage of this new media to connect with the world. However, only Zanzibaris with money could access this service. Consequently, friends collected money and shared computers, with four to six boys or girls crowding around one computer terminal. Recognizing that the sight of local children crowding around computer stations would turn tourists away, Muhammad increased the price for surfing the net, now making it possible only for tourists to access this service. 17 The continuing rise of tourist arrivals and access to various forms of capital led Muhammad to invest in additional tourism businesses. He now owns several restaurants, a disco, hotels in Stone Town as well as the shamba, a travel office and a clothing boutique, a book store, among other businesses. He opened his first restaurant in 2000. Catering to middle and upper class Western tourists, the restaurant served authentic Zanzibari food, with a Maasai guard welcoming the guests at the front door. As he initiated more businesses, the advantages that he was afforded through the political resources enabled him to slowly move out of operating those businesses and either selling them or leasing them out to other local entrepreneurs or growing number of expats interested in running tourist-related business in Zanzibar. Muhammad’s social and financial status has improved dramatically in recent years, in contrast to the position of the family when Muhammad operated the garage with his father. Previously, he would attend baraza in other parts of Stone Town. However, in recent years, the baraza has shifted to the proximity of his home and is often attended by various members of the revolutionary government. One Swahili Zanzibari who now attends the baraza with Muhammad indicated that association with Muhammad offers him access to pursue new business prospects and interact with politicians and other well connected members of Zanzibar society, which was not possible before. The success enjoyed by Muhammad parallels that of other Zanzibaris who have been able to benefit from patron-client relations with government officials to transform their economic situation. CCM elite often abuse their power to seize beachfront land and commercial properties for themselves, their clients and relatives (Myers 1996: 232). In Zanzibar Stone Town, a World Heritage Site, where property values have increased substantially over the past decade, those with political connections acquire exclusive rights to building structures and use them as leverage in the market, selling them to private investors (Bissell 2007: 188) or

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


establishing hotels and other tourist businesses themselves. During this presidency, Amani Karume’s children acquired beach front properties in Stone Town and throughout the island, displacing children from an orphanage in one instance, to pursue and enhance their business ventures catering to tourists. The advantages offered to pursue business interests through CCM patronage make such examples a common occurrence throughout Zanzibar. Benefitting from such systems of patronage, many of Muhammad’s business are also located in prime locations around Zanzibar. The growing success Muhammad enjoyed in the business world has subsequently facilitated his transition into the public sphere. Over the past several years, he has taken up a more public profile through various organizations, working in conjunction with government agencies to promote Zanzibar’s culture, which is integrally tied to tourism development on the islands. Through this new form of engagement, he is more involved in contributing to the political discourse of the islands. Though not an elected member of the government, his relationships with the individuals in the political arena further facilitate his ability to move into other spaces and acquire new forms of social capital that facilitate different forms of movement through the Zanzibar landscape. Despite this new public exposure, Muhammad still aspires to retain a quiet life. With his business interests flourishing without his direct involvement, he is able to devote attention to issues of public welfare. Now, he travels abroad for both, personal as well as business reasons—to bring greater attention to issue of public welfare and at the same time, acquire resources and goods to pursue his business ventures. Through his involvement in tourism, a new world of possibilities has opened up for Muhammad. His movement in the post-socialist environment has enabled him to acquire new forms of capital to establish social centrality within certain spaces in which he is now moving. His business success and rising public visibility are new markers of social distinctions. Through the acquisition of wealth, he is able to engage in consumption of expensive goods and pursue a modern life still inaccessible to majority of Zanzibaris. Muhammad’s social status is also reflected from association with his kin, who continue to influence the political environment in Zanzibar. He also has relatives who now live in United Kingdom, Canada and Germany. Muhammad’s status is further enhanced through his marriage to Khadija, a divorced woman of Omani origin. Muhammad’s wealth and new status enabled him to marry Khadija and since the birth of their children, Muhammad indicated that his life was now geared toward providing the best for his sons and daughters. While Muhammad has greatly benefitted from his movement, he is acutely aware of the fragility of the social, economic and political state of affairs in Zanzibar. Convinced that some form of chaos will descend upon Zanzibar if the socio-economic hardships experienced by majority


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of people do not improve, Muhammad indicates that it is necessary to develop contingency plans to ensure his family’s safety and well-being. With access to family and other social networks abroad, he has the capital to move through existing social spaces and leave Zanzibar. Living in Zanzibar offers Muhammad significant financial and social advantages. However, his commitment to remain in Zanzibar is increasingly contingent upon being able to maintaining centrality in these spaces. His wealth, networks and investments abroad now provide him the capital to move into spaces outside Zanzibar and establish modes of centrality there if and when conditions in Zanzibar deteriorate further. Through his current public engagement with Zanzibaris, he believes that he can work toward fostering better understanding between the different groups of people. However, now situated in the center of his social universe, Muhammad has the options and the networks to remain in or move out of Zanzibar, as he indicated, if his situation here worsens in the coming future. Muhammad’s prosperity is integrally linked to his association with mainland Africa. Aided by family and political networks, Muhammad has been able to move through spaces inaccessible to many Zanzibaris. During the socialist era, this social capital facilitated his ability to leave Zanzibar and acquire an education. In the post-socialist era, they have enhanced his financial status, and remain instrumental in enabling him to develop new socio-economic dispositions to experience emerging models of modernity in Zanzibar. These forms of capital subsequently facilitate Muhammad’s ability to develop new routes to distinguish his roots in Zanzibar.

ALI: GOING FROM RAGS TO RICHES Ali, a third generation Asian Zanzibari, enjoys an extravagant lifestyle today because of the family’s success in various tourism and non-tourism related businesses. The past, however, was very different. Disputes with relatives and the aftermath of the revolution, 18 drove Jamshed and Nadia, Ali’s parents, into a life of poverty. Nadia’s family in India provided financial assistance to help the couple cope with their destitution, but living under the scrutiny of the revolutionary government brought additional hardships. Jamshed was incarcerated twice during the socialist era. With Jamshed in prison, Nadia was left to tend to the children. Using cooking skills she learned before marriage, she managed to help the family survive. In the mid-1980s, after government restrictions eased, which enabled Zanzibaris to travel more freely again, Jamshed and Nadia sent all their three children, including Ali, to India, in care of Nadia’s brother to ac-

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


quire a better education there. Living in poverty, Nadia’s brother further contributed 50,000 Indian Rupees (roughly $3,200 at that time) to help the couple survive in Zanzibar. Nadia used this money to open up a small restaurant on the ground floor of their house while Jamshed collected and sold antique furnishings, which he acquired practically free of charge from people fleeing Zanzibar. When Ali returned from India after completing his university education in the early 1990s, he was unable to find any meaning employment. He found it difficult to find a position in government controlled local banks where he could utilize his commerce education due to the degree of discrimination exercised by CCM against non-party members and non-Africans (cf. Chachage 2000: 91). Consequently, he helped out his parents by performing odd jobs and working with his father. The fortunes of the family turned in the mid-1990s, when owners of a beach resort in the shamba catering to affluent tourists were searching for exotic Zanzibari furnishings. They ended up purchasing a great quantity of furniture that Jamshed had collected over the years. Subsequently, taking a risk on the growing tourism economy, Ali invested all the money from the sale on tourist goods. 19 Ali opened up a curio shop, selling T-shirts, makonde artifacts, and other antiques from around the world. As more tourists visited Zanzibar and purchased these goods, the business became extremely successful. With growth in tourism, Ali expanded his business to accommodate the new types of tourists visiting Zanzibar. 20 He ventured into wholesale and started acquiring larger quantities and varieties of goods, which he then supplied to other curio shops, businesses, entrepreneurs, beach boys and hotels throughout the islands. 21 Ali further expanded his business interests by opening an electronics store, a boutique and developing other tourist curio products, locally manufactured and packaged. Ali also entered the realm of online sales, which brought him wholesale and retail customers from around the world. With the support that Ali receives from his parents and his siblings, who also returned from India after completing their education, in running the businesses in his absence, Ali travels to different parts of the world, from West Africa to South-East Asia, to acquire various goods. The shops now serve as showrooms for all the kinds of goods Ali can offer his customers. According to Ali, what matters most is that the shops always have the items (from around the world but with an African outlook) that appeal to the gaze of the Western tourists who visit them. He insists that it is not important if the goods are of Zanzibari origin. 22 Instead, what matters more is that goods have an appeal to the tourists, to appease their gaze (cf. Urry 1990). Ali contends that tourists are usually ignorant of the origins of the goods they purchase and are easily fooled into buying the items he sells because they perceive them as exotic.


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Though his businesses are successful in comparison to the general business environment in Zanzibar, Ali constantly complains that business remains bad from the point of view of the financial success he wants to attain. While majority of Zanzibaris are struggling to survive on a daily basis, Ali and his family have surpassed that level of thinking and thus need to plan their lives accordingly. Using the family’s new fortunes, Ali makes an active effort to display a more modern lifestyle by consuming expensive imported goods and interacts with other affluent Zanzibari entrepreneurs like him. He dines at expensive restaurants on a regular basis in the company of Western hoteliers and other wealthy Zanzibaris, many of whom have also acquired their wealth in tourism. Ali indicates that through his interaction with these wealthy Zanzibaris he is able to explore new business ventures and sell his products to them. For him, maintaining an extravagant lifestyle around other entrepreneurs is a necessity in order to pursue new business opportunities. Ali’s immediate circle of friends is also composed primarily of wealthy Asian Zanzibaris who share similar tastes. In their company, Ali displays his wealth through the consumption of imported commodities and tales of his business and personal travels. Simultaneously, Ali categorizes his Asian friends who are struggling to acquire wealth as lazy and prefers minimizing his interaction with them. His impoverished friends, whom he has known since childhood and initially spent most of his time after returning from India, also no longer have the financial resources to continue socializing with him. Before this rise in their fortunes, Ali and his family possessed marginal social status within their Jat and the broader Asian community. However, with their recent success, members from the Jat as well as other Asians now pay Ali and Jamshed social visits at their businesses on a daily basis. Ali emphasizes that this would have never been the case in the past. According to Ali, when they were poor, “no one cared about our situation.” When his father was imprisoned and the family was financially suffering, no Asians or members of the Jat were willing to provide his mother any assistance. Now, with their prosperity, the social capital accessible to them facilitates their movement through re-appropriated public and private spaces, where they now enjoy social centrality. With their new status, Ali’s mother, sister, sister in law, wife and children are all involved in activities of their Jat in Zanzibar and beyond and are frequently invited to attend numerous social functions. Maryam, Ali’s sister, married into a wealthy family (from the same Jat), in Dar es Salaam, on the mainland, in turn providing Ali and his family access to new networks to enhance their social position. Ali recognizes that the status he and him family now enjoy is primarily due to their current financial situation. The success that Ali and his family have achieved with the assistance of their family network remains inaccessible to other Asian Zanzibaris

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


and majority of non-Asian Zanzibaris. Many Asians, while being a minority in Zanzibar, 23 continue to struggle financially. Only those that have managed to acquire support from networks 24 abroad have managed to acquire new fortunes. For Ali’s family, access to their kinship network facilitated the family’s ability to move into spaces created by the presence of tourism and in which the family developed new dispositions. Without the support from Nadia’s brother in India, Ali may not have acquired university education and the initial material support to acquire goods and establish his businesses. This assistance enabled the family to subsequently move through different spaces in which they now maintain centrality and shape new social distinctions. Ali’s present socio-economic status enables him to demarcate new boundaries in spaces of social interaction with Asians and Zanzibaris in ways not possible in the past. The forms of capital that Ali has been able to access within the tourist dominated, neo-liberal environment now facilitate how he rearticulate his place in Zanzibar society. Despite achieving new modes of social centrality and high levels of financial prosperity, Ali remains unhappy in Zanzibar. Rising interventions from the government, which continually harasses local shopkeepers for bribes and through new forms of taxes, the unpredictability of the tourist environment, and the prospects of another event like the 1964 Revolution leads Ali to believe that a time may come when he might have to leave Zanzibar for good. Though Zanzibar is his home, Ali argues that he has only experienced a life of marginalization here because he is of Asian origin. Consequently, Ali has considered the prospect of returning to India since he lived there during his formative years. The idea of going to the West is also a possibility since he possesses the financial capital to invest in different ventures and migrate there. Empowered with new forms of social capital, the family is now in a position to move out of Zanzibar, if required. Their position within the Jat, among the Asians as well as within the broader Zanzibari society now facilitates their ability to move into new, different spaces, in and out of Zanzibar. However, Ali cannot presently entertain the prospect of leaving Zanzibar due to his father who has lived his entire life and survived numerous trials and tribulations here. Having growth up under the authoritarian rule of the revolutionary government, Ali does not share the same level of sentimental attachment to Zanzibar as his father. In this era of globalization, Ali’s worldview and his place in it is further shaped by questions of economic prosperity and global flow of money rather than ideas of belonging tied to one particular place. However, Jamshed, proclaiming his patriotism to Zanzibar, is adamant that he will live out his life nowhere else. The memories of surviving through the revolution, the harassment during the socialist era and all the other ups and downs of life have instilled strong sentimental attachment to Zanzibar for Jamshed. He categorizes Zanzibar as his only home and moving away from it


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would represent abandoning the centrality he has enjoyed here for a life of displacement in his old age. Unwilling to leave his father behind, if there is any likelihood of Ali leaving Zanzibar for good, that day will come only after Jamshed’s death. For Ali, access to different networks has facilitated his ability to acquire new forms of capital to move through space appropriated within the tourism discourse. Engagement with tourism has directly contributed to his socio-economic success, enhancing the family’s status not only in different public spaces, but also within specific private spaces, such as Jat, which embeds specific ideas of belonging in Zanzibar society (see Keshodkar 2010). Through the acquisition of wealth and consumption of various goods, Ali also enjoys the benefits of a modern life, which remained previously inaccessible. Through this modern life, Ali has acquired the means to distinguish himself from those with whom he previously shared similar practices and developed new forms of classifications to identify them. The social capital that has empowered Ali’s movements through different spaces in the Zanzibar landscape also provides him with the means to now contemplate leaving Zanzibar. In light of prevailing economic hardships and uncertainties from political conflicts, the ability to move out of Zanzibar represents an emerging strand for articulating ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. In Ali’s case, prospects of moving to Europe or India will enable him to develop new routes for reformulating his roots in Zanzibar.

SAEED: THE DILEMMA OF THE ZANZIBARI YOUTH Saeed, in his late 20s, was born and raised in Zanzibar, and identifies himself as Shirazi. His father, Ramadhani, works as a sailor on dhows that have represented the historical wayfaring traditions connecting Zanzibar to littoral societies around the Indian Ocean (Sheriff 2010). In the years following the revolution, the family acquired land in the shamba through the government’s land distribution process. Saeed indicates that his family had to denounce their Shirazi origins in order to benefit from this remuneration awarded to Africans by the revolutionary government. 25 Since Saeed’s paternal grandmother had remarried and had two more children, the family received a total of 15 acres of land. While many Swahili Zanzibaris abandoned what was useless land or had it repossessed by the government (Shao 1992: 54, 94), Saeed’s family retained possession of their plots. The land is now cultivated by his jamaa, “extended family and relatives.” Saeed acquires agricultural goods produced on the land from his relatives and sells them to earn additional income and support his family.

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


Having been educated through Zanzibar’s socialist school system, where students continue to be more preoccupied with performing manual labor rather than learning (cf. Shao 1992: 63), 26 Saeed had limited opportunities to find meaning employment with his education. After barely completing Form IV, he faced unemployment, experienced by most Zanzibari youth, who now constitute more than 50 percent of the population (SMZ 2009). Given the lack of adequate employment opportunities in the tourism industry, the only option available, Saeed argues, was to sit idle, play football, and socialize with friends. An opportunity emerged when his father’s half sister’s husband, Suleman, invested in a shop in town, selling food items, household goods and wholesale goods to resorts. Saeed worked in the shop for three years, between 2000 and 2003, and received a monthly salary of 30,000 TZS (US $30). However, rising rents in Stone Town made the business unviable and forced Suleman to shut down the store. 27 Saeed remained unemployed for the next 18 months, relying again on selling agricultural products and performing other odd jobs to earn some income. Ramadhani’s associates subsequently helped Saeed find employment as a merchant marine, traveling around East Africa, but this opportunity did not provide stable employment. After working as a merchant marine for a year, Saeed returned to Zanzibar, performing odd jobs, helping family members and receiving small sums for his work. Saeed found a way to leave Zanzibar again, this time for four years, in 2006, when a distant relative asked him to travel to Mozambique and assist his business there. However, with the relative’s death, the business collapsed, and with lack of capital, 28 Saeed returned to Zanzibar. He remained unemployed again for over a year before starting to work as a waiter in a local restaurant catering to tourists. He earns a low salary in the restaurant and receives additional income from tips left by tourists. Despite the low salary, Saeed highlights his contentment with being employed, arguing that the job keeps him busy through the day and allows him to refrain from idleness. More importantly, by virtue of having a job, he is able to maintain his self-respect and heshima. Saeed has aspirations to open up his own business someday, emphasizing that he has to work for others only because of his educational background. However, until he can acquire sufficient capital, he has to continue working. Saeed indicated that it is very difficult to acquire the capital needed to set up a business in Zanzibar today because many Zanzibaris are experiencing a difficult life. In contrasting his own experience, Saeed often cited the success he perceived was enjoyed by all Asian and Omani Zanzibaris. According to Saeed, all Asian and Omani Zanzibaris receive support from various family networks to develop business ventures and improve their socio-economic conditions. Though Saeed himself has access to various networks which have facilitated different forms of movement, he laments that those networks are situated within Unguja. Since all his


Chapter 4

relatives are experiencing similar economic hardships, these networks are unable to offer him the support he requires to pursue his endeavors. Saeed has an extensive family network, but it is primarily based in Zanzibar and they are all involved in agricultural activities. These networks assist Saeed by sending him fruits and vegetables to sell and earn a living, but they do not have the resources for providing anything more. Saeed emphasizes that there are Swahili Zanzibaris who are able to improve their conditions through the assistance of their networks. Many of these successful Swahili have acquired support from family members living abroad who support their relatives in Zanzibar by sending them remittance. 29 The remittance enables them to move into new spaces and develop dispositions to improve their socio-economic status. Alternatively, only those engaged in patron-client relationships with government officials, like Muhammad (discussed earlier), can acquire the means to live comfortably while the rest of the society continue living in abject poverty. The emergence of a new consciousness in the post-socialist milieu and ethnic divisions fueled by the growing political rhetoric (discussed in chapter three) lead Saeed to suggest that there now prevails a belief among Zanzibaris that Arabs will only support others Arabs, Asians will only assist Asians, 30 Comorian will look after the needs of their compatriots, and a Pemban will only aid another Pemban. Furthermore, unlike other communities, for the Swahili, boundaries of group demarcation outside of ukoo and jamaa are not clear cut. Meanwhile, markers of communal boundaries for some of these minorities, like the Asians, are tightly bound and defined in designated private spaces (see Keshodkar 2005, 2010). Moving between periods of employment and unable to acquire the capital needed to establish a business, basic questions of survival have brought new challenges in Saeed’s life. The growth of tourism has resulted in a substantial rise in cost of basic commodities, such as food over the past 10 years. 31 Consequently, during period of unemployment, Saeed has resorted to eating only one meal a day. Lack of adequate financial resources have also made it detrimental for him to pursue a modern life, which is sought by everyone to improve their social status within the post-socialist milieu. Facing these continuing hardships, Saeed increasingly considers employment in tourism as a solution to alleviate his conditions. Saeed acquired a good grasp of Portuguese during his time in Mozambique, which has facilitated his ability to communicate with tourists in Italian. Having mastered Italian, Saeed recently purchased an official government license to work as a tour guide, for which he has to pay an annual fee of US $50. However, he required over 10 months to accumulate these funds. He continues working in the restaurant and offers tours to customers he encounters in the restaurant during his free time. With this interaction with tourists, Saeed hopes to acquire a more permanent

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


desk job in a local tour company, but internships with such organizations last a minimum of three months and offer no compensation during that time period. Presently, while working as an independent tour guide, Saeed refrains from publicizing his interaction and activities with tourists out of fear of being associated with beach boys, who are socially marginalized for their activities. High unemployment has forced many Zanzibari youth to engage in beach boy activities. Living in poverty, they regularly encounter beach boys from the mainland walking in the company of young female tourists, with disposable income, buying motorcycles, mobile phones, new clothes and other fashionable commodities. Their desire to acquire an income and such level of modern comforts and lack of other employment opportunities has encouraged many of them to follow tourists around and offer various services, such as leading walking tours, arranging excursions around Zanzibar among other things. 32 Through their engagement in such activities, the youth are seeking new routes to earn social status in society in light of their exclusion from the formal sectors of the economy (cf. MacGaffey and Bazenguissa-Ganga 2000). However, the major obstacle local youth encounter in pursuing this trade is their lack of proficiency in languages needed to interact with the tourists. Since tourists primarily interact with beach boys who can speak their language, a Kiswahili medium education has not imparted Zanzibari youth with a decent command of English or Italian, the language mastered by professional beach boys (since Italians dominate the tourist landscape in Zanzibar). Engaging in the beach boy trade has also introduced new social problems in the lives of these youth. Restricted in what services they can offer, many of them resort to selling drugs to tourists. 33 However, with incomes from selling drugs, local beach boys have also started experimenting with them and increased consumption of alcohol, both in the company of tourists and outside of it. To pursue a modern lifestyle, they also spend their incomes on purchasing new clothes and other fashionable commodities, in the process, not helping alleviate their families’ economic hardships. These new practices have become the leading source of conflict within local families, leading the youth to reportedly transgress local social norms and gradually turn toward a destructive life of crime and immorality. Saeed had been able to escape this fate by virtue of having access to other forms of employment. Saeed is very critical of tourism, arguing that activities surrounding tourism are without heshima. In his view, those who are rely upon beach boys activities for their incomes spend money when they are able to access it. However, in the absence of tourists, they resort to begging or stealing to acquire the money needed to support their new tastes. Among Saeed’s friends, many of whom have resorted to beach boy activities, he alone now attends mosque regularly. A substan-


Chapter 4

tial number of tourists visiting Zanzibar go to bars in the evenings, during the time of the maghribi, sunset prayers, and beach boys argue that it is necessary for them to attend to the needs of the tourists rather than going to the mosque. Saeed disagrees with this outlook, but has the luxury to be critical because he is employed. His employment provides him the space to maintain certain social and religious dispositions. He contends that it is preferable to remain unemployed than to be involved in beach boy activities, since the latter leads to nothing but a path of destruction. This view is also promoted by the Imam, “religious leader” of the mosque that Saeed attends. Occasionally, Saeed handed me pamphlets distributed at his mosque that discuss the ills of tourism, secularization, rise of crime, and social and moral decay in Zanzibar society, and how the local community should act against it. Saeed also speaks favorably of and is quite supportive of Uamsho, “awakening,” an Islamic religious movement in Zanzibar which accuses the government of corruption, holds ruling officials responsible for the moral decay of society and advocates for the breakup of the Tanzanian union (cf. Turner 2009: 242). An essentialist Islamic discourse has been on the rise in the post-socialist era to challenge the influence perceived to be promoted by tourism in Zanzibar. Providing an alternative model of modernity, it advocates the centrality of Islam in the lives of Zanzibaris (Parkin 1995, Turner 2009). Saeed, not militant in his view, advocates the practice of Islam as a means to maintain stability at a time when everything else is falling apart. Emerging notions of modernity and consumption challenge the centrality of Islam advocated by Saeed in the lives of Zanzibaris. Interacting with tourists has exposed Zanzibari youth to certain comforts and views of the West never conceived before and they want to experience this life of extravagance first hand. Saeed has developed a desire for this experience like other youth around him. One way to acquire this modern life, many beach boys propose, is by developing intimate relationships with female tourists and hope that they consider taking them back to Europe, where they would enjoy a better quality of life. 34 The growing presence of European women in Zanzibar is also transforming how the local youth conceptualize love and marriage. In a society which mandates gender segregation, female tourists are seen as easy targets for gaining sexual favors and possibly more, which is not possible with local women, who otherwise would makes demands of cash and possible engagement (Sumich 2002: 42). 35 Influenced by such attitudes, Saeed once suggested that, “only a white woman can truly love,” 36 but then quickly came to the conclusion that he would never be able to attain such love. Acknowledging that he did not have the money needed to interact with or entertain white women nor wanting to compromise his religious beliefs, he concluded that he may have to end up marrying a Swahili woman, whose main interest in marriage, he argued, was to only look after her own

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


interests. Consequently, he would never find “true love.” Saeed still maintains hope that he will one day fall in love with a white woman who will marry him, adopt Islam and agree to stay with him in Zanzibar. However, the majority of such intermarriages that he has witnessed, all ended in divorce, with the women not embracing Islam nor local cultural values and often the Zanzibari men losing custody of any children from the marriages. Saeed’s ability to move through spaces that now exist has conditioned the social and religious dispositions that he now practices. His unemployed friends, many of whom are indulging in beach boy activities, are moving through different spaces in the same social landscape, some in which Saeed chooses not to move. The nature of their movement in each of these different spaces has given rise to new dispositions and with it, new ways for identifying themselves in their social environment. Contending cultural discourses of modern life, religion, socio-economic mobility, respectability, among others, are giving rise to new meanings for Saeed and other Zanzibari youth for formulating distinctions to articulate their place and positions in Zanzibar society today. Given his status and position in the spaces in which he is moving, where greater devotion to practice of Islam occupies centrality, the dispositions Saeed develops influences the nature of his movement through spaces inter-connected by these contending cultural discourses. These dispositions shape the routes for reformulating his roots as a Zanzibari. For each individual discussed in this chapter, the forms of capital they have been able to access have facilitated their movements through the tourism landscape. As their movements are shaped by specific meanings appropriated by the capital within different spaces, they have developed contrasting dispositions and distinctions to distinguish themselves as Zanzibaris. In pursuit of modern life, new models of strangeness are emerging to distinguish different ideas for articulating the Zanzibari identity. For all the individuals discussed, the role of social networks has emerged as an important form of capital facilitating their movements through the tourism landscape. The forms of movement accessible to Ali and Muhammad through their networks have improved their financial and social standing in society and enabled them to develop dispositions to facilitate their movements out of Zanzibar in the future. On the other hand, for Othman and Saeed, the capital accessible through their networks has facilitated their movement in some spaces, while restricting it in others. Unable to access other forms of social capital to facilitate their movements, they occupy spaces of marginality and cannot develop distinctions on the premise of socio-economic conditions to reformulate their identities. Given that majority of Zanzibaris face similar circumstances, the movement of these individuals highlight how at this time of growing economic and political uncertainty, the extent to which Zanzibaris are able to access and benefit from various networks facilitate their


Chapter 4

ability to transform their perceptions of space and place in contemporary Zanzibar. Through these vignettes of movement in the era of tourism, this chapter has depicted how tourism has appropriated different spaces in which individuals with access to different forms of capital are striving to move, and in the process, re-articulating aspects of their social identities. For Zanzibaris from different social, ethnic and racial origins, the presence of tourists and tourism has formulated different implications about how they perceive themselves vis-à-vis other groups of people sharing and moving through similar spaces. By creating new distinctions to separate themselves from other around them, they also introduce new models of strangeness to maintain their differences. Here, these differences were illustrated at the level of the individual, each struggling to move through the tourist landscape to transform their socio-economic conditions. The next chapter examines how growing socio-economic inequalities are giving rise to new forms of strangeness among Zanzibaris as they struggle to construct diverging models of modernity and belonging within Zanzibar. New means for constructing ideas of utamaduni and ustaarabu are also emerging within these contending cultural discourses for defining modern life in Zanzibar. An analysis of how Zanzibaris move through different public and private spaces (with the assistance of various networks) in the following chapter highlights how their identities shift in these spaces, revealing structures in which they are constructed and interconnected at different levels of society, and shape their ideas for articulating themselves and perceiving others around them as Zanzibaris. NOTES 1. In the last chapter, it was highlighted that the average wages of workers in Zanzibar is approximately US $46 per month, while working in tourism, a person can earn a salary closer to about US $100, consequently, providing them with greater spending power. 2. These social networks primarily include extended relatives or business associates either living abroad who send remittance or those living in other parts of Zanzibar who have access to various resources on the islands. 3. In observance of local social norms that discourage non-family male-female interactions, it was not possible to explore life histories of Zanzibar women in the same manner with which I acquired access to the public and private lives of the Zanzibari men. However, despite these limitations, I interacted with many local women over the years, often in social settings in which I was in the company of other family members or female friends of the women. Through these different levels of access, I have acquired and integrated the views of many different Zanzibari women regarding their position and changing role in society with tourism. Their lives are discussed extensively in chapters six and seven. 4. Refer to Keshodkar (2004, 2005) which highlights the challenges of socially interacting with different segments of the ethnically diverse and gender segregated population in Zanzibar.

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


5. Othman indicated that his ancestors on the father’s side migrated from Yemen six generations ago, in the 1800s, while his mother’s family migrated to Pemba from Yemen three generations ago, in the late 1800s (Interview, April 2002). 6. Othman finished Form IV, which is comparable to O levels in the British educational system and 10th grade in the US system. By Zanzibari standards, completing Form IV is considered an accomplishment, as the majority of workers in the government bureaucracy are either Form IV or Form VI graduates. 7. These figures provide official figures for unemployment in Zanzibar, offered by government sources. However, conversations with various officials and anecdotal evidence suggest that when taking the youth and recent migrants into consideration as well in the unemployment figures, the unemployment figure in Zanzibar’s working population far exceed the official figures. 8. Source: Zanzibar Commission for Tourism, 2011. 9. One way Zanzibaris can acquire skills to work in the tourism industry is by acquiring a certificate from the Zanzibar Hotel and Tourism Institute, which was established in 1992. However, with fees of approximately $800 per course, many Zanzibaris do not have financial resources to acquire this education. Majority of the student in these schools now are from the mainland (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 10. Tourist season operates from mid-June through early November, and then midDecember through late April. Majority of resorts are closed from April to early June due to the monsoon rains, and use this time to give annual leave to their employees. 11. Only 23 percent of Zanzibar’s population is considered as working throughout the year (UN 2001: 25). 12. Change in hotel management and ownership is a very common phenomenon in Zanzibar. 13. In 2000, while many hotels charge their guests anywhere from $50 to $250 a night for accommodation, majority of hotel employees received a salary of 30,000 Tanzanian Shillings (roughly US $30) per month. By 2012, according to respondents, their salaries have improved to between US $50 an US $100 per month. 14. 80 percent of all basic foods in Zanzibar are now imported. Only 20 percent of fruits are imported (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 15. All meat and poultry consumed by tourists originates from mainland, and the prices of fish in the local markets have increased tremendously since hotels are willing to pay the higher prices (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 16. Respondents indicate that they always have to pay bribes to customs and revenue officers to safely transfer their goods. The amount of the bribes correspond with the quantity and value of goods imported to Zanzibar. 17. While tourists still come to access the Internet café, the rise of mobile phones with Internet capabilities had led to a decline of locals frequenting Internet cafés in recent years. 18. Asian respondents indicated that the great economic prominence they enjoyed in the colonial period diminished after the revolution, when their wealth and properties were seized, leaving many of them homeless, and a number of Asians were killed. This led a majority of those who had acquired wealth to flee Zanzibar and leave those caught and imprisoned and other Asians who were financially impoverished behind (see Keshodkar 2005, 2010). 19. Rahim initially acquired tourist goods from India, with the assistance of his maternal uncle there. 20. Ali claims that in the mid-1990s, middle class, family-oriented tourists from Europe dominated the tourist landscape in Zanzibar. These tourists often made their way to the islands after going on a safari on the Serengeti plains, on the mainland. These tourists purchased goods from local shops and helped the economy grow. However, over the past decade, while more tourists had visited Zanzibar, the island increasingly became a hot spot for backpackers and package tourists, primarily from Italy and Spain, who spent a week in the beach resorts in the shamba and then made their way back to their home countries. These tourists spent less than $50 a day, an


Chapter 4

extremely low figure by any given international standards for tourism development, thus causing a decline in tourism revenue (SMZ 2003: 93). Backpackers are often described in a derogatory manner by locals, Kishuka, Vishuka (pl.), “bird shit” (Sumich 2002: 41), since they refuse to spend any money, bargain endlessly and interact with local vendors in what they perceive as a disrespectful manner. Respondents often find the situation of backpackers puzzling, since they possessed the financial resources to travel to Zanzibar and throughout Africa and to always buy beer, cigarettes and drugs, but never had money to spend on food or buy items which would help sustain the local economy. One respondent, whose business primarily relied upon tourism, indicated that these backpackers seem to be so poor that “I feel that I should give them money” (Interview, December 2011). 21. In the 1990s, Rahim ordered goods to fill up part of a ship container. However, over the past 10 years, with the success of his businesses, the orders usually require multiple containers, good which are then stored in warehouses throughout and outside of Stone Town. 22. Majority of souvenirs sold in Zanzibar, including art work, are imported (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 23. There are only about 2500 Asians in Zanzibar today (Keshodkar 2010). 24. These networks can be kin based or through the Jat (see Keshodkar 2005). 25. Only a small percentage of the land distributed to peasants was fertile. Majority of the fertile land remained in the hands of the government (cf. Shao 1992: 53). 26. The assertion that students in Zanzibar school still continue to perform manual labor rather than learn is based on my observations (see Keshodkar 2005). Furthermore, the quality and conditions for teaching in public schools continue to decline, with no desks and materials in the classroom, compounded with malnourished children (Cameron 2009: 169). 27. With the arrival of tourism and prospects for building more hotels throughout Zanzibar Stone Town, rents have increased dramatically over the past two decades, often forcing people out of their homes, leading to gentrification (Bissell 2007) and rise in price of doing business for locals (Keshodkar 2013). 28. Saeed primarily emphasized this term, capital (in English rather than Swahili), with specific reference to financial resources as a necessary means to facilitate new forms of movement to improve his quality of life. 29. Since the revolution, thousands of Zanzibaris migrated to Western countries, often leaving family behind. Those who departed now send remittance to their family members in Zanzibar (Saleh 2004: 153). A large number of local Omani Arabs, Asians and Swahilis increasingly rely upon these diaspora to help them survive in Zanzibar. Respondents indicated that family that rely upon remittance receive anywhere from US $100 to a few hundred dollars a month from relatives abroad. The remittance of US $100 per month equates to about $1,200 per year, which is more than double the US $557 average per capita income in Zanzibar. 30. The Asians can turn not only to other Asians but also to members of their Jat, “caste,” for assistance. 31. For example, the cost of oil increased 400 percent, from 800 TZS a liter in 2002 to over 2400 TZS by 2012. 32. Until a few years ago, Zanzibaris took offence when they thought that they were paid for providing assistance. However, given how circumstances for day to day survival has changed, (and with the presence of beach boys) it is now a common sight where the younger generation of Zanzibaris are no longer reluctant to take monetary compensation for any assistance provided (see Saleh 2004: 152). 33. According to beach boys interviewed, a cocaine hit can be purchased from dealers (who are primarily located in Zanzibar Town and often are affluent Zanzibaris) for US $1 per hit and sold to tourists for about US $30, thus enabling them to make substantial profits in the drug trade (Interviews, December 2011). Many youth hope to use the profits from the drug trade to go on to establish other businesses (Deutsch

Moving Through the Tourism Landscape


2002), however, in many instances, when they start experimenting with those drugs, their aspirations to start a business suffer. 34. A decade ago, such developments were rare, but as tourism has prospered, they have become more common in Zanzibar, and serve as examples of success for the youth. Two of Saeed’s associates have been successful in this endeavor, having left Zanzibar and coming back years later with wealth to display their new status. In one case, Saeed friend returned with a “lighter skin” son from the intermarriage, which some local Swahilis consider a sign of higher social status. 35. Many beach boys enjoy their “modern life” in Zanzibar at the expense of the female tourists, who pay for their expenses. In contrast, these men would have to pay for all the expenses in their efforts to court local women. 36. Interview, April 2002.

FIVE Contesting Models of Modernity New Landscapes of Consumption, Mobility and Islam

Living as neighbors, Zanzibaris have at times identified each other as “strangers” (cf. Simmel 1971). Originating from different places, they have all made Zanzibar their home and yet maintain certain differences on the basis of their origins. Moving between notions of nearness and distance in different spaces of social interaction, they remain close to each other insofar as they feel between themselves similarities of nationality or religion, yet remain apart as these similarities extend beyond the individuals and groups involved and connect everyone only because they connect a great many people (Ibid. 145). Adherence to Islam and their association to Zanzibar historically served as instruments for unifying Zanzibaris. However, issues of race and ethnicity, which acquired specific forms of currency as markers of difference during the “time of politics” and after the 1964 Revolution, forged new distinctions for Zanzibaris as “strangers” (in some spaces) as they move through the local landscape. With the arrival of tourism and transformation of the islands’ political economy, new modes of strangeness have emerged in Zanzibar. These developments have introduced Zanzibaris to new pleasures, consumption patterns, and ideas of individualism which contradict previous prevailing lifestyles centered on religion and kinship (Gössling and Schulz 2005: 58). As Zanzibaris struggle, psychologically, socially and financially, to adjust to these new realities, ideas of ustaarabu, which structured social life in Zanzibar over centuries, are now supplanted by the pursuit of modern lifestyles, where notions of individualism and consumption serve as organizing principles for social interaction. Compounded with the growing marginalization of Zanzibar’s political autonomy and the rise of controversies surrounding the legitimacy of the Tanzanian union, 111


Chapter 5

the premises for constructing notions of being wazanzibari are themselves shifting dramatically within this rapidly changing social landscape. Today, with majority of Zanzibaris facing extreme financial hardships, the pursuit of a better economic life and thriving within this environment necessitate different forms of movements than those in the past. The previous chapter highlighted how Zanzibaris endowed with different forms of social capital are striving to move within this milieu. As Zanzibaris aspire to position themselves for a better future through specific social and economic practices, new forms of strangeness and distinctions are emerging where once there was social equality, at least in belief, if not in practice. The first part of this chapter examines how the pursuit of conspicuous commodity consumption facilitate the re-appropriation of the spaces in which Zanzibaris are moving, in turn helping individuals develop dispositions to formulate new markers of difference for articulating their identities as Zanzibaris. Another factor contributing to rise of strangeness today is movement of Zanzibaris and mainlanders between urban and rural areas of Zanzibar. Zanzibar’s population has doubled to over 1.2 million in the postsocialist era, with more than half of them living in Zanzibar Town. The second part of this chapter analyzes how new modes of strangeness are emerging in Zanzibar as a consequence of growing urbanization and demographic shifts in the population resulting from these recent developments. As Zanzibaris have to increasingly compete with other Zanzibaris and non-Zanzibaris to access limited resources, the routes facilitating their movements through different spaces determines what resources they can acquire to transform their social position. Economic liberalization has also benefitted only a minority of Zanzibaris, while many continue living in abject poverty and remain vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of employment opportunities. For this category of Zanzibaris, secularization and pursuits of modern life have failed to provide new meanings for defining a sense of purpose for their lived experience (Cameron 2009: 171). To overcome their displacement, these Zanzibaris are seeking an alternative vision of modernity, one defined by Islam. Islam has historically served as a prominent organizing principle in Zanzibar 1 (Tronvoll 2006) and Zanzibaris are turning to it in search of acquiring social centrality and cohesion at a time of rising uncertainty (Cameron 2009: 172). The final part of this chapter explores how the revival of Islam, overcoming its suppression from the socialist era, is advocating new beliefs and how those beliefs, through specific attitudes and practices shape the contemporary identity discourse in Zanzibar. The objective in analyzing these issues is not to determine what degree of strangeness now prevails in Zanzibar, but rather to highlight how factors promoting these modes of strangeness formulate new routes for Zanzibaris to move through different (public and private) spaces and develop

Contesting Models of Modernity


social distinctions to rearticulate their roots and changing notions of ustaarabu in Zanzibar.

