Karume Day is observed every April 7 to commemorate the assassination of Abeid Amani Karume, a former President of Zanzibar and Vice President of Tanzania. Did you know that Abeid Karume was opposed to the 1964 revolution that led to his election as Zanzibar’s first President? Karume Day celebrates Karume’s legacy and his role in establishing Zanzibar as an independent entity. Karume Day is a public holiday in Tanzania and Zanzibar. A memorial service is usually held at the grave of Zanzibar’s founding president. The ceremony involves a traditional gun salute, wreath-laying, and speeches about Karume’s legacy and accomplishments.
History of Karume Day
Many people believe that Abeid Amani Karume was born in Mwera village, Zanzibar, in 1905. According to other sources, Karume was born to a slave woman from Ruanda-Urundi, and came to Zanzibar as a child. Karume, who had little formal education, became a seaman in 1920 and rose to crew leader. He later traveled to several countries around the world, including London. During his travels, he met several African thinkers, such as Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, and gained an understanding of geopolitics and international affairs.
Karume became the president of the Black African Immigrant Social Work Institute in 1957 and later formed an alliance with the Shirazi Association to establish the Afro-Shirazi Party. On December 10, 1963, Zanzibar gained independence from the British, and the Sultan of Zanzibar became a constitutional monarch. On January 12, 1964, a revolution in Zanzibar deposed the monarch and Arab elites. John Okello, a Ugandan, led the revolution, which ended the same night.
Following his takeover of the islands, Okello invited Karume to become President of the People’s Republic of Zanzibar. Okello also invited and appointed Marxist politician Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu to the Revolutionary Council. Karume used his position and political skills to move against Okello and request Tanganyikan police officers to maintain order on the islands. Karume declared Okello an “enemy of the state” and barred him from returning to the country as soon as he left.
In April 1964, Karume joined forces with Tanganyikan President Julius Nyerere. This union became the United Republic of Tanzania, with Karume becoming its first vice president. In April 1972, four gunmen assassinated Karume at the headquarters of the Afro-Shirazi Party in Zanzibar Town.
Karume Day timeline
A slave woman from Ruanda-Urundi gives birth to Karume.
John Okello leads a revolution to topple the Arab monarch and elites.
Karume agrees to a union with the Tanganyikan President, forming the United Republic of Tanzania.
Four gunmen kill Karume at the headquarters of the Afro-Shirazi Party in Zanzibar Town.
Karume Day FAQs
When was Karume killed?
The assassination of Karume occurred on April 7, 1972, in Zanzibar Town, Zanzibar. He was killed while playing Bao at the headquarters of the Afro-Shirazi Party.
When did Tanganyika and Zanzibar unite?
The islands of Zanzibar formed a union with Tanganyika on April 26, 1964. The union led to the United Republic of Tanzania.
Why did Tanganyika and Zanzibar form a union?
Zanzibar mainly formed a union with Tanganyika to prevent the establishment of a communist regime on the islands.
How to Observe Karume Day
Commemorate with Zanzibaris
On Karume Day, Zanzibaris honors the memory of their founding president. You can join them in commemorating by sharing your wishes on social media. Share a tweet or post in honor of the former president, or upload a TikTok or Instagram Reels video with your thoughts.
Learn the history of Zanzibar
Zanzibar has been home to humans for about 20,000 years. This small state has seen empires, wars, and revolutions rise and fall. Since Karume is mentioned in Zanzibar’s history, you can use Karume Day to learn more about him. Don’t forget to share your findings after you’ve done your research!
Plan a trip to Zanzibar
Zanzibar is well-known for its stunning white sand beaches, rich history and culture, and world-renowned spice plantations. It's ranked among the 50 most beautiful places in Africa by CNN. Plan a trip to these extraordinary islands to enjoy the exotic sights and experiences.
5 Interesting Facts About Zanzibar
It's a collection of islands
Zanzibar is made up of several islands, the largest of which are the Pemba and Unguja islands.
It's the birthplace of Freddie Mercury
Mercury, the lead singer of the band Queen, was born as Farouk Bulsara in Zanzibar.
The Spice Islands
Zanzibar is well-known for its large-scale cultivation of spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Zanzibar City is its capital
Contrary to popular knowledge, Zanzibar City is the capital of Zanzibar, not the ancient Stone Town.
The world's shortest war
Zanzibar is the site of the world's shortest war, the Anglo-Zanzibar War.
Why Karume Day is Important
It celebrates the legacy of Abeid Amani Karume
Karume instituted reforms to create an egalitarian state. The nationalization and redistribution of land on the islands are one of those reforms. Arabs controlled 80% of the land, while the rest of the population shared 13%.
Karume enabled the creation of the Tanzania-Zanzibar union
When Karume became the President of the People's Republic of Zanzibar, he used his authority to form a union with Tanganyika, creating the United Republic of Tanzania.
Karume prevented Marxism in Zanzibar
By forming a union with Tanzania, Karume prevented Tanzania and Zanzibar from aligning with the U.S.S.R. That allowed democracy, instead of Marxism, to thrive in the country.
Karume Day dates