TODAY, April 26, 2017, Tanzanians willy-nilly ‘celebrate’ yet another ‘public holiday,’ which gives them the option to either wallow lazily, hazily through the day – or, at best, to engage in some private/personal income-generating activity!
This is on the back of the 53rd Anniversary of the quasi socio-econo-politicocultural Union that brought together on April 26, 1964 the hitherto Isles Republic of Zanzibar and the Tanganyika Republic on the Mainland.
Named the ‘United Republic of Tanganyika & Zanzibar’ (TanZam) on the spur of the moment, the new ‘nation’ was six months later renamed the ‘United Republic of Tanzania’ (URTz). Today, it’s popularly known as ‘Tanzania’ –for better or for worse! The unification date was declared a public holiday, christened ‘Union Day.’
This is celebrated with parades and glowing speeches by principal Government officials in regional administrative metropolises countrywide –including the de facto capital Dar es Salaam and the political capital, Dodoma... Not forgetting Zanzibar City in the semi-autonomous Union Partner-nation across the Zanzibar Channel a stone’s throw into the Indian Ocean! Historians tell us that European explorers and colonialists penetrated the African interior from Zanzibar in the second half of the 19th century.
In the Year-1885, Germany established for itself the Deutsch- OstAfrika ‘Protectorate’ (German East-Africa, comprising Tanganyika, and Ruanda and Urundi) under Karl Peters as Commissioner. The Zanzibar Sultan of the day objected – and German warships threatened to bombard his Palace.
Britain and Germany carved up the Mainland into spheres of influence for themselves – and the Sultan perforce acquiesced, with Zanzibar becoming a British Protectorate in 1890. *[See **Farwell, Byron.‘The Great War in Africa, 1914–1918.’ New York: W. W. Norton & Company. 1989. ISBN 0-393-30564- 3].
* In due course, the Great War (renamed World War- I: 1914-18) changed the scenario forever! Germany packed for home in Europe, and the League of Nations (1920- 1945) –predecessor to today’s United Nations Organisation (UNO/UN: 1945—) divided up the region between Britain (Tanganyika Mandate Territory and Zanzibar Protectorate), and Belgium (Ruanda- Urundi: today’s Republics of Rwanda and Burundi).
Germany under Dictator Adolf Hitler – Chancellor and Furher rolled into one (1933-45) – tried to stage an imperial comeback via World War-II (1939-45).
It didn’t work out as he intended – and Tanganyika Territory was entrusted (back) to Britain, while Zanzibar awkwardly stumbled on as a Sultanate under British Protection!
What with one thing inexorably leading to another, Tanganyika secured (political) Independence from Imperial Britain on December 9, 1961, headed by Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth- II (1952—), operating through Sir Richard Turnbull as the resident British Governor-General, and the late Mwalimu Julius ‘The K’ Nyerere (1922-99) as Prime Minister.
A year later to the day, December 9, 1962, Tanganyika became a Republic within the (British) Commonwealth, with Mwalimu Nyerere as the Founder- President of popular choice – till he resigned of his own accord in 1985!
A little more that year later, Tanganyika found itself on a political rollercoaster that propelled it into Union (of sorts!) with Zanzibar on April 26, 1964! That was after Britain had granted ‘Independence’ (also of sorts) to Zanzibar (read ‘the Sultanate) on December 10, 1963.
This didn’t go down that well with indigenous Zanzibari’s who – led by selfstyled Field Marshall ‘You- Know-Who’ then – ousted the Sultanate on January 12, 1964... And Al-Hajj Amani Abeid Karume (1925- 1972) was somehow shoehorned into the Presidency!
Not much unlike Cuba in the Caribbean, Zanzibar was the new low-hanging, mouth-watering fruit in the proverbial ‘Shamba la Bibi’ mode (Old Martha’s Vineyard, perhaps?) Seeing Zanzibar as highly-vulnerable, and being ogled by both Western/ Capitalist powers and the Eastern/Communist world at the height of the Cold War (1947-1990), President Nyerere of Tanganyika next-door initiated and speedily acted on measures to virtually fish the Isles out of troubled waters – and the United Republic of Tanzania was the result.
Cheers! Oh, that ‘Cheering’ was a little premature, I think... There’s this other thing about Tanzania ‘embracing’ (for lack of a better term) too many Public Holidays, including eight religious holidays; three ‘national’ holidays; two holidays commemorating the death of the Union’s inaugural Presidents – and four holidays of ‘other’ national importance! This is to say nothing of 52 Saturdays – three of them also Public Holidays: Sept 2 (Eid-al-Adha); Oct: 14 (Nyerere Day), and Dec 9 (Uhuru) – and also 52 Sundays, with Jan 1 the New Year Holiday).
So, there’re 121 Public Holidays in 2017: 33.15percent of the year! In a country aspiring for a middle-income, semiindustrialised Economy by Year-2025 through the clarion call ‘Hapa Kazi Tu’– read ‘Work, Work and MORE SHEER HARD WORK’ – Tanzania must worm its way out of that official lazy hazy syndrome of Public Holidays, period! is