TOURISM AND THE RISE OF THE COMMODITY MARKET With the development of the neo-liberal market economy, Zanzibar reentered the global capitalist economy, one based on the relationship between production and consumption of commodities (cf. Appadurai 2000: 329). Tourism provides one such set of commodities, consumed by the tourists (Crick 1989: 333, MacCannell 1992: 61) now visiting Zanzibar and is a major source contributing to the commodification 2 of the local population (cf. Mowforth and Munt 2009: 47). Tourism frames the experiences of the population to meet the needs of the market (Lanfant 1995) and in the process assimilates peripheral cultures through imported meanings and forms (Hannerz 1991). These processes of commoditization, based on the consumption of the Other (MacCannell 1992), reframe social relationships by dictates of market exchange (Nash 1996) and transform the meanings through which people organize their lives (Greenwood 1978). Though Zanzibar is now participating in this global economic order, its involvement is regulated by factors outside it. Within this global market, cultural forms and practices now originate elsewhere and are subsequently imported to societies on the periphery (Hannerz 1991: 123). Zanzibar, as a society on the periphery, now faces the challenge of coping with the integration of these newly imported cultural forms. The ability of Zanzibaris to move within this new economic environment is hindered not only by imbalance of wealth and power between themselves and tourists, but also by the socio-economic inequalities surfacing among Zanzibaris themselves. For many Zanzibaris, the daily struggle to acquire basic commodities to survive limits the extent to which they can engage in various forms of conspicuous consumption. Majority of foodstuff are now imported to Zanzibar due to the growing demands of tourism on local resources (SMZ 2003: 25). 3 The presence of tourists further drives up the prices of basic commodities. Limited income opportunities outside of tourism are also leading people to seek work in tourism related industries. 4 Outside of clove production, people are primarily engaged in subsistence farming (United Nations 2001: 15). Juma, a Hadimu who earns 150,000 TSZ (roughly US $100) a month working as a science teacher in a university, continues to rely upon members of his extended family, who farm in the shamba, to survive. Though he enjoys a salary far better than most Zanzibaris, he requires their support to sustain his household that includes not only his wife and children, but also the children of other immediate relatives. Rises in prices for basic commodities far exceed inflation levels in


Chapter 5

Zanzibar (SMZ 2009: 53). 5 With hotels willing and able to pay higher prices, the cost of food is driven up, which in turn affects locals, as many of them do not have the financial resources to acquire them. Consequently, eating only one meal a day is a reality endured by many Zanzibaris, 6 contributing to malnourishment of over 23 percent of the local children (FAO 2010: 1). Along with the decline in farming, increasing destruction of local fisheries has led many Zanzibaris to also abandon fishing (Gössling and Schulz 2005; 58). 7 With these modes of production declining, Zanzibaris are embracing low skill employment in the tourism industry. Though the new jobs in tourism are low paying, they still help them earn more than the traditional farming sector (Barker 1996: 35). Through their integration into the cash economy, working in tourism and interacting with tourists enable these Zanzibaris to move into spaces where they can earn enough to consuming various commodities and realize the pleasurable dreams they have had in their imagination (cf. Urry 1990: 13, in Barker 1996). Many commodities now imported to Zanzibar were first and foremost introduced for the benefit of tourists and only later enter the local culture (cf. Bruner 1991: 244), making the local population beneficiaries of tourist consumption practices. Moreover, affluent Zanzibaris often possess the resources to access most of these commodities while the rest of the population strives to move into spaces where they can develop the financial dispositions to do likewise. 8 For example, owning the latest mobile phones has become quite fashionable in Zanzibar. Many Zanzibaris consider having the same phone for an extended period undesirable. Changing mobiles identifies ways of avoiding the image of ordinariness, and more importantly as a means to strive for personal, individual improvement (Pfaff 2010: 348). Those who can acquire this disposition possess centrality in certain social spaces and serve as role models for other around them. However, the cost of acquiring these phone and charges for using them create new burdens. Taking into consideration that an average Zanzibari earns about US $46 per month (SMZ 2009: 52), money they desperately require to support their families, their circumstances make it difficult to engage in this consumption practice. Many respondents emphasize that people waste their money “talking nonsense on mobiles” only for the purpose of being seen as owning and using different styles of mobiles. However, through such practice, mobiles are now involved in appropriating different meanings and role of mobility in contemporary Zanzibar (Pfaff 2010: 352). Through their ability to engage in different modes of commodity consumption, Zanzibaris can create new forms of demarcation between themselves and others around them, and in turn, promote new models of strangeness through their practices. Socially interacting with Ali (who was introduced in the last chapter) and others who share similar affluent status today is an expensive affair. Both Ali and Raju, another affluent

Contesting Models of Modernity


Asian who is primarily involved in commercial trading, socially interact because they now share similar tastes. They compete on the basis of the cars they drive, the new mobile phones they possess, new business ventures they are planning, and so forth. Ali purchases new mobiles every few months, every time he travels abroad. These tastes derive from their current economic condition (cf. Bourdieu 1984: 375). Ali could not develop such dispositions in the past. On the other hand, Raju was born into a wealthy family. Now, on the same economic scale, they share similar dispositions. The nature of Ali’s movement accentuates how socially developed dispositions are closely linked to different possible positions in social space, within different economic and social conditions (Ibid. 5). In his efforts to maintain these new tastes, Ali now finds it difficult to interact with Tariq, a friend whose family’s fortunes have been squandered in recent years. For Ali, eating out at upscale bars and restaurants on a regular basis is no longer a financial concern, but for Tariq, it is not financially possible. Over recent years Ali’s social interaction with Tariq has reduced significantly. Ali’s references to Tariq are now often situated in the context of how Tariq is unable to afford things and how his existing situation is incompatible with Ali’s new tastes. Through his ability to move in ways inaccessible to Tariq, Ali’s emerging dispositions have shaped a new social distinction and ideas of strangeness where one did not exist before. Salim, an Asian Zanzibari in his 60s, faces a similar social dilemma. Salim has family on mainland Tanzania and in Canada who helped him improve his financial conditions in the post-socialist era. He left Zanzibar in 1972, lived in Dar es Salaam for over a decade and returned to Zanzibar in the mid-1980s, first working for another Asian businessman and then starting his own business. Salim earns enough to survive comfortably, but by no means could he be categorized as affluent. In recent years, some of his other friends, many of whom he has known since his childhood, have improved their financial situation considerably with assistance from family and social networks outside of Zanzibar. Consequently, their consumption patterns now differ drastically from that of Salim. They own cars, big fenced-in homes, latest mobile phones, and other fashionable commodities. They often dine at expensive restaurants in Zanzibar. Though Salim still socially interacts with them at the same baraza, 9 he now feels distant from them. On one occasion when Salim was sick for several days and was hospitalized, none of his friends visited him. Infuriated, Salim indicates that before his friends would have come to check on his situation on a daily basis, but now, “since he was not rich, he was no longer important.” His economic circumstances limit his ability to compete with them on the basis of wealth, as the level of affluence increasingly dictates their social behavior. This in turn compromises his social position. For Salim, the friendships continue only for purposes of maintaining their heshima in the social spaces they share.


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The changing economic conditions of beach boys also illustrate how social position is now associated with commodity consumption practices. Beach boys are socially marginalized by the local population for their practices and public behavior. Yet, they have created new spaces where their social position is dictated by their level of interaction with tourists and other beach boys. By working in the informal sectors of the tourism economy, they are able to develop new economic opportunities to overcome their poverty and in the process foster new mechanisms of cooperation with others in similar circumstances (cf. Simone 2004). 10 Through their work around tourists, beach boys earn far more than local unskilled laborers, who earn roughly US $1.50 a day (SMZ 2010). However, in pursuit of a modern lifestyle through new consumption practices, many of them end up spending the money faster than they earn it (Sumich 2002: 42). They buy new clothes to look presentable to tourists, motorcycles and mobile phones to display their wealth, and spend money in bars and restaurants, entertaining tourists, particularly women, to attract their patronage. Respondents often complained that the pursuit of such lifestyles has led the local youth to abandon their household duties and responsibilities. Given their desires to maintain the new lifestyle, they do not contribute to the welfare of the family. The public display of their activities are also categorized as shameful, lacking heshima and bringing disrepute to the family (see Saleh 2004). For Salum, an unemployed Swahili youth in his 20s, working as a beach boy has made him realize the importance of living the “nice life,” one mirroring the lives of the tourists with whom he interacts. Like tourists, he now possesses the money needed to buy things he could only once imagine. He argues that acquiring such a lifestyle would have been impossible without working in tourism. As for maintaining existing social relationships, his new line of work has introduced him to a new group of people, all of them other beach boys. This occupational developments has also resulted in severance of ties with other friends, like Saeed (discussed in chapter four), as his pursuits of modern lifestyles mandates different forms of movement. It is now important for Salum to engage with other beach boys and to display his new social practices, sometimes in the company of white female tourists, which enhances his social position (Keshodkar 2009: 225). With lack of other viable economic opportunities, rise in number of tourists visiting Zanzibar and more female tourists seeking company of beach boys, the prospects of pursuing this form of modern life is becoming more accessible to Zanzibari youth. The social practices of beach boys in Zanzibar today are similar to recent developments in the Swahili communities of Lamu and Malindi, on the mainland coast of Kenya (Peake 1984, 1989). In Malindi, like Zanzibar, beach boys constitute a major part of the tourist world. While marginalized by the local society that disapproves of their activities, beach boys have developed a new sense of social solidarity (Peake 1984: 106).

Contesting Models of Modernity


Though they come from different social environments, their new activities bring them into the same social spaces. It is within these spaces that they define their new position and identities. However, while sharing this space, there remains a competition for supremacy within the space. In Malindi, all beach boys aspire to become the “Playboy King” (Ibid. 109), who is accompanied by the most beautiful white woman. Yet, to woo such women, the beach boy requires fancy clothing and sufficient amount of money to spend on and entertain them (Peake 1989). Upon observing the success of their mainland counterparts in Zanzibar, many local youth engage in beach boys activities and strive to engage in similar practices. Local respondents who work as beach boys indicate that they turn to beach boy activities primarily for the reason of earning money, to cope with their poverty. Many of them hope to save some earnings and subsequently establish a business for themselves. Simultaneously, these earnings enable them to engage in new forms of consumption and improve their new status. Salum is just one of thousands of local youth who perceive these practices as the only means to improve his social status and engage in new forms of consumption. 11 However, they can only earn a living while tourists are around. During the tourist low season, in the absence of income opportunities from tourists, beach boys find themselves struggling to survive and sustain their new lifestyles. Without an income, any savings are depleted and prospects of pursuing other forms of economic activities are consequently abandoned. The growing significance of new consumption practices illustrate how accessing new goods can constitute one’s social status (cf. Miller 1995a: 136) within spaces in which individuals move. The rise of the neo-liberal commodity market has provided different means for people to appropriate goods and to create new inequalities within the society (cf. Miller 1995a: 191). These inequalities facilitate different forms of movements and allow individuals to develop new social distinctions to rearticulate their identities. The “capital” (Bourdieu 1984) which accords these new tastes and dispositions is found in the different networks that enable Zanzibaris to engage in emerging consumption practices. These networks have become critical for facilitating movements of Zanzibaris through the prevailing commodity consumption landscape. Through the assistance they provide, Zanzibaris can improve their economic conditions to engage in new consumption practices and demarcate new socio-economic distinctions within the society. Education has evolved as one such commodity that facilitates different forms of movement in post-socialist Zanzibar to shape new social distinctions. During the socialist era, all Zanzibari youth were educated and equally under prepared for the future in the same school environment. Ill-equipped and under-funded, government schools continue failing in preparing its students to acquire an adequate education and skills


Chapter 5

to obtain various forms of employment. 12 Saeed attributes his failings and inability to acquire more respectable forms of employment due to his education. For majority of Zanzibari children that attend these government schools, the prospects of using their public education to shape their future remain uncertain. However, with the introduction of private school education in postsocialist Zanzibar, new prospects for building one’s educational future have emerged, if one can afford it. Many Asians, Omani Arabs and affluent Swahili Zanzibaris now send their children to private schools, a commodity that many of them can now access and afford. Only in rare cases do children from Asian or Omani Arab families attend government schools today. 13 Many Arabs, Shirazi and Pemban respondents also send their children to private schools that are funded by religious institutions from outside of Zanzibar. 14 Tuition at private schools range from several thousand US dollars per year at the high end, such as the International School of Zanzibar (ISZ) where affluent locals, such as Muhammad, a number of CCM leaders and European expats send their children, to religiously affiliated private schools, such as Mahad Istikamaa, where tuition is 50,000 TZS (US$32) per month. In contrast to government schools, students attended private schools from 8am to roughly 3pm and spend the entire time learning inside the classroom. For Juma, who works in a university and has four children, his monthly salary of US$100 restricts his ability to access private education for his children. Juma himself received a scholarship to pursue secondary and post-secondary education under the patronage of the government, but his children’s situation has become such that their future remains uncertain. Perceiving private school education as the only legitimate means to offer his children brighter prospects, Juma took up a second job to in order to acquire the supplementary income he needs to enroll his children in private schools. 15 Zanzibaris with access to social networks outside the islands also send their children abroad to acquire their education. Jamshed sent all his children to India to acquire their education—Ali acquired his secondary and university education there. Ali has also sent his daughter to India, in the care of his in-laws, to obtain her education. Hamza, an Arab Zanzibari, sent his teenage daughter to Dubai, under the care of his sister, to acquire her education there. His younger son will be the next to go to Dubai. Hamza argues that education in Zanzibar is worthless and that for his children to succeed in the future, education abroad is the only answer. Muhammad (discussed in chapter four) also used the networks accessible to his family through their political activities to acquire his education in Kenya. His half-brothers are now studying and living in Canada and he intends to send his sons there to acquire their secondary and university education. Muhammad asserts that the public education system in Zanzi-

Contesting Models of Modernity


bar has nothing to offer and if his sons stayed behind, “they will have their minds corrupted like all Zanzibaris.” For these Zanzibaris, access to outside networks plays a significant role in enabling them to acquire this much valued commodity in the postsocialist environment. As the means to engage in commodity consumption offers Zanzibaris new routes to distinguish themselves from others around them, the social capital through which they develop various dispositions gives rise to new models of strangeness in the post-socialist era. Muhammad’s views on the state of education in Zanzibar coincide with those of Juma. However, given their different socio-economic positions and level of access to various networks facilitating their movements, the social dispositions they are able to develop shape the distinctions that prevail for articulating their identities. Emerging patterns of consumption through which people are demarcating new boundaries are also promoting new ideas of strangeness in the privates spaces of the mitaa (singular: mtaa), “neighborhoods,” in which Zanzibaris live. Diverging patterns of residence and settlement historically shaped different identities in each mtaa, each commanding its own respect (Yahya 1995: 117). However, with new patterns of movements in the post-socialist era and rising urbanization, social relations that were previously shaped by proximity to neighbors and the prominence once occupied by each mtaa is threatened with departure of old residents and arrival of new ones. The movements of people from the mainland, the aspiration of Zanzibaris to leave their neighborhoods and move to more affluent areas, and migration of people from rural to urban areas are transforming the composition of mitaa throughout Zanzibar. Consequently, ideas of urbanity have once again been revived as a marker for defining mstaarabu (Saleh 2009: 205). With the rising tide of socioeconomic class segregation serving as markers of distinction for separating different neighborhoods (Myers 1993), the extent to which Zanzibaris are able to move through these divided urban spaces demarcate how they constitute ideas of belonging.

THE IMPACT OF URBANIZATION Over the past century, periods of accelerated social change facilitated migration of people from rural areas to urban centers of Zanzibar, primarily to Zanzibar town. Following the abolition of slavery and during British rule, many former slaves and peasants abandoned plantation work and moved to Zanzibar town in search of new opportunities and to start a new life (Fair 2001: 15). Ng’ambo, “the other side” built in 1850s was initially populated by African slaves and servants of Arab and Asian elite living in the adjacent Stone Town (Myers 2003: 81). It grew as part of


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Zanzibar town where many of the poorest Zanzibaris and newly arriving immigrants from the mainland, South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula lived (Fair 2001: 20; see also Myers 1993). 16 After the revolution, the new state aspired to make Ng’ambo the shining example of its socialist ideology, while simultaneously marginalizing Stone Town due to its historical association with Arab colonialism (Myers 1994a: 453). 17 With lack of opportunities in rural areas and decline in clove production, a new wave of migration followed from throughout Unguja and Pemba to Zanzibar town over the next 20 years, further extending the boundaries of the town beyond Ng’ambo. Despite the post-revolutionary exodus of Arabs and Asians, the population of Zanzibar city more than doubled between 1958 and 1978, rising from 49,502 to 115,131 (Myers 2003: 109), further increasing to over 200,000 inhabitants by 1995 (Myers 1999: 92). 18 The post-socialist era has witnessed further movement of people to the urban center of Zanzibar. 19 According to the 2002 census, more than 391,000 people resided in Zanzibar town. By 2008, residents of Zanzibar town accounted for roughly 40 percent of Zanzibar’s entire population (ILO 2009: 3). 20 Since the introduction of the free market economy and arrival of tourism, people from mainland Tanzania as well as Zanzibaris in exile have migrated to Zanzibar. Consequently, rising levels of overcrowding are forcing the economically disadvantaged to reside in unlawful settlements (Myers 1996: 230) outside the geographic margins of the city (Myers 1999: 100), in turn transforming the physical landscape and peoples’ ability to move through it. Prior to the revolution, wealthy merchants, traders, aristocrats and landowners resided in Stone Town (Yahya 1995: 117). 21 For all other Zanzibaris, Ng’ambo, separated from Stone Town by a tidal creek which was filled in the 1950s (see Bissell 2011), provided the space to construct social models of community and identity (Fair 2001: 20). With more people settling in Ng’ambo, ideas of ujirani, “neighborliness” gave prominence to the various mitaa, which are reinforced by loyalty to specific institutions within the mitaa, such as football clubs, mosques, and baraza (Yahya 1995: 117, Fair 2001: 24-27). The revolution dramatically altered the orientation of the city, changing how land was used, and where and how different Zanzibaris could move (Bissell 2011, Myers 1993, Syversen 2007). The poor from rural areas migrated to Stone Town and occupied properties abandoned by or confiscated from Asians and Arabs (Myers 2003: 111). Ng’ambo became the center of the new ideological framework of the revolutionary regime (Myers 1994a: 453). State bureaucrats organized all planning schemes and building codes in designated areas to in order pursue their political and private goals (Myers 1993: 445). Party loyalists received accommodations and other facilities in new neighborhoods on the outskirts of the town, developing the revolutionist “elitist milieu” (Myers 2003: 109–114). Under this patronage program, only wenye uwezo, “those with power,” benefitted from state projects and those

Contesting Models of Modernity


without uwezo, “power,” received nothing (Ibid. 126). 22 This pattern has continued in the post-socialist era, espousing new inequalities and giving rise to new forms of marginalization in Ng’ambo (Myers 1993: 446) and other areas throughout Zanzibar. 23 Uncontrolled population growth, compounded by continuing mismanagement and government corruption, has left many areas of Zanzibar, rural and urban, in a state of disrepair and experiencing great stress on local resources. Villages throughout Zanzibar where tourism has become highly concentrated no longer have access to fresh ground water. Only salt water is now available in some villages due to unsustainable levels of water use promoted by the rising demand from resorts and mainlanders situated there. 24 Throughout Zanzibar town, fresh water is only accessible through the main pipeline, more so in areas with a strong CCM presence. 25 Such developments have forced many other residents to dig wells to access ground water. Furthermore, while locals have to wait hours or days to access fresh water (see Keshodkar 2013), hotels increasingly truck in thousands of gallons of fresh water on a daily basis from the main reservoirs to accommodate their guests. 26 As more people move into urban areas, the expansion of tourism provides greater challenges to find adequate space for residence. In the case of Stone Town, which was ascribed World Heritage status in 2000, the continuing growth of hotels and gentrification now restricts the physical movement of locals. 27 In the aftermath of the revolution, most structures in Stone Town were confiscated and converted into multi-family houses for low income residents from rural areas of Zanzibar (Syversen 2007: 107). 28 Many of these new residents lacked the monetary means to maintain the elaborate and ageing structures (Hoyle 2002: 151). Consequently, many structures fell into a state of dilapidation over the years. By 1995, approximately 75 percent of the 1713 buildings that make up Stone Town were categorized as deteriorating (Siravo 1995: 137) and less than 14 percent of all structures stood in good shape (Bissell 1999: 476), with many of them collapsing annually ( Hitchcock 2002: 160). Today, those residents who possess financial resources have invested in reinforcing the structural integrity of their properties. Ali’s family, whose business is based in Stone Town, has invested millions of shillings over the past decade renovating their home and purchasing other properties around Stone Town to support their business ventures. Foreign investors and local elite are also involved in restoring many of these buildings (Bissell 2007: 187). Muhammad has restored five properties in Stone Town, converting two of them into boutique hotels. However, most other residents living in Stone Town have no such facilities, and often lack access to proper sewer facilities, running water, and electricity. Given the layout of buildings in Stone Town, people are cramped next to each other and many buildings are deprived of natural lighting (Keshodkar 2013). Numerous buildings are also condemned but people continue living in


Chapter 5

them. Given these deteriorating conditions of Stone Town, it is only because of tourism and the exotic quality that tourists find in it that the “fossilization of Stone Town is being unwittingly encouraged” (Yahya 1995: 120). Western tourists consume the ubiquity of poverty and the filth of such third world urban areas, romanticizing and experiencing it by walking through the middle of it, which they would never dare back in their own societies (cf. Mowforth and Munt 2009: 285). Many affluent Zanzibaris who once lived in Stone Town have now built new homes at the edges of Zanzibar town, commuting to Stone Town during the day to attend to their business interests and retreating to the suburbs in the evenings. These prosperous suburbs include Bububu, situated north of Stone Town, Mazizini, Mbweni and the airport area, located south of Stone Town, and Mombasa, south east of Stone Town. Villas in these areas were built after the revolution for the new political elite; some of them remain separated from the rest of Zanzibar town by police roadblocks in order to limit access to them (Myers 2003: 114). With the resources now accessible to them, affluent Zanzibaris are deserting their old, overcrowded neighborhoods and living in greater proximity to the political and social elites on the islands. In addition to these new residence patterns, Western ideas about domestic space have also undermined the traditional use of space (Myers 1993: 482). Traditional homes were built with mud, while modern homes are constructed with concrete blocks and have fences (Ibid. 458). 29 These fences demarcate new boundaries that did not exist before. Neighbors previously lived within yards of each other. These kinds of homes remain visible throughout much of Zanzibar. The nearness promoted by such architectural styles of traditional homes promoted ujirani, building a stronger sense of community by giving a public dimension to a private space and in the process, developing a sentimental attachment to one’s own mtaa (Yahya 1995: 117). Through this degree of closeness, neighbors became move involved in each other’s private lives. On the other hand, the architectural styles of new homes, with fences, create new boundaries and distinctions. Juma, the university instructor, still lives in a traditional home, but his Swahili neighbor, Yusuf, whose financial conditions have improved substantially in recent years, 30 built a modern home with a fence. Juma’s children no longer play with Yusuf’s children, who now live on the other side of the fence. Yusuf’s children, who attend a private school and travel in a car, are taken from home to their new friends’ houses, and when other children come to play at their house, they are brought in a car. Even Juma’s own interaction with Yusuf, once a good friend, has diminished drastically in recent years. Juma claims that his social access to his old friend, who now has richer friends, has been taken away by this new boundary. The construction of this fence illustrates one way in which neighborliness is declining (cf. Myers 1993: 485) and in the process creating new distinctions within Zanzibar

Contesting Models of Modernity


society, based on notions of “haves” and “have-nots.”Yusuf’s movement and new dispositions demonstrate how Zanzibaris in this new milieu want to try to associate with those immediately over them in the socioeconomic hierarchy and distinguish themselves from those now immediately below them (cf. Bourdieu 1984: 246), consequently formulating new social identities within these spaces. Access to new forms of capital to move through these re-appropriated spaces is also enabling Zanzibaris to re-define ideas of community. With his prosperity, Yusuf has created a mark of distinction within his neighborhood, visibly separating himself from Juma. However, others, like Alim, a Swahili Zanzibari in his late thirties, who worked as a sailor, saved his earnings and established a tourist transport business, argues that for the sake of his children’s future, he had to relocate from Magomeni, an increasingly poverty stricken neighborhood in which he grew up, to Bububu. Alim used his saving from work in tourism and built a Western-style home. He contends that by continuing to live in Magomeni, he would have risked his children’s future. By moving to Bububu, his improved financial situation allows him to enhance the living conditions for his family. His new neighbors share similar socio-economic dispositions, living in fenced homes and sending their children to private schools. Enrolled in a private school, his children also adopted new values, which stand at odds with those held by members of his old community. 31 Sharing the same values as those around him, Alim’s new dispositions have enabled him to move into a new private space, visible to others but inaccessible to them, where he and his family now occupy social centrality. Even while the affluent are moving out of old, poverty stricken neighborhoods and becoming members of new communities, the increase in local population and lack of physical space have transformed other neighborhoods within and outside city borders into slums, 32 with raw sewage and garbage lying everywhere. 33 Rising rents, gentrification and increasing levels of poverty are also dislocating poor Zanzibaris, forcing many of them to move further away from the center of Zanzibar town. However, with much of the work situated in town, they face new challenges to commute to and from town for work. 34 Such difficulties and lack of access to urban spaces have deteriorated the quality of life for many of these families. In light of prevailing economic hardships and emerging challenges of urbanization, many Zanzibaris also provide shelter to members of their extended families in their homes. Both Juma and Othman (discussed in chapter four) find themselves in this situation. Their relatives are unable to cope with their own financial and living conditions and thus, have sent off their children to live with them since they have (relatively) better incomes to ease their own hardships. With others neighbors living under similar socio-economic conditions, Juma and Othman often rely upon this new network to help each other’s families. As neighborhoods be-


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come more transitional and neighborliness deteriorates, such forms of self-management and collaboration highlight new social formations for improving their living conditions and promoting a sense of belonging within these communities (cf. Simone 2001). Excluded from these new communities are mainlanders migrating to Zanzibar, many of whom also reside on the outskirts of town in light of rising pressures of urbanization. While socially marginalized due to their origins from mainland and for being Christian, living in these neighborhoods away from town further separates them spatially from Zanzibar society. Joseph, from Shinyanga, in northern Tanzania, lives in the slums beyond the airport area. When discussing the location of his residence, he indicated that it is preferable to live here because other people in the neighborhood also migrated from the mainland. Furthermore, they are all Christians. He considers the prospects of living closer to town impossible because Zanzibaris living in those neighborhoods despise mainlanders. Living around other mainland Christians ensures that neither he nor his family will experience any problems from those he considers as outsiders. Seeking a better life on this “unfriendly” island (cf. Myers 1999: 103), Joseph and his neighbors all help each other, attend church together, and protect each another’s homes when anyone travels to the mainland. Joseph’s perception of “community” vis-à-vis other communities is further charged by the prevailing political rhetoric in Zanzibar society. The memories of the revolution and the loss of Zanzibar’s autonomy within the framework of the union contribute to the antagonism that Zanzibaris display toward people from the mainland. By maintaining their social and physical strangeness, Zanzibaris want to assert that mainlanders are not a part of the islands’ memory, past, present or future. Zanzibaris blame mainlanders, who predominately support the CCM, for contributing to emerging problems in Zanzibar, such as crime, prostitution, access to local resources, such as water, and spread of diseases resulting from overpopulation. 35 Migration of people from the mainland in the early years of tourism could have been considered previously justified, as they possessed more skills to cater to the tourists. However, majority of workers and entrepreneurs migrating to Zanzibar since 2000 no longer possess any skills and work predominately in the informal sectors of tourism (Gössling and Schulz 2005). Large scale presence of mainlanders in Zanzibar has also enabled the CCM and ZEC to manipulate the electoral process, allowing them to participate in local elections and tilt the results in their favor (Tronvoll 2006). The activities of beach boys from and many commuting prostitutes 36 from mainland (Gössling and Schulz 2005: 51), further fuel the rhetoric that mainlanders have no heshima and are the cause of moral decay in Zanzibar society. As a result of the contemporary urbanization process, Zanzibaris and people from the mainland share and struggle to move in the same spaces. But by

Contesting Models of Modernity


asserting their strangeness toward each other in these spaces, they create new ways for perceiving ideas of being Zanzibari through their interaction, as they have at different periods of Zanzibar’s history. While these models of strangeness emerging from rise in commodity consumption and growing urbanization threaten to tear the social fabric of society, rejuvenation of Islam in the public and private lives of Zanzibaris, after being reduced to an artifact for 20 years of socialist rule (Turner 2009: 251), concurrently appears to offer a common ground for Zanzibaris to dissipate their differences. Islam is emerging as a critique to the moral decay of Zanzibar society, epitomized by the threat of tourism to traditional values of Islam on the islands, the corruption and incompetence of the government, and hegemony of secularization and commodity consumption (Ibid. 238). Through its historical association with notions of ustaarabu and importation of new doctrines from elsewhere, revival of Islam offers new routes for providing a sense of certainty and unity (Cameron 2009: 172) at a time of increasing skepticism impacting the lives of Zanzibaris.

THE PLACE OF ISLAM IN POST-SOCIALIST ZANZIBAR The practice of Islam remains central for mapping local social practices in Zanzibar society (Nisula 1999: 13). 37 After the revolution, President Karume limited religious learning in order to consolidate his authoritarian rule. 38 His government controlled religious gatherings to dissuade any incitement of anti-government political unrest (Purpura 1997: 138). Religious institutions challenging the authority of the state were shut down (Ibid. 140). Religious learning and activities, while not officially banned, were not encouraged during the socialist regime (Parkin 1995: 205). Islamic learning was slowly revived only after Karume’s death in 1972. Since then, Islamic teaching and reading of the Qur’an have slowly regained prominence in the schools and mosques (Purpura 1997: 355). However, in light of the persecution and exodus of religious leaders during the socialist era, Zanzibar has since relied upon foreign nations, particularly the Arabian Gulf states, to train its new religious elite (Saleh 2009: 199). The practice of Islam in Zanzibar, historically shaped by commerce and interaction with strangers (Saleh 2009: 201), has advanced tolerance toward other faiths, such as Christianity and Hinduism (Sheriff 1995: 62). Though Zanzibaris pray in different mosques 39 and uphold different sectarian traditions and values, their sense of brotherhood under the banner of Islam provides a unifying force for conceptualizing the Muslim identity, one of many Zanzibari identities. This unity is reflected in attitudes shared by Zanzibaris for categorizing religious practices, as either dini,


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“religious/normative” or mila, “customary.” While dini is perceived to reflect practices categorized as orthodox Islam, mila practices include the syncretization of local traditions, like spirit possession, with Islamic beliefs. 40 For Zanzibaris, mila provides a way to be dini (Larsen 1995: 30). These distinctions have provided justifications for Zanzibaris to live a secular oriented lifestyle during one part of their life and subsequently turn to religion at some later point (Saleh 2009: 210). Such ideologies and practices associated with them have contributed extensively toward formulating the Islamic identity and social status in Zanzibar (Larsen 1995: 22). Within this framework of Islam, practice of Islamic ideals in Zanzibar is displayed through the observance of haya and heshima, defined as essential characteristics required of all Muslims, regardless of their ethnic or sectarian dispositions (cf. Saleh 2004: 145–49). These practices are reflected in local clothing, social and public behavior, respecting elders and orthopraxy. The expectations of public modesty and respect are further extended to and practiced by the rest of the local non-Muslim population. 41 Quintessential Islamic, characteristic of possessing heshima is considered as an important element of utamaduni in Zanzibar (Ibid. 145), practiced by all Zanzibaris. Any deviation in fulfilling these norms and religious obligations may prevail only in private spaces, out of public view and knowledge (Saleh 2009: 210). The arrival of tourism and practices associated with it has transformed the role and place of Islam in Zanzibar. Tourist behavior and pursuit of new socio-economic practices and models of modernity by Zanzibaris increasingly challenge the observance of social and public modesty. Thriving as a spot for sun, sand and sex tourism, tourists visiting Zanzibar walk around Stone Town and through villages in shorts, tank-tops and swimsuits, often engaged in displays of public affection with their partners, which locals categorize as highly inappropriate. However, due to the cash power they possess, which controls the economic lives and survival of Zanzibaris, such forms of tourist movements are accommodated. Subjugated by the power of Western tourists, locals have to reconcile their needs and desires, as a consequence of which, there is a considerable transformation of the native self (cf. Bruner 1991: 247). In light of the economic hardships experienced by many and new modes of strangeness shaping their social interaction, Zanzibaris are increasingly interested only in acquiring money (see Saleh 2004: 152) and living like the tourists. Perceiving their own culture as kishamba, “primitive,” Zanzibaris, particularly the youth, want to express their new found individualism by engaging in tourist consumption practices, which includes dressing up in Western clothes and consuming alcohol and drugs. 42 However, in pursuing this lifestyle, they increasingly engage in such practices in public spaces, where they can display their dispositions

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to others around them. Historically, such activities were concealed from the public eye. With increasingly display of such behavior in public spaces, important features of heshima which has defined traditional values and the Islamic discourse in Zanzibar are threatened by tourism (Turner 2009: 238). In response to this threat, many Zanzibaris are advocating a greater need to live by Islamic standards of decency and ethics (see Burgess 2009: 15). This standard is defined by an Islamic education, by learning the Qur’an and the traditions of the prophet, which traditionally takes place in the mosque. Though restricted during the socialist era, freedom of movement in the post-socialist era has revived the centrality of Islamic learning. According to respondents, attending mosque and participating in religious learning represent important characteristics for the youth to display heshima and uphold their status as civilized members of the society. Mosque attendance is also a significant aspect of membership for individual men in Swahili Society (cf. Swartz 1991: 76). Muslim youth generally spend the time between Maghribi and Isha prayers 43 in the evenings in mosques engaged in learning the Islamic sciences (Saleh 2009: 204). However, many Zanzibaris men working in the formal and informal sectors of tourism are now failing to fulfill these basic religious obligations. A large number of local youth, working as beach boys, no longer attend mosque regularly and have abandoned the education that defines their identity as civilized and cultured members of society. The relative security of formal employment has enabled Saeed to maintain his orientation toward acquiring Islamic knowledge. He attends mosque regularly and continues to engage with Islamic learning. However, many of his friends who work as beach boys no longer attend the mosque or Qur’an classes. By abandoning religious learning and obligations, they are seeking new routes and roots outside the Islamic discourse for formulating their identities in Zanzibar. Othman (discussed chapter four) asserts that employment in tourism is without heshima, since it requires Muslim workers to handle alcohol and interact with strange women. Despite his antagonism to this influence of tourism, acquiring employment in tourism has been the only way possible for him to cope with existing financial hardships and lack of other opportunities. Muslims working in tourist areas experience additional challenges in fulfilling their religious obligations. Ali Abdullah, a Hadimu from Zanzibar town who migrated to Nungwi and to establish a scuba diving business, considers it morally suffocating to work through the month of Ramadan, 44 particularly due to exposure to female tourists in swimsuits and sunbathing nude on the beach during this time of fasting. He laments at the government’s failure to take action and educate tourists on appropriate behavior in a Muslim society. Since his business is based on the beach, he has to cope with this transgression of local cultural values. Lacking


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viable opportunities in town and with tourists flocking to the shamba in increasing numbers, Ali has to jeopardize his religious obligation in order to help his family survive. Catering to the needs of tourists also lead Muslims like Ali to compromise on fasting activities during Ramadan and regularly attend Friday prayers. 45 In light of their absence from these activities, their status and ideas of membership within the mosque and the Muslim community is transformed. While the financially impoverished face difficulties in observing their religious duties and compromise various religious ideals, others, particularly those who have benefitted from tourism through their investments have acquired news means to display greater levels of “Islamicity.” These wealthy Zanzibaris are more regular in attending prominent mosques 46 and funding religious, mosque-based activities. One display of their religiosity and new status within these social spaces is visible through the sponsorship of religious festivals, such as the Maulidi, commemorating birth of the Prophet, celebrated during the Muslim month of Rabi alAwwal. 47 Throughout the month, public Maulidi are held in mosques. Individuals also concurrently hold their own private Maulidi commemorations. 48 Through this display of religiosity, the sponsorship of religious events like Maulidi provides a space in which wealthy Zanzibaris compete with each other to distinguish themselves on the basis of their wealth. Salima, widow of Mbwana, an influential member of the Revolutionary Council, now in her late 60s, has acquired several hotels and tourist related businesses in recent years as a result of which her family fortunes have substantially increased. 49 The family also enjoys new levels of political influence in Zanzibar. Salima annually sponsors an ostentatious Maulidi at the start of the month, thus ensuring that people attending her Maulidi praise the event through the month as they attend other celebrations. One year, she invited a sheikh from Dubai to lead the prayers because at a Maulidi she attended the previous year, a group was invited from Mombasa, Kenya. Guests invited to her Maulidi often include prominent political leaders and other wealthy Zanzibaris. Less than 20 years ago, however, when she was not wealthy, the family was unable to sponsor any such events. Now, she has established a new tradition for her children to follow and display their religiosity. By identifying herself and her family as the “protector” of Islamic values and Zanzibari culture, like many other affluent Zanzibaris, Salima and other like her are creating new meanings within this particular space for rearticulating the Islamic identity in Zanzibar, one that is very different from those who are experiencing financial hardships today. While financial conditions impact how Zanzibaris display their religiosity, the growing influence of tourism has brought to the forefront the emergence of a revivalist movement on the islands. These movements identify themselves as a means to improve Islamic morality and behavior

