The Kingdom of Zanzibar is an East African nation located south of the Ethiopian Empire and north of the United Republics of Zululand (URZ). Zanzibar is a constitutional monarchy, with King Amran the current monarch (having been on the throne since 2000). The largest city in Zanzibar is the mainland city of Salaama, directly across the water from the capital on Zanzibar Island. The country is 35% Roman Catholic, 45% Muslim, 10% Protestant and observes 10% indigenous faiths. The primary language is a unique dialect of English mixed with native tongues, and a French dialect is spoken widely in some northeastern parts of the country.
English Colony in 19th Century
Much of the East African coastline was controlled by England following the Napoleonic Wars; English control, in fact, stretched as far north as beyond Nairobi and as far inland as the Virunga Mountains. Much of English East Africa is today part of Zanzibar; the administrative boundaries changed little.
Under the English, Zanzibar was seen as a new beginning for the numerous English business interests that had been ingloriously stripped after the Fall of London. Between 1830 and 1860, there was an enormous influx of Englishmen who came to set up their own homesteads in the untamed African wilderness, and natives were often exploited as farm labor. Nevertheless, when the Irish Republic laid claim to parts of East Africa run jointly by England and Ethiopia, the Bush War erupted between English and Irish settlers, with native tribes caught in between.
The Bush War of 1868-74 often confused the natives; they did not understand fully the concept of land, and ownership. However, with English guidance, the natives were given modern weapons with which to kill the "evil Irishman". The brutality of the natives, who were promised assistance by the English in return for helping them root out the Irish, was unspeakable. Even many Englishmen commented on how the horrors of the African assault against the Irish was far greater than they could ever have expected.
"The question remains, how soon until these angry, vengeful people turn our guns against us?" - John Feedham, Governor of English East Africa, 1872
The destruction of Irish East Africa resulted in peace in the English colony for many decades; until the Revolution of 1909 toppled the English monarchy. For decades afterwards, the colony was run as an independent country; the fledgling Republic of England, and its Socialist successor, cared little for the distant colony. Trade slowed down, and many English, after years living alongside the natives, intermarried.
Irish Possession and Independence
The Irish War of the mid 1930's left England gutted. In 1937, with the Treaty of Belfast, all English colonial holdings were transferred primarily to Ireland, although France happily snapped up a handful as well. English East Africa was handed over to Ireland, and the new "Irish Africa" was double the size of the old Irish claim. The Irish soon found themselves in trouble with the Ethiopians, however, who were eyeing the vast territory on the Horn of Africa they could lay claim to. The Irish-Ethiopian War of 1939-1941 was a largely futile effort; the Irish had trouble reaching the distant Horn of Africa, even through the Egyptian Canal, and the Ethiopians were not a gaggle of African tribes; they were the continent's resident superpower, a powerful Empire with expansionist visions.
The Irish wound up losing, and the natives lost even more; they were subjugated by the Ethiopian Empire, and had very little stake in a war the Irish forced them to fight. Finally, in 1945, seven tribal kings of Irish Africa went to New Dublin, the Irish capital on the coast, and requested independence.
The Irish immediately sent an army 25,000 strong to Irish Africa to quell the rebellion, but the Africans found an unusual ally; the established white English population came to their aid to help fight off the Irish. The Zanzibar War of Independence lasted from 1945-47, and after 17,000 Irish soldiers were dead and thousands more had died, both white and black and mixed, of the locals, Zanzibar was granted independence, and King Bassin put on the throne in Zanzibar.
Post-Independence Trouble and Regional Conflict
King Bassin would rule until 1970. In that time, he fought to unify a massive country that stretched from the northern end of Lake Malawi all the way to the southern fringes of Ethiopia, and deep into the Congo rain forest. Lake Tanganyika, while seemingly a natural western border, was surrounded by the Kingdom, and the Zanzibarese found this to their benefit - the lake provided extremely fertile soil for their agriculture.
Bassin recognized that the model the emerging state of Zululand to the south was employing was perfect; instead of randomly partitioning the country into administrative zones in a European fashion, Zanzibar was organized by tribe. The Congress of Tribes was formed in 1954, the same year the Olympics were hosted for the first time in Africa to great celebration.
