n Africa Insight - The turbulent political history of Zanzibar and its impact on contemporary conflict and reconciliation

Volume 49 Number 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous state under the United Republic of Tanzania, has a long history of political conflicts since the colonial days, which also continued after the introduction of multiparty democracy in Tanzania in 1992. This article examines Zanzibar’s politics, historically defined on the basis of identity and shaped by the 1964 revolution and its union with Tanganyika. The article explores how identity, the revolution and the Union have contributed to the conflict witnessed before, during and after the introduction of multiparty elections. Through a blend of semi-structured interviews with Zanzibari leaders and actors in the reconciliation process, together with secondary literature, this article contributes to our understanding of conflict dynamics and electoral transitions in Africa. In particular, this article looks at the first multiparty elections in Zanzibar in 1995 and the first reconciliation attempts, known as Muafaka I, brokered by the Commonwealth in 1999.

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