Contesting Models of Modernity


(Turner 2009: 239). They call for a renewal of the Islamic community by advocating religious purity through correct practice and ethics (Saleh 2009: 201) and eradication of tourism and other Western influences from Zanzibar. They define themselves as the defenders of the Islamic way of life against the impiety of foreign capital and tourism (Purpura 1997: 352). These movements portray tourism as destroying local cultural and Islamic values, bringing in Western immorality and promoting secularization of the Muslim society. Furthermore, tourism is projected as contributing to the rise in unemployment within the population and increasing the gap between the rich and the poor in Zanzibar, in turn glorifying greed and selfishness among Zanzibaris (Babu 1996: 13, Saleh 2004: 152). In the course of advocating the centrality of Islam, these movements are also raising questions about existing systems of governance in Zanzibar. They attribute the current uncontrolled, unplanned growth of tourism, exasperated ultra-poverty on the islands and Zanzibar’s decline to government corruption, nepotism and incompetence (Turner 2009: 238). Approximately 50 percent of the Zanzibari population presently living below basic needs poverty line (SMZ 2010). 50 The CCM is further blamed for encouraging unregulated migration of Christians from the mainland and for promoting evangelical Christianity in recent years (Killian 2008: 105, Turner 2009: 241). CCM is consequently identified by many Zanzibaris as, “Christian Church of the Mainland” (Glassman 2011: 295). Such critiques have enabled revivalist movements to enter the political arena. They have become more vocal in calling for the expulsion of the CCM from power. These movements primarily support CUF because it is perceived as the only political alternative to the CCM. However, the support from these revivalist movements has allowed the CCM to additionally label CUF as an Islamist party (Turner 2009: 251). One organization, Uamsho, 51 “awakening,” which officially operates as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), has become one of the most outspoken critics of CCM rule in Zanzibar. Though not a political party many Zanzibaris consider Uamsho a political movement. 52 It has entered the Union debate, mandating independence for Zanzibar from the mainland, something that even CUF does not advocate. One prominent Zanzibari politician, on conditions of anonymity, highlighted that “Uamsho have become the public face to the autonomy debate which majority of Zanzibaris, including politicians from both the CUF and the CCM support.” 53 In 2012 alone, Uamsho leaders were arrested by government forces several times, leading to numerous clashes between its supporters and the police and military. The roots of these revivalist movements emanate from policies of the revolutionary government, which created a vacuum of Islamic knowledge in Zanzibar for a period of over 20 years. Failure to establish adequate systems of education during the socialist period resulted in states from the Arabian Peninsula funding educational and social welfare insti-


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tutions in post-socialist Zanzibar (Turner 2009: 241). 54 With local educational systems continuing to collapse, Zanzibari youth have acquired scholarships to study in Gulf States, and upon returning to Zanzibar, filling in the “void left in the intellectual vacuum” (Ibid. 252). Consequently, construction of Islamic knowledge in the post-socialist era is no longer controlled by local religious leaders, but largely influenced by this foreign educated elite (Ibid. 257). These scholars advocate foreign ideas of Islamic purity and behavior, which have become the central focus of many revivalist movements. Furthermore, Zanzibaris returning to the islands since 1985, after spending years in exile back in the Arabian Peninsula, often come back to Zanzibar with a stronger sense of an orthodox Muslim identity. Hamadi, a Zanzibari of Omani origin who has lived in Zanzibar his entire life, argues that finding common ground for practicing Islam is a problem he frequently encounters when interacting with Zanzibaris returning from the Gulf. Their orthodox approach to Islam remains at odds with those who have lived entirely in Zanzibar, who perceive their practice of Islam, incorporating mila with dini, as being tolerant to other interpretations of Islam and of other faiths. For impoverished Zanzibaris, the post-socialist environment dominated by tourism continues to increase their hardships daily, and surviving in this environment involves them compromising their Islamic values and traditions. Supporters of the revivalist movements argue that the abolition of tourism and promotion of Islamic education will instill proper Islamic behavior among Zanzibaris (Turner 2009: 256). Such an education will subsequently enable locals to learn important religious traditions and rely upon their faith to guide their lives. This message calls for reforming Zanzibar society according to the fundamentals of Islam, in which the absence of tourism would facilitate the rise of prosperity for Zanzibaris according to God’s will and ways (Parkin 1995: 206). 55 The rise of a revivalist Islam agenda is often blamed for increasing acts of religious intolerance in post-socialist Zanzibar. 56 Paul, a Goan Catholic Christian, 57 who has lived in Zanzibar his entire life, claims that Zanzibar was always a peaceful place for religious tolerance and understanding, but is now changing drastically. While operating a bar in Zanzibar town, which was frequented by many local Muslims, Paul was once informed by his Muslim patrons that the Imam 58 of the local mosque, educated in Saudi Arabia, was inciting the congregation to burn down his bar since it was problematic in the Imam’s interpretation of Islam. Over the past 10 years, a number of bars and liquor shops have been attacked, bombed and destroyed throughout Zanzibar. 59 The rhetoric of the revivalist movement is also found in cassettes, CDs and books widely available in Zanzibar as well as now on YouTube on the Internet. 60 It consists of sermons from local Imamu advocating violence to combat the effects of tourism. Posters preaching revivalist messages are also increasingly more visible throughout Zanzibar. In numerous instances, support-

Contesting Models of Modernity


ers of these revivalist movements beat up prostitutes and other women, local and from mainland, seen wearing “inappropriate clothing” and perceived to be decadent. 61 There has also been an increase in church burnings in Zanzibar over the past decade. The rise of religious intolerance has introduced additional challenges in the lives of non-Muslims from mainland. They often claim that the violence is incited by the Arabs in Zanzibar, trying to drive a wedge between Africans from Zanzibar and the mainland. With the increase in the number of mainlanders coming to Zanzibar, there has also been a growing presence of Christianity on the islands. A number of large churches have been built throughout Zanzibar, often financed by missionaries not only from the mainland, but also Western countries. With these physical Christian representations of mainland domination over Muslim Zanzibar, Zanzibaris are seeking forceful means to repel their influence. The bombing of bars, the assault of women perceived to be indecent, and burning churches have been some ways to achieve this goal. The growing religious intolerance has also been incorporated within the prevailing political rhetoric between CUF and the CCM in their struggle to control Zanzibar. Arabs, identified as the backbone of CUF—coincidently a party also largely supported by revivalist groups—are challenging Christians from the mainland that primarily support CCM. The increasing presence of Pembans in Unguja, who support CUF, adds a further provocation to this revivalist agenda. Many Pembans emphasize the centrality of religious learning to counter the ill effects of tourists. They are often overwhelmingly identified by other Zanzibaris as being “better” Muslims, adhering to the orthopraxy of Islam. 62 Most Pemban also respondents identify mainlanders with Christianity and blame them for taking away jobs and denying prosperity to Zanzibaris (see Killian 2008: 105). However, their message of shunning tourism is publicized as promoting religious fundamentalism by their political counterparts in the CCM. The support that these movements receive from various international organizations highlights a global connection to the rise of the revivalist Islamic discourse in Zanzibar. However, attitudes against tourism advocated by them have arisen primarily due to transgressions of the local models of haya and heshima. Almost every moderate Muslim Zanzibari, while they do not subscribe to the revivalist agenda, readily enforces their actions. In the words of one respondent, “the promotion of Islamic values is an important mechanism to preserve local cultural values of haya and heshima and combat the influence of tourism”… “Zanzibaris do not want tourism and (want to) avoid tourists altogether”… “And with the government constantly failing to address these transgressions (see note 63), the actions carried out by these movements are forced to respond to the local situation.” 63 Similar views of support for revivalist movements


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have been expressed by other respondents over the years. These revivalist movements have risen up against what many Zanzibaris identify as forces leading to the rapid collapse of their society from within. Their courage in speaking out has revived the centrality of Islam, which is maintained through the observance of haya and heshima, as the means to unify Zanzibaris. For this, they have received widespread support from the local population. Notions of haya and heshima have historically served as social markers for displaying public modesty and respect. Heshima emphasizes kujizuia, “self-control,” expressed through social conformity, and with it the need for concealment (Larsen 1995: 33). Those who disclose what should remain concealed are considered as lacking aibu, “shame.” With the specific influences of tourism, Zanzibaris lament about the decline in haya and heshima in their society. For those who are jobless and suffering great economic hardships, the appeal to absolute principles of revivalist Islam provides a mechanism to retain their heshima, to conceal their existing hardships and indignity (Parkin 1995: 213). Consequently, the primacy of religion, as a form of social capital, offers routes for overcoming the growing strangeness they face in relation to others around them and in turn rearticulate the roots of an Islamic identity in Zanzibar. This centrality of Islam provides new meanings for conceptualizing ustaarabu within the post-socialist milieu. Concurrently, it reasserts the strangeness that has historically separated Zanzibar from mainland Africa. Observance of haya and heshima, as dimensions of the identity discourse, is situated within the framework of movements of Zanzibaris through different public and private spaces in Zanzibar. The way in which Zanzibaris perceive themselves and each other vary drastically as they move between these spaces. A fixed identity or a primary identity exists only within a specific space (Castells 2001). As Zanzibaris strive to move between different public and private spaces, identities through which they designate themselves, or categorize others or are defined by others, are themselves transformed by the nature of their movement. This chapter has outlined the emerging politics of movement between different contested spaces through new patterns of consumption, shifts in residence patterns, and in practice of Islam. The nature of their movements through these spaces facilitates the development of dispositions for Zanzibaris to re-articulate new modes of differences or similarities to formulate their identities in the post-socialist era. Since the arrival of tourism, ideas of strangeness associated with communal interaction and association have changed for all Zanzibaris. While ethnic division still prevail in demarcating access to different spaces, ideas of economic class increasingly serve as an additional factor in developing the identity of the mtaa. The ability or inability to move through different spaces, on the basis of rising socio-economic inequalities, shapes what new social identities unfold. These new identities either comple-

Contesting Models of Modernity


ment or contrast existing identities, and in the process, give rise to dispositions and practices through which individuals have created distinctions to express their new identities. These changes are evident in the contending cultural discourses of consumption, the urbanization process and the practice of Islam in post-socialist Zanzibar. Away from the public domain, family ties and religious practices demarcate boundaries in which different individuals, as members of a specific community, also move. The Jat for Asians (see Keshodkar 2010) and ukoo for Swahili Zanzibaris represent such private institutions where specific identities are formulated. It is in these private spaces where social models of haya and heshima are constructed and then maintained in public spaces (see Saleh 2004: 148-49). The display of these social ideals by individuals correlates with their position in different spaces. They serve as another aspect of their identities, on the basis of which they are judged and judge others around them. Tourism and prevailing economic hardships have re-appropriated spaces in which local women are now moving from private into public spaces, in order to work. As aspects of private life are overflowing into public spaces with their movements, both men and women find themselves in situations where they have to reevaluate their relationships to each other in spaces in which they now interact. The emerging discourse of gender interaction within the tourism landscape is re-defining the practice and observance of haya and heshima. In light of new models of strangeness encroaching upon traditional frameworks of social interaction, the next chapter analyzes how ideas of haya and heshima are changing and affect the movements of individuals, men and women, within Zanzibar society. The chapter further examines how their ability to identify themselves and relate to each other in the presence of tourism shapes new routes for reformulating existing constructions of gender identities and relationships in Zanzibar. NOTES 1. The significance of Islam in shaping the national identity of Zanzibaris and serving as a force that binds the society together is also emphasized in the work of Abdulrazak Gurnah (2002). Refer to Hand (2010) which examines how Gurnah’s work highlights the centrality of Islam for shaping Zanzibar’s historical narrative. For a discussion on the historical development of Islam in the region, refer to Lewis (1966), Safari (1994), Keshodkar (1999). 2. The use of the term commodification here suggests the transformation of people and ideas, which normally as not associated as goods which can be consumed, into different types of commodities, which can be designated some arbitrary economic value. 3. Agricultural farming, being Zanzibar’s main economic activity even after the decline of clove production, accounted for 53.2 percent of Zanzibar’s GDP in 1984. However, by 1999, agriculture accounted for only 38.1 percent of the GDP. Furthermore, 74 percent of this 38 percent of agricultural production was based in Pemba, where agriculture is still the primary source of people’s livelihood (United Nations


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2001: 8). Today, more than 80 percent of all food items are imported to Zanzibar from the mainland (Sharpley and Ussi 2012). 4. This includes transporting tourists from town to shamba, opening curio shops, restaurants, and working in informal sectors of tourism (see Gössling and Schulz 2005). 5. The price of basic commodities has increased exponentially over the past 10 years. For example, the cost of cooking oil increased 400 percent, from 800 TZS a liter in 2002 to over 2400 TZS by 2012. 6. In chapter four, I highlighted how Saeed and Othman experienced periods when they had to compromise their eating practices due to insufficient incomes. 7. Despite fish being an integral part of the local diet, an estimated 65 percent of the population in Zanzibar is no longer able to consume it on a regular basis (FAO 2010: 1). Yet, the quantity of fish catches in Zanzibar have increased substantially over the past decade, from an estimated 10,000 ton of fish caught in 1997 (Source: Zanzibar National Archives, “Zanzibar Statistical Abstract, 1997,” Location: BA 92/30), to over 22,000 ton of fish caught in 2008 (SMZ 2008: 19). 8. Affluent Zanzibaris can afford to travel abroad are also able to engage in various forms of consumption practices through their travels, which they then bring back to Zanzibar. 9. Refer to Loimeier (2009b) for a discussion on the significance of baraza in Zanzibar society. 10. Simone’s (2004) work examines how the informal sectors of the economy offer the poor in other African cities to actively develop strategies to overcome their conditions of impoverishment and establish new social relations with others sharing similar predicaments. 11. Majority of local beach boys in Zanzibar are often Hadiumu or Shirazi. Minorities living in Zanzibar rarely operated as beach boys, primarily because they were often incorporated in family businesses through the assistance of family and other social networks. In my interaction with Zanzibaris from Pemba, I never came across a situation where a Pemban worked as a beach boy. 12. Before 1986, only public school education was available in Zanzibar. Ali experienced this for his primary, before leaving for India in the mid-1980s for his secondary and university education. He recalled having to sweep floors before the start of the school day and classrooms crowded with over 40 children. This aspect of public education has not changed today. In government schools, students are still expected to continue with practices established after the revolution, like sweeping floors of the classroom and the school yard before and after school, and carrying out other forms of manual labor (see Shao 1992: 63, Cameron 2009). Living less than 500 yards from two schools, I observed students spending more time involved with these labor activities than learning inside the classroom. Furthermore, due to reasons of overcrowding, there are now two school sessions, from 8am to 1pm, and from 1pm to 6pm, thus providing educational access for only five hours a day for students in government schools (discussed in Keshodkar 2005). 13. Financial support from the Jat offers one level of support for Asian Zanzibaris to access private education. 14. For example, there is Mahad Istikamaa and Zanzibar University, discussed in chapter three. 15. The employment taken up by Juma to earn supplementary income is teaching English to Kiswahili students and teaching Kiswahili to increasing number of expats now residing in Zanzibar. Juma also offers tutoring sessions as a way to earn additional income. 16. It is important to note that while Ng’ambo was considered at the margins of Zanzibar Town, its depiction in some colonial literature projected a very positive outlook for these areas of town. It was defined as divided into well-defined district and being quite clean. The plague of 1905 is identified as an example to highlight the cleanliness of Ng’ambo, when only this part of Zanzibar town was unaffected because

Contesting Models of Modernity


of its cleanliness (Zanzibar National Archives, “Guide to Zanzibar, 1926,” Location: AB 31/24), in contrast to Stone Town, which was perceived by the British as unclean (Bissell 2011: 10). Furthermore, by the turn of the twentieth century, more people lived in Ng’ambo than Stone Town (Ibid. 64). 17. The Michenzani apartment blocks, financed by East Germany, situated just outside of Stone Town, was aimed to be the centerpiece of defining the socialist vision of the revolutionary government (Myers 1994: 463). 18. These population figures for 1958 did not account for the population of over 10,000 people living at or outside the boundaries of Zanzibar town (See Myers 2003: 78). 19. Outside of Zanzibar town, population also seems to be on the rise primarily in rural areas of Zanzibar which are congested with resorts. For example, in Kiwenga, tourism- induced migration has doubled the population of the village (Gössling and Schulz 2005: 45). The village of Nungwi, at the northern tip of Unguja, has one of the largest concentrations of resorts in Zanzibar and the population has exploded there to service the resorts and the employees working there. The expansion of the village to accommodate the rising population has more than tripled the numbers of houses in the village over the past 10 years, transforming the village into a small town. 20. The population of Zanzibar town has risen by about 90 percent since 1988, rising from 208,000 to over 400,000 inhabitants by 2010 in Zanzibar town. The overall population of Zanzibar has also increased by approximately 100 percent since 1988, from 640,000 to an estimated 1.25 million in 2012 (SMZ 2010: 23). In 1967, the overall annual population growth rate in Zanzibar was 1.8 percent, which increased to 3.1 percent by 2002 (Ibid. 22). However, these official numbers do not account for the additional numbers of people living in peri-urban areas and informal settlements outside the official boundaries of the city (Myers 2010, Bissell 2011). 21. In the nineteenth century, homes of the wealthy in Stone Town were situated side by side with those who were poor (Bissell 2011: 30). However, as a result of colonial policies, which called for clearing out of Stone Town through greater levels of sanitation and cleanliness, there was a greater degree of ethnic and class segregation in the makeup of Stone Town population by the first Time of Politics, in the 1950s and early 1960s (Ibid. 64, 150). 22. This included majority of Africans who had no access to patron-client relations operating during the socialist era. 23. For a detailed analysis of the development of Ng’ambo before and after the Revolution, refer to Myers (1993). 24. According to one government official, the overuse of ground water in Nungwi has resulted in hitting the water table below. As a consequence, the water supply is not only contaminated by sea water, but also at times by the sewage that is not adequately disposed (interview, December 2011). 25. The extent to which many urban and peri-urban neighborhoods are able to access various resources, such as water, is facilitated by their relationships with the state. CCM supported areas enjoy greater levels of access to such resources than CUF dominated neighborhoods (see Myers 2010). 26. Many hotels have also dug their own wells. 27. As value of many Stone Town properties have substantially increased in recent years, the government has often arbitrarily declared properties in desired locations as unsafe and inhabitable. However, after forcing residents to evacuate, these properties have been sold to investors (Bissell 1999: 503). The government has also raised rents substantially for many residents, forcing many to move (Bissell 2007: 188). A number of respondents claim that their rents have increased ten-fold over the past several years, with one claiming that their monthly rent increased from 20,000 shillings to 200,000 shillings in a span of five year (interview in January 2010). 28. After the Revolution, the government expropriated over 90 percent of buildings in Stone Town (Syversen 2007: 175) and still maintains control of about 60 percent of them (Boswell 2008: 308).


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29. Concrete built homes are also prominent throughout the villages. Many expats and affluent Zanzibaris have built villas on the borders of villages throughout the East and the North East coast of Unguja. All of these homes have fences around them. While homes of expats are on the borders of the villages, brick homes of government officials and other affluent locals are often situated in the middle of the villages. 30. Yusuf acquired his wealth by working as a driver to transport tourists from Zanzibar town to the shamba resorts. Over a decade ago, he worked for someone else. However, with growth in tourism, and tips from tourists, he managed to collect enough money to acquire a used minivan five years ago, which he now uses to transport tourists during the high season and lease out for transporting goods during the low season. 31. One example of a value now governing the lives of Alim’s children revolves around notions of cleanliness. In my interaction with them, they highlighted how important it was to live in a clean environment, contrasting their present residence to that of their relatives who still reside in poorer areas of Zanzibar. 32. According to Myers, Chumbani and Mtoni accommodate some of the island’s poorest and most disenfranchised residents (1999: 101). 33. Failure of Ng’ambo development in revolutionary era has contributed to present problems of uncontrolled population growth in unlawful settlements (Myers 2003: 134, Myers 1996: 230). 34. Saeed resides in Magomeni and daily commutes about an hour to Stone Town for work. 35. There were outbreaks of cholera in Zanzibar in 1997, 2002 and 2006. 36. A common sight in Zanzibar now is the weekly arrival of hordes of young women from mainland to Zanzibar by ferries on Friday evening and leaving at the end of the weekend. Over the course of conversations with some of these women, they readily admitted that sex work in Zanzibar over the weekend was more profitable than the salaries they could earn over the course of the month working in their jobs on the mainland (Interviews December 2011, June 2012). As prostitutes, they could earn up to US$150 per night (see Gössling and Schulz 2005). 37. While there is no official census figure available, Muslims compose about 95 percent of Zanzibar’s population today. A majority of Muslims in Zanzibar are Sunni, following the Shafii School of Islamic thought. It is primarily the Asians who represent the other sects of Islam, that being the Ismailis, Bohras and the Ithna’asharis (see Keshodkar 2005). The Muslim population also consists of Ibadis, who are predominantly of Omani origin. Sufism has also historically prevailed throughout East Africa, including Zanzibar (Lewis 1966: 37). These different communities reflect various dimensions of the Islamic identity in Zanzibar today. 38. Karume associated Islamic learning with the Arab world and thus, actively sought to distance Zanzibar from any such affiliation (Turner 2009: 256). 39. People often pray in mosques situated in their mtaa. 40. There is a rich tradition of spirit possession among Muslims in East Africa which has been examined by numerous researchers (Larsen 1995, Lambek 1993, Lewis 1996, Gower et al. 1996, Nisula 1999, Parkin 1994, and others) and I have addressed this issue in detail elsewhere (see Keshodkar 1999). 41. One example of displaying public modesty through clothing was in instances when Zanzibari youth and men went swimming. Most local respondents, regardless of their ethnic or religious origin, refused to take off their shirts while swimming, contending that revealing one’s body in public was inappropriate. On numerous occasions, while having discussions with Hindu Zanzibar Asians about why Asians in Zanzibar lived conservatively in comparison to Asians from the mainland, they always responded that Asians from mainland had no heshima. Local Asians often dressed modestly, always covering their arms and legs, while mainland Asians visiting Zanzibar predominately wore shorts, skirts, and behaved more like tourists. While discussing the outlook of mainland Asians toward Asians in Zanzibar, they often

Contesting Models of Modernity


responded that the Zanzibari Asians were backward and like everyone else in Zanzibar, had not yet “modernized.” 42. With more money flowing through the local economy and accessible through various forms of formal and informal employment, those who work around and with tourists acquire and spend money to behave like the tourists. In the case of beach boys, they contend that attracting business from the tourists necessitates being able to identify with them. 43. Maghribi prayers take place at sunset, while Isha prayers, the last of the five prayers Muslims perform each day, takes place in the night. 44. Ramadan is the month of fasting for Muslims. During this month, Muslims are expected to abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk, and focus on development of individual spirituality, which further mandates refraining from daily worldly activities during the period of fasting, such as smoking and sex. 45. Friday prayers, around midday, are considered the most important social and religious gatherings within the Muslim community 46. I define the prominence of a mosque in Zanzibar is on the basis of where important political and economic elite attend service, as indicated by various respondents. 47. Rabi Al-Awwal is the third month of the Muslim calendar, which is based on the lunar cycle. 48. A Maulidi usually involves recitation of poetry, prayers and religious songs, along with giving to charity and distribution of food. While a public Maulidi takes place in a mosque and its activities are carried out by those attending and participating the ceremonies, private Maulidis often entail bringing in prominent singers, poets from around the islands or even abroad to recite the prayers and songs. 49. Salima and her sons started their journey to financial prosperity with assistance from family friends from Canada who decided to invest in tourism businesses with Salima and the political connections of her late husband. 50. It is important to note that these are official government figures. However, years of observations and conversations with respondents throughout Zanzibar indicate that the number of Zanzibaris living below poverty line is far greater than the 50 percent highlighted by the government. 51. Uamsho is one of numerous revivalist movements that have emerged in Zanzibar in the era of political liberalization. Refer to Turner (2009) for an overview of revivalist movements in Zanzibar. 52. In almost every conversation with Zanzibaris during fieldwork conducted in December 2011 and June-July 2012, Uamsho was described as the only real political force to bring any meaningful change to improve the conditions of average people in Zanzibar. 53. Interview, June 2012. 54. Educational institutional and hospitals funded by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman are visible throughout Zanzibar and Pemba (discussed in chapter three). In the past twenty years, a number of social and religious institutions sponsored by various agencies situated in Saudi Arabia have established themselves in Zanzibar and other parts of East Africa (see Beckerleg 2004: 23). The most prominent of these educational institutions in Zanzibar today are Zanzibar University and the Islamic College for women, the only adequately funded post-secondary institutions in Zanzibar. Only recently has the government established the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) as the first government funded post-secondary institution. However, patronage and corruption facilitate who can acquire education at this institution. 55. This proposition is comparable to what Peake observed among the Muslim clerks of Lamu, on the coast of Kenya, who also feel obliged to defend their religion against tourism. Their situation—working in hotels and earning small wage forces them to see Islam as a positive and active part of modern life, one with more political character than simply a ritual one (1984: 207). This outlook portrays tourists as morally inferior and strengthens their belief in the moral superiority of Islam, which now appears as the focus of their future hopes (Peake 1989: 219).


Chapter 5

56. A newspaper article in Daily News, November 28, 2001, titled “Wanted: End to Religious Tensions” (p. 1), highlighted this growth of religious tolerance spreading throughout Zanzibar. 57. Goans are of South Asian origin. 58. An Imam is a member of the Muslim clergy which leads religious prayers in a mosque and is considered to be an expert on religious knowledge. 59. While conducting fieldwork in 2002, liquor shops around Zanzibar had signs posted on them during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan that if they did not stop selling alcohol, a cherished commodity not only for many Zanzibaris, but also, and more importantly for tourists, their shops would be burnt down. 60. With Zanzibaris acquiring mobiles on which they can access the Internet, many respondents indicate that they can watch these sermons on their phones and share them with different groups of people in different social settings. 61. In 2001-2, there was a group of local youth, calling themselves Simba wa Mungu, “Lions of God,” that went around Stone Town beating up local women and threatening to flog and stone those who were perceived to be decadent (Keshodkar 2005) 62. For these same reasons, Pembans are also perceived as being backward and “un-modern” by many mainlanders. 63. Interview, January 2010 (emphasis added).

SIX Movement of Haya and Heshima Emerging Discourses of Gender, Dress and Intimacy

Haya, “modesty/shame” and heshima, “respect/honor” represent important features of the social moral code for displaying civilized behavior, ustaarabu, for Zanzibari men and women. 1 The observance of this moral code, exercised through sexual segregation (Larsen 1995: 61), has shaped gendered social values based on complementary differences. Men are obliged to support the family and women control the domestic sphere (Ibid. 208-10). Historically, experience of slavery, prescriptions of proper Islamic behavior, socio-economic mobility and urban migration structured these ideals (Gower et al. 1996, Fair 2001) and governed the articulation of diverging identities for Zanzibari men and women in different social spaces. For men, heshima is acquired through scholarship, religious piety, and social integrity 2 (Middleton 1992: 138). Meanwhile, women maintain heshima primarily by preserving the family’s honor through control of their sexual activities (McMahon 2006: 215). The means for maintaining haya and heshima have changed over time, but the ideals remain defined by the “community,” which distinguishes individuals on the basis of their behavior (McMahon 2006: 197). As new forms of movements have emerged in the post-socialist era, perceptions of individualism and pursuit of a modern life present challenges to traditional models of community which assign and dictate specific modes of gender interaction. Historically, high degree of sexual segregation confined Zanzibari women to the home environment 3 (Gower et al 1996: 257; Swartz 1991: 243; Swartz 1983: 20), 4 in turn controlling the spaces within which they could move. 5 Today, increasing economic hardships faced by majority of Zanzibaris necessitates multi-income households for basic survival. These circumstances are compelling wom139


Chapter 6

en from lower socio-economic groups to leave the domestic sphere and seek employment. Their movements through different public spaces, previously controlled by men, are further situated in the presence of nonZanzibari women, tourists and women from mainland. Consequently, with their movements, they are able to develop dispositions and relate differently with men than in their previous roles. Through the nature of their movements within this milieu, women are re-defining social values and ideals for formulating aspects of their identities as women, as Muslims, as members of different socio-economic or ethnic groups, and as Zanzibaris. As Zanzibari women encounter and formulate new models of womanhood through their movements, the new meanings embedded into the construct shapes how they preserve haya and heshima and reconceptualize ideas of ustaarabu. This chapter examines how elements of the Zanzibari social moral code are transformed for women and men through the movement of women in public spaces, as they engage in new social and economic practices in the post-socialist milieu. Their movements are giving rise to new models of gender interaction and individual responsibility. The analysis demonstrates how emerging forms of movements have re-appropriated public and private spaces for men and women within which they construct specific gender identities. The first part of the chapter explores how movements of women and men today facilitate new means for distinguishing ideas of haya and heshima. The chapter then examines how the local politics of dress is shaped by presence of outsiders in Zanzibar today and promotes different forms of movements for Zanzibari women and men. As the contexts in which men and women interact with each other have changed, the last part of the chapter examines the means through which Zanzibari women and men regulate their new forms of interaction through emerging social practices and reformulate models for maintaining haya and heshima.

THE CHANGING DISCOURSE FOR PERCEIVING AND OBSERVING SOCIAL NORMS Zanzibari respondents often lament the decline of haya and heshima today, citing it as contributing to the demise of local culture. Those advocating this position, often the elderly, religiously oriented, or affluent members of society, define these concepts as eternal, timeless. Meanwhile, others argue that instead of society imposing these norms, individuals should define them through their public behavior. 6 Such struggles between individual prerogative and community mandates have historically prevailed in Zanzibar, given the high degree of racial, ethnic, and gender segregation exercised in the society. Different individuals and

Movement of Haya and Heshima


groups possessing the power to control and regulate gender definitions have advocated specific ideas of haya and heshima. However, access to new forms of capital in the post-socialist milieu enable those women and men who are able to acquire them to develop dispositions to shape new distinctions for demarcating meanings associated with observance of haya and heshima. An important means for Zanzibaris to display self-respect is by maintaining employment that is considered socially recognized and culturally permissible (Vatne 1999: 168). 7 For married men, such employment illustrates the ability to provide for their families. Fulfilling this mandate also enhances their position as head of the family, as well as within the community (cf. Swartz 1983: 21). A married man’s status is damaged if his wife is working to support the family; as that would reflects his inability to fulfill his responsibilities (Vatne 1999: 31). Furthermore, since a woman’s social standing is contingent upon her husband’s social and economic position (Swartz 1991: 253), his failure to adequately provide for the family also compromises the wife’s social standing in the community. Prevailing economic hardships and rising unemployment deprive large percentage of Zanzibari men the means to uphold their self-respect. Many men work for low paying jobs, as identified in discussing Juma and Othman’s situations in previous chapters. Yet they are fortunate enough to have employment. Many others live in dire situations, desperately trying to find any means of livelihood, a process more difficult during the low tourist season, when there is a scarcity of jobs. They risk further marginalization due to their inability to engage in emerging forms of commodity consumption and pursuit of modern lifestyles, which are shaping new ideas of group membership and belonging in Zanzibar. These circumstances have led some married men to resort to beach boy activities (Sumich 2002), while others sit idle. In light of the inability of these men to adequately provide for their families, women from those households are leaving the home environment in pursuit of work. By moving into spaces dominated by men, these women have to reevaluate traditional values of gender interaction. Female respondents often cite a preference for working around other women, but in tourism, this is not possible. 8 Under these circumstances, their public demeanor becomes an important feature of upholding haya and heshima. Wearing the buibui 9 historically facilitated women’s ability to move in public spaces (cf. Fair 2001: 102). According to all respondents, when women wear it in public, they are perceived as upholding the social moral code. However, within the tourist environment, where female employees are expected to interact with tourists, many hoteliers find the buibui problematic. A majority of hotel and resort owners interviewed insist their female staff wear skirts and discard the buibui. Since Zanzibar is branded as a


Chapter 6

sun and sand tourism destination, hoteliers require their hotel staff to wear “beach friendly” outfits. However, according to one waitress, such clothing only displays “their African bodies in skimpy Western clothing for the pleasure of tourists.” 10 For exactly this reason, Othman, while suffering economic hardships, forbids his wife from working in hotel environments, which would require her to wear clothes they consider without heshima. Furthermore, hotel employment often requires women to interact with strange men, which is also considered highly inappropriate. The unwillingness of many Zanzibari women to transgress local values and indulge in such employment has enabled women from mainland, who are often not Muslims and do not have such reservations, to take up employment in Zanzibar’s tourism industry. Observance of haya and heshima mandates that Zanzibari women wear clothing that conceals their bodies in public. However, for Zanzibari women working in hotel environments, where they are often required to dress in a specific manner, upholding these norms create new challenges. Unable to access or unwilling to take up other economic opportunities, their situation leads them to either abandon these social norms or reevaluate how they perceive and display values of haya and heshima. Shirin Abdullah, a Shirazi Zanzibari woman in her late 40s, has worked in hotels environment for over 25 years. She works presently as the general manager in a boutique hotel in Stone Town. She was first employed as a hostess at the government owned Bwawani hotel 11 during the final years of socialist rule. However, despite her family’s objections, she continued working there because that was the position assigned to her by the government. By virtue of her presence in such an environment, members of her mtaa often referred to her as a malaya, “prostitute,” categorizing her work to be without heshima. For engaging in work considered uncivilized, both Shirin and her family also faced greater social marginalization in their neighborhood. Shirin left her employment at the Bwanani after only after the collapse of socialist rule. She returned years later to work again in the hotel environment as a result of changing attitudes in society toward work in the tourism industry. She cited the need to support her family as the primary reason for working again. With many Zanzibaris struggling financially, working in hotels remains one of the few alternatives available. Tourism offers higher income prospects than most other jobs available. 12 Zanzibari women primarily engage in work invisible to tourists—such as cleaning, cooking, and laundry (Demovic 2007)—while women from mainland often take up jobs requiring direct interaction with tourists. The lack of interaction with tourists is often cited by female respondents as a means to maintain their heshima. Shirin indicated that working in hotels is also now slowly gaining acceptance in society and her family no longer objects to her working in a hotel environment. In light of her experience, Shirin now enjoys a higher position at work, as a general manager, where

Movement of Haya and Heshima


she no longer interacts with tourists and is able to observe various social norms. Away from tourism, many women seek employment in government ministries, which is considered more prestigious but extremely difficult to obtain without an education or patronage. 13 Educated women also work in hospitals, schools and other private businesses. Other women either work as domestic servants or help run businesses established by their families. Asian and Arab women often run small shops because of their family’s business activities (Vatne 1999: 125). Swahili women with financial resources also operate businesses selling handicrafts and other goods to tourists or other small scale enterprises. For women from more affluent backgrounds, running these businesses is often limited to assisting male members of the family, while their primary responsibilities keep them at home. 14 Ali’s mother and wife help out with his businesses only when he is traveling or preoccupied with other duties. For Ali, it remains unacceptable for his wife or sister to seek any form of employment outside, since that would affect the family’s status. Similarly, Muhammad’s mother operates one of his businesses in order to enable Muhammad to focus on other business ventures. These women, while interacting with foreigners, wear the hijabu, 15 thus displaying their modesty and respect in these public spaces. Women lacking education or other forms of social capital often work as servants. Housekeeping is considered acceptable by many women because it does not require education and is something that can be learned with relative ease (Vatne 1999: 124). Hidaya, a divorced Swahili Zanzibari in her 50s, 16 considers her job as a maid not prestigious but one with heshima. Previously unemployed, she acquired employment only after replacing her sister, who passed away. She contends that by working as a housekeeper, she earns enough to support herself and assist her children, who live with relatives in the shamba. 17 She resides in Jang’ombe, one of the rising slums at the outskirts of Zanzibar town, sharing her quarters with four other women in similar financial predicaments. The salary she earns is comparable to what she would have earned working in the government. 18 Hidaya often laments about not having hudumu, “service,” usually associated with government jobs, which would bestow her with greater prestige and more heshima. Irrespectively, being employed, Hidaya can now purchase various commodities and receive others as gifts from her employer. 19 Being employed, Hidaya feels empowered to control and shape her destiny. Furthermore, her work is restricted to private spaces, invisible to the broader public. Moreover, despite being divorced, and living in a society where gender inequalities remained rooted in political, economic, and socio-religious structures and processes, she has now acquired a certain ability to move and develop dispositions previously inaccessible.