Still, racial violence and economic hardships were sustained throughout Bassin's rule. The whites demanded greater recognition than the single "tribe" designation they received, since their exponential population growth in the early 1900's had made the English population of Zanzibar nearly 23% of the population, and was growing steadily from an influx of Englishmen fleeing the Anarchy in the early 1950's. Among the Englishmen who came to Zanzibar and settled in Salaama, Nairobi and Zanzibar Island was famous author Ian Fleming, whose books about great adventures and stories set in Africa became international bestsellers. Also, Eustace Minor, who would one day become Prime Minister of England, spent a year in Salaama organizing an expatriate colony south of the main city for poor English refugees.
Fleming and Minor would return to England in the late 1950's once the Anarchy ended to help rebuild the country along with thousands of others, but almost 130,000 Englishmen stayed behind, living in ethnic slums alongside Africans. Although frowned upon initially, intermarriage became common in the cities, although the English and Africans mutually segregated in the countryside when the whites began heading west in the 1960's and 70's.
The population boom, both white and black, caused a rise in poverty and crime, and also severe environmental damage. Poaching became rampant, and the rhinoceros was hunted to near extinction in most of Zanzibar. In 1968, a border clash with Zulu soldiers turned into a massive, full scale war around Lake Malawi and in the contested Congolese territories. The Treaty of Salaama finally ended the bloody conflict in 1975, with almost a hundred thousand dead.
Continued Development in Modern Era
Zanzibar, compared to Zululand, is a relatively peaceful country internally, and does not suffer from the same troubles of civil war. Surprisingly for an African country with such a large white population, ethnic or racial tension is at a low; the successful execution of the Congress of Tribes is critical to this. The whites, now nearly 37% of the population, constitute a considerably larger representative portion.
Zanzibar, especially in the countryside, is still a very poor country. Diseases such as cholera, malaria, and tuberculosis are severe problems in the country, as is starvation and malnourishment. Despite this, Zanzibar is one of the quickest-growing developing economies in the world; much of this is due to investment and partnership with the Republic of England, and due to a cordial relationship with the much more powerful Ethiopia to the north, which has recognized after the end of the 1985-89 Ethiopian-Yemenite War that stronger ties in Africa makes for a stronger Ethiopia.
Zanzibar has a King, currently Amran (b. 1968, served since 2000). The Zanzibarese King holds the regnal authority and powers as head of state of presiding over the Congress of Tribes, attending state functions, addressing the country on occasion (typically New Years or similar events) and dealing with tribal leaders who have specific concerns.
Congress of Tribes
Zanzibar's unique Congress of Tribes is designed to allow largely autonomous government among separate mainland tribes, as well as to avoid the sticky issues of departmentalizing and cutting traditional tribal lands in half. Every tribe selects its representative intermittently based on his merit; a member of Congress can be removed from office by his tribe after a minimum of sixth months, or can serve as long as the tribe sees fit (Eko Mala served for nearly thirty years until he refused to be nominated again). For the most part, the Congress of Tribes had led itself to be an excellent forum for not only governing the vast Zanzibarese territory, but for settling tribal disputes peacefully with an arbiter. Every two years, the Congress elects a new President from within the body. This President leads the sessions of the Congress, passes final judgment in disputes, and appoints important bureaucratic positions. In 1997, the Congress elected Robert Tyson as the first white President in Zanzibarese history. Since then, Tyson was elected for a second term in 2003, still the only member of the white minority to serve such an important leadership position. The current President, elected in March 2009, is Kumai Ado.
Bureaucracy and Governing Councils
Like any democracy, the populace elects members of their tribe to the Congress of Tribes, but the Governing Councils are a series of bodies concerning actual policy that requires campaigning and general national elections. These councils appoint members of the bureaucracy. For the most part, members of the Governing Councils only serve one term (four years) and the bureaucracy has a surprising rate of turnover for a democratic country.
Most local politics are governed by the tribe. Cities and villages are typically primarily of one tribe of people. The spread of the Zanzibarese dialect of English and the Christianization of the country has helped create a sense of unity, although tribal loyalty is still very important. For whites, their seven "tribes" (Darrington, Sussex, Essex, Astor, Tudor, Norrington and Wesley) are all based on geographic location, but administrate the same way the native tribes do.
