Zanzibar and the Mainland: The Shaky State of the Union, By Think Africa Press, 20 November 2012

With the 50th anniversary of the union between mainland Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar on the horizon in 2014, a bewildering number of political problems and sensitivities remain unresolved.

The current ‘state of the union’ debate sees three ideas being posited, all of which involve a degree of autonomy for Zanzibar but with oversight administered by mainland Tanzania. However, despite one recent attempt to discuss the issue openly and amicably in the ‘public sphere’ (an expensive hotel in Dar Es Salaam), worrying patterns of resentment and tension are emerging.

Mainlanders on the island

Anecdotally, many allege that there is a hostile climate developing against those from the mainland on the island.

Emil*, a senior security manager and member of the Masaii people from mainland Tanzania, has lived and worked in a resort on the island since 2001.

“It’s getting extremely tense”, he tells Think Africa Press. “I can say they hate us. We don’t get served in cafes. If Masaii try and set up stalls to sell tourist curios in Nungwi they get chased out and the landowners who rent us the shop get fined.” He continues: “It is very difficult at the moment. Zanzibaris are sick of all outsiders – such as Tanzanians from the mainland and Kenyans who get good jobs in the hotels”.

Read more at Zanzibar and the Mainland: The Shaky State of the Union

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