Chapter 6

As a result of prevailing economic hardships, many Swahili Zanzibari women are working to support and provide for themselves and their families. 20 Their movement into public spaces provides them with selfconfidence and greater self-control over their lives. These feelings of liberation and empowerment enable them to shape their own destinies (Vatne 1999: 144-46). By virtue of their new freedom to move, many such working women now asserted that zurura, “idleness” is a quality contradicting heshima, arguing that the latter depends upon their own behavior and not on what others mandate. While many Zanzibari women are leaving their homes and seeking employment, there remain those who do not work. One category of these women include those whose husbands, despite their prevailing financial hardships, insist their wives stay home and raise the children, such as Othman and Juma. The heshima of these employed men is reflected in their ability to provide for their families. A similar form of logic prevails among Arab, Asian, Comorian and Swahili women from affluent families who are not encouraged, or specifically, discouraged from working. Given their social status in their mitaa and society at large, this category of women, by remaining at home, serve as a model for upholding traditional perceptions of haya and heshima. Their movements in public spaces remain restricted. They are confined within their home environments and when they do leave home, it is in company of other women, family members or servants. Mina finds herself in such a precarious position as Salima’s (discussed in chapter five) daughter-in-law. Coming from a poor, fourth generation Hadrami family, she worked before her wedding. She has two sisters married and living in England, and no brothers. Mina is the sole support for her parents in Zanzibar, along with the remittance she receives from her sisters. She worked until her marriage, running her own boutique, but after marrying into Salima’s family, now one of the most affluent and politically connected families in Zanzibar, she was discouraged from continuing her work. Her husband insists that her working reflects negatively on his social position in society. Respecting these new values and norms, she gave up her employment. The new life at home has brought forth boredom, especially since she previously enjoyed greater freedom of movement. As a result of her marriage, she has limited flexibility to move out of this private, confined space. In her free time, which is most of the day, she visits family and friends, always accompanied by her children, family servants or Salima, but never alone. Her movements in public spaces are always regulated by those around her. Similarly, Khadija, Muhammad’s wife, also does not work. She spends her time daily either at home receiving or visiting female family members and friends, a traditional activity for women in Zanzibar (cf. Larsen 1995: 65). Though from a poor Omani Arab family, Khadija did not work before her marriage to Muhammad. Her parents survived on

Movement of Haya and Heshima


the monthly remittance they received from their two sons living in Oman. According to Muhammad, there is no need for Khadija to work. Khadija herself also expresses no desire to work, citing it as a demeaning task. Furthermore, none of the women with whom she socially interacts work either. Ironically, while Muhammad’s mother continues to work, Khadija is discouraged to do likewise. While some women enjoy the new luxuries that the neo-liberal environment offers, economic hardships experienced by many Zanzibari women have facilitated their movement through spaces previously unimaginable. Those moving through spaces historically dominated by men are now challenging values embedded in the existing social moral code of Zanzibar society, while others reinforce traditional models of behavior. Notions of individualism are acquiring prominence within this discourse for characterizing these social ideals. Though not a new phenomenon, the levels at which women now move through these re-appropriated public spaces have transformed how they construct notions of belonging and gender interaction. By asserting ideas of individualism, they create new means for constituting ideas of haya and heshima and for articulating their identities as Zanzibaris. As haya and heshima maintain their centrality in formulating civilized behavior, discourses of bodily concealment and public disclosure occupy a prominent place in determining the extent to which Zanzibari men and women conform to these ideals. Thoughts, feelings and conduct which violate the practice of social conformity should never be disclosed; they should remain concealed at all times (cf. Larsen 1995: 35). Due to fear of being shamed (aibu), a shared ethic of reticence prevails among Zanzibari men and women (Parkin 1994: 54). One restrains oneself and avoids acts that would compromise their social reputation (Saleh 2004: 147). People guilty of violating this ethic and voluntarily or involuntarily disclosing practices that should remain concealed are charged with lacking haya and heshima. This in no way implies that Zanzibaris do not engage in activities considered without heshima. Rather, the justification often offered by respondents is that such acts should be conducted away from the public eye, in spaces not visible or accessible to others. In a society where selfrespect is publically confirmed (McMahon 2006), such transgressions in private spaces are not considered as violations of social norms primarily because individuals can still maintain an image of upholding social values in public spaces they share with others. In the past, women’s movement into the men’s public world was considered as transgression of local norms (Larsen 1995: 6). However, with increasing presence of women in these spaces, the freedoms they now enjoy allow them to manipulate these values through their movements and publicly uphold their status as upright women. Salama, a 30-year-old woman proclaiming Omani Arab and Shirazi heritage, has lived in Zanzibar all her life. She is divorced, with two children and lives with her


Chapter 6

mother. The family survives on a monthly remittance of US$300 received from relatives in Oman and Europe. Not pre-occupied by work, 21 Salama’s daily routine includes going around town and visiting friends. It is through those daily visits that I became acquainted with her. Salama makes daily visits to Issa’s house, a bachelor with whom she had no family relations, and whom I also visited. Salama visits Issa every afternoon, but only in the afternoons, arriving before he returns home from work and leaving a few hours later, always with Issa’s maid, to avoid suspicion from neighbors. For Issa, a single man in his 50s, these visits from Salama offered “time pass,” 22 with no commitments in exchange for taking care of Salama’s material needs, giving her gifts, money, and so forth. 23 Their relationship thrives solely in secrecy and the private space of Issa’s home. Once, when Issa’s maid left early without Salama, she refused to leave the house because few neighbors were holding a baraza in an adjacent house. Salama remained at Issa’s house until nightfall, and left only under the veil of darkness. Upon inquiring why she refused to leave earlier, she indicated that she did not want the neighbors to think of her as not having heshima. While maintaining that she does nothing wrong and possesses heshima, disclosure of Salama activities would have been detrimental to her social position and status, especially since she lived in the same neighborhood. To maintain their public image of heshima, both Salama and Issa had to ensure that their activities remained concealed. Numerous Zanzibari respondents are engaged in similar types of relationships. The environment created by the movement of women into public spaces in search for employment and the dominance of the market economy has facilitated the re-appropriation of other spaces in which women and men can move and develop other dispositions and pursue new lifestyles. As some respondents indicated (see note 22), the pursuit of a modern life and conspicuous consumption facilitate some of these forms of movements. For Issa, Salama’s youth and sexuality are commodities that would be inaccessible if he did not own a business and earned enough money to sustain such practices. The arrangement also enables Salama to access a variety of commodities that dominate the markets in Zanzibar for herself and her children, which many Zanzibaris cannot afford. Through the nature of their relationship, both Issa and Salama have acquired agency to pursue their desired lifestyles, and by doing so away from the public eye, maintain observance of haya and heshima in their respective social environments. With the appropriation of social spaces facilitating new forms of movements, the capital that Zanzibari women and men can access to move enables them to embed new meanings for re-conceptualizing haya and heshima in contemporary Zanzibar. Women now actively construct their own meanings of heshima, in contrast to the past when it was imposed upon them. According to many Zanzibari women today, heshima is

Movement of Haya and Heshima


what a person has, not what others claim one to have. Feeling empowered in ways not possible in the past, these women have acquired the power to determine how they project themselves as an individual. Heshima is based on notions of purity of one’s actions and maintaining selfrespect in public spaces. Given their greater presence in public spaces, women bear more responsibility to publicly uphold and observe these social and family values. The movements of women today, as they endure the burden of supporting their families and aspire to live a modern life, create a shift in the paradigm within which moral values associated with haya and heshima are defined. Their movements have transformed notion of selfhood and womanhood, enabling them to establish new means to identify themselves within the private spaces of their homes and in the wider public. Consequently, through new forms of power accessible to them, their public persona exerts a moral demand upon others obliging them to value and treat them in the manner they now have a right to expect (cf. Goffman 1959: 24). The economic circumstances of many local families restrict certain forms of movement to accommodate emerging notions of haya and heshima. With women functioning as primary and sometimes sole income earners, their families no longer enjoy the luxury of following traditional models of behavior that require women to stay home. For those women who have managed to acquire jobs, they now possess new means to define values of haya and heshima in different spaces through which they move. Meanwhile, for others, who are unable to find adequate work, the struggle continues to acquire the means to maintain haya and heshima. 24 Through their necessity/ability to move in re-appropriated public spaces, they have acquired a certain level of control for creating new meanings and defining values attached to various social practices, and in the process transformed the nature of their interaction with men in Zanzibar society. The presence of other women, tourists and those from mainland also represents an important caveat for how Zanzibari women move through public spaces today. Local women consider it imperative to not be categorized as these other women, for they are often depicted as immoral and loose in personal character and behavior. The clothes that tourists and women from mainland wear 25 in public often serve as primary markers for asserting perceptions about their character. Consequently, how Zanzibari women dress as they move through the tourism landscape serves as one basis for demarcating the perception and observance of local social norms in the contemporary gender identity discourse.


Chapter 6

THE CONTEMPORARY POLITICS OF DRESS Presentation of the body is an important aspect of displaying modesty and respect in Zanzibar society (Olsen 1999: 40). Dress not only serves as an important cultural and religious symbol but is also a means for improving personal status (Fair 2001, 2004). Social order in Muslim societies often revolves around concepts and values associated with respect and honor (cf. Weiss 1994: 127). Notions of Islamic dress symbolically aim to preserve modesty and honor under the gaze of unrelated males (cf. Watson 1994: 141). While these values have been exercised through gender segregation, wearing the buibui and hijabu in public spaces enable women to manipulate cultural gender symbols to control their movements in new contexts (cf. Fuglesang 1994: 210). Wearing the buibui and hijabu in public also enables women to conceal what should not be revealed in order to maintain their haya and heshima. In the early twentieth century, dress became a prominent aspect of how women defined their ethnic status (Fair 2001: 71). The buibui was first worn exclusively by the urban elite, wealthy Omani, Comorian and other Arab women (Ibid. 86). Ex-slaves and Swahili peasants who migrated to urban centers from rural areas sought to adopt new practices associated with Swahili and urban Islam. Buibui portrayed ex-slave women as free, good Muslim Zanzibaris (Ibid. 91) and wearing it equated a family’s growing respectability in urban society, adherence to Islam, a sense of belonging to the island community and the acquisition of wealth (Ibid: 87). Adopting the buibui further enabled Swahili women to display their uwezo and socio-economic abilities (Ibid. 83, 92). Arabs were historically prominent in representing the ideals of Islam in Zanzibar. Wearing the buibui provided Swahili women a means to strive toward some model of “Arabness” (see Fair 2001: 79-96), which still retains its value in the local social hierarchy, and maintaining their identity as Muslims. Recent efforts by Swahili Zanzibaris to re-identify themselves as Shirazi is an indication of this social attitude among these Zanzibaris, given that this label still carries vague connotations of Arab ancestry as opposed to African descent (Amory 1994: 118). However, not all Muslim women in Zanzibar wear the buibui, and those who find themselves outside this discourse wear different clothing. 26 Irrespective of distinctive dressing patterns subscribed to by different groups, all forms of local women’s clothing cover the majority of their bodies, thus enabling them to maintain modesty and respect. Moreover, each dress signifies some form of inclusion within particular groups or communities (Fair 2001: 71), and they acquire their significance primarily within the private spaces in which they interact with those sharing similar dispositions. Wearing the buibui continues to commands a level of respect for Swahili women (Fair 1998: 830) and highlights their status as civilized mem-

Movement of Haya and Heshima


bers of society. However, financial hardships often restrict their ability to acquire this dress. Hidaya (discussed above) grew up in impoverished conditions in rural Zanzibar. She did not own a buibui until after she started working. Using her earnings, she purchased three medium-quality buibui 27 over a period of two years and only wears them on auspicious days, such as Fridays, the Muslim day of communal prayer. Throughout the week, she continues wearing the kanga, a two-piece outfit, with one covering from the head down to the waist and the other cloth covering from the waist down to the ankles. 28 Being employed, she now wants to purchase more buibui but with her limited income, financial responsibilities toward her family and the desire for other commodities often restrict the purchase of these clothes. By contrast, Salama, with her disposable income has amassed more than 100 buibui of different styles. 29 Salama’s daily social visits to friends require her to wear different buibui. Being seen wearing the same dress repeatedly would decrease her social status. Furthermore, since many of her friends frequently acquire new outfits, she feels it necessary to do likewise. In this era of conspicuous commodity consumption, buibui of different styles, tastes and prices are now widely available in the local markets. Buibui ya koti, designed with an overcoat with buttons in the front, buibui with lacy materials stitched to them and buibui made out of transparent materials are just some of the more fashionable and more expensive buibui that women desire to acquire. 30 Salama possesses at least one of each. Salama’s monthly remittance facilitates her ability to afford these new tastes, shared by many other wealthy women in Zanzibar. Mina, Salima’s daughter-in-law, and Khadija, Muhammad’s wife, also own numerous designer-brand buibui. The buibui is also predominately worn by Zanzibari women working in the ministries and in private businesses. By wearing the buibui, these women can claim higher social status while moving through public spaces. 31 Meanwhile, Hidaya’s prevailing financial uncertainties limit the extent to which she can indulge in the consumption of these clothes. For Hidaya and others like her, wearing the kanga offers an acceptable solution to move through public spaces and maintain their haya and heshima. Another development in clothing that is shaping the movements of local women through public spaces is the growing prominence of the veil, worn by women on their hijabu to cover their entire face. Imported from the Middle East in recent years, the veil offers women complete anonymity as they move through public spaces. Muslim women from different socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds have adopted the veil in Zanzibar, and the number of women wearing it seems to be steadily increasing. As part of the growing Islamic discourse, the veil offers these women an avenue to preserve their public modesty, particularly in light of movements of outsiders through the local landscape and the levels at


Chapter 6

which perceived immoral values and un-Islamic behavior now inflict Zanzibar. However, this form of dress has not been part of Zanzibar’s tradition for displaying modesty and is sometimes categorized as a challenge to local values of Islam. Women wearing the veil are often mocked by young men and children as “ninja” and sometimes regarded as prostitutes by other locals as they move through public spaces. 32 The presence of the hijabu and buibui facilitate women’s ability to move through the Zanzibar landscape. This clothing has enabled local women to develop new strategies for negotiating public modesty and respect. For example, the prominence of designer buibui, some of which physically conceal the body but often aim to reveal it, through their transparent qualities or tight fitting materials that reveal the outlines of the body is one element of women’s ability to transform this social discourse. These outfits fall within the category of clothing that locals contend as maintaining haya and heshima, since they cover the entire body, but at the same time, provide women with new means to manipulate these norms and express a sense of freedom. Such different styles of clothes in public spaces allow women to demonstrate their emerging social dispositions and demarcate new distinctions through their clothing. These dispositions also facilitate the development of new forms of resistance for women to challenge positions traditionally assigned to them. However, such freedom and acts of resistance are more accessible to those who have the social capital to exercise them. In light of the competing discourses of womanhood now prevailing in Zanzibar, wearing the buibui not only allows Zanzibari women to display local moral values, but further control their perceptions in different spaces facilitating their movements. For Swahili female respondents working in government ministries and other private businesses, wearing the buibui at work affords them a certain level of respect and acceptability from men. Perceived as “upright” in this dress, they argue that they have acquired a certain level of control in their interaction with men in specific social spaces. At a time when ideas tied to ustaarabu and utamaduni are often regarded by Zanzibaris as facing imminent danger, how women project themselves through dress and uphold local values allows them to negotiate their identities in these different social environments. Their dressing patterns accords them greater individual freedom of movement through public spaces, which are now equally dominated by other Zanzibari women and men, and other, non-Zanzibari women who are castigated for the presentation of their bodies. The other women who have transformed the status of Zanzibari women in the tourism era are primarily women from the mainland and tourists. Women from the mainland, most of who are non-Muslims, are not pre-occupied with local models of public modesty and respect. Many of them work either in hotels, private businesses or in the informal sectors of the economy. Women working in hotels and in various informal sec-

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tors of the economy often wear clothing that reveals their bodies. They also readily interact with tourists and other men. With their clothing patterns not bound by specific religious restrictions, they walk around town in skirts and tops that do not cover their entire bodies. 33 Accused of disregarding local social norms, many locals conclude that women from the mainland work as prostitutes, 34 for which they are sometimes subject to various forms of violence (Keshodkar 2005: 253). 35 Upholding haya and heshima often leads Zanzibari women working in tourism to take up marginal positions in the industry, such as housekeeping, cleaning, cooking, where they can wear the buibui and hijabu, and limit their interaction with tourists. Shirin, discussed above, wears the hijabu at work only because she works in a hotel office all day and has limited interaction with the tourists. Meanwhile, all the female receptionists at her hotel wear skirts and lack head covering. Shirin indicates that when she worked at Bwawani hotel, she was unable to wear the hijabu, but in her current position as a general manager, she now has the power to regulate her clothing and maintain public modesty and respect. However, all the female employees working for her are expected to socialize with tourists and appear “Western.” While local women and even some women from mainland accommodate different models of modesty through clothing as they move through public spaces, it is the overwhelming transgression of these norms by female tourists that has transformed the discourse of dress in post-socialist Zanzibar. Female tourists commonly walk around town and villages in shorts and skirts, wearing tank tops, and in some instances, bikinis or other swimwear. Furthermore, around beach resorts, many female tourists do not hesitate to sun bathe topless on the beach. Male tourists also predominately wear shorts, and sometimes walk around shirtless. In a society where women and men are expected to cover themselves in public, locals consider the clothing of tourists absolutely unacceptable. They find themselves in a situation where they are unable to require tourists to respect and observe their social norms. Given the hardships they face, rising government corruption and the growing dependence of many on tourism for their livelihoods, Zanzibaris have no options but to accommodate such transgressions of the local moral code. Moreover, tourists are rarely subjected to any form of violence that is occasionally exercised on mainlanders for violating local norms. Many locals argue that the disrespect displayed by tourists is primarily due to the failure of government policy and their unwillingness to educate tourists about local social norms (Vatne 1999: 156). While discussing this issue of tourist clothing, almost every local respondent expressed nostalgia for the time when Zanzibar’s economy did not depend on tourism. Many elderly Zanzibaris reflected on the state of tourism during the socialist era when tourists were expected to abide by local cultural values. Tourists received lectures on Zanzibari customs upon


Chapter 6

arrival and faced expulsion for engaging in disrespectful behavior, such as kissing in public. Furthermore, female tourists received a kanga to cover themselves upon arriving in Zanzibar (Burgess 2002: 306). 36 However, today, when Zanzibar cannot survive without tourism, and tourists possess the cash power to regulate their movements, Zanzibaris no longer enjoy the position to demand respect for their culture from tourists. The dressing patterns of tourists, while violating social ideals of haya and heshima, also provide a model of modernity for those who are most impressionable, namely the local youth. Many youth have started altering their clothing patterns to imitate the tourists. While not overtly adopting the same pattern of dressing, young local women are incorporating modifications to their clothing introduced by tourists. Wearing the kanga for female tourists enhances their experience of authentic Zanzibari culture (Boswell 2006: 444). Traditionally it is worn in two pieces together, with additional clothing underneath. However, tourists often wear one piece of kanga, to cover their waist over their bikini, or as a skirt, going down to their knee. 37 Now, young Zanzibari women have started wearing the kanga in the same style, wearing only one piece of it, which is considered highly inappropriate (Vatne 1999: 158). As local women have acquired greater control over their movements in public spaces and with it, their sexuality (Boswell 2008: 77), wearing a T-shirt and a kanga as a long skirt, according to one female respondent, enables her to alter the traditional clothing and present herself to those around her as an “attractive, confident woman” who still maintains heshima by covering her body. 38 New patterns of clothing influenced by tourists are also encroaching onto the lives of Zanzibari men, who are similarly expected to dress in a modest and respectful manner. The traditional piece of clothing commonly worn by Swahili men is the kanzu, a robe that flows down to the ankles. 39 A kanzu is often accompanied by trousers or sometimes shorts underneath. Many locals indicate that wearing shorts without the kanzu over it is considered inappropriate. The kanzu is commonly worn as daily clothing by elderly Arab and Swahili men, while young men tend to wear it when they attend mosque (though not always). 40 Outside of wearing the kanzu, the only other appropriate form of clothing for men in public is wearing shirts or T-shirt and trousers. The attitude of Zanzibari men regarding modesty and respect through clothing is evident in public activities such as swimming. According to local men, it is highly inappropriate to show one’s body in public. In abiding by this norm, most men and boys refrain from removing their Tshirts while swimming. A man swimming without wearing a T-shirt is perceived as lacking heshima. Only young children swim without T-shirts. However, after observing tourists swimming and walking around town without their t-shirts, young men, particularly beach boys, have adopted

Movement of Haya and Heshima


similar practices, for which they are often reprimanded by others around them. Many young men have also started wearing sleeveless clothing, such as tank tops (Vatne 1999: 155) and shorts in public. For beach boys, copying tourists’ patterns of clothing enables them to relate to and earn income from the tourists. To increase their level of interaction with tourists and advertise their services, they use the strategies that help them achieve their goals, which in this instance require them to change their clothing. For other Zanzibaris, these new forms of clothing reflect a new model of modernity, in contrast to the kanzu, which some young men now categorize as traditional and backward. Another category of local men who have adopted wearing short are affluent Zanzibaris. According to one of them, shorts help him “to look Western.” Affluent Zanzibaris often travel to other countries and through their travels, have begun wearing them. Ali, who often wears shorts, explained that they were more comfortable than trousers and with all the tourists wearing them it helps him to relate to them. Muhammad proposed the same latter explanation for wearing shorts. Both of them claim that wearing shorts is acceptable also because they only wear them in their shops and the surrounding vicinity. Meanwhile, Juma, having never left Zanzibar, insists that wearing shorts is inappropriate because it exposes one’s body in public. Furthermore, wearing shorts would affect mosque attendance, which dictates his daily movements. 41 Othman and Saeed, whose lives also revolve around attending mosque daily, likewise consider it inappropriate to wear shorts. Given that clothing serves as a means to improve status, the ability or inability to dress appropriately contributes to how Zanzibari women and men classify their social status and position. Influenced by external factors generated by tourism, namely foreign tourists, people from the mainland and new ideas of modernity, dress allows Zanzibari women and men to manipulate existing moral codes and transform their movements through different public and private spaces. As in the past, dress remains a marker of distinction today. The difference is that more people, through acquisition of wealth or in pursuit or rejection of new models of modernity, are now developing dispositions through new patterns of clothing to identify themselves differently than before. The politics of dress, while it continues to vary by gender within the different socioeconomic class affects how Zanzibari women and men now relate to each other, redefining their interaction in different social contexts. Consequently, as gender relationships and the meanings they incorporate change, the new forms of movements re-define the roles of women and men and transform the ways in which haya and heshima are maintained in contemporary Zanzibar.


Chapter 6

NEW FORMS OF GENDER INTERACTION Women and men live according to their own cultural interpretations of their continuously changing worlds (Ong 1988: 79). New attitudes toward maintaining haya and heshima provide new spaces for women and men in Zanzibar to maneuver through and re-construct their worlds. With both genders previously situated in their own distinct worlds, it was possible to restrict transgression of the moral code. One aim of the gender segregation in Zanzibar has been to prevent intimate relations between women and men (Larsen 1995: 235). In a society where marriage is defined as the only legitimate context for sexual relations (Ibid. 210), models of public modesty and respect serve as a mean of controlling sexuality. Sexuality is conceived in Muslim societies as a threat to the social order, as sexual desires competes with kinship to regulate the general socio-political hierarchy (cf. Abu Lughod 1986: 147-50). The gendered moral code in Zanzibar ensures that public behavior is controlled for both men and women (Larsen 1995: 210), or at least that sexuality remains out of the public eye (Ibid. 214). However, as women enter public spaces, where their interaction with men has increased substantially, new ideas for defining models of public display of behavior and sexuality are unfolding in Zanzibar society. Working female Swahili respondents often maintained the importance of upholding values of modesty and respect. While their prevailing economic conditions or pursuits of better socio-economic lives serve as primary reasons for working, many of them indicated a preference to remain at home if their circumstances were different (cf. Vatne 1999: 125). Yet, through their access to public spaces, these women have created a major shift in defining the values of modesty and respect. Now, maintaining a job and becoming self-reliant have become important elements for defining their self-respect. Concurrently, they consider sitting around in idleness (zurura) as morally undesirable, making oneself vulnerable to depiction as mhuni, “vagabond,” 42 a term frequently used to refer to beach boys and prostitutes. With local men and women from the mainland dominating formal and informal employment in tourism, local female respondents primarily associate ideas of self-respect and status with work outside tourism. Many of them prefer to acquire employment in office environments, such as government offices, private businesses, schools and hospitals. Such jobs are also considered as more prestigious and socially respectable. They argue that in office environments, male workers are educated 43 and behave in a respectable manner. They do not harass female employees. They compare this experience to the tourism environment and other informal sectors of the economy, where they claim, men are often uneducated and vulgar and treat women as sexual objects. This is one reason why Othman restricts his wife from taking up any form of employment

Movement of Haya and Heshima


in tourism. Lacking the education and skills required for positions that bestow greater degree of self-respect, the pursuit of such forms of employment consequently remains only an aspiration for majority of Zanzibari women. The pursuit of respectable employment and prospects for improving their position in society is encouraging a growing number of Zanzibari women to acquire an education today. Historically, women were afforded fewer educational opportunities, which subsequently limited the kind of employment accessible to them (Boswell 2008; 76). Education was also associated as an important dimension of maintaining heshima for men (Middleton 1992: 138). However, today, Zanzibari women associate education with ideas of prestige and often cite it as the means for achieving the self-control required to maintain public modesty and respect (Vatne 1999: 108). Education also serves as a tool for socio-economic mobility, a way to bypass the criteria of the existing class system. Educated women described themselves as having adabu, “good behavior,” and ustaarabu. Education is further categorized as an instrument for living a modern life (Ibid. 143) and acquiring independence. The pursuit of these goals has encouraged more Zanzibari women to pursue education. The gross enrollment rate (GER) 44 of females in Zanzibari schools has increased substantially over the past 20 years, from 63.9 percent in 1990 to 83.7 percent by 1999 (United Nations 2001: 39), to 97.3 percent in 2008 (SMZ 2009: 38). 45 Zanzibari women are also enrolling in universities in growing numbers in recent years. From 2004 to 2008, female enrollment in local universities increased about six fold, from 185 women enrolled in 2004, to over 1,100 women enrolling by 2008 (Ibid. 42). It is primarily due to lack of education that Hidaya finds herself working in a job that she claims possesses little heshima and lacks the prestige of a government job. She wants to encourage her four daughters to pursue education, but does not have the financial resources to help them stay in school. Their financial situation has forced her daughters to leave school and help the family survive. In Pemba and Unguja, roughly 15.4 percent and 11.3 percent of children work for pay. These figures do not account for unpaid work performed by children to assist their families, primarily working on farms in rural areas (United Nations 2001: 25). 46 The future of these children, like that of Hidaya’s daughters, remains uncertain. In light of their enduring hardships, two of Hidaya’s daughters were married before they turned eighteen. Moreover, both girls received a small mahari, “bride price” 47 because they were uneducated. The pressures of poverty are forcing many women in such conditions to marry early (Boswell 2008: 71). 48 Hidaya contends that if she had hudumu, she would have a better paying job, more prestige, and her daughters’ situation would be different. Being uneducated herself, she has married and divorced three times, each time marrying men who were also uneducated. In light of her educational and socio-economic background, Hidaya’s


Chapter 6

movements have been restricted from many spaces in which she desires to move. Her circumstances enable her to interact only with a particular category of men, namely uneducated and unemployed Swahili men. For women who have acquired education and are working in office environments, their ability to move through re-appropriated spaces provides them with an opportunity to interact with men of similar or higher socio-economic standing. Through this interaction, the workplace also serves as an environment where women can fall in love and meet their future partners (Vatne 1999: 139). Influenced by new ideas of class consciousness and modern life, they require their future partners to be of equal social standing and capable of fulfilling their emotional, intellectual and materials needs. The capital of education now provides routes for women to develop such dispositions and maintain ideas of self-respect, in turn facilitating the construction of new forms of distinctions to reformulate their social position and identity in Zanzibar society. As women acquire new social positions and status through their education and income earning capability, local men now face challenges in being able to accommodate the dispositions of these women. With highs level of unemployment prevailing in Zanzibar, many local men, educated and uneducated, increasingly find themselves in situations where they have limited access to interact with and marry educated women. They are unable to either find suitable, respectable employment or else to earn enough to marry and adequately support a family. The payment of mahari, a pre-condition for marriage, adds further challenges for Zanzibari men to marry local women. Presently, mahari ranges anywhere from 200,000 TZS in rural areas to over one million shillings in Zanzibar town (Boswell 2008: 76). 49 With many men unemployed or earning an average of 70,000 TZS per month, entering marriage in the post-socialist era has become more problematic. Their inability to pay the mahari has made it difficult for many of them to get married until a later age (Parkin 1995: 203). Many men are now getting married in their 30s. Juma wanted to get married at the age of 25, but due to his inability to raise the mahari, he had to wait until the age of 32. Though he was employed, it still took him seven years and additional financial support from other relatives to collect the mahari. Similarly, Othman managed to get married only after he acquired employment at the age of 28. His wife’s family did not allow the marriage to take place until he was employed, at which point he was able to make the mahari payment. For those who remain unemployed, their frustration has either forced them to support the rising call of revivalist Islam or abandon traditional values and pursue beach boy activities. Educated Swahili women, who value their new status, refuse to risk their respectability by interacting with men of inferior status or those they consider mhuni, “vagabonds,” such as beach boys and those unemployed. These educated women have redefined boundaries of social

Movement of Haya and Heshima


interaction with men and now possess greater level of control in determining which men they will interact with and possibly marry. This is a power many of them may not have possessed in the past and which many, like Hidaya and her daughters and others that are unemployed and experiencing financial hardships, still do not possess today. Since observance of modesty and respect represent dimensions for maintaining ustaarabu, Zanzibari women aspire to interact and marry men who epitomize those values. Education and stable employment have evolved as important characteristics for defining these values in the postsocialist era. These values have also been re-appropriated to give rise to new ideas of a modern life and notions of socio-economic class mobility. In light of new social practices where gender interaction increasingly takes place along these socio-economic lines, Zanzibari men who are unemployed, or more importantly, uneducated and work as beach boys, are unable to move through spaces in which they can interact with and subsequently marry more educated local women. One possibility that remains for these men is to interact with and marry uneducated and unemployed Zanzibari women, who share similar socio-economic conditions. With pre-marital sex among Zanzibaris on the rise (Boswell 2008: 76) 50 and in light of demands of Zanzibari women to only interact with men of similar or higher social status, another category of women with whom the unemployed and beach boys can now interact are female tourists and prostitutes. Female tourists are seen as easy targets for sexual favors in contrast to local women who demand promises of engagement (Sumich 2002: 590). The growth of prostitution has become a major concern in Zanzibar. Women from mainland dominate this aspect of the informal economy and majority of their clients are Zanzibari men and migrant male workers from the mainland (Gössling and Schulz 2005). The activities of these women are visible in public spaces, thus identifying them as the leading cause of moral decay in Zanzibar. 51 Local men maintain a physical distance from female tourists in public spaces, since such interaction is considered inappropriate and without heshima. It is for this reason that Saeed, despite his desires to marry a white woman, after one of his friends married one, refuses to socialize with such women in bars. Only beach boys pursue tourists in such environments, he claims, since this interaction represents their livelihood. The rise in local beach boys prostituting themselves for female tourists has become a defining feature of tourism in Zanzibar. While beach boys chase after younger women, they are increasingly sought by single, older women from Europe, who now represent a prominent fixture in Zanzibar’s tourism landscape. 52 Irrespective of the nature of these relationships, the extent to which such interactions takes place in public spaces remain the primary form of transgression of local norms for which these men are rebuked and stigmatized.


Chapter 6

Young European women are also sought by another category of local men, namely affluent Arabs, Asians and Swahilis. However, their interaction with these women always takes place discreetly, away from the public eye where other Zanzibaris are invisible. The women these men target however, are often not tourists visiting Zanzibar for a few days, but expatriate Europeans staying in Zanzibar for a period of time, employed in hotels, schools, and private businesses. Interactions between these men and women are a common sight at various resorts, but ones that are always outside Zanzibar town. Away from the public eye, these local men have the discretion they need to enjoy the company of these women and maintain their heshima. Abdul, a married Hadrami man with various businesses, enjoys spending time with these women because they provide social and sexual entertainment. Given the control European expatriates maintain in Zanzibar’s tourism industry, he adds that being seen around such white women increases his visibility around the island’s expat European community and helps him acquire new business contacts. Meanwhile, for many of these single expatriate women who often live on limited income, accompany these men provide them with access to various luxuries during their stay in Zanzibar. 53 Such interactions always remain discreet and concealed. In a society where public maintenance of heshima is required of all members, but is especially imposed on women (McMahon 2006: 215), the tourist milieu offers Zanzibari men greater freedom to engage in such activities that are detrimental to these social norms. However, one major difference between affluent Zanzibaris and beach boys is that the former have the financial resources (capital) to conceal their activities. These men live by and accept a certain model of behavior which requires presentation of modesty and respect when interacting with women of their own ethnic or status groups. Simultaneously, they use these foreign women, be they tourists or women from mainland, to practice a different model of sexuality within other social spaces. For beach boys, these women offer a possible practical solution to their dilemma—the opportunity to earn money, with remote prospects of traveling abroad and working there. While local women are expected to dressed appropriately in public, the presence of women who are “not covered” challenges ideas of public modesty and respect and infringes on local perceptions of acceptable social behavior. Having limited access to their own women, at least before marriage and with their growing desire to live a Western lifestyle, many beach boys seek a foreign mpenzi, “boy/girlfriend” (Sumich 2002). Despite the aspirations of many beach boys to accompany their mpenzi back to Europe, female tourists express no such desire. They primarily cherish the prospects of their sexual rendezvous with these African men during their stay in Zanzibar. However, there have been instances in which female tourists have returned to Europe with their Zanzibari partners. Two of Saeed’s friends who worked as beach boys have migrated to

Movement of Haya and Heshima


Europe with their mpenzi and now live there. Such examples of success operate as sources of inspiration for majority of beach boys who continue living their lives in poverty. Social interaction between local women and male tourists is considered inappropriate in most contexts. 54 Unlike practices of beach boys, rarely does one come across situations where a local woman has a tourist, European mpenzi. There are instances where European men have married local women, but in such cases, these men, after living in Zanzibar for years were integrated into Zanzibar society, often converting to Islam and speaking Kiswahili fluently. Such marriages, while still a rare phenomenon, are more common in Lamu, Kenya where, if the European man has a profession, converts to Islam, pays the customary mahari and is in a position to provide the Swahili woman with a comfortable life, such unions are regarded as prestigious (Fuglesang 1994: 280). However, in Zanzibar, tourists primarily come to Zanzibar for a short period of time and spend their time on beaches. In light of local social norms discouraging interaction with strange men, there is no space at the present time within which male tourists can interact and develop such relationships with local women. As signifiers of local cultural values who share a greater burden than men, the movement of Zanzibari women within various space that have been re-appropriated in the post-socialist era remains highly controlled. Despite these restrictions, financial hardships experienced by many Zanzibaris have endowed women with the power to move into the public sphere, inaccessible in the past. Through their movement, women have developed dispositions to interact with men in these spaces and at the same time, maintain haya and heshima. Acquisition of education and respectable employment offers women the means to negotiate their movements through public spaces and maintain their heshima. Others, who do not possess the education capital, have to seek alternative mechanisms for coming to terms with their existing situation, by working as maids, for instance. While not as prestigious, working as a maid has also enabled poor women to redefine values of modesty and respect on the basis of their specific movements. With different levels of freedom and empowerment arising from new modes of cultural production prevailing in the post-socialist era, women from various socio-economic and ethnic groups have now acquired the ability to negotiate and rearticulate their identities as women in Zanzibar society. However, these ideas of gender are shaped not only by the category of womanhood, but also via different social status groups which they represent and the spaces through which they now have access to move. Women are formulating new identities in different social spaces on the basis of these differences between themselves and other women. Through their movement, concepts of haya and heshima, which constitute


Chapter 6

important components for defining ustaarabu, continue to remain central to contemporary gender identity discourse in Zanzibar. These transformations in gender relations unfolding today have significant implications for the orientation and organization of local kinship relations. Family is a private space drastically affected by the movements of its members in different public spaces. For Zanzibari men and women, their movements today are conditioned by the social and economic positions of their families. Educated women and men have now developed new dispositions in the arena of marriage. Working women are also increasingly supporting, providing and contributing to the upkeep of their families. Simultaneously, greater percentages of men are unemployed and lack the ability to pay the mahari and get married. Consequently, the economic empowerment of women and the marginalization of men within the household facilitate new forms of movements and transform the private space of the family, where individuals acquire specific identities. 55 With these shifts in the traditional orientation of family, new dispositions within this context now enable both men and women to redefine kinship relations and pursue new marriage strategies to facilitate the formation of new social distinctions and identities. The movements of Zanzibari women and men in the tourism era represent breaking down of old boundaries that previously restricted them to the home environment. Through new forms of movements, patterns of clothing, modes of social interaction, and varying degrees of control in redefining values of modesty and respect, the position of women in Zanzibar society has changed significantly. With these transformations in gender ideologies, the environment in which they are shaped, namely the home, has also undergone considerable changes. The movement of women outside of the home has transformed kinship structure and relations, in terms of the place of men and women in this designated private space in Zanzibar society. The centrality of the family, the bedrock of the Swahili and Muslim identities in Zanzibar, is shifting in light of these changes. The following chapter investigates changes that are unfolding at the level of kinship structure and marriage practices in the tourism and post-socialist era. This examination of kinship relations evaluates how different forms of movements at this level of society, within different socio-economic and ethnic groups, facilitate or restrict the formation of new social models for conceptualizing ideas of belonging and articulating identities in Zanzibar. NOTES 1. Ustaarabu is also constructed of values of waminifu, “honesty,” uadilifu, “ethics,” and ari, “honour,” which have shaped the principal moral foundations of utamaduni in Swahili culture (Saleh 2004: 145).

Movement of Haya and Heshima


2. Social integrity for men is often associated with by maintaining steady employment and providing for the family. 3. This was primarily in the urban areas, as women in rural areas left their homes and worked in the fields. 4. Swartz’s analysis of gender roles and relationships is based on research in Mombasa, Kenya, which shares the similar traditional Muslim, Swahili cultural traits as Zanzibar. 5. The seclusion of women in Zanzibar to the private sphere is primarily an urban phenomenon, where the practice is often associated with notions of economic prosperity (see Fair 2001, Gower et. al. 1996). By contrast, in rural areas, women, often work as cultivators and have rarely experienced such social seclusion (see Demovic 2007). 6. The proponents of this view include the financially impoverished, who suffer the humiliation of being unemployed and face challenges in defending and abiding by this moral code. 7. In addition to acquiring employment, many Zanzibaris indicate that it was more important to own one’s own business if possible rather than working for others. Operating one’s own business provided greater social prestige (see Pfaff 2010). 8. Most jobs in tourism employ men (refer to Demovic 2007). 9. The buibui is a black piece of cloth worn as a shawl by Swahili Muslim women throughout Zanzibar and other parts of East Africa. It drapes around the entire body, covering the arms and legs. 10. Interview, February 2002. 11. Bwawani hotel, situated at the northern end of Zanzibar Stone Town, was established by the socialist government in the 1970s. It was only one of two to three other hotels that operated during the socialist era. 12. While the average monthly income in Zanzibar in 2012 was an estimated US$45, women in rural areas of Zanzibar earned a mean salary of US$22.67 a month (Demovic 2007: 35). Tourism thus offered these women higher income possibilities. In many hotels around Stone Town, unskilled Zanzibari women earned between estimated 100,000 TZS to 150,000 TZS (approximately between US$62 and US$100). 13. Many women working in low level clerical positions in government offices often complete Form II education, which is the equivalent of 8th or 9th grade in the US education system. 14. In majority of such cases, the businesses are situated in the vicinity of the home environment. In Stone Town, many families operate shops on the ground floors of their homes, while using the upper floors for residence. 15. A hijabu is a head covering that Muslim women wear, primarily covering their hair and not the entire face. 16. Divorce is a common phenomenon among Swahilis in Zanzibar (Stiles 2005: 254). 17. Hidaya’s salary did not provide her enough income to allow her four daughters to live with her. 18. The average monthly salary of government employees in 2007/08 was 137,335 TZS (SMZ 2009: 56). However, many respondents who worked in low level clerical positions in the government indicated that they receive around 100,000 TZS a month and only high level, more educated workers receive higher salaries. Hidaya’s monthly salary is 120,000 TZS. 19. Employers often give their servants their used clothes or other household items, which from what I have observed, they then sell in the markets or trade for other desired items. 20. For single women, it is often supporting their parents and siblings, while for married women work is associated with supporting their nuclear households and at times, other extended relatives. 21. One explanation offered by Salama for not seeking work is that she would earn far less by working than what she manages to receive through remittances.


