Fifty Years of the Union: the Relevance of Religion in the Union and Zanzibar Statehood Debate

  • Japhace Poncian University of Dar es Salaam


On 26 April 1964 Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form the United Republic of Tanzania. Though with many challenges, this Union has survived for a period of 50 years and remains the only one in Africa. Yet, one of the challenges facing the Union is the fact that, of recent, some groups and individuals in Zanzibar have labelled it as a barrier towards their statehood and the quest to join the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation and other international organisations. Using UAMSHO public lectures in Zanzibar and other evidence from literature, this article asserts that religion plays a very significant role to unite Zanzibaris against the perceived injustices, immoralities and economic marginalisation that the Union has allegedly inflicted on Zanzibar.  For the Union to survive the current challenges there is a need to open it up for public debate to address all issues that confront it.


Abdullah, M. 2009. Julius Nyerere: the west's ultimate anti-Islamic warrior in post-colonial Africa. (accessed: January 14, 2014).

Adenrele, A. R. 2012. “Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria as a symptom of poverty and political alienation”, IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(5): 21-26.

Adesoji, A. 2010. “The Boko Haram Uprising and Islamic Revivalism in Nigeria”, Africa Spectrum, 45(2): 95-108.

Al-Zinjibari, K. M. R. n.d. Nyerere against Islam in Zanzibar and Tanganyika. and.html (accessed: January 14, 2014).

Aminzade, R. 2013. Race, Nation, and Citizenship in Post-Colonial Africa: the Case of Tanzania. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bakari, M.A. 2000. “The Union Between Tanganyika and Zanzibar Revisited” in Engel, U., G. Erdmann, and A. Mehler (eds.) Tanzania Revisited: Political Stability, Aid Dependency and Development Constraints, Institut fur Afrika-Kunde: Hamburg.

Benson, I. 1989. ‘‘Iran: Some Angles on the Islamic Revolution“, The Journal of Historical Review 9, 2: 141-175.

Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. 2013. Religion and Conflict Case Study Series: Sudan: Race and Religion in Civil War. (accessed: February 26, 2014).

Bill, J.A. 1982. “Power and Religion in Revolutionary Iran“, The Middle East Journal, 36(1): 22-47.

Brents, B.G. and Mshigeni, D.S. 2004. “Terrorism in Context: Race, Religion, Party and Violent Conflict in Zanzibar”, The American Sociologist, 35(2): 60-74.

Cameron, G. 2002 “Zanzibar’s Turbulent Transition”, Review of African Political Economy, 29(92): 313-30.

Domke, D. M. 1997. Civil War in the Sudan: Resources or Religion? (accessed: February 26, 2014).

Haynes, J. 2005. “Islamic Militancy in East Africa”, Third World Quarterly, 26 (8): 1321-39.

Heilman, B. E. and Kaiser, P. 2002. “Religion, Identity and Politics in Tanzania”, Third World Quarterly, 23 (4): 691-709.

Jumbe, A. 1994. The Partner-ship: Tanganyika Zanzibar Union: 30 Turbulent Years. Dar es Salaam: Amana Publishers.

Kaiser, P. J. 1999. “Power, Sovereignty, and International Election Observers: The Case of Zanzibar”, Africa Today, 46 (1): 29-46.

Liviga, A. and Tumbo-Masabo, Z. 2006. “Muslims in Tanzania: Quest for an Equal Footing” in Mukandala, R. et al (eds.), Justice, Rights and Worship: Religion and Politics in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: E&D Ltd.

Mfumo Kristo Blogspot. 2012. Jikumbushe: Muungano ni kichaka cha Mfumo Kristo? (accessed: January 14, 2014).

Msuya, E. 2012. “Warioba: Ni ruksa kujadili Muungano”, Mwananchi, June 19. (accessed: January 15, 2014).

Mujahiduun. 2011. Hatima ya Tanzania na Mfumo Kristo. (accessed: December 3, 2013).

Mutch, T. 2012. Zanzibar and the Mainland: The Shaky State of the Union. (accessed: January 13, 2014).

Mwakikagile, G. 2008. The Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar: Product of The Cold War? New Africa Press: Pretoria.

Mwangulumbi, J. 2012. “Ukaidi wa CCM utaiwasha moto Z’bar [Zanzibar]”, MwanaHalisi, June 6. December 21, 2013).

Sadallah, M. 2012. “Zanzibar yachafuka”, Nipashe, May 28 (accessed: January 15, 2014).

Said, M. 1989. Islam and Politics in Tanzania. (accessed: December 22, 2013).

Sandenbergh, H. A. 2006. How Religious is Sudan’s Religious War? Assignment presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy (Political Management) at the University of Stellenbosch.

Shivji, I. 2008. Pan-Africanism or Pragmatism? Lessons of the TanganyikaZanzibar Union. Mkuki na Nyota Publishers: Dar Es Salaam.

Tanzanian Affairs. 2008. OIC-Will Tanzania Join? Issue 89. (accessed: January 14, 2014).

Tordoff, W. 1965. “Politics in Tanzania”, The World Today 21(8): 351-60.

Tume ya Mabadiliko ya Katiba. 2013a. Takwimu za Ukusanyaji wa Maoni ya Wananchi Kuhusu Madabiliko ya Katiba ya Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania. (accessed: February26, 2014).

Tume ya Mabadiliko ya Katiba. 2013b. Rasimu ya Katiba ya Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania. Mpiga Chapa Mkuu wa Serikali, Dar es Salaam, January 13, 2014.

UAMSHO. 2012a. Kwa Nini Tunaukataa Muungano Huu. (accessed: January 8, 2014).

UAMSHO. 2012b. Ubaya wa Muungano: Muhadhara Maalum Ulioandaliwa na Jumuia ya UAMSHO Kiwanja cha Alabama Zanzibar, Tar. 23/03/2012. (accessed: December 21, 2013).

UAMSHO. 2012c. Huu si Muungano ni Ukoloni. (accessed: January 8, 2014).

Vale, R. J. 2011. Is the Sudan conflict best understood in terms of race, religion, or regionalism? (accessed: February 26, 2014).

VPO. 2009. Historia ya Muungano wa Tanganyika na Zanzibar: Historia, Sababu na Hati za Muungano. (accessed: December 2, 2013).

Walker, A. 2012. What Is Boko Haram?: Special Report 308 (accessed: February 26, 2014).

Wilson, A. 1989. “Revolution and the 'Foreign Hand' in Tanzania”, Economic and Political Weekly, 24(19): 1031-33.