While still rooted in a tribal caste, as encouraged by the government's method of administration, the native culture has evolved as Zanzibar has ambitiously tried to modernize on the pace of Western powers, and to compete with their neighbors in Ethiopia and Zululand. In the western countryside, life goes on much as it has for centuries, especially among the Maasai people. However, in the cities, connectivity to European culture and the world as a whole has created a unique blend of traditional culture and a modern outlook. In the late 1980's, a strong fundamentalist movement rose up among blacks called the "Reawakening"; this cultural phenomenon sought to ease the rapid Westernization and return to traditional lifestyles.
The Reawakening was moderately successful, but while a dominant cultural movement in the 1990's, it has petered out in recent years as the rate of white-black intermarriage has nearly tripled since the 1970's.
English and Irish White
The English and, to a lesser extent, Irish in Zanzibar are a very cosmopolitan type. For the most part, the white population of the country resides in Zanzibar Island, Salaama, New Dublin, Nairobi or Dela. Four of the major white tribes (Norrington, Wesley, Tudor, Sussex) are based entirely in large metropolitan areas, especially along the coast. The Astor, Darrington and Essex tribes tend to be more spread out over large parts of the western interior; the "Heartland Whites" are a considerably more agricultural folk and also more conservative. The rate of white-black intermarriage in the interior is a fourth of that in major cities, due as much to native African reluctance in traditional tribal lifestyle as to white hubris.
The seven white tribes are also each very unique:
- Norrington was the original established tribe, and was for much of the mid and late 20th century the poorest of the white tribes. Norrington members lived in the lands around Salaama and Zanzibar Isle, and were often ravaged by disease. Recently, Norrington has gained ground, but is still tied largely to the traditional white neighborhoods of Salaama and the Isle.
- Tudor is the predominant white tribe in the northern part of Zanzibar, particularly in Nairobi and New Dublin. They are cosmopolitan and wealthy; the Tudor tribe is easily the most powerful of the white tribes and often lead white coalitions in the Congress of Tribes. The Tudors are largely descended from the Irish, and are almost 100% Catholic, and are the reason for the high rate of Catholicism in northern Zanzibar
- Wesley's population is primarily in south-central Zanzibar; they are a unique blend of Heartland White and typical city dwelling whites. The Wesleys are in fact the majority of any tribe in the city of Dela, which is the only city in the country where whites are in the majority, and are also strong in Pemba and Songea. Wesley's are descended from Englishmen, but unlike the Norringtons who are the descendants of poor English escaping the Socialist government or Anarchy, Wesleys have been established in Zanzibar since the 1800's. They are the most powerful Protestant white tribe.
- Sussex is the Protestant white tribe that lives in the same part of the country that the Tudors traditionally control. This has led to a major, sometimes violent, rivalry between the Irish-heritage Tudors who still feel the "Irish East Africa" is their birthright, and the English-majority Sussexes who outnumber the Tudors. The Sussex tribal seat is in Mombasa, near New Dublin.
- Astors are Irish-descendant as well, but typically reside in the interior, especially near Lake Tanganyika, Lake Kampala and Lake Malawi. They are responsible for the Catholicisation of the Lakes region and are the most conservative of the Heartland White tribes; they very rarely intermarry native Africans.
- Darrington is a north-central interior tribe that is descended from poor Englishmen who headed inwards from the cities in the 1960's and 70's. They have the highest intermarriage rate of all the Heartland Whites, often due to necessity for survival; fathers would marry their daughters to native chiefs in return for assistance. This is the poorest white tribe.
- Essex is a central tribe powerful in Dodoma, and are the descendants of the original Heartland Whites from the plantations of old. They are the most powerful of the Heartland White tribes and often lock horns with the Tudors in the Congress of Tribes.
The white experience in Zanzibar has often been marked by poverty and a requirement of coexistence as opposed to domination of the natives. These relations have not always been peaceful; race relations boiled into massive riots and bloody violence in the early 1950's, the late 1970's and even the early 1990's. The growth of Zanzibar as an economic force in Africa has made whites prosperous, especially due to their ties to ancestral homelands in Europe. Economic schisms among whites themselves are equally as strong as schisms between whites and blacks, which go in both directions.