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22. The notion of “time pass” suggests engaging in sexual activities without any form of promise or commitment for engagement or marriage. 23. I discussed Salama and Issa’s relationship with members of a local NGO focusing on the problem of prostitution among Zanzibaris and spread of HIV in Zanzibar. A number of male and female workers highlighted that such relationships could not be considered prostitution, as it was conceptualized in Western societies. Such relationships had now become quite common in Zanzibar, they argued. One NGO worker said that for women like Salama, who probably has multiple partners (which she did), each partner offers access to different commodities, which is exchanged for sex rather than cash. All respondents concluded that these circumstances are driven today primarily by the increasing poverty faced by majority of Zanzibaris. Interview, December 2011. 24. Because of competition from women from mainland who often possessed higher education and more skills, Zanzibari women have a more difficult time acquiring jobs. Their ability to acquire jobs in the tourism industry is further limited due to competition from local men (Demovic 2007, Gössling and Shulz 2005). Those with an education in hotel training manage to find work in hotels and restaurants, while all others are often forced to participate in the informal sectors of the economy. With only 23 percent of all women in Zanzibar working throughout the year, and with 30.4 percent of women being unemployed, many local Swahili women participate in the informal sectors of the economy, which accounts for 61 percent of all employment in Zanzibar (United Nations 2001: 24–25). 25. Female tourists often wear short, skirts, tank tops, or bikinis, while women from mainland, who are not Muslim, also tend to wear Western clothing. These Western clothing patterns contrast local expectations of clothing, which requires women to cover their entire body (Keshodkar 2005: 252). 26. Varying styles of dress representing modesty and respect prevail in different segments of the population. Within the Asian community of Zanzibar, Sunni Muslim and Shia Ithna’ashari women wear clothes that are similar to the buibui. Usually, most of them wear a hijabu in public, but this hijabu is worn differently from that worn by most Swahili women, since most Asian women wear the hijabu as a head scarf, with their hair visible, in contrast to wearing the hijabu with their entire head covered, with only the face showing. Many Omani Arab women also wear the hijabu in a similar fashion as Asian Sunni women. They also wear a black overcoat, called the Abaya, something analogous to the buibui, but does not wrap around the body. Asian, Shia Bohra women wear a unique dress in public, a two-piece outfit, usually in different colors, with the top piece covering the head and the upper body until the waist, and the lower piece, like a skirt, covers from the stomach to the ankles. Hindus, Goan Christians and Sikhs do not wear any form of head covering, but usually wore traditional Indian dresses, a Sari, a long piece of cloth that wraps around the entire body, or Shalwar Khamis, a two piece outfit that also covers the entire body. All these styles cover the majority of the body and enable the women to observe the public ideals of modesty and respect. 27. Women strive to own many buibui, of different quality for different occasions. Buibui are made of different quality materials, from cotton to polyester to silk, with those made of cotton being relatively cheaper than those made from silk and other imported materials. 28. The kanga emerged in early twentieth century replacing clothes previously associated with slave status (Fair 2001: 79). Urban Swahili women in town adopted the kanga and wore it in public, while in private spaces of their homes, they continued to wear the Kaniki, a dark blue/black outfit associated with poor and slave women (Ibid. 82-83). Those who could not afford a buibui, which was then worn by elite women of Omani and Comorian descent (Vander Biesen 2009: 326), instead wore the kanga to display urbanity, style and uwezo (Fair 2001: 84). A prominent aspect of the kanga is proverbs and aphorisms written on it, called majina, “names” (Ibid. 80) which women display to compete with other women. Through the kanga, women communicate with

Movement of Haya and Heshima


other women around them with the proverbs reflecting whom a woman expected to meet and interact with in their social environment (see McMahon 2006). 29. In addition to buibui she had purchased, Salama also received others as gifts from her sisters living abroad as well as from Issa. 30. According to merchants in the Darajani market of Zanzibar town, where many local women purchase their clothing, the new styles of buibui are most fashionable and desired, and all Swahili women aspire to possess these eloquent buibui. However, the cheapest ones range around 50,000 TZS (US$35), and imported buibui ya koti, from Dubai, cost around 130,000 TZS ($80), thus making it unaffordable for majority of women. The cheapest cotton buibui available in the markets are priced around 15,000 TZS (US$10). Meanwhile, a kanga costs only about 5,000 TZS (US$3). 31. According to Salama, wearing a kanga in public indicated a lack of sophistication. She wore kanga only in the privacy of her own home, or when she was around other women in her neighborhood, but never in public. She contends that the only time considered socially acceptable to wear a kanga publicly was when it is sewn into a dress and worn underneath a buibui. 32. Women in veil are often categorized as prostitutes on the premise that they concealed their entire identity while moving through public spaces. Many locals, disregarding the religious dimension associated with the clothing, suggest that these women often have something to hide and thus utilize the veil for this reason. 33. On numerous occasions, female respondents from mainland indicated that it was preferable to wear skirts in Zanzibar due to the high level of heat and humidity on the islands. 34. Such claims disregard the extent to which Zanzibari women also engage in prostitution (see Boswell 2008, Demovic 2007) 35. Women perceived to engage in prostitution because of their clothing often fall victim to violence from local youth, who use the rhetoric of Islam and modesty to impose their values on these women. In the majority of cases, the women are from mainland. 36. A story repeated many times was that Aboud Jumbe, the second President of Zanzibar, once went to the airport and put a kanga on a female tourist to cover her. By doing so, he wanted to emphasize that Zanzibaris welcomed outsiders but also expected them to respect the local culture. 37. When local women wear the kanga, the piece that covers the lower half of the body goes down to their ankles 38. Interview, January 2010. 39. The kanzu became a prominent form of male clothing following the abolition of slavery, when adopting this new form of clothing enabled them to distinguish themselves from the poor and those of slave origin (Fair 2001: 74-75). 40. On numerous occasions, I observed Omani Arab men wearing some form of turban. I presumed the turban must be a kilimba, a turban made of expensive cloth imported from Oman and worn by Omani Arab men in the past. In the past, the kilimba marked a Zanzibari as an Arab man of status and wealth (Fair 2001: 65–68). I only observed a small minority of men in Zanzibar town wearing the kilimba. Male dress primarily consists of the kanzu and kofia, a cap worn over the head. 41. Wearing shorts in a mosque is considered highly appropriate. I never came across Zanzibaris wearing shorts inside a mosque, particularly during times of prayers. 42. The term was often applied by Zanzibaris to refer to a person considered without good character (Vatna 1999: 135) 43. Education was often defined as a necessary means for achieving kujizuia, “selfcontrol.” 44. The Gross Enrollment Rate accounts for the rate of students that are enrolled in schools. However, GER may not reflect the actual rate of student attending schools. 45. These numbers account for enrollment in schools from Standard 1 to secondary, Form II.


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46. As economic hardships have increased for majority of Zanzibaris, one can only assume that the percentages of students who face these conditions have possibly increased. However, no data was accessible to confirm this development. 47. In Muslim societies, a groom is expected to pay a mahari to the potential bride and her family, which often takes the form of money, which then becomes the sole property of the bride and she may use it for whatever purpose she may see fit. The mahari is often negotiated between the two families, taking into account the woman’s social standing, and is only re-paid to the man in instances of divorce but some is kept after divorce as alimony. 48. One way families ease the burden of supporting their daughters is by getting them married quite early, before they turn 18, the legal age for marriage in Zanzibar. Furthermore, those who are uneducated and impoverished often settle for polygamous marriages. The practice has become quite prevalent in the rural areas, where polygamy is correlated with success for men in the new tourist economy (Demovic 2007). 49. In more affluent Zanzibari families, I often heard of mahari discussed in the tens of millions of shillings. 50. Women often engage in pre-marital sex after they are betrothed (Boswell 2008: 77). 51. Local women have also started engaging in prostitution, but there is not much evidence to suggest the extent to which they are engaged in this practice (see Demovic 2007, Burgess 2009: 280). 52. Every beach boy I interviewed indicated that they did not demand or expect to receive any monetary compensation from young women, who often do not have much disposable income, but these women often pay for food and drinks for these local boyfriends. However, there was a clear expectation that older female tourists would provide young men with handsome compensation for their sexual services. Consequently, while a beach boy’s status improved vis-à-vis other beach boys when he was in the company of younger women, the financial benefits offered by growing number of older female tourists visiting Zanzibar has encouraged many beach boys to seek out these older customers. 53. This practice is the opposite of what one observes between a beach boy and female tourist, where the woman pays all the costs for her boyfriend. 54. The only contexts within which local women and male tourists can socially interact is in formal business settings, or where the women work as part of hotel staff. Outside of these environments, I rarely came across Zanzibari women social interacting with male tourists. 55. Traditionally, married couples in Zanzibar do not hold joint property (Stiles 2005: 590). However, it remains the husband’s responsibility to provide for the family, while a wife is not expected to utilize her income for supporting the family.

SEVEN The Role of Kinship Movement in Family Relations and Marriage Strategies 1

Mla nawe hafi nawe ila mzaliwa nawe “He (who) eats with you (will) not die with you unless he was born with you.”

Zanzibaris commonly use didactic expressions such as the one above to express situations of life and preach moral lessons. This particular methali, “proverb,” expresses the centrality of kinship (Swartz 1991: 59), emphasizing that while one may have reservations about one’s jamaa, “relatives or kinsmen,” the ties will always remain in force (Ibid. 60). 2 Establishing one’s descent through common ancestors has facilitated the acquisition of power, land, prestige and status in Swahili societies (Middleton 1992: 110, 1987: 105). It further enabled individuals in Swahili society to trace their ancestries outside Africa. These kin networks operate as unilineal 3 descent groups and are segmented into smaller units through which land is allocated to family members. Both men and women hold equal membership and have equal access to land (Caplan 1984: 25) and property ownership is never shared among kin (cf. Swartz 1991: 65). 4 Kinship also constitutes a sense of belonging on the premise of geography as much as genealogy (Amory 1994: 150). In Zanzibar, a strong genealogy substantiates the practice of Islam and establishment of origins outside Africa. Through its association with Islam, models of Arabness 5 historically acquired significance for constituting ustaarabu and demarcating boundaries around one’s position as a civilized member of society. In post-socialist Zanzibar, the hegemony of tourism, new models of modernity and rise of conspicuous consumption among other processes shaped by a neoliberal economy now challenge the centrality once occupied by kinship. Simultaneously, economic hardships experienced by 165


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majority of Swahili have magnified the significance of kinship for survival in the market economy. In societies that are less modern or commodified, there often remains considerable degree of identification between home and kindred (Miller 1995b: 154). As societies become modernized, patterns of consumption supersede the role of kinship because consumption, like kinship, becomes the domain through which diverse values are then objectified (Ibid. 156). Consumption patterns further shape new ideas about selfhood, identity and epistemic reality (Comaroff and Comaroff 2000: 293-95). However, in Zanzibar, emerging patterns of consumption are facilitating the development of new dispositions to rearticulate kinship identities, rather than replace them. They are providing the means to further strengthen the role of kinship in demarcating boundaries for reconceptualizing ustaarabu. The family offers a private space that provides social centrality to individuals. Yet, new consumption practices have transformed the significance of kinship for shaping specific identities. The dispositions developed through emerging consumption patterns shape the routes for renewing family genealogies, enabling them to form new distinctions for establishing their position in Zanzibar society. In the current era of economic and socio-political dislocation, Zanzibaris hope to secure in a vision of the genealogical past an imaginative resource that many can no longer find in the future (Sheriff 2001: 240). In this patriarchal Muslim society, Swahili women were historically incorporated into this vision of the past through their marriage with Arab men. With new forms of movements possible for Swahili men today, the extent to which they move through spaces historically restricted to them enables them to challenge prevailing markers of belonging and infuse them with new meanings. In searching for routes to strengthen or alter their genealogies, Zanzibaris continue to submit to models of the past, defined around notions of ustaarabu, to project their identities and ideas of belonging for the future. “All genealogies are selective … a choice among a virtually infinite set of genealogies … (deriving) their authority from the morals it seeks to sub-serve” (Appadurai 1988: 40). Accordingly, this chapter examines how access or lack of it to new forms of social capital facilitates movements of Zanzibaris in the post-socialist era and transforms the private space of the family and influences new attitudes toward kinship relations. The analysis highlights how pursuit of new dispositions and the social capital needed to change or uphold genealogies amid contemporary socio-economic and political shifts enables Zanzibaris to position themselves within the discourse of ustaarabu and to constitute their place in Zanzibar society. The first part of the chapter examines the contexts in which new social practices alter traditional models of kinship and the role of kinship networks in the lives of Zanzibaris to uphold their status and standing in society. The chapter then explores how new forms of

The Role of Kinship


social capital facilitate formulation of marriages strategies based around ideas of class and ethnicity to transform kinship relations and enable Zanzibaris to formulate new social identities. The final part of the chapter examines how, given the centrality of genealogy for defining ustaarabu, spaces re-appropriated with new meanings today facilitate the ability of Swahili men to acquire different forms of social capital and marry women of higher social status, in turn “mix blood” 6 and alter their genealogies for conceptualizing their ideas of belonging in Zanzibar.

THE CHANGING ROLE OF KINSHIP Kinship is an integral aspect of the social production of identities. The family provides vital restricted social space within which individuals begins constructions of self (Bertaux-Wiame 1993: 49). The family also remains the main channel for transmission of various values, such as language, name, religion, land and housing, local social standing among others (Bertaux and Thompson 1993: 1). Furthermore, kinship provides crucial links between socialization and enculturation and cultural continuity (Rew and Campbell 1999: 17), which is then maintained by transmitting genealogical knowledge over generations. These memories, realized through different narratives, function as a generating interpretive device for framing the present within a hypothetical past and an anticipated future. When retold, to different audiences and at different times, these memories shape and re-shape specific ideas of culture (Bruner 1986a: 27). As cultural and family knowledge transmit changes over time, so do the meanings associated with them. When told to different audiences, new meanings are continually uncovered (Bruner 1986b: 153). This opens up new spaces in the discourse that arise precisely from the gaps and silences of previous eras (see Foucault 1973). The new meanings may consequently transform social relations and re-conceptualize differences and inequalities within a family and community at large. Genealogies acquire their social significance from these evolving meanings, enabling different individuals and their kin to bond together as groups of relatives. As such, a genealogy is a statement of social relationships, not biological ones—based on constructed models of presumed biology that underlie the socio-cultural product called kinship (Schneider 1984: 55-56). Kinship, defined and constructed differently within private and public spaces, shapes one of the many identities that individuals assume as they move through different social spaces. As a study of constructed social relations, kinship systems also reveal the meanings embedded in local hierarchies of power and inequalities variably grounded in local cosmologies and political economies (Carsten 2000: 13, Peletz 1995: 360).


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Explicit powers within Swahili kinship units were traditionally attributed to males and fathers, and implicit powers were attributed to women (cf. Swartz 1983: 33). However, with local women now moving into public spaces, the power men previously enjoyed in controlling the movements of women is now challenged. Furthermore, with some Swahili women more empowered to select their marriage partners or influence their selection more unilaterally, new inequalities and shifting power structures are altering social relations within and outside kinship networks. These shifts do not challenge the status of patriarchy, which has shaped the history of memory and belonging in Zanzibar, but rather seek to re-create ways for negotiating how ideas of relatedness are conceptualized within different social contexts. For example, movement of Zanzibari women in public spaces has afforded some of them greater degree of freedom in choosing their marriage partners. However, as they develop dispositions to pursue such social practices, their movements remain governed by ideas of haya and heshima. The pursuit of modern life, in which ideas of consumption, class mobility and individualism occupy greater significance, now serve as a tool for negotiating one’s position vis-à-vis the family and community in transforming the role of kinship. At the same time, unemployment and economic difficulties have placed greater emphasis on the role of kinship networks for survival today. The difficulties in marrying women from their own ethnic groups and the presence of women from mainland and elsewhere also offers local men with prospects to engage in new marriage practices. These new realities have a different impact for conceptualizing the place and value of kinship relations in the lives of different Zanzibaris. Irrespective of the marriage strategies they pursue, they modify aspects of their genealogies to associate themselves to Zanzibar and in the process, create new memories for transmission to future generations. Kinship networks occupy a prominent place in the post-socialist era. These networks enable majority of Zanzibaris to alter their socio-economic situations and acquire new social dispositions and tastes. Those unable to benefit from these networks continue living in poverty. For Othman, his siblings living in Zanzibar facilitated his movement from Pemba to Unguja. Muhammad’s jamaa assisted him in acquiring education in Kenya and pursuing various business endeavors. Ali’s family remains in debt to his mother’s brother in India, who provided funds to help the family survive during years of hardships and to start up new business ventures. For Saeed, support from relatives enabled him to acquire different forms of employment and maintain some level of social status and standing within the community. Juma has survived economic hardships with the assistance from members of his ukoo, 7 “descent groups,” farming in the shamba and sending him the surplus for family use. Many Zanzibaris also depend on remittance from family members abroad which, in some cases, like that of Salama enables them to continue living without having

The Role of Kinship


to find formal employment. In all of these instances, access to kinship networks remains vital for maintaining one’s identities in different social spaces. 8 The circumstances of those unable to access kinship networks for financial support vary significantly in their efforts to survive financially or engage in new modes of consumption. Many Swahili women leaving the home environment and seeking employment fall within this category. According to numerous female respondents, before they acquired the freedom to move outside their homes, it was their father, as the senior member of their house who dictated the movements of all family members. As the primary income earner, the father enjoyed substantial rights because he controlled the money. Fathers further acquired power by the authority given to them in the Qur’an (cf. Swartz 1983: 22-23). Paternal authority could only be challenged by sons, after they acquired some form of employment. When sons did find employment, they avoided the Patriarch by independently earning and spending money for their personal needs (Ibid. 24). According to Juma, when sons eventually left the father’s house, usually after marriage, they increased their existing resources outside the father’s control. 9 However, despite any degree of freedom acquired by sons, they displayed haya and heshima by remaining subordinate to their father’s religiously designated authority (Ibid. 26). In these traditional gendered roles, the mothers served as the primary supervisor and controller of the daughters’ movements. Unlikely to receive permission for seeking employment or to move freely through public spaces, marriage offered one option for a daughter to acquire more freedom. Marriage conferred more control of the domestic sphere in her new home. After giving birth, the daughter acquired the powers of a mother (cf. Swartz 1983: 27), but her movements remained confined to the home. Only through marriage did the daughter acquire the ability to move from one home environment to another. Within this traditional model of the family, marriage bestowed another kind of power on women. While men acquired their position in society through the degree of “Islamicity” they displayed, women acquired their power on the basis of their standing around other women in the community (cf. Eastman 1984: 109). Though women relied upon men for their daily survival, they turned to other women to shape their social worlds. Women primarily competed with other women in their social groups for prestige (Swartz 1991: 252), largely shaped by their husband’s social and economic position (Ibid: 253). The husband was obliged to provide for his wife to retain his heshima, which was exhibited by jewelry, clothes and other worldly possession publicly consumed by the wife (Swartz 1983: 29). The traditional models of gender roles are a far memory in contemporary Zanzibar. With majority of people living in poverty, high unemployment among men, women leaving their homes to support the family, new


Chapter 7

influences of tourism, pursuit of commodity consumption and modern life, the roles and values traditionally associated with the organization of the family are changing rapidly. The situation remains far worse for those who are unable to access any support mechanisms from networks, in Zanzibar or abroad. Economic marginalization and pressures of living a modern life are contributing to the social and physical displacement of families. The pursuit of modern lifestyles and conspicuous consumption has led some individuals to challenge the authorities of elders and abandon their household duties and responsibilities (Keshodkar 2009: 225). The commitment previously exhibited toward family and religious activities, the markers of ustaarabu, have now entered a period of sharp decline (Barker 1996: 37). Such behavior is particularly visible among local beach boys. Salum, an uneducated youth in his twenties, continues to participate in beach boy activities despite his family’s objections. He argues that it no longer matters what his family members think of his behavior because his father is unable to adequately support the family by working as a fisherman. Though fishing remains a respectable form of employment for many Zanzibaris, it restricts the extent to which incomes from it facilitate the pursuit of emerging modern lifestyles. 10 Empowered by an income to make his own decisions, Salum now supports himself and pursues the lifestyle he desires, one that his father is unable to provide for him. By working around tourists, he earns more and works far less than what he previously earned by helping out his father. However, through his engagement in such activities, he has abandoned attending mosque and is often away from home. His disregard for family and religion further contributes to continuous arguments at home. By continuing to work as a beach boy, Salum demonstrates lack of respect for the observance of haya and heshima. His activities further compromise the family’s position and status, and damage his father’s religious and moral authority. For Zanzibaris with access to adequate incomes, like Muhammad, Ali and to some extent Saeed, religion and family continue to occupy an important place in their lives. They are able to observe various values and retain the centrality of kinship by virtue of their employment and support from kinship networks. Juma, working as a university instructor, indicated that while he does not earn a sufficient salary, he refuses to compromise his values for more money to enjoy the modern life. He predicts that as more unemployed youth turn to beach boy activities, the fabric of Zanzibar society, shaped by the importance of family and religion will deteriorate quickly, leading to the demise of Zanzibari culture. For these Zanzibaris, their families continue to provide the space within which children are taught to hold fast to their religious traditions and devotions and thereby remain respectable members of the society (Saleh 2004: 148). For others, the deterioration of the space in which these values hold specific meanings, the re-appropriation of meaning for these values

The Role of Kinship


alters the centrality of ustaarabu in their lives. With great economic disparities separating Zanzibaris, being religious and adhering to what one believes is right proves feasible when they are already financially better off (Vatne 1999: 132). Some women leaving their homes in pursuit of employment also face similar challenges in reconciling certain traditional values with their existing situations. By entering the workforce, mothers now have limited control over their daughters’ movements (Vatne 1999: 141). With many men unemployed, women, both mothers and daughters, face the burden of supporting their families. Yet, by leaving home, their roles as mothers and daughters are altered. Hidaya started working as a maid while she was still married. Her husband was unable to hold on a steady job and provide for the family. Subsequently, two of her daughters also started working, the younger one about fifteen year old. Lacking education, all of them work as maids. Hidaya sent two other younger daughters whom she is unable to support to her aunt in the shamba, who now serves as their primary caregiver. As Hidaya’s circumstances highlight, economic challenges faced by many Zanzibar are resulting in families having to leave apart from each other. 11 Some of these women who financially support their families also find their ability to fulfill the traditional roles of motherhood compromised. With mothers working, their daughters enjoy greater freedom to move outside the home. However, with this freedom, there are fears that the daughters will be identified as uhuni, “vagabonds,” compromising their social position. No longer able to control the her daughters’ movements and fearing such stigmatization, Hidaya arranged for two of her older daughters to get married, despite both of them being below 18 years of age. Hidaya’s decision to also send her two younger daughters to her aunt provided some reassurance that their movements will be supervised by a member of the family. Economic hardships are forcing many young Swahili women from impoverished families to marry early (Boswell 2008: 71) and enter polygamous marriages (Demovic 2007). While these women get married early and often with limited choices in marriage partners, other working women, those who are educated and possess more prestigious forms of employment, are becoming more selective in choosing their partners. With their fiancées requiring a longer period of time to gather mahari they demand, these educated women also marry at a later age than other women around them (discussed in the next section). Support from jamaa has emerged as a vital mechanism of economic mobility and maintenance of social status in contemporary Zanzibar. Such forms of support have enabled Zanzibaris to acquire new forms of social capital to facilitate their movements and acquire social centrality in different social spaces. The socio-economic prominence that Ali and Muhammad hold highlights the significance of these networks. For Saeed and Othman, their kinship networks have facilitated certain forms of


Chapter 7

movements, while restricting others, but in the process have enabled them to cope with their current situation. On the other hand, those lacking this capital are unable to move through re-appropriated spaces in the social landscape, making them more vulnerable to further social and economic marginalization. For Hidaya, being uneducated and lacking support from jamaa to help improve her financial conditions had resulted in her family living in abject poverty, on the margins of society. Even as communities shift to emphasize nuclear families as a means to consume modernity, kinship remains an instrumental mechanism for facilitating new forms of movements. Assistance from these networks have enabled many in Zanzibar to cope with their existing circumstances today, maintain their dignity and help retain the centrality of kinship and religious values in their lives. Furthermore, this support helps them acquire new social capital and develop dispositions to facilitate their movements through different re-appropriated spaces. Through this involvement of the jamaa in the lives of their relatives, kinship retains its centrality as the cornerstone for pursuing and preserving ustaarabu. For Zanzibaris who lack access to such resources, their ability to maintain ustaarabu is compromised. Consequently, marriage offers them as one possible means in the contemporary milieu to transform their economic conditions and social standing in society. Given that kinship relations acquire their meanings on the basis of affinity and not consanguinity (Leach 1961: 21), marriage provides an avenue for Zanzibaris to extend their kinship networks beyond existing limitations. Through marriage, the “web of kinship” (Schneider 1984: 61) is extended and given new meanings for constructing genealogies for the future. With Zanzibaris moving through re-appropriated spaces, the power of money for some, and access to new networks and/or education for others, provides the capital to develop dispositions and subsequently establish new kinship relations through their affines, and in the process, transform their social position, status and identities.

THE PURSUIT OF LOVE AND MARRIAGE Historically, marriage provided freedom for sons, and more so for daughters, to acquire independence from parents’ control. It allowed them to leave the home environment and set up their own households (Swartz 1983: 27). Today, with many unmarried women working, parents no longer maintain the same level of control as before in dictating their daughters’ movements. Respondents, men and women, suggest that before women started working, parents primarily controlled how their daughters moved in public areas. Single women always moved through public spaces in the company of their mothers or other female friends,

The Role of Kinship


but never alone. Parents also influenced whom their sons and daughters married. However, with young men and women now enjoying greater freedom to move outside the home and parents relying more on the incomes of their children for economic survival, young Zanzibaris moving through these re-appropriated spaces are increasingly empowered to determine their own fate in choosing their life partners. The work place and other urban public spaces increasingly appropriated by the tourism provide new avenues for single Zanzibaris to socially interact with each other. With new ideas of modernity also shaping their world views, another phenomenon commonly gaining ground from this male-female interaction is the idea of falling in love (Vatne 1999: 142). There has been a substantial increase in young Zanzibaris making their declaration of love and subsequently presenting their partners to family members, in advance of parent approval. However, the burden now falls upon these individuals to ensure that they maintain heshima in making such choices, which mandates women marrying someone of equal or higher social standing and status. 12 Ideas of status were previously shaped by religion and ethnicity. Today, socio-economic conditions and the pursuit of modern life have introduced additional features such as education and employment for distinguishing one’s place in society. Educated women with respectable jobs prefer choosing husbands whom they consider to be of equal status and have the same level of education. According to Khatun, a Swahili woman, these qualities ensure that her husband has adabu, “good behavior” and heshima, and more importantly, will treat her with respect. Khatun works in a government ministry and contends that since she earns enough to support herself and her family she now possesses the power to dictate her own destiny. She no longer feels pressured to compromise on values that she, and to some extent, her family, consider important. Her financial independence empowered her to take the responsibility for choosing her own partner and ensuring that the potential husband did not damage the family’s status. Being educated, and working in a secured, prestigious job, she acquired the means to realize the qualities she desired in her partner. Her husband, who also works in the government and with whom she fell in love through their interaction at work, now faces the task of meeting her demands and expectations equally. If he fails to live up to her expectations, she might divorce him. Khatun believes that women previously faced the burden of solely living up to husband’s expectations. Now, as their position has changed, they can make equal demands from their partners. The new forms of empowerment exhibited by educated and working women like Khatun, however, remain inaccessible to others. Unemployed women and those working in low prestige positions still find themselves controlled by the men they marry. Since work promotes respect and prestigious work promotes a greater level of respect, educated


Chapter 7

Zanzibari men increasingly desire wives who are modern (in their outlook) and educated. By contrast, men with little or no formal education predominately marry women from similar backgrounds, on whom they can exert greater control (Vatne 1999: 143). Hidaya falls within this category of women. Working as a maid, all of her three marriages took place with men who are from rural areas and uneducated. Unable to achieve the qualities she desired in her husband, she married men that would accept her as their wife. Furthermore, in each marriage, she endured physically abuse from her husbands and the marriages in two instances ended only when they divorced her. 13 Subsequently, as her family’s socio-economic conditions has not improved, Hidaya’s daughters find themselves facing the same dilemma: both of them married uneducated men, and in the process, perpetuating this cycle. Hidaya’s situation illustrates that the emerging modern notions of falling in love and choosing one’s life partner are very much tied to new ideas of socio-economic distinctions, where education and modernization are equated with freedom and autonomy. Based around this distinction of class, it remains inaccessible for the poor. Educated men are also in a better position to choose their wives. Being educated and having adabu, they can seek wives who are also educated and modest. By equating new ideas of education for women with heshima, such practices blend contradictory notions of modernity and significance of religion and family. Juma insists that one should to marry a woman who is educated and values the place of tradition. Though his wife, Ashura, worked in a government office before getting married, his ability to provide for the family resulted in her resigning from her position 14 and taking care of the home after their marriage. In upholding these traditional values, her continuing to work would have indicated Juma inability to provide for his family, thus damaging his heshima. There are also educated, yet unemployment Zanzibari men, who have a difficult time acquiring suitable marriage partners. Hasan, an Omani Manga Arab in his mid-30s, whose family has lived in Zanzibar since the early twentieth century, earned a master’s degree, but still finds it very difficult to acquire employment relevant to his skills. Claiming to be “pure” Omani, he expected to marry an Omani woman. However, living in poverty, his marriage proposals were rejected by other local Omani families, who refused to give their daughters in marriage since he was unemployed and did not own a business. His socio-economic condition was given greater precedence over his educational credentials. Not having an adequate source of income, he was also unable to convince educated Swahili women to marry him. Hasan ended up marrying an uneducated Swahili woman who was under the age of 18 at the time of their marriage. The marriage was denounced by his family and his parents refused to attend the wedding or accept their new daughter-in-law.

The Role of Kinship


For Zanzibaris living in Oman, the revival of ties with relatives and other social networks on the islands has become an important mechanism for pursuing marriage strategies in Zanzibar. These expats perceive cultural traditions and practices in Zanzibar as pristine, since their own connection to those cultural values have deteriorated as a result of their diasporic experience. 15 Consequently, acquiring marriage partners from Zanzibar provides them with the opportunity to revive those traditions. However, it is predominately women from Zanzibar, irrespective of their financial conditions, who move to Oman through these marriage practices. Both of Hasan’s sisters are married to men from Oman and now live there. Expat women, on the other hand, are unwilling to give up their freedoms and levels of comfort they enjoy elsewhere in order to marry Zanzibari men. The only circumstances under which women from Oman or the diaspora marry Zanzibari men and move to Zanzibar are if the men are wealthy. 16 Hasan tried to acquire a wife from Oman with his sisters’ help, but remained unsuccessful. With ideas of class and practice of conspicuous consumption dictating important dimensions of social life in Zanzibar, Hasan’s poverty restricted his ability to move into spaces in which he could marry an Omani woman. Left with no other alternatives, he married a woman with whom he shared similar economic dispositions. Marriage among Asian Zanzibaris primarily transpires within their Jat, 17 defined on the basis of religious practices. This allows Asians to preserve their roots of being Indian and facilitates routes for articulating their Zanzibari identities within particular, private spaces. Asians make up a small percentage of Zanzibar’s population, 18 but intermarriage with other ethnic groups is nevertheless discouraged. 19 Marriage partners within the same Jat are often sought from outside Zanzibar. 20 Members of the extended family living abroad also serve as important resources for finding potential marriage partners. These networks have been revived in the post-socialist era, thus ensuring that future marriages stay within the religious community (see Keshodkar 2010). However, levels of affluence often dictate the extent to which Asian Zanzibaris acquire marriage partners from affluent families elsewhere. Due to the political and economic marginalization of Asians in the region over the past 40 years, Asian women from India and elsewhere have displayed a reluctance to come to East Africa (cf. Larsen 2004: 131, see Gregory 1993a). Only a life of luxury serves as an incentive for these women to marry and migrate to Zanzibar. 21 Ali managed to marry a woman from India. Having studied in India, living there with their maternal uncle, he fell in love with her there. With the increasingly levels of comfort he could offer her, she migrated to Zanzibar. However, for those Asian men lacking financial resources and access to kin networks, such marriages remain unachievable. Vijay, a poor Hindu trader, had no options but to marry another poor Hindu woman from Zanzibar. Similarly,


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Karim, an Asian Sunni Muslim, who continues living in poverty, was unable to convince local Asian families to give their daughters in marriage. Consequently, he married a Swahili woman, for which his status and access within the Asian community diminished significantly. As Asian Zanzibaris aspire to improve their socio-economic status, one means to achieve this goal is to marry their daughters outside Zanzibar, often facilitated by the transnational orientation of Jat. Many wealthy Asians have developed such affinal ties in recent years. Ali’s sister, Maryam, married into a wealthy Asian family in Dar es Salaam. Others have married their daughters into families throughout Europe, Americas, Middle East and India. By sending their daughters outside Zanzibar, these families have forged new Jat and kin networks which they can access in the future. Additionally, as one family indicated, marrying their daughter into a family that lives in India now situates her to better understand and value the traditions of their Jat. By pursuing such marriage practices, Asian Zanzibaris have developed means to ensure that their identities as Asians, no matter how different from the Indian context, prevails with specific meanings within this multi-ethnic landscape. Furthermore, their ability to move and develop different dispositions through these marriage practices facilitate how and to what extent emerging ideas of Asianness are incorporated for defining aspects of their cultural identities as Zanzibaris (see Keshodkar 2010). The centrality of kinship, as a means to preserve an ethnicity identity tied to a specific place is also emphasized by Pembans. Every Pemban respondent asserted that in light of rising corruption of local social-moral values, they consider it imperative to preserve their culture by only marrying other Pembans. 22 More than other Zanzibaris, they claim, as Pembans to value family devotion and religious practices as key to maintain ustaarabu. Othman categorized his marriage to Aisha as a means to strengthen the kinship network of both families, tracing their genealogies back to Hadrami traditions from the same village in Pemba. Through their social networks, they crossed each other’s path in Unguja, fell in love and got married. Aisha stopped working after marriage on the grounds that the environment in Zanzibari was not suitable for women to work. Despite hardships the family continues to encounter, the pursuit of money was cited as less important than preservation of the family’s heshima. Distinguishing themselves as Pembans and as different from the Swahili of Unguja at a time when the rhetoric of ethnicity has been revived in the political arena, Othman and Aisha’s marriage facilitate their ability to maintain a distinct geographic and ethnic identity. Furthermore, by distancing themselves from being Swahili, they are seeking new routes to ensure that their Hadrami genealogy remains intact within this multi-ethnic landscape. Though new practices and meanings have emerged in the arena of marriage, fulfilling certain traditions remain instrumental for couples in-

The Role of Kinship


tending to get married. Respondents often emphasized that a marriage cannot take place until both families agreed to it, for proceeding without their mutual consent would be without heshima and bring shame to the families. 23 Accommodating these traditions require the man’s family to approach the bride’s family with the marriage proposal. Extended relatives often play an important role in this process. Before the actual proposal itself, the bride and groom approach extended relatives, who take on the task of gathering information about the potential partners and reporting it to elder family members. Once the elders agree, the groom’s family brings forth the marriage proposal. However, before the marriage can take place, the amount of the mahari has to be resolved and offered to the bride. With the rising cost of consumption and comforts of modern life, the demands for mahari have increased substantially over the past decade. In 2000, Hidaya demanded a mahari of 60,000 shillings (US$60), while Khatun, with a government job, accepted 200,000 shillings (US$200) for her mahari. Today, women in rural areas receive up to 200,000 shillings (US$130), while in urban areas, educated women demand around one million shillings (US$650) (Boswell 2008: 76). 24 However, given the financial hardships that the majority of Zanzibaris face, and the growing prominence of consumption commodities in their lives, many men, especially those who are unemployed, find it difficult to raise the money needed to get married. Even for educated men, collecting the mahari requires several years. After getting engaged to Ashura, Juma needed seven years to accumulate the mahari. He managed to do so only with the support of extended relatives, in turn, adding a significant burden to the family’s financial resources. As more Zanzibari women acquire education, their demands for mahari are likely to continue rising in the near future. These developments have led many impoverished Swahili men like Saeed and his friends to conclude that marriage is out of reach. Not having stable employment, they lack the resources needed to marry educated women. Furthermore, in the pursuit of a modern wife and maintaining heshima, they refuse to settle for uneducated women. Since their families are also facing financially difficulties, they are unable to turn to relatives to raise the mahari. They can only hope to get married at some later point in life. One option now accessible for men to improve their financial conditions and acquire sufficient funds for marriage is through tourists visiting Zanzibari. By engaging in beach boy activities, these men aspire to earn enough to pay the mahari. However, since they become socially marginalized for such activities, the prospects of marrying respectable, modern local women diminish significantly. Women refuse to marry them on the basis that their work is stigmatized. Consequently, they are forced to seek alternative marriage practices.


