Coconuts of Zanzibar- by F Macha, 2009
Last week gunmen allegedly affiliated to the Al Qaeda wing of Sahel and North Africa thrashed the UNESCO tourist historical site in Grand Bassam, Ivory Coast. In one particular violent scene, a child pleading for mercy was brutally shot.
This brought memories of the 3-three-day Nairobi siege by Somali’s Al Shabaab in September 2013. Children and pregnant mothers were some of the 67 dead and over 175 injured victims.
January 2016, another international hotel frequented by the wealthy and foreigners was blasted in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 30 deaths, 56 injuries. Constant hits continue in Mali, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. It is said security warnings have always been made. Same in Nairobi and now Ivory Coast and allegedly in Senegal. These Sahel incidents ought to be viewed, carefully.
I am aware security has been stepped up in some major Tanzanian hotels.
How about intelligence?
In July 2005, I smelt the dust, gas, smoke and rubble after several key London travel areas were blitzed by Al Qaeda thugs resulting in over 50 deaths plus over 700 wounded. I experienced the feeling of uncertainty and watched concerned citizens eyeing each other suspiciously, for weeks.
The alertness however, evaporated until another episode, years later.
British soldier Lee Rigby was brutally knifed by two young Nigerian fanatics in May 2013. I recall taking a train to work in the Woolwich area of the city, where the murder had transpired. I remember the suspicious looks of whites. You sensed the unspoken feeling of danger, uneasiness and mistrust in the uptight air.
That is one angle.
The other is the way British intelligence has been avoiding several attacks. Very significant. What impresses most is the way strikes have been prevented. Reflect. Critics have argued that had Kenyan and Ivory Coast authorities heeded tips, Westgate and Grand Bassam might not have happened.
Intelligence helps prevention.
So does political sensitivity.
Why have such groups assembled around some religious fascism believing that slaughtering pleading children contributes to Allah’s joy and whatever rubbish they worship? What kind of scripture “allows” evil killings of the innocent and helpless?
There must be a big reason for people joining such maniacal scum.
Chief among them is dissatisfaction with the way things are. Although the same fanatics claim that the rich (“infidel”) nations caused terrorism by their policies in the Middle East (partly true), the underlying reason is local, internal political, social and economic frustration.
Upon its launch in 2002, Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf attracted poor Muslim families around the Borno state of north Nigeria. Boko Haram (which means, “Western education is not allowed”) denounced police brutality and corruption. An almost similar strand applies to Al Shabaab. The name means “youth” in Arabic, and was aimed at general discontent. Unlike tropical parts of the continent, Somalia is not blessed with fertile land and is dependent on livestock farming and a nomadic life style. In 2010, Al Shabaab managed to offer better food products in drought-filled areas. This claim shows how they were a better alternative to what the government or local authorities offered.
Alternatives, alternatives, alternatives. That is what ordinary folk search. Cannot get here, find it elsewhere...
We have such a situation, cooking right on our doorstep. Barazani.
Zanzibar and Pemba are volatile islands.
So volatile that in 1964 our forefathers decided to unite mainland with the islands. Back then; this was for political, security and defence reasons. So it is today. But lately Zanzibaris hate the union.
Just read hundreds of online comments. The following was jotted after CUF President Maalim Seifdeclared himself leader four months ago. I hope you can understand the badly constructed language...
“We find way to keep guns in Zanzibar some are there but we wait hotter guns soon we will be in time of Jihad we start when Islamic call on Allah Akbaru only God we respect no milatrs no polises...”
Note the word GUNS. Note the religious tones. Such “crazy opinions” litter the internet.
Out of Tanzania, in many overseas countries you meet Zanzibar born exiles and immigrants unhappy and dispirited by the Union. Some have been away for over 40, even 50 years. Inside Zanzibar, the hatred for mainland government has almost reached boiling point. Every Tanzanian knows this. Leaders past and present know but have not done enough.
Peaceful Tanzania exists but in her skin, bone and hair, Zanzibar is a ticking bomb. It was great to see President John Magufuli visiting Zanzibar’s Maalim Seif in hospital when he was hospitalised (for exhaustion) recently. These are hopeful signs. However, the main grievances of the Union need be resolved still.
A hungry man, sang the Jamaican musician, Bob Marley, is an angry man. And it is anger and resentment that is simmering extremist fires in other parts of our beautiful, rich Africa.
-Published in Citizen Tanzania , Friday 18 , 2016.