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Mahmoud, one of Saeed’s friends, managed to marry the daughter of the sheha, “village chief,” on the east coast of Unguja. Working as a beach boy, Mahmoud came into contact with a French woman. During her visit to Zanzibar, she developed an interest to invest in a beach resort in Paje and sought Mahmoud’s assistance with the process. He became acquainted with the sheha in the course of the negotiations. For his efforts, Mahmoud received a commission of US$1,000 from the investor, of which he used US$600 to pay the mahari demanded by the sheha’s daughter. The sheha, through his association with the ruling government, had a certain status in the village community and thus, his uneducated daughter was in a position to demand a high mahari. Mahmoud’s father-in-law in turn helped him improve his social position in the village. Mahmoud settled on the east coast and used the extra money he acquired and the support from the sheha to set up additional tourists businesses in the village. Such success is rare among beach boys. With limited access to acquiring large sums of money, beach boys spend their time following tourists around, entertain them and offer various services for small commissions. 25 Through this interaction, it is also possible to acquire foreign girlfriends, now a frequent sight in Zanzibar. Many beach boys are convinced that they will marry these girlfriends, travel back to Europe with them and escape their poverty (Sumich 2002: 42). In this new social landscape, there are now instances where female tourists have married beach boys, and have either settled down with them in Zanzibar in some cases, or else have taken their new partners back home with them. Two of Saeed’s friends from his mtaa married European women and now live in Europe. However, while many young men like Saeed desire to court female tourists with the hopes of marrying them, they find it difficult to access the spaces in which to interact with them. Most European women in Zanzibar spend their time in tourist environments. For those wishing to interact with them, they have to do so primarily in hotels, restaurants and on the beaches. 26 Furthermore, this requires money, primarily to initially entertain them, which is possible only for those who are either affluent or beach boys. Lacking adequate financial resources, the majority of them have minimal prospects of socializing with such woman. Saeed also aspires to fall in love with and marry a European woman since local educated women remain inaccessible. However, he remains unwilling to participate in activities that would provide him with access to spaces in which he can interact with them. He refuses to frequent bars because he considers them as places without heshima. Furthermore, he believes that women in such marriages with African men refuse to adopt Islam and demand their own nuclear households. Saeed is thus left unsure whether to make the necessary compromises, in terms of his relationship with his family and practice of religion, in pursuit of love. He

The Role of Kinship


has to contemplate about whether he is willing to jeopardize or even abandon the observance of ustaarabu to achieve this goal. Zanzibar’s neoliberal economy and rise of conspicuous consumption have transformed how people pursue and sustain their marriages. The dilemma of expensive mahari payments represents one new challenge for Zanzibaris. In a society where status is central for the construction of an identity (cf. Horton and Middleton 2000: 149, Fair 2001), wives increasingly demand their husbands provide modern luxuries, higher standards of material comfort, a nuclear household, and in pursuit of maintaining their independence, the ability to continue working. Rising economic hardships and the growing inability of husbands to provide these goods or accommodate the demands of their modern wives have contributed to rising rates of divorce in Zanzibar. Divorce has become very common in Zanzibar (Stiles 2005: 586). Islamic injunctions historically allowed men to divorce their wives at will. However, women seeking divorce have to go through courts and engage in exceeding proceedings (Hanak 1996: 27). Today, the grounds for divorce often cited by many Swahili women include the failure of maintenance (Ibid. 28). Hidaya has been divorced three times. Her first two husbands divorced her when she refused to allow them to marry another wife. Another woman would have meant even fewer resources and commodities, which she would have to share with the new wife. She would also have to compete for their attention and love. Hidaya divorced her last husband, who, being unemployed, was unable to take care of her. With the limited financial freedom that Hidaya enjoys through her work, divorcing her third husband provided her with the means to overcome that situation and seek a more stable partner in the future. Arranged marriages have historically served as the norm for marriage in Zanzibar. With new ideas of modern life, divorce offers some women the possibility to escape such marriages and acquire their independence (Hanak 1996). Access to the courts for women has improved in recent years (Stiles 2005: 583), as more women now seek divorce. While women often move back with their parents after the divorce, some divorced women establish their own households. Current economic conditions have made it difficult for many families to accommodate their divorced daughters. Hidaya ended up living on her own, renting quarters with other women after her divorce. Many female respondents that are divorced also claim to enjoy greater degree of freedom than their unmarried counterparts. Salama’s divorce provided her the freedom to move more freely than before. It is with this freedom to move through public spaces that enables her to pursue a discreet relationship with Salim. In the way that new marriage practices facilitate the development of new routes for re-conceptualizing the status of kinship, the growing rates of divorce creates other challenges in maintaining the unity of the family. Irrespectively, kin continue to play a significant role. Divorced women


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turn to their kin to financial support. However, when divorced women lack adequate systems of support from their kin, their situation becomes more precarious within today’s commodity consumption based market economy. For someone like Salama, who continues to receive remittance from family members abroad, supporting her household remains manageable. However, for Hidaya, on the other hand, being divorced, offers no such comforts. She faces the burden of supporting her daughters and her extended family in addition to coping with prevailing economic hardships. Women like Hidaya, as single head of households, represent a substantial portion of Zanzibaris living in ultra poverty today (SMZ 2010). They are socially marginalized because they are divorced. Moreover, confronted with limited prospects for employment and unable to acquire financial support from kin, many of them continue living in poverty for an extended period of time. Neo-liberalism has appropriated spaces in which kinship, as the means for many families to survive, occupies new meanings for facilitating movements of Zanzibaris. Accessing kinship networks facilitate the extent to which Zanzibaris can move through the local landscape and develop dispositions to cope with prevailing economic hardships. Those who lack access to such networks risk falling to the social and economic margins of the society. As an important dimension of kinship relations, marriage practices within this milieu also manifests how Zanzibaris endeavor to maintain ustaarabu. By acquisition of new social capital, some men and women have developed the ability to develop dispositions to redefine the orientation of the family, which in turn constructs new memories for identify themselves as Zanzibaris and transmit them to future generations. Omani Arabs, Asians and Pembans are similarly engaged in using marriage as a mechanism to codify specific ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. Questions of socio-economic class and ethnicity cross-cut each other and distinguish the place of kinship and constructions of genealogy in Zanzibar today. The means to construct such new meanings for kinship, however, remain largely unattainable for many other Zanzibaris, primarily the Swahili from Unguja. Lacking access to kinship networks which can help alleviate their financial conditions, many of them live in poverty. As these Zanzibaris struggle to cope with their circumstances and maintain their heshima, they continue searching for new routes to distinguish their genealogy, roots, in the evolving ustaarabu discourse. Marriage remains a significant feature for shaping genealogies and formulating these social identities. The extent to which the Swahili are able to pursue different marriage strategies within these re-appropriated spaces determines how they can reconstitute their identities in this multi-ethnic society.

The Role of Kinship


NEW STRATEGIES FOR “MIXING” BLOOD In societies where notions of ethnicity are defined by race and mark racial class inequalities, marriage practices constitute a crucial mechanism of socio-political reproduction of identity (Martinez-Alier 1974, in Amory 1994: 146). In Zanzibar, this idea of belonging has been shaped by association to places outside Africa. Historically, a social model of “Arabness” shaped one marker of identities for urban Swahili Zanzibaris (Fair 2001: 43). Under the auspice of Islam, intermarriage between men from different Arab groups and indigenous women along the African coast over centuries facilitated the movement of the Swahili to achieve different models of Arabness (as discussed in chapter two). Through the specific practice of hypergamy, defined as women marrying men of higher social status, African women developed dispositions to achieve some degree of Arabness, enabling them to accord their offspring an Arab genealogy, and, in the process, distinguishing themselves from other indigenous Africans. However, notably absent in these intermarriages was the practice of hypogamy, defined as women of higher social status marrying men of lower status. Marriage between women of Arab ancestry, categorized as having higher social status, and African men was considered unacceptable because of religious injunctions and patriarchal Arab cultural attitudes. Arabs maintained their distinction and separation from Africans through the practice of cross and parallel cousin marriages, 27 between first and second cousins or even further out. Patrilateral cross cousin marriage enable ties of descent to proliferate in succeeding generations, so that descendants recognize ties of kinship to a wide network of kin related by descent from common ancestors (Middleton 1987: 105) and more significantly, retain the purity and honor in these lineages (Horton and Middleton 2000: 147). Emphasizing the Qur’anic injunction of kufuu, which prohibited women from marrying men socially their inferior (cf. Prins 1965: 87), the practice of cross and parallel cousin marriages facilitated the maintenance of social exclusivity for the Arabs (cf. Amory 1994: 152). As definitions for ustaarabu shifted over time and acquired different meanings, the question of marriage between African men and Arab women resurfaced. During the era of Zama za Siasa, ‘Time of Politics’ in the 1950s, prominent Arab nationalists argued that the fundamental factor that had created an overarching Zanzibari national identity was the “mixture of blood” that had occurred through centuries of intermarriage, although they insinuated that this intermarriage was only between Arab men and African women. In contrast, supporters of African nationalism argued that equality was possible only when such mixture of blood took place through marriage between African men and Arab women (Glassman 2000: 418, 426). It was only after the revolution that men of African


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origin acquired the power to marry non-African women, when this position advocated by African nationalists became a part of Karume’s policy. Through ASP’s policy of promoting racial harmony and eradicating tribalism, Arab and Asian women were kidnapped from their homes 28 and forced to marry members of the Revolutionary Council (Amory 1994: 134). 29 Official records suggest that these intermarriages were not forced, but rather the girls married of their own free will. 30 However, every Asian and Arab Zanzibari respondent whose daughters, wives, and sisters were threatened by this policy, expressed much antagonism and resentment, until today, at not being able to protect their women against this aggression (cf. Larsen 2004: 134). Their recollection of the events, when the police arbitrarily stopped their car, forced men out and drove away with their women, remains fresh in their memories. Bakr, an Asian man in his 70s who has lived in Zanzibar his entire life, narrated that if they had tried to resist against the police, they were imprisoned or worse, killed. He added that to protect their honor, some women, unable to escape from their capturers, ended up committing suicide. Jamshed and other Asians highlighted similar events when they discussed the history of race relations in Zanzibar during the post-revolution period (Keshodkar 2010). These forced marriages enabled those who had acquired a certain power to “mix blood.” Through these marriages Africans were able to move into spaces that were historically denied to them and in the process constructed a new model for formulating their identities. However, only those who had acquired positions of power after the overthrow of Arab rule, primarily the members of the Revolutionary Council, were able to move into this space and exercise this disposition (cf. Chachage 2000: 41). This strategy for mixing blood remained inaccessible to the rest of the Swahili population. With the collapse of socialist rule and Zanzibar’s reintroduction into the world economy, the ability of Swahili men to marry Asian or Arab women, and mix blood has been severely restricted. As Asians and Arabs re-acquired the freedom to move again through the local landscape, they now control specific spaces within which they have re-established boundaries to distinguish themselves from the Swahili population (see Keshodkar 2010). In light of the marginalization and experience of these minorities following the revolution (Larsen 2004: 131), Asians and Arabs have reinforced a structural and physical distance from the Swahili population within designated private spaces in which they exercise new marriage practices. Through the re-orientation of Asians toward the Jat and the revival of cross and parallel cousin marriages among Omani Zanzibaris, marriage between Asian or Arab women and Swahili men have become highly unlikely. Even Comorian Zanzibaris, in distinguishing themselves as different from Swahilis, consider marriage to Swahili men as highly undesirable.

The Role of Kinship


Ashura, a second generation Comorian in Zanzibar, argues that Swahili, Shirazi, Hadimu Zanzibaris and Africans from the mainland are of lower social status. She is married to a Comorian Zanzibari and maintains contacts with her extended family in the Comoros. She has three daughters and is highly concerned about their future. She wants them to marry Comorian men. However, given the scarcity of men in the Comorian Zanzibari community, since many of them fled Zanzibar after the Revolution (Ali Mohamed 2006) she has limited options available. One option she has strongly considered is to have her daughters marry men in Comoros. Another option, though a less desirable one, but which she would accept if not other options were available, is for her daughters to marry Shirazi or Hadimu Zanzibari men. Though she considers such a prospect objectionable, Ashura contends that she would come to terms with such a marriage only if and when the men were good, practicing Muslim, with adabu and heshima and had sufficient means to support her daughters. While the post-socialist environment has enabled various ethnic communities to re-engage in traditional marriage practices, the growth of tourism and the development of the neoliberal economy have created new conditions where hypogamy is possible for Swahili men. During the revolutionary period, the power of the gun governed this practice and was accessible only to the ruling class. However, with the growing dominance of the market economy, it is now the power of money that facilitates this movement. With majority of the population suffering financial hardships, Swahili Zanzibari men who now are wealthy are able to break barriers that have traditionally restricted access to Arab women and have transformed their genealogies in this historically contested landscape. Muhammad, the Swahili Zanzibari respondent discussed in chapter four, is married to Khadija, an Omani Arab. Khadija’s family migrated from Oman and settled in Pemba over a century ago. They continued living there after the revolution since they were unable to leave the islands. Presently, two of Khadija’s brothers live in Oman and their remittances enable the family to survive in Zanzibar. Khadija was previously married to her paternal cousin, an Omani Zanzibari, and had two daughters from that marriage. 31 After her divorce, Khadija acquired greater freedom to move through public spaces. She occasionally visited local discos in the night, which is where she met Muhammad. They fell in love and Muhammad eventually asked her to marry him. However, he had a difficult time convincing Khadija’s family as they were against the marriage. Muhammad admitted that Khadija’s family finally agreed only because she was already divorced and he was financially prosperous. He insists that if this had been Khadija’s first marriage, her family would have never allowed their marriage to take place. They agreed only because they had little control over what Khadija did after her divorce. Khadija gave birth to a son a year after their marriage. The couple had two more children thereafter.


Chapter 7

Muhammad’s family readily accepted Khadija, but such was not the case with Muhammad’s interaction with her family. Muhammad supports Khadija’s parents; however, this is the extent to which he interacts with them. Khadija’s extended relatives refuse to accept Muhammad into their family. Muhammad claim that the reason is primarily due to his African origins, which they perceive as socially inferior. 32 One evening, when Muhammad caught sight of me in Stone Town, he came over to greet me and we chatted for over twenty minutes. Yet, less than ten yards from where we were standing, Khadija’s male relatives had gathered, yet they ignored Muhammad. Likewise, Muhammad did not acknowledge their presence. Earlier that evening, before meeting Muhammad, Khadija and her female cousins were interacting with the same group of male relatives. Given the closeness of social relations within the family environment and importance of kinship ties in Zanzibar, the lack of interaction between Muhammad and his affines highlights the tensions between these two groups. Historically, only hypergamy was considered acceptable for divorced Arab women (Middleton 1992: 124). However, in this instance, Muhammad has situated himself in a position to reconstitute his genealogy by marrying a woman of higher social status, a possibility historically unfeasible to the majority of local Swahili men. Given his new financial position and his marriage to Khadija, who now enjoys a luxurious life and has found a way to support her parents, Muhammad has articulated a new identity within this re-appropriated social space. The birth of their son represents, I argue, a new model of “mixing blood” between Arabs and Swahilis, something that has been part of Swahili society since its inception, but this time shaped by the marriage of a Swahili man to an Arab woman. Muhammad’s son has acquired social capital with which he can redefine the means to maintain ustaarabu and also, perhaps more importantly, distance his family from having origins in Africa. 33 Similar routes for developing one’s identity were shaped in the past for certain Africans to establish, first, a Swahili identity and, second, Shirazi roots, primarily through the marriage of Arab men with African women. The marriage to Khadija now provides Muhammad and his progeny the possibility of establishing new roots and reformulating their (public) ethnic and racial identity as Zanzibaris. For the majority of Swahili men who lack wealth and live in poverty pursuing hypogamy and reconstituting their genealogies remains out of their reach. No local Arab or Asian, or for that matter Swahili, woman would consider marrying a local man who does not have employment and social standing. However, with the presence of tourists, a new alternative is now available for this marginalized group of men to transform their social status. Marriage to white women, if attainable, can facilitate an escape from poverty and provide these men with the ability to reconstitute their identities, with different meanings than that of marrying

The Role of Kinship


women claiming Arab ancestry. In the aftermath of the revolution, one element of distinction, namely race, became important in marking difference, (often through violence (Glassman 2004: 738), for transforming ustaarabu in Zanzibar. Today, under the hegemony of the ruling CCM government, the growing wazanzibari discourse, the return of Zanzibaris previously living in exile, the nostalgia for the Zanzibar of the past (Bissell 2005), and the diverse influence of tourism and the processes of modernization associated with it, elements of ethnicity, ideas of place of origin, race, class and religion are once again facilitating, as they have in the past, new routes for Swahilis to reconstitute their identities in Zanzibar. Returning to Saeed’s search for a European wife, I learned after much interrogation that by marrying a white woman, he would be able to “mix blood.” He conceded that by marrying a white woman, his progeny would be of “lighter skin.” 34 Saeed contended that it is only through lighter skin that the blood of his progeny could become stronger. This rhetoric of mixture of blood was categorized by African nationalists as the fundamental factor for creating an overarching Zanzibar national identity shaped over centuries under the benevolent anti-racial influence of Islam (Glassman 2011: 138). Recently, Seif Hamad, leader of CUF, dismissed the rhetoric of race as the organizing principle of social relations in Zanzibar, but emphasized Zanzibar’s history as molded by mixing of blood (Burgess 2009: 273). Consequently, the extent to which every Swahili Zanzibari is able to mix blood significantly shapes their ability to assert their roots in Zanzibar. 35 Two of Saeed’s friends, working as beach-boys, managed to marry white, European women and now live in Europe. When they visit Zanzibar, they bring their children with them, all of whom have lighter skin. Observing his friends and their higher social status, Saeed embarked on his mission to find “true love” with a white woman primarily for the purposes of having children of lighter skin, which would enhance a new social identity. The strength of one’s genealogy in Swahili society has historically been based on upholding ideas of usafi, moral purity. For Saeed, the marriage he desires, and one that has become a reality for some of his friends, would enable his future progeny to claim nonAfrican origins. As the Swahili historically intermarried and claimed Shirazi origins to distance themselves from other mainland Africans in the past (Sheriff 2001: 308), the prospect of “mixing blood” through marriage in the manner proposed by Saeed could allow him to achieve a similar goal and uphold usafi. The emergence of these new marriage patterns and strategies brings to the forefront the dilemma of defining the Swahili identity. Historically, by becoming Swahili, one escaped the stigma that came with slavery and association with mainland Africa (cf. Horton and Middleton 2000: 202, Fair 2001: 35). Scholars have proposed that intermarriage between Arab men and African women gave rise to Swahili identity and that the forma-


Chapter 7

tion of Swahili identity provided a means for striving toward Arabness (Le Guennec-Coppens 1989, Pouwels 2002, Sheriff 2001, Middleton 1992). Social stratification in Swahili society developed along the lines of status and descent, defined through the establishment of a “pure” patrilineal genealogy (Horton and Middleton 2000: 148). However, men of African origin, unable to marry women of higher status, had no such access for moving up the local social hierarchy, at least until after the revolution, at which point only those with political power were able to move into a position to develop new models of “mixing blood.” The social construction of genealogies has shaped the evolution of identities for Swahili Zanzibaris (Glassman 2000: 401). Today, the battleground for identity politics has changed. The social processes brought about by the development of the tourism industry and the presence of tourists provides new spaces in which Swahili men, those with and without financial and political resources, can move up in the local social hierarchy. Through their movements, they can engage in “mixing blood” and articulate new identities to redefine their status. Muhammad’s marriage and Saeed’s desires will not only change their own status within the social spaces where they have a specific standing, but will also change the circumstances of their progeny by transforming their genealogy. While Arabs historically emphasized patriliny as the basis for constituting one’s genealogy, Swahili have traced their ancestry through unilineal descent. The latter provides the flexibility to trace descent through either the father or the mother, though it has predominately been through fathers. For Muhammad, the new distinctions that come from identifying himself as a Zanzibari will be visible in the family’s genealogy for years to come. In Saeed’s case, his lighter-skin progeny will acquire a higher social status and facilitate his own ability to move into spaces in the future that he, as a financially impoverished Swahili man, is unable to access today. In both cases, their ability to move through different private and public spaces will create new modes of centrality and affect how their future identities, and with it, their genealogies are constructed. By no means have these marriage strategies become common in Zanzibar, but the number of Swahili men engaged in them continues to rise in the era of tourism. Over the past decade, the number of Swahili men who had married women claiming Arab ancestry has increased in small numbers. 36 However, during the same time period, Swahili men marrying European women and moving abroad or living with their white spouses in Zanzibar have become a more common phenomenon. 37 While the scale of such marriages is relatively small, they nevertheless remain significant because they highlight the emergence of a social discourse for local Swahili men that allows them to transform their identities. The goal of each of these intermarriages may be different, based on very different strategies and meanings associated with them, but the process through which they can strive toward that goal, namely hypogamy, is now a

The Role of Kinship


distinct possibility as a means for distinguishing oneself in Zanzibar. In the course of altering the formulation of local identities in a very different manner, these marriage strategies challenge existing boundaries of belonging and give rise to new and different meanings that are important in shaping the role of descent and genealogy for re-conceptualizing ustaarabu in Zanzibar. It has not been my contention here to state what those future identities will be, but rather to emphasize that through the spaces in which these different individuals are moving their ability to marry women of higher status facilitates how they can reevaluate questions of status and descent for negotiating aspects of their identities. Being Swahili has meant different things at different times. While they may neither be of Asian origin nor wish to be associated with an African ancestry (cf. Horton and Middleton 2000: 202), the extent to which their movements through re-appropriated spaces and development of dispositions such as hypogamy and “mixed blood” shapes how they define questions of status and descent in formulating their identities as Swahilis and as Zanzibaris. Questions of identity and memory are paramount in Zanzibar. The different ethnic and racial groups that occupy the Zanzibari landscape and call it their home perceive their identities in relation to others who move through the same shared spaces. Arabs tried to maintain their exclusivity, primarily through endogamy. Swahili Zanzibaris, at various times in history, acquired access to these exclusive spaces. The practice of hypergamy was one such means of facilitating this movement. Socioeconomic processes shaping new formations of cultural meanings in the post-socialist era provide the means for the Swahili, through hypogamy, to rearticulate their identities and constitute their genealogy. New routes now facilitate the construction of roots for defining their identities. Although currently occurring at a very small scale, it is now an option available to some Zanzibaris. With the continuing penetration and influence of tourism and modernization processes in the future, the practice may perhaps become more prominent in Zanzibar, as is the case in Swahili communities in Kenya (see Peake 1984, Fuglesang 1994). Today, tourism facilitates new forms of movements through which old boundaries are breaking down and are being reformulated with new meanings. Simultaneously, other new boundaries are emerging to establish distinctions for underlining ideas of ustaarabu. The extent to which these different boundaries now surfacing will prevail or break, or become impenetrable for maintaining ethnic, racial, and economic exclusivity, will depend on the nature of the movements that continues to take place through this social landscape. The contemporary political struggle unfolding in Zanzibar falls within this struggle for retaining or refuting association with Zanzibar (“Wazanzibari” versus “Wazanzibara” in Cameron 2004: 114). With the revolution and subsequent socialist rule, political and cultural hegemony of mainland Tanzania gradually started to be


Chapter 7

imposed over the isles, whose agents control the social, cultural and political institutions of Zanzibar (Saleh 2004: 151). In the aftermath of the revolution, it was also not desirable to assert an “Arab” identity (cf. Caplan 2004: 8). However, with the collapse of socialism, some Zanzibaris have re-acquired the capital to move through the landscape and emphasize non-African identities. Through the nature of their movements in the neo-liberal market economy dominated by tourism, Zanzibaris of all ethnic backgrounds have acquired new means to establish distinctions for underlining their non-African origins. Acquisition of wealth facilitates development of dispositions and tastes to transform aspects their identities in various public and private spaces. For those suffering economic hardships, tourism provides them with one avenue to move and transform their identities. New social dispositions acquired either through education, reliance on social networks or interactions with tourists have transformed the place and value of kinship in the lives of Zanzibaris. Through marriage practices described above, Zanzibaris are constructing new memories, and with the transmission of these memories, over time, new ideas for defining Zanzibari culture. Moreover, in each segment of Zanzibar society, in different social, ethnic, economic, and status groups, these new ideas of culture will take different shape and accordingly, constitute new meanings for defining ustaarabu. As the circumstances of Zanzibaris are changing, the routes that facilitate their movements today will continue to shape the dispositions they develop for establishing new roots or maintaining old roots to formulate different aspects of their Zanzibari identities in different spaces, as they have in the past and will continue to do so in the future. NOTES 1. Sections of this chapter were originally published in an article in 2009, titled, “The impact of tourism in reconstituting genealogies and kinship relations in Zanzibar,” in Encounters 1(1): 215 243. 2. The degree of proximity in these relationships are determined by the analogous concepts of nyumba, “house,” referred specifically to the nuclear unit, and mlango, “door” used in reference to the broadly conceived kin, including affines related through either parent (cf. Swartz 1991: 54). The relationship between the two units was best summed up by Juma, who once indicated, “Without a door, the house is incomplete,” emphasizing the importance of bilateral kin relations in the social composition of Swahili family. This structural framework indicated that while all kin relations were important in maintaining one’s social position within the larger ukoo, the closer the kin the closer the ties (Ibid. 61). 3. Unilineal descent emphasizes the idea of tracing one’s ancestry through male ancestors (father) or female ancestors (mother). Lineages and clans are the main types of unilineal groups. 4. This centrality toward one’s position in the jamaa might also serve as the reason why Swahili husbands and wives do not hold joint property.

The Role of Kinship


5. Arab traits continued to represent cultural ideals for many Swahili Zanzibaris (Middleton 1992: 165). 6. This notion of “mixing blood,” captures the idea of inter-ethnic marriage as a means of strengthening his genealogy. However, this view contradicts the historical practice of marriage in Swahili society as a means of maintaining usafi, “purity” of one’s lineage, particularly that of the woman, and marriage served as a strategy by which families sought to improve their rank and position in society (Middleton 2004: 92, 111). In Zanzibar, both Arabs and Africans have used the rhetoric of “mixing blood” to highlight their constructions of ustaarabu, “civilization” (see Glassman 2000). 7. An ukoo is “a bilateral kinship group that shares reciprocal obligation, identified by descent and skin color” (Middleton 1992: 86) 8. It is important to note that all families that rely upon kinship networks do not receive the same level of support. Those with kinship networks based abroad, often the Arabian Gulf or Western countries, seemed to enjoy a higher level of financial support than those who could only turn to networks based in Zanzibar and other parts of East Africa. 9. Many Swahili men set up their independent households only after marriage, though usually in the vicinity of the parent’s home. 10. Fishing has become quite profitable for fishermen in the some villages, where they manage to sell their catch to the beach resorts. Fishermen in these villages easily earn a few hundred dollars per month, though primarily during the tourist season. As a consequence of their success, wives of many fishermen, particularly in villages like Nungwi, a prominent beach destination, have abandoned seaweed farming, a traditional occupation for women along the east and north coast of Zanzibar. 11. Such separation of families in light of their financial circumstances is also evident in the Juma and Othman’s cases, where their siblings’ children have been living with them due to the inability of their siblings to support them (discussed in chapter five). 12. In the model of patriarchy that prevails in Zanzibar, women marry men of higher or equal status, while men marry women of equal or lower status. Qur’anic injunction of kufuu and Arab cultural attitudes prohibits women to marry men of lower status. 13. I do not mean to suggest that only women on the socio-economic margins of society are subject to violence. However, based on what respondents indicated, women in such positions are more vulnerable to violence because they do have limited sense of empowerment to assert their freedom and independence from their men. 14. When Ashura resigned, she was given guarantees by the ministry that she could return to her position at any time she desired. 15. According to Arab Zanzibari returning from Oman, Zanzibar is and will remain their true home (Kaplan 2010: 312). 16. The extent to which these marriage practices have become prominent in Zanzibar was brought to my attention by Mailys Chauvin, a French ethnographer, who is currently investigating the mobility of Zanzibaris living in exile, in Oman and elsewhere, and returning to Zanzibar and engaging in these marriage practices (Interview June 2012). 17. In the caste system, status derived from marriage (cf. Parry 1979: 277) and marriage within the Jat provides a mechanism to improve one’s social status. This segmentation within the Jat is purely relative, where equality at one level broke down at another level (Ibid. 315). Marriage, through the process of hypergamy, provided the means to maintain the unity of different grades within the Jat. It encouraged members to seek more prestigious affines to improve one’s own social status and create a new order of social distinctions within the Jat (Ibid. 296). 18. Asians constitute less than 0.5 percent of Zanzibar’s population. 19. The idea of intermarriage of Asians with non-Asians is considered acceptable more among the Sunni Asian community and the Shia Ithna’asharis (see Keshodkar 2010). While the Sunni Memons only married within the Jat (cf. Gregory 1993b: 31),


Chapter 7

other Sunni Asians married Swahili women. Among the Shia Ithna’asharis, who are not as tightly bound as other Asian communal groups, intermarriage with the Swahili women was a common practice through which they have sought to convert them to the Ithna’ashari interpretation of Islam (Ibid. 30). However, all intermarriages remain primarily between Asian men and Swahili women. There are very few cases of intermarriage between African men and Asian women. 20. Many Asians that left Zanzibar after the revolution migrated to mainland Tanzania, Kenya, Western Europe, North America, the Arabian Gulf or India. In all of these places, there now remains a substantial presence of the various Jat to which various Asian Zanzibaris belong. 21. Asian Zanzibaris enjoy a higher economic quality of life than majority of the population in India. Thus, for a woman from a poor or lower-middle class Indian family, marriage to a middle class Asian Zanzibari offers more luxuries and comforts than what she would enjoy back in India. 22. I am not suggesting that Pembans do not or have not married non-Pemban Swahili. However, majority of Pemban respondents emphasized that marrying a Pemban reinforces their ties to Pemba (as discussed in the text). 23. Hasan’s marriage to a Swahili woman could be considered as an example of marriage which was perceived to be shameful. 24. In 2000, the USD-TZS exchange rate was USD1 = 1000 TZS. In 2012, the rate was USD1 = between 1,500 and 1,600 TZS. 25. Beach boys that offered their sexual services to men and older female tourists had the potential to earn substantially more. 26. Many European expat women living in Zanzibar predominately spent their time, particularly the evenings, in tourist environments. 27. Cross cousin marriage takes between a person and their mother’s brother’s child or father’s sister’s child. Parallel cousin marriages take place between a person and their father’s brother’s child. 28. This point of view was offered primarily by Asian and Arab respondents. 29. These forced marriages took place in 1970. 30. This perspective was highlighted in an article in the local newspaper, Kweupe, September 2, 1970, page 2 (see Amory 1994: 134). 31. Khadija’s first marriage is an example of the endogamy that is historically prevalent among the Arabs in Zanzibar. 32. Hasan, the Omani Arab man that married a Swahili woman, asserted that, “marriage to an African was considered shameful for Omanis. … Africans imitated and behaved like Arab people, but Arabs will never imitate African people.” In using the term, African, Hasan is using the category of race to distinguish the Swahili population. Interview, January 2010. 33. Muhammad’s ancestors come from the Sukumu tribe, from mainland Africa. 34. A competing discourse that is also unfolding in such marriages between African men and European women is the pursuit of European women wanting to conceive a child with an African man for having a “darker skin” child. European women who have children with African men whom I interviewed often discuss their children with respect to the special features and complexity of their skin color. Similarly, numerous Zanzibari respondents suggested that practices by the rich and famous of adopting African children (Angelina Jolie was primarily cited as an example) has led many European women to come to Africa, conceive a child with an African man, and give birth to darker skin children (Interviews carried out June 2012). 35. This notion contrast with the perspective offered by Asian Zanzibaris who advocate a “purity” of their blood (see Keshodkar 2010). 36. I personally know six Swahili men that have married either Arab or Asian women. All of these men are wealthy, and all of them had acquired their wealth through tourist related businesses.

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37. In 2001, I only came across a handful of such couples. In many instances, the men left Zanzibar with their European spouses. However, by 2012, I often saw such couples around Zanzibar town and throughout Unguja. With deteriorating economic conditions in Europe, these women stayed back in Zanzibar, with their African husbands. In majority of these partnerships, the white women and their African husbands operate tourist-related businesses.

EIGHT Conclusion The Struggle for Civilization

“When one blew the trumpet in Zanzibar the whole of Africa up to the Great Lakes danced. ...(While today) when a whistle is blown in Tanganyika the Islanders dance to the tune.” 1

Zanzibar is experiencing a period of dramatic socio-economic changes and political uncertainty. Facing new modes of strangeness and markers of social differences, preserving ustaarabu, however they conceptualize it, offers Zanzibaris an avenue to accommodate and adjust to these changes. Over different periods of history, the framework of ustaarabu served as a foundation for constructing competing ideas of utamaduni in Zanzibar. Moreover, it provided different forms of capital for Zanzibaris from different ethnic and socio-economic groups to move through the local social landscape and develop dispositions to overcome their strangeness to each other and unify as Zanzibari. Under the auspice of Islam and through a history of interaction with peoples from around the Indian Ocean, ustaarabu enabled all the diverse inhabitants of the islands to pursue different routes and develop dispositions to distinguish their roots in Zanzibar. The 1964 Revolution marked a sharp break in that history and set a new course for conceptualizing civilization in Zanzibar. Trade and interaction with other areas of the Indian Ocean was restricted and Zanzibar was now oriented toward Africa. Personal agreements between Karume and Nyerere and British colonial policies which emphasized the primacy of race imposed a new definition of civilization on Zanzibar society. Ustaarabu was forsaken and utamaduni was now formulated with new meanings asserting the primacy of an “African” civilization. Totalitarian rule under Karume followed by authoritarian policies of the union 193


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government maintained the domination of these new ideologies. However, with the collapse of the socialist economy, aspirations for maintaining power have directed the revolutionary government to grant Zanzibaris freedom of movement through the local landscape and once again interact with societies outside Africa. In the post socialist era, socio-economic processes associated with the neo-liberal economy, tourism, rise of conspicuous consumption and emerging ideas of modernity among others facilitate new forms of movements in Zanzibar. These new forms of movements fall within the historical movement of people in, out, and through the Zanzibar landscape. As in the past, the extent to which Zanzibaris can to move through re-appropriated spaces today and establish new modes of centrality dictate the degree to which they develop new dispositions to formulate and negotiate their identities. Through their movements in these re-appropriated spaces, Zanzibaris, endowed with different forms of social capital, are developing dispositions to articulate new identities and distinctions from others around them. With the primacy of an African civilization waning in the post-socialist environment and new notions of modern Western civilization inaccessible to many within the population, ustaarabu provides Zanzibaris a repository of cultural meanings from the past to construct their future. Furthermore, since movement of Zanzibaris was restricted for only about 20 years during the socialist era historical constructions of ustaarabu remain embedded in their memories. Through their interaction once again with peoples around the Indian Ocean and beyond, they are reframing ideas of utamaduni to conceptualize their identities as Zanzibaris. Renewed association with Islam and emphasis of non-African origins are again elements incorporated for defining ideas of civilization in Zanzibar. At a time of socio-economic dislocation, as a majority of Zanzibaris are living at the margins of society, the centrality of ustaarabu also serves as a mechanism to promote ideas of nearness with a common vision of civilization embracing all Zanzibaris. It has not been my contention to suggest that what is happening in Zanzibar today is a new phenomenon. Rather, I have endeavored to illustrate that ways in which Zanzibaris are searching for new routes to construct their roots fall within a long line of historical processes that have shaped the identity discourse within this ethnically diverse population. The processes emerging today cannot be analyzed outside of this historical framework. Access to new forms of social capital, many previously inaccessible, has re-appropriated new meanings in spaces in which Zanzibaris now move. They facilitate new forms of mobility and patterns of movements for those endowed with different forms of capital in postsocialist Zanzibar. Consequently, through the nature of their movements, they are able to develop dispositions for perceiving and articulating their identities vis-à-vis other Zanzibaris and non-Zanzibaris around them.



Identities are situational and multiple identities exist at any given time. Different identities provide guidelines for specific social behavior in different spaces (cf. Schlee 1989: 234). The conceptual framework of movement, as I have integrated in analyzing the identity discourse in post-socialist Zanzibar, highlights the processes through which these identities are articulated and negotiated in different spaces. Social processes emerging under the presence of tourism and the new capitalist economy facilitate or restrict the ability of Zanzibaris to move through reappropriated public and private spaces within which new meanings for formulating particular identities and various social distinctions take precedence. These new identities add to the multiplicity of identities that every Zanzibari already possesses, but creates new situations in which to exercise them. In spaces where individuals have now acquired specific forms of power, they control aspects of their identities that prevail for themselves and others moving through those spaces. For example, identities with reference to Jat retain value only for Asian Zanzibaris around other Asians. They now possess the power in this space to emphasize this specific identity. Similarly, shifts among Zanzibaris identifying themselves as Swahili and Shirazi operate within specific spaces. For the local Swahili population, their identities as Swahili may occupy social centrality in spaces around other Swahili, but in the presence of other ethnic groups, they prefer to identify themselves through different means. By formulating different identities in spaces they share with the non-Swahili, the Swahili are not rejecting their identities as Swahili, but rather, adjusting to their situation and developing dispositions to identify themselves and negotiate their movements through these spaces. While all Zanzibaris are experiencing some form of dislocation as a consequence of contemporary economic, political, and social processes, the degree to which their lives have been transformed is reflected by the nature of their movements through re-appropriated private and public spaces within the context of this discourse. Those historically marginalized, particularly women, have now acquired more freedom to move out of the domestic environment. For Zanzibaris living in poverty, tourism has facilitated the development of new routes to escape from their situation. Similarly, the revival of Islam and kinship networks provides access to new routes for redefining Zanzibari roots. Those who do manage to change their circumstances now find themselves in a position to establish their membership within different communities, whose boundaries are demarcated by new social and economic dispositions. However, for substantial percentage of Zanzibaris who continue living in abject poverty and possess limited capital to move, their situations remains one of great uncertainty. Marginalized in many re-appropriated spaces, they continue to struggle to move into spaces where they can develop new dispositions


Chapter 8

and social models for constituting notions of belonging in contemporary Zanzibar. Throughout this book, I have demonstrated the diversity in the forms of movements taking place in Zanzibar in the post socialist era, at different levels of social interaction in this segmented society. 2 As Zanzibar is experiencing dramatic social changes today, the concept of movement helps provide a framework for understanding how new identities are emerging within different spaces and how they are transformed from one social situation to another. These new identities are not necessarily replacing old ones, but rather, providing the individuals involved with new means to identify themselves in re-appropriated social spaces. Any kind of movement from one space to another brings forth new encounters (cf. Clifford 1992: 96). Subsequently, the nature of movement, with relation to the position of the individual in that particular space, dictates the identities which take precedence within that space. Movement illustrates how the development of routes for constructing roots (Clifford 1997) is not a static process, but continually changes as the position of the individual shifts from one social space to another. Since different social models exist at any given time, movement draws attention to the degrees of segmentation prevalent in competing social spaces within a society. Access to various forms of social capital shape the degree to which individuals are able to move through different spaces, at different times, and the identities that are articulated within them. Social and financial capital endows individuals with the power to move through different spaces. Through this power, individuals can formulate ideas of social centrality within appropriated spaces. Association with Islam and an ethnic Arab identity historically endowed Zanzibaris with a certain form of power to move through different social spaces. Today, acquisition of wealth and education facilitate new forms of movements through the social landscape. Individuals that have access to different forms of power are able to develop specific dispositions through their movements and subsequently use those dispositions to cultivate distinctions and demarcate new social boundaries (Bourdieu 1984). Dispositions, or habitus (Bourdieu 1984), also illustrate how individuals moving through the same spaces relate to each other. The development of dispositions, socially acquired, over time and space, help mold distinctions between self and other, and give rise to identities for classifying each other in different social settings. With every form of movement, new dispositions and distinctions subsequently emerge within different spaces. Movement, as a theoretical construct, emphasizes that identities are always multiple and that some identities take precedence over others in different spaces. The positions of self and other, as they move through demarcated, contested spaces, dictate which identities acquire greater prominence in different spaces of social interaction. As the positions of



self and other change with movements from one space to another (the situation in which they are interacting with each other changes), so do the identities that acquire centrality within the new social spaces. All identities are interconnected, despite evolving in different places and taking different forms and shapes. Analysis of movement between different public and private spaces illustrates how multiple identities emerge in these interconnected social spaces. Socially constructed, the study of identity is a study of perceptions; perception of the place of individuals, as “self” and as “other,” and communities, in evaluating their positions and that of others who may be trying to or are unable to move through the same space. Movement accentuates the perceptions of place and space at different levels of society, in public and private spaces, and reveals the structures and sub-structures of societies within which different social models prevail, where multiple identities operate and are continuously shaped and reshaped. Consequently, as identities are constructed and re-constructed with new forms of movements, culture always remains in a state of change, continuously moving and giving rise to new cultural forms and processes. Throughout Zanzibar’s history, as the sites in which identities have formed changed, so have the identities for defining ideas of belonging to the islands. In modern history, the repository from which memories for constructing ideas of Zanzibari culture evolved were transmitted through association with Islam, pursuit of Arabness and centrality of kinship. The centrality of these values in different spaces gave rise to models of ustaarabu for defining an individual’s association with Zanzibar. Through their movements, Zanzibaris pursued different routes to preserve and form new meanings for maintaining these roots. 3 Individuals outside this discourse remained categorized as washenzi, “barbaric,” thus occupied a marginal place within this framework of civilization. People from mainland Africa, as non-Muslims, remained at the margins of this society. The Time of Politics, espoused by Pan-Africanism, transformed ideas associated with ustaarabu and brought forward the significance of race for demarcating ideas of belonging to Zanzibar (Glassman 2011: 58). Consequently, after the revolution, the state became categorically African (Killian 2008: 111). Association to Islam and pursuit of Arabness were marginalized within the new discourse. Through the policies of the revolutionary government, new ideas of belonging, defined specifically around race, became prominent for constructing an African civilization in Zanzibar. However, the marginalization of many sections of the population resulted in dividing rather than unifying the people of Zanzibar within this new vision of an imagined community (cf. Anderson 1983). With the continuing failure of the state in adequately providing basic welfare to all its citizens and the collapse of many of its ideological principles, majority of Zanzibaris have reverted to reviving previous models of ustaarabu that


Chapter 8

shaped the social memories and ideas of belonging in Zanzibar for centuries. In light of the economic hardships majority of Zanzibaris endured over the past 48 years, reliance on kinship and other social networks have been vital for them to survive within the changing socio-economic environment. These networks now play a prominent role in impacting the ability of Zanzibaris to construct new models of civilization. Social processes unfolding in the post-socialist era highlight the necessity of support from kinship networks for Zanzibaris today. Through the freedom of movement enjoyed by Zanzibaris within this milieu, adherence to Islam, maintaining haya and heshima, re-constituting genealogies that highlight disassociation with mainland Africa, and the wazanzibari political discourse constitute elements for re-conceptualizing ustaarabu in contemporary Zanzibar. The Tanzanian union is also the microcosm of this conflicting cultural and territorial nationalism emerging in Zanzibar (Shivji 2008: 244). Moreover, with the prevailing hegemony of tourism and the neo-liberal capitalist consumption economy, values of consumption, westernization, secularization and modern life bring forth new challenges for Zanzibaris to preserve the centrality of ustaarabu. The rate and freedom with which Zanzibaris are moving through the social landscape today surpasses any period of change experienced in the past. Tourism, as a tool of the capitalist global economy, has brought more people to Zanzibar in recent years than in past memory. With respects to tourist alone, over 200,000 people visited Zanzibar in 2011 and the government aspires to attract more than 500,000 visitors per year by 2015 (ZATI 2008: 11). Several hundred thousand people from mainland Africa have also migrated to Zanzibar over the past two decades in pursuit of new opportunities. In contrast to travelers from the past who moved through the Zanzibar landscape and made Zanzibar home, 4 tourists visiting Zanzibar leave shortly after their visits. Similarly, labor migrants return to the mainland after they have achieved their financial goals. Both of these new groups of outsiders have a substantial impact on the local population as a consequence of their movements through the local landscape. Historically, travelers moving through Zanzibar integrated themselves within local value systems and adopted social norms of Zanzibaris, thus, upholding models of ustaarabu. However, today, these outsiders disregard local cultural values and Zanzibaris are increasingly displaced as they have to compete with them to move through the local landscape. Endowed with disproportionate financial advantages in comparison to Zanzibaris, tourists dictate their movements and social practices through the local landscape. For Zanzibaris in desperate need of financial resources controlled by tourists for their survival, they have no alternatives but to accommodate these movements of tourists which disregards their culture. Furthermore, with more tourists visiting Zanzibar and the rapid rate of their movement, spaces are re-appropriated with new meanings at



rates previously unimaginable within which Zanzibaris could move. Consequently, through their movements in these spaces, Zanzibaris are constantly creating new distinctions of self and other and developing new mechanisms to shape their identities. As Zanzibaris struggle to move today, rising socio-economic inequalities, conspicuous commodity consumption and ideas of modern life are emerging as new markers of differences within the society. With these models of strangeness pervading the lives of Zanzibaris, the extent to which they can access kinship networks, as in the case of Muhammad, Ali and Othman, or maintain some form or respectable employment, as in the case of Juma and educated women now working in ministries, increasingly determines their ability to continue upholding various cultural and religious traditions. In choosing to uphold these traditions, they also deny themselves access to other re-appropriated spaces that now exist in which they can move. In other instances, maintaining the significance of ustaarabu in their lives limits the extent to which they are willing to adopt alternative models of civilization. Saeed’s desire to marry a European woman, after observing the effects of such marriages in the lives of some of his friends, requires him to move into spaces where tourists and locals interact more frequently, namely on the beaches, in clubs, and so forth. Yet, upholding his cultural values restricts him from moving through these spaces, at least publicly. He still desires to marry a European woman. However, he must wait for a new space to emerge in which he can pursue this disposition without compromising his values. Meanwhile, beach boys, at the cost of sacrificing traditions, have developed new mechanisms within the prevailing milieu to transform their situation. By pursuing various activities with tourists, these Zanzibaris violate the public observance of haya and heshima, in turn compromising their status as civilized members of society. They share similar goals as many Zanzibaris around them, to earn sufficient income and improve their social status to live a modern life and engage in various levels of conspicuous consumption dominating post-socialist Zanzibar. However, by compromising their cultural and religious values to achieve such goals, they risk further marginalization in society. Despite their marginal status, if they can access new routes, one example being through the practice of hypogamy, they can reposition themselves within the ustaarabu discourse and articulate new notions of being Zanzibari. Presently, such prospects continue to remain a pipe dream for a majority of Zanzibari youth pursuing this strategy to improve their economic and social conditions. Majority of Zanzibaris continue living in abject poverty. The dramatic deterioration of the islands’ economy and decline in the quality of life for Zanzibaris commenced during the socialist era and many are still struggling to overcome these conditions. Despite research from the 1970s illustrating that tourism did not offer a viable solution to third world coun-


Chapter 8

tries struggling for economic growth (Turner 1976), large scale investment in tourism development was touted by tourism consultants and government officials as the primary means to promote economic opportunities for the local population in the post-socialist era (SMZ 1983a, Bissell 1999). Twenty-five years later, more Zanzibaris experience maisha magumu, “difficult life” than before. The promise of prosperity accompanying tourism has only brought low quality, unskilled employment, rising prices for basic commodities, higher costs of living, and demise of other sectors of the economy. The influx of people from the mainland has further limited the extent to which Zanzibaris can pursue various economic opportunities. Only Zanzibaris who have been able to acquire support from various social networks elsewhere or those engaged in various forms of political patronage have benefitted from the opportunities manifesting with the arrival of tourism and the consumption market economy. For everyone else, the post-socialist era has only increased the indignity associated with living in poverty and without respectable forms of employment. As one Zanzibari poignantly highlighted, “we have become a culture of beggars.” 5 Such public humiliation of their situation restricts their ability to maintain observance of ustaarabu. The economic marginalization of Zanzibaris and Zanzibar is intricately intertwined with the politics of the Tanzanian union. Since Zanzibar surrendered its autonomy in 1964, mainland’s political and cultural hegemony have been gradually imposed over Zanzibar, through the rule of CCM, who continue to maintain their control over the islands’ social, economic, cultural and political institutions (Saleh 2004: 150). Initially, in the post-socialist era, the difference in trade tariffs between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania brought a brief period of economic prosperity to the islands. However, with Amani Karume’s decision to harmonize trade tariffs with the mainland, trade and trade revenues in Zanzibar have fallen significantly (Burgess 2009: 299). 6 There now remains a state of economic uncertainty among many Zanzibaris, facing new challenges to cope with their deteriorating conditions. Government corruption and decline in trade activities have suffocated the islands. Basic services such as water and electricity still remain a problem in many parts of Zanzibar, and more so in Pemba. With trade activities now shifted to mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar’s economic conditions have further deteriorated and there is greater reliance and dependence upon mainland Tanzania. Most recently, the discovery of oil reserves by Shell in Pemba in summer 2012 has reignited the issue of control over future revenues between Zanzibar and the union government. 7 The economic prosperity enjoyed by Zanzibar before the 1964 revolution was primarily attributed to its prominent status as an entrepôt in Indian Ocean trade. However, with the policies imposed by the mainland oriented union government, the ability of Zanzibaris to prosper in trade has been limited. Consequently, tourism and economic activities tied to it



now serve as the primary source of revenues for Zanzibar and Zanzibaris. Among other reasons, the opposition to the union also lies in part to how the current government structure limits the ability of Zanzibaris to compete economically against their counterparts on the mainland. 8 Abdulrazak Gurnah, the prominent Zanzibari writer, has argued that trade delivers peace and prosperity (Kaplan 2010: 317). Processes inhibiting fair trading conditions limit the extent to which Zanzibaris can achieve this prosperity. With Zanzibaris increasingly relying primarily on tourism, the economic conditions of Zanzibaris will only continue to deteriorate. These developments have led Zanzibaris to suggest that economic prosperity will return to Zanzibar only when the islands are free of control from the mainland (Ibid: 316). However, with Arabs returning to Zanzibar and rulers in the Arabian Gulf offering financial assistance to Zanzibar (see Burgess 2009: 253), the mainland government now fears that Zanzibar would orient more toward the Arab world, reviving its historical links to societies in the Indian Ocean, and in turn pose new security threats, with the promotion of radical Islam, to the mainland (Killian 2008: 121). In light of these developments and with the memories of the revolution and its aftermath re-ignited within the contemporary political discourse between CCM and CUF, the question and the validity of the Tanzanian union itself now occupies center stage for Zanzibaris. The issue of Zanzibar’s autonomy was initially brought up by President Jumbe during the constitutional crisis of 1983-84. CUF has also pressed for the reorganization of the union, demanding a three-government federation, which would grant Zanzibar greater autonomy in non-union matters (Shivji 2008: 250). With the freedom of movement enjoyed by Zanzibaris in the post-socialist era, they have become more vocal about questioning the validity of the union, since it was not established by a referendum. Many Zanzibaris advocate that the mainland has corrupted the islands (see Kaplan 2010) and robbed Zanzibar of its identity. The uncontrolled migration of mainlanders to Zanzibar and the promotion of Christianity in the post-socialist era are often cited as evidence of this latter claim (see Killian 2008). Since the formation of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2010, and with CCM no longer exclusively ruling Zanzibar, advocates of secession openly express their discontent and opposition to the union. A member of the GNU government highlighted that before the GNU, one could not even discuss such issues privately, but now, open debates about the union take place in the House of Representatives. 9 Uamsho, the non-governmental organization which advocates reviving the centrality of Islam in the lives of Zanzibaris (discussed in chapter five) has become one of the most outspoken opponents of the union. In response to their opposition to tourism, the corruption within the CCM and influence of the mainland government, they have garnered support from many sec-


Chapter 8

tion of the local population in advocating autonomy and self-determination for Zanzibar. Inspired by the events of the Arab Springs in 2010-11, a number of Uamsho supporters indicate that, “we have now woken up and are now educated … and like everywhere else, they cannot stop us from fighting for and getting our rights.” 10 Unable to strike down the rising opposition from Zanzibaris to the current framework of the union, as was done in 1984, Jakaya Kilwete, the current Tanzanian President, established the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) in April 2012 11 to collect public opinions for the review of the union’s constitution. The CRC has been given the mandate to recommend features for the new constitution, including the possibility of a referendum on the status of the union. Zanzibaris have always questioned the legacy of the union on the premise that it was not decided by a referendum (Burgess 2009: 308). The CRC is expected to complete the constitutional review by the end of 2013, and if a referendum is to be held, it will take place in 2014, which coincides with the fiftieth year anniversaries of both the revolution and the union. The issue of sovereignty and autonomy of Zanzibar is once again intricately tied to the identity of the state as African or Arab (Killian 2008: 100). Under these labels, the discourse of civilization has re-emerged in oppositional terms (Glassman 2011: 291). The opposition to mainland is further categorized as Muslim Zanzibar versus Christian mainland (Ibid. 297). If the Tanzanian union survives the ongoing constitutional review, the question of the orientation of the state will continue to dictate the “Second Time of Politics” (cf. Babu 1991). The GNU was established in 2010 as a compromise to ensure that stability prevailed after the violence that marred the first three flawed elections of the multi-party, democracy era. However, the establishment of the GNU itself violated the basic principles of democracy (Bakari and Makulilo 2012). With the next round of elections scheduled to take place in 2015, CCM and CUF will once again contend for the power to rule Zanzibar. Assuming that the union remains intact after the constitutional review, the ethno-political rhetoric that has marred previous democratic elections of the post-socialist era will continue shaping the political landscape in Zanzibar. With the overwhelming support that CUF presently enjoys in Pemba and its growing influence in Unguja, CCM’s defeat in the next elections, if they are free and fair, seem almost guaranteed. If such were to happen, for CCM to concede defeat, would symbolize accepting the non-African nature of Zanzibar. Struggle over this ideology has dictated ASP and then CCM’s hold on power in Zanzibar for the past 48 years. Since the revolution, the African orientation of Zanzibar, conceptualized primarily on the premise of race, has dictated the ability of Zanzibaris to move through the local landscape. Leaders of the ruling CCM government continue to evoke questions of race and ethnicity to discredit CUF by associating them with ZNP and Arab hegemony of the



past (Anglin 2000: 43). In order to retain power, CCM, despite the end of the single party era, has denied political agency to Zanzibar’s multiethnic society in the post socialist era (Cameron 2004: 107). If this pattern continues, with the framework of the union after 2014 constitutional review maintaining its present form, economic conditions of people in Zanzibar deteriorating and CCM remaining in power through undemocratic means, Zanzibar will no doubt be besieged by another period of political upheaval, possibly in the form of another revolution. In the same way that the first Time of Politics erupted in the 1964 Revolution, the current socio-economic conditions experienced by Zanzibaris and rising political crisis suggest that the second time of politics will culminate in some form of socio-political disorder. 12 The worsening economic conditions and new social inequalities resulting from them, which impact how Zanzibaris are able to maintain their heshima and observe ustaarabu, will contribute to any such upheaval. For majority of Zanzibaris, living in poverty limits their ability to move through re-appropriated spaces that facilitate new forms of movements in Zanzibar. In light of continuing economic hardships and the public indignities they face, their patience for tolerating the status quo under the rule of the corruption infested CCM government will eventually run out. Those who have acquired the financial means to move through local landscape and improve their economic conditions also have access to resources and networks to move out of Zanzibar, as some of them are already doing and have done so in the past. 13 Only those Zanzibaris whose present economic circumstances restrict their ability to move will be the ones left behind to take up this new struggle. Consequently, how they acquire the ability to move through re-appropriated spaces now prevalent with the presence of tourism and new commodity consumption based capitalist economy will determine the extent to which they develop dispositions to reconstruct aspects of their identities as Zanzibaris for the future. History of Zanzibar has always been shaped by movements of people into and out of the islands. Facilitated by Indian Ocean trade, the movements of Arabs, Asians, Swahili, Comorians and Africans from mainland brought different groups of people to Zanzibar. It is through the movements of these peoples that notions of ustaarabu emerged for constructing ideas of belonging to the islands. Despite their socio-economic and ethnic differences, ustaarabu provides the means for Zanzibaris to unify within one vision of civilization. With Zanzibar’s prominent status as an entrepôt in Indian Ocean trade, association with practice of Islam within the urban context and proximity to models of Arabness embedded ustaarabu with new meanings for Zanzibaris to maintain or enhance their social positions and status in the local hierarchy. The 1964 Revolution displaced ustaarabu as the means to unify Zanzibaris and imposed new ideas of race for asserting differences between them. The expulsion and social and economic marginalization of non-


Chapter 8

African Zanzibaris after the revolution (Larsen 2004: 127, 131) subsequently alienated over half of the population and created a new paradigm in the Zanzibari identity discourse. New and repressive forms of control exerted by mainland Tanzania during the socialist era severely restricted movement of people into and out of Zanzibar. These restrictions were only lifted with the liberalization of the economy in the mid1980s, marking the end of the socialist period, but maintaining the ideology of revolutionary rule. In the post-socialist era, tourism and the growth of the free market capitalist economy have served as the primary catalysts for facilitating movements of new groups of people to Zanzibar, specifically to Unguja. In addition to tourists arriving on a growing scale, people from Pemba, mainland Tanzania and other parts of Southern Africa have descended upon Zanzibar in pursuit of new economic opportunities. Zanzibaris forced to live in exile after the revolution are also returning to make Zanzibar their home again. Asserting Zanzibar as their true home (see Kaplan 2010), Zanzibaris returning from exile as well as others whose movements were restricted during the socialist era are contesting their identities in the context of changes that have shaped the rule and policies of the revolutionary government over the past 48 years. With the freedom of movement accessible in the post-socialist era, many of these Zanzibaris have re-acquired the dispositions to assert specific, non-African ethnic identities. The prevailing political rhetoric of wazanzibari versus wazanzibara represents one dimension of this struggle for Zanzibaris to distinguish themselves in specific ways within the changing socio-economic and political environment. Ideas of ustaarabu, defined around the centrality of Islam and affiliation to Zanzibar through origins outside Africa, has been revived with new meanings within this milieu. Ideas of being Zanzibari have changed in the past and will change again in the future. The developments discussed throughout this book highlight how new forms of movements through re-appropriated spaces in the post-socialist era facilitate the ability of Zanzibari to articulate various identities and designate different ideas of belonging in Zanzibar. Members of this ethnically diverse society identify themselves as Zanzibaris, and at the same time, also define themselves and are defined by others in numerous other ways. The reproduction of social spaces in the era of tourism and through processes facilitated by the post-socialist environment offers new means for Zanzibaris to move through the local landscape and develop dispositions to distinguish themselves as Zanzibari. Preserving ustaarabu, however defined within different socio-ethnic and economic segments of the society, remains central for negotiating one’s place within this identity discourse. With new modes of strangeness emerging, how Zanzibaris strive or struggle to move and acquire different forms of social capital to maintain ustaarabu within the contem-



porary milieu directly impacts how they reconstitute aspects of their identities and develop new, competing models of Zanzibari culture. Ideas of ustaarabu emerging historically through such processes gave form to the cosmopolitan nature of Zanzibar society before the revolution. In their struggles to move through re-appropriated spaces in the post-socialist era, Zanzibaris are engaged in the process of embedding new meanings for conceptualizing ustaarabu as a means to unify the diverse inhabitants of this society, and in turn, re-establish Zanzibar’s place as the model of cosmopolitan society in the western Indian Ocean. NOTES 1. Saleh 2009: 199 2. I do not mean to suggest that these are the only forms of movements taking place in post-socialist Zanzibar. These are the forms of movement relevant to the issues discussed in this book. 3. Examples includes how Asian Zanzibaris have revived the centrality of Jat for distinguishing themselves from others around them (Keshodkar 2010), the pursuit of parallel and cross cousin marriages among Omani Zanzibaris and the extent to which Swahili Zanzibaris distinguish themselves as Shirazi present and through different periods of history. 4. This group of travelers includes Arabs, Asians, Comorians and Africans 5. Interview, June 2012. 6. According to Seif Hamad, Zanzibar received more than 6 billion TZS per month in tax revenue during the presidency of Salmin Amour, in the 1990s. However, after Karume’s acceptance of harmonization of tariffs with mainland, the government received less than 500 million TZS per month in tax revenue (Burgess 2009: 299), further limiting resources accessible to the government to provide adequate services for citizens in Zanzibar. 7. The present framework of the union would allow the mainland government to control all the revenues from any oil exploration. 8. Traders in Zanzibar have to pay taxes to two bodies, the Zanzibar Revenue Authority as well as the Tanzania Revenue Authority, while those in mainland Tanzania only have to pay taxes to the Tanzania Revenue Authority. 9. Interview, December 2011. 10. Interviews in June 2012. 11. This commission was sanctioned by the passage of the Constitutional Review Act, in 2011. 12. Issues of socio-economic inequalities also contributed to the 1964 Revolution (Sheriff 2001). 13. Many educated professionals and middle class Zanzibaris of non-Arab, nonAsian origin left Zanzibar after the revolution.


TRANSLATION OF KISWAHILI TERMS The translation of the Kiswahili terms below into English is based on how Zanzibari respondents used and explained them to me. A standard definition for the terms, as defined in the Standard Swahili-English Dictionary (Johnson and Madan) will also be given in the parenthesis, where necessary. Adabu: Good behavior (good manners, politeness, proper behavior, courtesy, civility, etiquette) Aibu: Shame (disgrace, dishonor) Ari: Honor Bara: Mainland (reference to mainland Tanzania) Baraza: A social gathering (usually taking place on the bench situated adjacent to the house) Buibui: A black outfit worn over clothing that a Swahili woman in Zanzibar wears to cover their entire body Buibui ya koti:A buibui in a form of a coat Chafu: Dirty (unclean; indecent, obscene) Desturi: Traditions Dini: Religious/normative practices (religion, creed, faith, worship) Haya: Public modesty (Shame, modesty; humility, respect, reverence) Heshima: Respect (honor, dignity, position, rank; respect, courtesy, reverence) Hijabu: Head covering worn by Muslim women Hudumu: Service (usually associated with a government job) Imam(u): Ceremonial leader of a mosque who conducts sermons and leads prayers Isha: Muslim prayers in the night; the last of the five daily prayers Jamaa: Extended family and relatives Kanzu: A robe worn by men Kanga: Two-piece clothing worn by women, decorated with colorful designs and a proverb Kaniki: A dark blue/black outfit historically associated with poor and slave women Kilimba: A turban made of expensive cloth imported and often worn by Omani Arab men 207



Kishamba: Primitive (also anything belonging to plantation or countryside; rustic, boorish, rude of language and manners) Kishuka: Misers (term used by Zanzibaris to refer to backpackers) (pl. Vishuka) Kofia: Cap women by men in Zanzibar Kufuu: Qur’anic injunction prohibiting marriage with a man socially inferior Kujizuia: Self-control Madarasa: Religious school that Muslim children attend (also lesson, class, classroom) Maghribi: Sunset prayers in Islam (also time of sunset) Mahari: Dowry payments, bride price (money or property paid to wife’s relatives) Maisha magumu: Difficult life Majina: Names (pl.), in reference to sayings written on a kanga Makonde: African wood carving artifacts (also a name of a tribe from Southern Tanzania) Malaya: Prostitute Manga: Arabs from Oman, who were not part of the elite class, that migrated to Zanzibar in the nineteenth and twentieth century Manispaa: Municipality Mapinduzi Daima: Motto used by the ruling government, meaning “Revolution Forever” Maridhiano: Reconciliation Masheitani: Spirit possession Masuria: Slave concubines Maulidi: Muslim celebration commemorating the birth of Prophet Muhammad Methali: Proverb Mhindi : A Indian/Asian person (native of India) (pl. Wahindi) Mhuni: A person considered to be a vagabond Mila: Customary practices (habit, traditional) Mlango: Door (figurative use: of a man’s relation to his family, social attitude, circle of acquaintances, branch of family) Mpenzi: Boyfriend/girlfriend (one who is beloved, a dear, favorite) Mshenzi: A Barbaric, uncivilized person (pl. Washenzi) Mswahili: A Swahili person (a general name given to a native of the East coast of Africa, from the Arabic for East coast) (pl. Waswahili) Mstaarabu: A civilized person Mtaa: Neighborhood (division of town, quarter, district) (pl. Mitaa)



Muafaka: Compromise (from the verb, afiki, meaning agreement, pack, bargain) Mwungwana: A term designated to identify members of the original Swahili tribes, having noble birth (pl. Waungwana) Mzanzibari: A Zanzibari person (pl. Wazanzibari) Mzungu: A white/European person (from the noun, uzungu, meaning strangeness, novelty) (pl. Wazungu) Naminifu: Honesty Ng’ambo: The other side; used in reference to development of Zanzibar town on the other side of Stone Town, which was previously divided by a tidal creek Nyumba: House Paapasi: Term used by Zanzibaris to refer to beach boys (cockroach, spirillum tick which infests with spirillum tick fever) Sawahil: Designation for the East African Coast used by Arabs Serikali ya Mapinduzi za Zanzibar (SMZ): The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar Shamba: Rural areas (country as opposed to town, plantation, estate, farm, plot of cultivated ground) Sheha: Village chief (elder, ruler, an important or influential person) Shirazi: Swahili person claiming origins from Shiraz, Iran Uadilifu: Ethics Uamsho: Awakening Uhuni: Vagabondage (from the noun, mhuni, meaning a person who wanders about for no good purpose) Ujamaa: Unity (relationship, kin, brotherhood); also the socialist ideology emphasizing traditional African communalism implemented by Julius Nyerere) Ujirani: Neighborliness Ukoo: Clan (relationship, kinship, affinity, ancestry, pedigree, descent) Ulema: Islamic clergy Usafi: Moral purity Ushenzi: Uncivilized Ustaarabu: Civilization, civilized life (knowledge of things necessary for a civilized life) Utajarisho: Enrichment Utamaduni: Culture Uwezo: Ability, power, capacity, capability, authority, might Vita vya Ngombe: Cattle Riots (in 1951) Wahadimu: Swahili people claiming origins from the island of Unguja Waminifu: Honesty



Wapemba: Swahili people claiming origins from the island of Pemba Watumbatu: Swahili people claiming origins from the island of Tumbatu Wazalia: Reference to slaves in Zanzibar that were Muslims Wazanzibara: Term use to suggest affiliation of Zanzibar to mainland Tanzania Wenye Uwezo: Those who have power Wezi (pl.): Thieves (Sing. Mwezi) Zama za Siasa: Time of Politics, referring to the struggle for independence in the 1950s Zurura: Idleness (to roam aimlessly, cause to visit, often used in the sense of sending on a long errand by giving misleading directions; wander around, waste time)


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abolition, 4, 7, 33, 34, 52n35, 119, 163n39 adabu, 155, 173, 174, 183; See also heshima Africa, mainland. See mainlanders African: descent, 12, 27, 31, 32, 34, 35, 45, 48, 59, 64, 69, 148, 181, 184, 185, 186, 188, 194; racial category, 36, 38, 39, 65, 69, 75, 184, 202; Time of Politics, 4, 38–40; under revolutionary government, 43, 44–45, 47–48, 69, 100, 193; use of term under British rule, 34, 51n27, 51n28. See also ethnicity; mainlanders; race African Association, 38, 50n24 Africanization, 36, 39, 69 Africanness, 45 Afrikan Kwetu, 39 Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP), 38–40, 42, 43, 43–44, 44–45, 46, 46–47, 47, 51n34, 64, 71, 82n35, 202 Afro-Shirazi Union (ASU), 38 Afro-Shirazi Youth League, 41 Aga Khan Trust for Culture, 2, 21n7 agriculture, 15, 55, 58, 71, 77, 84n61, 89, 90, 100, 102, 113, 114, 133n3, 155, 168 aibu, 132, 145 Amour, Salim, 65, 205n6 Anthrax revolt, 1951, 37 anti-colonialism, 4, 36, 37 Arab, 3–4, 10, 12, 22n18, 28–29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35–36, 36, 37, 38, 41–42, 44–45, 45, 48, 49n4, 51n28, 51n29, 51n32, 52n36, 59, 60, 65, 69, 72, 102, 108n29, 118, 119, 131, 143, 144, 148, 152, 158, 162n26, 163n40, 166, 181, 182, 183, 184, 186, 187, 188, 190n31, 202, 203, 205n4; Arab aristocracy, 6, 28–29, 30, 33, 37, 39, 41, 43;

domination of Zanzibar, 29, 38–40, 43, 202; expulsion and marginalization after 1964 revolution, 4, 12, 27, 43–45, 52n44, 53n50, 120, 182; migration, 28, 29–30. See also ethnicity; race Arab ancestry, 7, 22n18, 26, 28, 149, 181, 185, 189n5, 196; significance, 11, 30 Arab Association, 38, 50n24 Arabian Peninsula, 3–4, 10, 11, 27, 30, 59, 80n14, 81n17, 93, 120, 130, 137n54, 149, 176, 190n20 Arabization, 69 Arabness, 34, 148, 165, 181, 186, 197, 203 Arab Springs, 202 Arusha, 2, 21n8, 21n9 Asian Zanzibaris, 3–4, 10, 12, 13, 22n16, 32, 33, 37, 38, 39–40, 41, 45, 48, 51n28, 51n32, 51n34, 53n48, 59, 61–62, 80n13, 81n25, 81n26, 95, 96, 99, 102, 107n18, 108n23, 115, 119, 143, 144, 158, 162n26, 182, 184, 190n35, 195, 203, 205n3, 205n4; expulsionand marginalization after 1964 revolution, 4, 12, 27, 43–45, 52n44, 53n50, 96, 99, 107n18, 120, 168, 182, 190n20; migration, 26–27, 29–30, 50n17, 175; post-socialist era, 59, 61–62, 96, 98–99, 101, 108n29, 115, 118, 136n37, 175–176, 180, 189n18, 189n19, 190n21; under British rule, 34, 36, 50n24 ASP. See Afro-Shirzai Party ASU. See Afro-Shirazi Union Babu, A.M., 40, 42, 52n41, 81n31 Bantu, 27–28




baraza, 15, 23n34, 94, 115, 120, 134n9, 146 beach boys, 1, 15, 21n2, 73, 76, 84n67, 84n68, 85n80, 90, 94, 97, 103–105, 108n33, 109n35, 116–117, 124, 134n11, 137n42, 141, 152, 153, 154, 156–157, 158–159, 164n52, 164n53, 170, 177, 178, 185, 190n25, 199 Bourdieu, Pierre, 5. See also habitus bride price. See mahari British rule, 4, 11, 14, 17, 22n17, 25–26, 27–28, 31–32, 32–36, 40, 43, 47–159, 50n13, 51n30, 51n31, 69, 76, 79n3, 79n5, 81n32, 119, 134n16; colonial rule and general policies, 4, 32, 37, 39, 193; interference in local politics, 39, 40, 52n37; Nationality Decree of 1958, 11–12; privileges for “nonAfricans”, 11, 34; racial policies, 4, 6, 11, 13, 26–27, 32, 34, 35, 38, 51n26, 69 buibui, 141, 148, 148–150, 151, 161n9, 162n26, 162n27, 162n28, 163n29, 163n30, 163n31. See also clothing Busaidi Sultanate, 4, 22n15, 29, 30, 48, 50n14, 51n30 Bwawani Hotel, 142, 151, 161n11 Bwejuu, 82n43 Canada, 95, 115, 118, 137n49 capital, 6, 12, 17, 31, 31–32, 34, 43, 80n15, 88, 92, 93, 95, 96, 99, 105, 108n28, 112, 117, 132, 180, 184, 193, 196; access in post-socialist era, 7, 16, 19, 58, 59, 62, 70, 78, 88, 100, 101, 105, 106, 119, 123, 140, 143, 146, 150, 166, 167, 171–172, 194, 195, 203, 204. See also post-socialist era in Zanzibar; associated to socioeconomic processes, 8, 58, 95, 98, 105, 112, 114, 115, 122, 158 CCM. See Chama Cha Mapunduzi Chama Cha Mapunduzi (CCM), 46, 46–48, 49, 49n3, 53n54, 56, 60, 63, 64, 65, 65–68, 82n37, 82n38, 82n39, 82n40, 118, 121, 124, 129, 131, 135n25, 185, 200, 201–203; corruption, 5, 47, 47–48, 57, 65, 67, 70, 94–95, 104, 200, 201, 203; governance in Zanzibar, 9, 46, 47,

57, 63, 65, 67, 129, 200; mainlandoriented policies, 47, 64, 200, 201; support for mainland and mainlanders, 3, 47, 57, 62, 65, 74, 124, 129 China, 42, 79n1 Christianity, 2–3, 25, 38, 42, 56, 62, 63, 124, 125, 129, 131, 201 Christians. See Christianity; mainlanders citizenship, 11, 23n32, 38, 43–44, 44–45, 63, 81n30 Civic United Front (CUF), 53n54, 64, 65, 66, 68–69, 129, 131, 185, 201–202 civilization. See ustaarabu Clifford, James, 5–6. See also roots; routes clothing, 75, 117, 126, 131, 136n41, 140, 141–142, 147, 148–153, 160, 161n9, 162n25, 162n26, 163n32, 163n33, 163n35, 163n36 cloves, 3–4, 29, 33, 34, 50n17, 53n52, 55, 61, 79n5, 81n22, 113; decline in production, 5, 46, 46–47, 55–56, 71, 84n61, 120, 133n3 coalition government, ZNP-ZPPP, 40 cold war, 42 Commonwealth, British, 66 community, different notions of, 10, 11, 22n26, 35, 39, 42, 50n24, 51n34, 62, 85n77, 98, 104, 120, 122, 123, 124, 128, 133, 137n45, 139, 140, 141, 148, 158, 162n26, 167, 168, 169, 172, 175, 176, 178, 183, 189n19, 195, 197 Comoros, 10, 44. See also Comorians Comorian Zanzibaris, 10, 26–27, 32, 51n26, 51n28, 89, 102, 144, 148, 162n28, 182–183, 203, 205n4 concealment, 132, 142, 145, 146, 148, 150, 158; See also haya; heshima conspicuous commodity consumption, 8–9, 12, 14, 15, 18, 73, 77, 78, 85n90, 85n91, 87, 95, 100, 103, 104, 111, 113–119, 125, 134n8, 141, 143, 146, 149, 162n23, 165, 166, 168, 170, 175, 177, 179, 180, 194, 198, 199, 203. See also modern life constitutional debates, 25, 46–47, 201; three government structure, 46–47,

Index 64, 201 Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), 202, 205n11 contact zone, 14 corruption, 5, 12, 13, 44, 47, 47–48, 57, 63, 64, 67, 70, 72, 73, 74, 83n59, 88, 94, 99, 107n16, 121, 125, 129, 137n54, 151, 200 cosmopolitan, 205 CRC. See Constitutional Review Commission crime, 92, 103, 124 CUF. See Civic United Front culture, 12, 14, 16, 113, 167, 188, 197 cultural associations in Zanzibar, 37, 50n24. See also British rule curio. See curio shops curio shops, 15, 21n10, 73, 84n72, 97, 134n4 Dar es Salaam, 4–5, 22n22, 93, 115, 176 desturi, 4–5, 5 dini, 126, 130. See also Islam in Zanzibar displacement, 12, 13, 170. See also movement divorce, 93, 95, 105, 143, 145, 155, 161n16, 173, 174, 179–180, 183, 184 dress. See clothing drugs, 72, 73, 74, 103, 107n20, 108n33, 126 Dubai, 53n50, 93, 118, 128, 163n30 East Germany, 42 Economic Sabotage Act, 80n13 education, 55, 56, 60, 74, 79n2, 89, 90, 93, 96, 96–97, 100–101, 101, 107n6, 107n9, 108n26, 117–119, 123, 127, 130, 134n12, 134n13, 137n54, 143, 155, 156, 157, 163n43, 168, 171, 172, 173, 174, 177, 188, 196 elections, 18, 25, 39–40, 46–47, 53n49, 57, 64, 65–69, 82n47, 124, 201, 202; elections, 1957, 39; elections, 1961, 40; elections, 1963, 40; elections, 1980, 53n53; elections, 1995, 65, 66, 82n38; elections, 2000, 65–66; elections, 2005, 68; elections, 2010, 68–69; elections, 2015, 69, 202; violence, 18, 25, 40, 52n39, 52n40, 57,


65, 65–66, 67, 68, 82n40, 202 ethnicity, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10–11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22n19, 23n27, 26, 27, 28, 30–31, 32, 36, 37, 38, 39, 43, 44, 48, 51n28, 55, 57, 58–59, 60, 61, 63, 65, 69, 70, 80n9, 81n29, 88, 102, 106, 106n4, 111, 126, 132, 135n21, 136n41, 140, 148, 149, 158, 159, 160, 167, 168, 173, 175, 176, 180, 181, 183, 184, 185, 187–188, 189n6, 193, 194, 195, 196, 202–203, 204. See also African; Arab; race Europe, 41, 73, 80n14, 94, 100, 104, 107n20, 146, 157, 158, 176, 178, 185, 190n20, 191n37. See also Europeans Europeans, 19, 23n32, 32, 41, 51n28, 75, 79n1, 94, 104, 118, 158, 159, 178, 185, 186, 190n26, 190n34, 191n37, 199 expats, 83n57, 94, 118, 134n15, 136n29, 158, 175, 190n26 farming. See agriculture fishing, 15, 71, 73, 77, 89, 90, 114, 134n7, 170, 189n10 foreign aid, reliance on, 47, 55, 56, 66, 67; See also Chama Cha Mapinduzi; revolutionary government Forodhani, 1–3, 21n3–21n6, 62, 92; beach boys, 1–2; conflict with makonde traders, 2–3; food court, 1; history, 1; restoration, 2; struggle for space, 7; tourist activities, 1–2, 13 GDP, Zanzibar. See Gross Domestic Product of Zanzibar gender interaction, 9, 19, 106n3, 127, 133, 142, 145, 150, 153, 154–160, 161n4, 168, 169, 173, 177 between Zanzibari men and nonZanzibari women, 104, 157–158, 164n52, 177, 178; between Zanzibari men and women, 9, 89, 104, 150, 156, 156–157, 173, 174; between Zanzibari women and nonZanzibari men, 159, 164n54; gender segregation, 9, 89, 104, 139, 140, 154, 161n5, 169; inequalities, 143, 158, 159, 173. See also women, Zanzibari



genealogy, 11, 19–20, 30, 165, 166–167, 167, 168, 172, 176, 180, 181, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 189n6, 198 general strike, 1948, 37 gentrification, 18, 108n27, 121, 123 George V, 1 Germany, 95 gerrymandering, 40. See also elections globalization, 7, 99, 113 GNU. See Government of National Unity Goan, 51n28, 81n26, 130, 138n57, 162n26. See also Asians Government of National Unity (GNU), 68, 83n49, 201, 202 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Zanzibar, 67, 71, 84n61, 133n3 Gujarat, 29–30, 50n16. See also Asian Zanzibaris Gurnah, Abdulrazak, 133n1, 201 habitus, 6, 15, 196 Hadimu. See Wahadimu Hadrami, 28–29, 40, 41, 49n4, 49n8, 50n15, 50n19, 61, 89, 144, 158, 176 Hamad, Seif Sheriff, 53n54, 56, 64, 65, 68, 82n33, 83n49, 185, 205n6. See also Civic United Front haya, 19, 90, 126, 131–132, 136n41, 139–160, 168, 169, 170, 198, 199 heshima, 19, 90, 101, 103, 115, 116, 124, 126, 127, 128, 131–132, 136n41, 139–160, 168, 169, 170, 173, 174, 176, 177, 178, 180, 183, 198, 199, 203 hijabu, 143, 148, 149, 150, 151, 161n15, 162n26. See also clothing Hindu, 41, 50n17, 51n34, 53n48, 81n26, 125, 136n41, 162n26, 175. See also Asians House of Representatives, Zanzibar, 46–47, 65, 66, 69, 201 hudumu, 143, 155 hut tax, 34 hypergamy, 19, 166, 181, 184, 187, 189n17. See also marriage practices hypogamy, 19, 167, 181, 183, 184, 186, 187, 199. See also marriage practices

identities, 9–10, 20, 79, 123, 132, 167, 195, 196–197; associated with place, 9–10, 99, 111, 196–197; deterritorialization, 12; shifting, 12, 17, 35, 195, 196. See also movement identity politics in Zanzibar, 3, 11–13, 16, 17, 20, 25, 39, 45–46, 48–49, 58–63, 69–70, 96, 100, 105, 106, 119, 124, 127, 132, 159, 166–167, 168, 170, 172, 176, 179, 180, 182, 184–185, 187–188, 194, 197, 204; disassociation with Africa, 4, 10, 11, 13, 17, 20, 25, 26, 27, 31, 32, 33, 35–36, 45, 48, 49, 59, 61, 64, 70, 124, 165, 168, 176, 180, 181, 184, 185, 188, 194, 197, 198, 204. See also mainlanders; gender, 140, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 150, 153, 154, 159–160, 173–174; see also gender interaction; women, Zanzibari; history of, 11–13, 17, 34–35, 88, 111, 120, 125, 139, 185, 193, 194, 197, 203–204; Swahili; ustaarabu; impact of tourism, 79, 88, 166, 184–186, 187, 199; tourism; multiple identities, 3, 10, 11–13, 26, 125, 195, 204; postsocialist era, 48–49, 57, 59, 61, 63–70, 79, 102, 114, 133, 166, 182, 183, 184, 187–188, 193, 194, 199, 202, 203, 204; post-socialist era; role of government, 43–45, 48, 202–203, 204; See also Chama Cha Mapinduzi; Revolution, 1964; revolutionary government; Time of Politics; Swahili, 6–7, 34–36, 184–185, 186–187, 195; Swahili; Tanzanian union, 3, 4, 25, 46–47, 124, 193–194, 201, 201–202; Tanzanian union idleness. See zurura Imam, 104, 130, 138n58 Imamu. See Imam IMF. See International Monetary Fund immobility. See movement independence struggle, 25–26, 36, 38, 39, 81n32. See also Time of Politics India, 3–4, 96, 97, 99, 100, 107n18, 118, 134n12, 168, 176, 190n20, 190n21 Indian Ocean, 3–4, 7, 48–49, 50n13, 100, 193, 194, 201, 205; trade, 4–5, 27–28,

Index 29, 200, 203 Indians. See Asian Zanzibaris individualism, 12, 111, 114, 145, 168 informal economy, 15, 77, 87, 88, 90, 101, 116, 127, 134n10, 134n4, 137n42, 150, 154, 157, 162n24. See also postsocialist era in Zanzibar; tourism intermarriage, 10–11, 22n14, 26–27, 28–29, 30, 32–33, 35, 49n8, 50n20, 51n25, 53n48, 95, 166, 167, 181, 182, 182–183, 183–184, 185, 186, 189n19, 189n6, 190n36; forced intermarriages after revolution, 44, 181–182, 186, 190n29; marriages between Arab men and Swahili women, 22n14, 23n31, 26–27, 30, 53n48, 166, 181, 185; marriages between Swahili men and European women, 19, 104–105, 109n34, 184–186, 186–187, 191n37, 199; question of race in intermarriages, 11, 19, 181–182. See also marriage practices International Monetary Fund (IMF), 18, 21n12, 56, 57, 64 Iran. See Shirazi Islam in Zanzibar, 7, 14–15, 18–19, 30–31, 34, 38–39, 45–46, 49, 49n9, 50n10, 50n12, 53n51, 60, 62, 64, 81n26, 84n71, 103–104, 105, 111, 120, 125–132, 136n37, 137n43–137n46, 139, 148, 149–152, 154, 160, 169, 179, 181, 194, 198, 201; declinein practice today, 12, 46, 103, 127, 127–128, 170, 199; education, Islamic, 127, 130; formulation of identity in Zanzibar, 12, 60, 90, 111, 124, 128, 133n1, 165, 196, 197. See also identity politics in Zanzibar; ustaarabu; impact of 1964 Revolution, 25–26, 45–46, 60, 125, 129, 136n38, 197; Revolution, 1964; revolutionary government; impact of tourism, 127, 127–128, 128–132, 142, 170, 178; religious obligations, 127, 127–128, 129, 130, 148, 153; revivalism in post-socialist era, 9, 18–19, 104, 112, 124, 125, 127, 128–132, 137n51, 138n59, 138n60, 156, 163n35, 195; secularism, 12;

225 slaves, 31, 50n21, 50n22; slaves; Swahili, 6, 27–28, 30, 49n7, 50n23, 148; Swahili; ustaarabu, 3–4, 60, 193, 203, 204; See also ustaarabu

jamaa, 100, 102, 165, 168, 171, 172, 188n4. See also kinship relations Jambiani, 82n43 Jat, 61, 62, 81n26, 98, 99, 100, 108n24, 108n30, 133, 134n13, 175–176, 182, 189n17, 189n19, 190n20, 195, 205n3. See also Asian Zanzibaris Jubilee Gardens. See Forodhani Jumbe, Aboud, 25, 46, 46–47, 49n1, 49n3, 53n51, 64, 163n36, 201 kanga, 83n56, 149, 152, 162n28, 163n30, 163n31, 163n36, 163n37. See also clothing kanzu, 152, 153, 163n39 Karume, Abeid, 4–5, 22n20, 39–40, 42, 43, 44, 45–46, 46, 47, 52n43, 55, 64, 66, 79n1, 79n2, 81n32, 125, 136n38, 182, 193, 194 Karume, Amani, 3, 21n11, 66, 68, 81n28, 82n39, 83n48, 94–95, 200, 205n6 Kenya, 5, 41, 50n23, 66, 74, 75, 85n77, 93, 116, 118, 128, 137n55, 159, 161n4, 168, 187, 190n20 Khalifa, Sultan, 1 Kilwete, Jakaya, 202 kinship relations, 19, 80n14, 97, 111, 113, 116, 133, 141, 144, 147, 154, 160, 164n55, 165–188, 188n2, 197; marriage practices, 19, 164n55, 173, 181. See also marriage practices; role of family networks, 19, 45, 58, 62, 89, 92, 93, 95, 96, 98, 101–102, 115, 118, 166, 168–169, 170, 171–172, 175, 176, 177, 180, 181, 189n8, 195, 198, 199; networks kishamba, 126 kishuka, 107n20 Kiwengwa, 82n43, 135n19 kujizuia, 132, 163n43 Lamu, Kenya, 85n77, 116, 137n55, 159



Land Distribution Decree of 1965, 43–44 landowners, 32–33, 38, 39–40, 51n30; Omani Arabs, 29; Swahili, 29; debts, 26 leisure class, 76, 77. See also tourists liberalization of the economy, 5, 48, 52n45, 56–57, 58, 78, 80n11, 81n28, 112, 113–119, 179, 183, 194, 195, 198, 204. See also post-socialist era in Zanzibar localization, 13. See also movement love, 19, 104, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 178, 179, 183, 185. See also marriage practices Maasai, 2–3, 75–77, 85n74, 85n75, 94 Mahad Istikamaa, 60, 118, 134n14 mahari, 155, 156, 159, 160, 164n47, 164n49, 171, 177, 178, 179 mainlanders, 16, 21n10, 25, 34–35, 37, 38, 39, 50n24, 56, 70, 75–77, 78, 81n29, 90, 93, 119, 124, 150–151, 153, 157, 168, 185, 193, 197, 202, 203, 205n4; access to land after the revolution, 43–44; antagonism towards them, 57, 61, 62, 63, 65, 75, 75–76, 124, 131, 147. See also religious conflicts and intolerance; as beach boys, 73, 103, 116–117; beach boys; as immigrants, 34–35, 35–36, 50n24, 52n35, 84n72, 93, 120; association with mainland Africa, 39, 96, 124, 131, 190n33, 193; Christians, 2–3, 25, 38, 56, 62, 63, 124, 129, 131, 201; Christianity; religious conflicts; economic opportunities in Zanzibar, 56, 62, 63, 87, 124, 136n36, 154, 162n24, 198, 204; post-socialist era in Zanzibar; employment in tourism, 7, 21n2, 62, 70, 73, 74, 84n72, 90, 142; tourism; laborers, 3–4, 37, 150; living in Unguja, 37, 60, 62, 119, 198; migrationto Zanzibar in postsocialist era, 5, 7, 8, 18, 62, 70, 74, 112, 120, 124, 129, 198, 200, 201, 204; movements through the contemporary Zanzibar landscape,

7, 56, 78, 112, 140, 147, 150, 162n25, 163n33, 163n35, 202; political control in Zanzibar, 47, 129; Tanzanian Union; rights in Zanzibar, 2–3, 38–39; slaves, 3–4, 31, 50n21, 51n29; squatters, 3–4, 38; traders, 2–3, 21n10; post-socialist era in Zanzibar maisha magumu, 58, 200 makonde, 2–3, 21n10, 21n8, 97 malaya, 142 Malindi, Kenya, 116, 117 Manga Arabs, 29, 40, 41, 50n19, 51n32, 174. See also Omani Zanzibaris manispaa, 3 Mapinduzi Daima, 69 maridhiano, 68 marriage practices, 19, 22n14, 23n31, 53n48, 59, 81n18, 91, 93, 95, 98, 104, 109n34, 144, 154, 155–157, 157–158, 159, 160, 164n47, 164n48, 164n55, 165–188, 189n12, 189n17, 189n9, 190n21, 190n22, 190n31; strategies, 19, 160, 168, 169, 171, 172, 172–180, 175, 180, 181, 182, 182–183, 183, 184, 184–187, 186–187, 187, 189n16, 190n27, 190n34, 199, 205n3. See also kinship relations masuria, 30–31. See also slaves Maulidi, 128, 137n48 Mazrui, 29, 50n14 mhuni, 154, 156 Middle East. See Arabian Peninsula mila, 5, 126, 130 mitaa. See mtaa mix blood, 19, 167, 181, 182, 184, 185, 186, 187, 189n6. See also genealogy; marriage practices Mkapa, Benjamin, 68 mobility. See movement modernity, 77, 88, 96, 104, 106, 112, 126, 152, 153, 165, 172, 173, 174, 194. See also modern life modernization, 7, 50n23, 136n41, 166, 174, 185, 187. See also modern life modern life, 6, 14, 15, 18, 77, 78, 85n91, 88, 95, 96, 98, 100, 102, 103, 104–106, 109n35, 111, 112, 114, 116, 126,

Index 137n55, 141, 146, 147, 152, 153, 155, 157, 158, 165, 168, 170, 172, 173, 174, 179, 194, 198, 199 Mombasa, Kenya, 29, 161n4 money laundering, 74 movement, 8, 12–13, 16, 26, 79, 98, 105, 106, 114, 123, 194, 195, 196–197; articulating new identities, 8, 9, 195, 196; culture, 14, 197; different forms, 8, 9, 79, 95, 105, 150, 194, 196, 199; displacement, 12–13; exclusion, 8, 195, 203; immobility, 8, 15–16, 121, 132, 139, 144, 147, 156, 157, 175, 195, 203; localization, 12–13; of others, 12, 196, 197; power, 15, 159, 196; socio-economic mobility, 8–9, 133; through social spaces, 8, 132, 150, 196, 196–197 Mozambique, 21n8, 60, 101, 102 mpenzi, 158, 159, 178 mshenzi, 28 mstaarabu. See ustaarabu mtaa, 119, 120, 122, 132, 142, 144, 146, 178 Muafaka I, 66, 67, 68, 82n44 Muafaka II, 67, 68 Muhsin, Ali, 38, 39, 52n37 multi-party democracy, 18, 20, 57, 63, 64, 69, 80n9, 202–203. See also elections Muscat, 29. See also Oman Mwinyi, Ali Hassan, 46–47, 53n54, 56, 58, 80n7 Mwongozi, 38 mwungwana, 28 Nasser, Gamal Abdel, 39, 52n37 national identity, Zanzibar, 11, 23n32, 25–26. See also identity politics in Zanzibar; Tanzanian Union nationalism, Zanzibar, 38, 48–49. See also independence struggle; Time of Politics Nationality Decree of 1958, 11. See also British rule nationalization, 43–44, 52n44, 52n45, 55. See also revolutionary government National Land Policy, 1995, 73, 82n43


National Party of the Sultan’s Subjects (NPSS), 38 neighborhood. See mtaa neighborliness. See ujirani neo-liberal capitalism, 5–6, 15. See also liberalization of the economy; postsocialist era in Zanzibar networks, 5, 12, 19, 41, 45, 49n8, 58, 62, 67, 70, 80n15, 88, 91, 92, 94, 96, 98–99, 100, 101, 102, 105, 106n2, 108n24, 117, 118–119, 124, 137n49, 165, 166, 168–169, 171–172, 175, 176, 180, 188, 189n8, 195, 198, 199, 200, 203. See also kinship relations; political patronage Ng’ambo, 37, 51n31, 119–121, 134n16, 135n23, 137n44 nomadism, 13. See also identities NPSS. See National Party of the Sultan’s Subjects Nungwi, 82n43, 127, 135n19, 135n24, 189n10 Nyerere, Julius, 4–5, 22n20, 42, 46–47, 52n42, 52n43, 56, 64, 79n1, 80n6, 80n7, 81n32, 193 Okello, John, 41, 42, 52n41 Oman, 22n18, 29, 30, 42, 45–46, 59, 60, 81n17, 93, 145, 146, 175, 183, 189n16 Omani rule, 6, 11, 14, 16, 25–26, 26, 28–30, 32, 34, 38, 43, 49n4, 50n13, 71. See also Busaidi Sultanate Omani Zanzibaris, 6, 13, 22n15, 27, 29, 30, 37, 38, 49n4, 49n8, 50n19, 59, 60, 81n18, 93, 95, 101, 118, 130, 136n37, 144, 145, 148, 162n26, 162n28, 163n40, 174, 175, 180, 182, 183, 190n32, 205n3. See also Arabs Organization of Islamic Conference, 25 Paje, 82n43 Pan-Africanism, 4, 38, 197 Pan-Arab, 39 peasantry, 33, 43–44, 119, 148 Pemba, 1, 10, 21n6, 29, 34–35, 35–36, 40, 41, 43–44, 45, 50n18, 51n28, 59, 60, 65, 66, 68, 81n21, 81n22, 82n36, 82n43, 89, 107n5, 120, 133n3, 155, 168, 176, 183, 190n22, 200, 202, 204;



class stratification, 37; landowners, 29; relations between different ethnic groups, 29, 30, 32, 33, 37, 45, 51n25, 61; underdevelopment after the revolution, 45, 49n6, 53n49, 61, 81n20, 89. See also Revolution, 1964; revolutionary government; Wapemba Petterson, Donald, 41 plantations. See landowners political patronage, 70, 88, 93, 94–95, 96, 97, 102, 118, 120, 137n54, 143, 200; See also Chama Cha Mapinduzi; corruption Portuguese, 29, 50n13, 102 post-socialist era in Zanzibar, 5, 6–7, 9, 12, 14, 15–16, 16, 18, 21n12, 48–49, 56–57, 117–118, 119, 139, 156–157, 194, 195, 200, 204–205, 205n2; access to new forms of capital, 6–7, 7, 8, 99, 102, 118, 121–122, 127, 139, 156, 166, 171–172, 188, 194, 204. See also capital; acquisition of new socioeconomic dispositions, 9, 18, 48, 78, 96, 98, 105, 115, 119, 122–123, 128, 132, 140, 141, 143, 146, 149, 150, 153, 155, 156, 160, 166, 168, 172, 180, 183–184, 186, 187, 188, 193, 194, 195, 203, 204; capital; cost of living, 56, 58, 80n12, 86n92, 87, 102, 108n31, 113, 114, 134n5, 135n27, 163n30, 177, 200; demographics of Zanzibar, 5, 18, 112, 120, 121, 123, 135n19, 135n20, 136n37; displacement of Zanzibaris, 13, 18, 70, 112, 123, 131, 156, 165, 170, 172, 177, 180, 186, 195, 198, 200; economic hardships, 12, 18, 20, 55, 58, 70, 74, 76, 77, 81n18, 85n84, 88, 89, 91, 92, 95, 98, 100, 101, 102, 103, 106, 112, 113, 123, 126, 127, 132, 139, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 147, 149, 151, 154, 155, 157, 159, 164n46, 165, 168, 171, 174, 176, 177, 179, 180, 183, 188, 189n11, 195, 198, 199, 201, 203; economic opportunities, 12, 15, 18, 48, 58, 89–92, 98, 101, 112, 141, 143, 168, 173, 200, 204; gender interaction, 9, 19; gender interaction; government policies, 27,

57, 131; revolutionary government; immobility of Zanzibaris, 9, 12, 15, 16, 131, 151, 156, 172; movement; impact of family networks, 12, 58, 170–172; kinship relations; networks; interaction between Zanzibaris and non-Zanzibaris, 9, 57, 124; gender interaction; mainlanders; tourists; Islamic revivalism, 9, 104, 127, 128–132, 195; Islam in Zanzibar; movement of women, 12, 19, 70, 89, 133, 139–160, 171, 179–180; gender interaction; women, Zanzibari; neo-liberal capitalism, 5, 15, 58; liberalization of the economy; new discourses of power, 9, 147, 159, 183; capital, power; political discourse, 25, 57, 63, 63–70, 81n31, 95, 100, 104, 124, 131, 166, 187, 193, 200–201, 201–203, 204; See also Chama Cha Mapinduzi; elections; revolutionary government; Tanzanian union; wazanzibari; return of those living in exile, 56, 58–59, 130, 175, 185, 189n15, 201, 204; revival of trade, 48; socio-economic inequalities, 12, 18, 58, 70, 78, 106, 112, 113, 117, 118, 121, 129, 171, 174, 175, 198, 199, 203; socio-economic mobility, 9, 14, 105, 117, 118, 122, 126, 133, 144, 153, 155, 157, 171–172, 173; tourism, 12, 70–79, 151–152, 173, 178, 187–188; tourism; unemployment, 58, 67, 74, 85n87, 87, 90, 97, 101, 102, 105, 107n11, 107n7, 117, 129, 141, 143, 151, 156, 157, 162n24, 168, 169, 170, 171, 173, 174, 177, 179 poverty, 12, 18–19, 47–48, 67, 77, 85n84, 87, 96, 98, 102, 112, 114, 116, 117, 122, 123, 129, 137n50, 155, 162n23, 168, 169, 174, 175, 176, 178, 180, 184, 194, 195, 199, 200, 203. See also postsocialist era in Zanzibar power, 9, 126, 147, 157, 165, 168, 169, 172, 173, 183; acquisition of new dispositions, 9, 78, 151, 182, 186, 196; identity construction, 9, 147; movement, 15, 16, 159, 169, 194, 195,

Index 196. See also movement prostitution, 76, 84n72, 85n75, 85n79, 90, 124, 131, 136n36, 150, 151, 154, 157, 162n23, 163n32, 163n34, 163n35, 164n51. See also gender interaction; malaya public modesty. See haya and heshima race, 4, 16, 25–26, 30, 32, 34, 36, 36–43, 43, 48, 51n31, 60, 63, 69, 70, 81n31, 111, 140, 181, 182, 185, 187, 190n32, 193, 197, 202, 203. See also African; ethnicity; intermarriage; marriage practices; Revolution, 1964; revolutionary government; socialist era religious conflicts and intolerance, 3, 130–132, 138n56, 138n59, 138n60, 201. See also Islam in Zanzibar; mainlanders; post-socialist era in Zanzibar remittance, 58, 85n85, 102, 108n29, 145, 146, 149, 161n21, 169, 180, 183. See also kinship relations; networks respect/respectability. See haya and heshima Revolution, 1964, 4, 6, 14, 16, 17, 26, 27, 36, 41–43, 57, 59, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 71, 72, 82n39, 90, 99, 100, 111, 120, 122, 124, 182, 183, 185, 186, 187–188, 193, 200, 201, 202, 203, 205, 205n12, 205n13; defining citizenship in Zanzibar, 11–12; domination of mainland Africa, 12, 27, 43, 188; establishing Zanzibar as an African state, 43, 66, 69, 197, 202; expulsion of Arabs and Asians, 4, 12, 25–26, 27, 53n50, 203; oppression of Swahili Zanzibaris, 27, 45, 61, 203; paradigm of race, 4, 16, 25–26, 203; violence, 41–42, 44, 52n41, 52n42, 57, 182, 183. See also identity politics in Zanzibar Revolutionary Council. See Zanzibar Revolutionary Council revolutionary government, 23n32, 26, 43, 45–46, 46, 47–48, 53n47, 55, 58, 61, 63, 71, 74, 79n4, 93, 94, 99, 100, 108n24, 118, 129, 135n17, 135n28,


194, 197, 204; failings, 60, 63, 79n3, 125, 127, 129, 131, 151, 197, 198; manipulation of ethnic and racial identities, 48, 58, 66, 69, 202; reliance on aid, 47, 56; See also Chama Cha Mapundizi;Serikali ya mapunduziza Zanzibar; Tanzanian Union roots, 6, 13, 15, 16, 17, 32, 34–35, 35, 36, 96, 100, 105, 127, 132, 180, 184, 185, 187, 188, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197 routes, 6, 13, 15, 16, 17, 31–32, 32, 34–35, 49, 59, 88, 96, 100, 103, 105, 112, 119, 125, 127, 132, 166, 179, 180, 184, 185, 187, 188, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 199 Said, Sultan, 29 SAPs. See Structural Adjustment Programs Sawahil, 30 secularism, 12, 125, 126, 129, 198 Serikali ya mapunduziza Zanzibar (SMZ), 23n32, 69. See also CCM; revolutionary government shamba, 44, 73, 94, 97, 100, 107n20, 113, 134n4, 136n30, 143, 168, 171 sheha, 178 Shein, Ali Mohamed, 68 Shihiri Arabs, 30, 40, 50n15, 50n19, 51n32 Shirazi, 10–11, 13, 23n27, 23n28, 31–32, 34–35, 35–36, 39, 42, 45, 48, 49n5, 51n29, 53n55, 61, 65, 69, 80n16, 93, 100, 118, 134n11, 145, 148, 183, 184, 185, 195, 205n3. See also British rule; Swahili Shirazi Association, 38, 50n24. See also cultural associations in Zanzibar shock therapy, 56. See also Structural Adjustment Programs slavery. See slaves slaves, 3–4, 14, 28, 31, 39, 50n21, 52n36, 119, 139, 148, 185; from mainland Africa, 3–4, 29–30, 32, 51n29 SMZ. See Serikali ya mapunduziza Zanzibar socialism. See socialist era socialist era, 4–5, 14, 17, 18, 21n12, 27, 35, 43, 48, 48–49, 52n45, 53n47, 55,



57, 79n1, 82n36, 85n89, 96, 99, 117, 124, 125, 127, 130, 142, 151, 182, 187, 194, 199, 204 social space: access to movement, 1–2, 7, 12, 15–16, 88, 115, 116, 133, 197; power relations, 8, 196; private space, 6–7, 10–11, 22n26, 98, 100, 102, 106, 112, 119, 122, 123, 126, 132, 133, 140, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 153, 160, 166, 167, 175, 182, 186, 188, 195, 197; production and consumption, 8, 117, 170; public space, 6–7, 10–11, 22n26, 98, 100, 106, 112, 127, 132, 133, 140, 141, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 150, 153, 154, 157, 160, 167, 168, 169, 172, 173, 179, 183, 186, 188, 195, 197; re-appropriation, 18, 36, 48, 48–49, 57, 78, 88, 98, 106, 123, 133, 140, 146, 147, 159, 172, 173, 180, 184, 187, 194–195, 195, 196, 198, 199, 203, 204; western notions, 122. See also movement South Asia, 10, 80n14, 120. See also Indians, Asian Zanzibaris Soviet Union, 42 squatters, 3–4, 33, 40, 43–44. See also mainlanders Stone Town. See Zanzibar Stone Town strangeness, 5, 15, 16, 18, 89, 105, 106, 111–112, 114, 119, 124–125, 126, 132, 133, 193, 199, 204 Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), 56 Swahili, 6, 10–11, 12, 13, 17, 22n14, 23n27, 26, 27, 27–29, 30, 31–32, 34, 35–36, 37, 45, 47–48, 49n7, 51n25, 65, 71, 102, 109n34, 118, 143, 144, 148–149, 150, 152, 156, 158, 160, 162n28, 165, 166, 176, 180, 181, 182, 182–183, 184, 185, 186–187, 190n32, 195, 203, 205n3; African descent, 31–32, 32, 45, 187; Arab ancestry, 28, 35, 49n8, 189n5; as form of selfidentification, 10–11; association with communities from the East African coast, 10, 28–29, 30; association with slavery, 11, 26, 27–28, 31, 34–35, 162n28. See also slaves; culture and language, 3–4,

10, 11, 23n27, 23n29, 27, 49n7, 88, 160n1, 161n4; derogatory term, 10–11; divisions during Time of Politics, 39; Time of Politics; identifying themselves as Arabs, 6–7; in Zanzibar, 10–11; Islam, 27–28, 34, 50n23, 127; kinship, 165, 166, 168; rejection of identity, 10–11, 13, 31–32, 80n16, 93, 185–186; relationship to urbanity, 28, 148; social mobility, 34, 144, 148; term of reference for others, 10–11, 36; term used by African ex-slaves, 11; British rule; identity politics in Zanzibar; Islam in Zanzibar Tanganyika, 4–5, 22n20, 22n22, 25, 42, 46–47, 193 Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), 46, 47, 64 TANU. See Tanganyika African National Union Tanzanian Friendship Tourist Bureau, 71, 83n56 Tanzanian Shilling (TZS), 58, 79n3, 80n12, 156, 205n6; devaluation, 80n12, 85n85, 87, 190n24 Tanzanian Union, 4, 8–9, 12, 14, 16, 20, 25, 42, 46, 49, 49n2, 57, 63, 64, 68, 69, 70, 80n9, 124, 129, 187, 194, 198, 200–202, 204, 205n7; constitutional reform, 69, 202; controversies, 8–9, 12, 23n33, 25, 46–47, 48–49, 52n43, 64, 80n10, 111, 201, 202; economic issues, 3, 46, 46–47, 200, 201, 205n6, 205n8; formation, 4, 22n21, 42, 64, 81n32; reliance on mainland Tanzania, 46, 47, 55, 200, 201; secession, 69, 201; single party rule, 46, 47; two government structure, 46, 49n2, 64; Zanzibaris as different from Tanzanians, 48–49, 124; Zanzibar’s autonomy, 8–9, 12, 23n33, 42–43, 62, 64, 69, 104, 111, 124, 129, 200, 201, 202; Zanzibar’s political subjugation, 3, 46, 47, 57, 64, 69, 187, 200–201; See also Chama Cha Mapundizi; constitutional debates; identity politics in

Index Zanzibar; revolutionary government Time of Politics, 4, 36–43, 57, 111, 135n21, 181, 197, 203. See also independence struggle tourism, 5, 13, 15, 16, 20, 22n25, 48, 49, 56, 58, 67, 68, 70–79, 83n53, 99, 100, 103, 105, 111, 113, 114, 116–117, 120, 125, 126, 127–128, 128, 130–131, 131–132, 134n7, 141–142, 142, 150, 151, 153, 154, 157–159, 160, 169, 173, 183, 185, 186, 187–188, 195, 198, 199, 200, 201, 203, 204; corruption, 67, 83n59; cultural tourism, 71; development, 5, 13, 22n25, 48, 71, 72–74, 82n43, 83n57, 87, 97, 200; displacement of Zanzibaris, 13, 15, 77, 79, 88, 105, 113, 121, 125, 129, 132, 151; domination in postsocialist era, 6–7, 15, 18, 142, 151, 158, 198, 201, 203, 204; employmentopportunities and work environment, 6, 15, 18, 71, 74, 78, 84n71, 85n86, 86n92, 87, 89–92, 101, 102, 106n1, 107n9, 113, 114, 116–117, 123, 137n42, 141–142, 142, 151, 154, 155, 161n12, 161n8, 178, 188, 195; foreign investors, 70, 72, 73, 74, 84n70, 97, 121, 158, 178; impact on local women, 133, 141–142, 142, 150–152. See also women, Zanzibari; import of goods and commodities, 78, 92, 107n14, 107n15, 113, 114, 133n3; income for the state, 70, 72, 77, 83n59, 84n69; informal sector, 77, 87, 88; informal economy; interaction between locals and foreigners, 6, 13, 77, 158; tourists; youth, Zanzibari; investments, 56, 67, 70, 72, 73, 80n8, 82n43, 85n83, 94, 107n12, 178; Italians, 73, 74, 76, 103; movement of tourists, 7, 12, 76, 77; tourists; package tourism, 70, 72, 73, 77, 84n64; seasonal nature of tourism, 87, 90, 92, 103, 107n10, 117, 136n30, 141, 189n10; sex tourism, 72, 73, 75, 76, 85n75, 116, 126, 136n36, 157–159, 164n52, 190n25; beach boys; socio-


economic mobility, 88; unregulated growth, 13, 67, 72–74, 121, 129, 151; post-socialist era in Zanzibar; tourists tourist gaze, 75, 97, 142 tourists, 1, 5, 7, 22n24, 56, 67, 71, 73, 75–76, 84n65, 92, 93, 97, 108n33, 113, 114, 122, 126, 147, 151, 153, 162n25, 184, 186, 204; arrivals, 5, 22n24, 56, 70, 71, 72, 82n46, 83n52, 83n59, 94, 107n20, 198; backpackers, 73, 77, 107n20–108n21; behavior, 76, 85n88, 107n20–108n21, 126, 127–128, 147, 150, 151–152, 164n52, 164n53; displacement, 13; interaction with locals, 13, 19, 71, 93, 102, 103, 109n35, 114, 116, 142, 151, 153, 157–159, 164n52, 164n53, 164n54, 170, 177, 178, 188, 190n25, 190n34, 199; liminality, 13; models of modernity/modern life, 77, 85n91, 88, 103, 126, 152, 153. See also modern life; movement through the local landscape, 7, 12, 71, 78, 140, 178, 198; power of money over locals, 13, 76, 77, 78, 113, 126, 151, 152, 198; social centrality, 13; postsocialist era in Zanzibar; tourism trade, 4–5, 28, 48, 193, 200, 200–201, 203, 205n8 Tumbatu, 10, 34. See also Watumbatu TZS. See Tanzanian Shilling uadilifu, 160n1 Uamsho, 104, 129, 137n51, 137n52, 201–202 Uganda, 41, 74 uhuni. See mhuni Ujamaa, 56, 79n1, 79n5 ujirani, 15–16, 120, 122, 123, 124 ukoo, 93, 102, 133, 168, 188n2, 189n7 ulema, 28, 45, 46. See also Islam in Zanzibar Umma Party, 40, 41, 42 UNDP. See United Nations Development Program Unguja, 1, 29–30, 33, 35–36, 40, 41, 42, 43–44, 45, 50n18, 60, 61, 65, 66, 68, 82n43, 89, 101, 120, 131, 155, 168,



176, 178, 180, 191n37, 202, 204; class stratification, 37, 51n25; relations between different ethnic groups, 29–30, 32, 37, 45, 51n33. See also identity politics in Zanzibar United Kingdom, 35, 42, 144 United Nations Development Program (UNDP), 73 United States, 42, 67 urbanization, 18–19, 28, 34, 112, 119, 119–125, 135n18, 135n25, 136n32, 136n33, 139; after abolition, 33, 37, 119; after revolution, 44, 53n47, 120; post-socialist era, 112, 119, 120, 121, 123–124, 124. See also post-socialist era in Zanzibar usafi, 185, 189n6 ushenzi, 61, 75 ustaarabu, 4–6, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 26, 30, 36, 38, 43, 45–46, 48–49, 60, 61, 70, 106, 111, 113, 119, 125, 139, 148, 150, 155, 160, 160n1, 165–167, 171, 172, 176, 179, 180, 184, 185, 187, 193, 197, 198, 200, 203; association with African identity, 25–26; association with Arab identity, 7, 38, 165; contested models, 5–6, 16, 181, 193, 202; emerging formulations in postsocialist era, 5–6, 15, 25–26, 70, 79, 132, 166, 187, 188, 194, 197, 198, 199, 204–205; emphasis on race, 4–5, 11, 11–12, 43, 193, 203; historical formulations, 3–4, 14, 16, 166, 193, 198, 203, 205; Islam, 3–4, 7, 16, 30, 45–46, 60, 125, 127, 132, 170, 203, 204; preserving, 8, 20, 140, 157, 172, 193, 198, 199, 204. See also identity politics in Zanzibar; Islam in Zanzibar; post-socialist era in Zanzibar utajarisho, 64, 82n34 utamaduni, 4–5, 5, 8, 15, 106, 126, 150, 160n1, 193, 194; See also ustaarabu uwezo, 121, 148 vishuka. See kishuka Vita vya Ngombe, 37

Wahadimu, 10–11, 13, 23n27, 27, 31–32, 35, 35–36, 43–44, 49n5, 51n33, 60, 65, 93, 127, 134n11, 180, 183 waminifu, 160n1 Wapemba, 10–11, 13, 23n27, 27, 31–32, 35, 35–36, 45, 60–61, 65, 68, 69, 89, 91, 102, 118, 131, 134n12, 138n62, 176, 180, 190n22 washenzi, 50n21, 197; See also ushenzi waswahili. See Swahili Watumbatu, 10–11, 13, 23n27, 27, 31–32, 35, 35–36, 45 wazalia, 50n21 wazanzibara, 4–5, 25, 48–49, 70, 187, 204 wazanzibari, 4–5, 5, 25–26, 27, 48–49, 63, 70, 112, 185, 187, 198, 204. See also identity politics in Zanzibar; Tanzanian Union waungwana, 28, 31. See also Swahili wenyeu wezo, 15–16, 120 wezi, 2 women, Zanzibari, 9, 19, 70, 85n79, 89, 90, 133, 139–160, 169, 171, 173, 179–180, 190n36, 195; education, 143, 154–156, 157, 159, 160, 161n13, 162n24, 163n43, 173–174, 177, 199; employment, 90, 141–142, 142, 143, 150, 151, 154, 155, 156, 159, 160, 161n20, 162n24, 171, 173, 176, 199; empowerment, 19, 142, 143, 144, 145, 147, 154, 157, 159, 160, 173, 189n13; leaving home for work, 12, 133, 139, 141, 144, 159, 160, 169, 171, 172; movement in public spaces, 140, 141, 142, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 149–150, 150, 152, 154, 159, 168, 169, 172, 179, 183; sexuality, 139, 146, 152, 154, 157, 158, 164n50; social standing, 141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 149, 150, 152, 153, 156, 156–157, 169, 171, 173, 177, 179, 184; struggles, 147, 149, 155, 159, 164n48, 169, 171, 173, 179, 189n13; tourism, 88, 91, 141–142, 151, 152, 154–155, 161n12, 189n10. See also education; gender interaction; identity politics in Zanzibar; post-socialist era in Zanzibar; tourism World Bank, 18, 56, 80n6

Index World Heritage, 94, 121 World Tourism Organization (WTO), 73, 84n63 WTO. See World Tourism Organization Yemen, 22n18, 27, 28, 29, 107n5. See also hadrami Yorubi, 29 youth, Zanzibari, 1, 12, 21n2, 74, 94, 100–105, 108n32, 116–117, 117, 127, 130, 134n11, 146, 152, 153, 170, 177, 178, 199; abandoning cultural obligations, 12, 103, 116, 127, 170, 199. See also Zanzibari culture; drugs, 103; drugs; economic hardships, 12, 74; interaction with tourists, 12, 102, 103, 104, 109n34, 109n35, 116–117, 152, 152–153, 170, 178, 199; marginalization in society, 87, 116, 157, 177, 199; unemployment, 101, 102, 103, 105, 116, 170; beach boys; gender interaction; post-socialist era in Zanzibar; poverty; tourism; tourists; unemployment Zanzibar: as an African state, 43, 43–48; population in post socialist era, 5, 101, 112, 120, 124, 135n19, 135n20 Zanzibar and Pemba Peoples Party (ZPPP), 40 Zanzibar Association for Tourism Investors (ZATI), 22n24, 84n60 Zanzibar Commission for Tourism, 5, 71, 82n41 Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC), 66, 68, 82n37, 82n38, 82n44, 124 Zanzibari culture, 12, 14, 16, 74, 76, 95, 125, 128, 131, 152, 163n36, 176, 188,


197, 198, 205; cultural and moral decay, 74, 76, 92, 104, 124, 132, 140, 150, 157, 170; dying, 8–9, 12, 132, 170; impact of tourism, 12, 74, 75–76, 126, 129, 131, 151, 198; See also haya; heshima; Islam in Zanzibar; ustaarabu Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency (ZIPA), 67, 72, 82n42, 84n60, 84n70 Zanzibarization, 36, 69 Zanzibar National Party (ZNP), 38–41, 51n34, 52n37, 65, 82n35, 202 Zanzibar Revolutionary Council, 42, 46–47, 53n54, 128, 182 Zanzibar Stone Town, 1, 37, 42, 51n30, 51n31, 52n42, 61, 71, 72, 75, 82n43, 91, 93, 94, 101, 108n21, 108n27, 108n33, 119–120, 121–122, 126, 134n16, 135n17, 135n21, 135n27, 135n28, 136n34, 138n60, 142, 161n11, 161n12, 161n14, 184 Zanzibar Town, 21n3, 33, 37, 41, 44, 53n47, 59, 60, 112, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123, 130, 134n16, 135n18, 135n19, 135n20, 143, 156, 158, 191n37. See also Ng’ambo; urbanization Zanzibar University, 60, 134n14, 137n54 ZATI. See Zanzibar Association for Tourism Investors ZEC. See Zanzibar Electoral Commission ZIPA. See Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency ZNP. See Zanzibar National Party ZPPP. See Zanzibar and Pemba Peoples Party zurura, 144, 154

About the Author

Akbar Keshodkar is assistant professor of anthropology in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Zayed University, in Dubai, UAE. His research interests include movements of identities in Muslim communities across the western Indian Ocean.