Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Truth by Aman Thani Fairooz 1995

(Note, Ed.this is a very short excerpt from Aman Thani Fairooz's book about the old political world of Zanzibar and about his horrifying time in prison. It is an important record of events by a man who suffered much for his homeland. The 86 page book is available on other websites. )

My gratitude to the Most Merciful God who has enabled me to write this little book in which I have tried to describe the events which took place in our country, Zanzibar. In particular I have concentrated on what happened to me and what happened to my fellow countrymen as a result of what is called the Revolution which befell our country on 12 January 1964. What I am writing about is what I myself know. Without there is much more that I did not know. It is my hope that there will be others who will be able to relate what happened to them or what they saw was being done to others.

I am doing this for no reason other that relate the truth regarding what took place in our country, so that my fellow citizens (and our Tanganyikan brethren as well as the whole world) and especially the younger generation, may know the facts regarding the so-called Revolution of Zanzibar. If in the relating of my story I happen to mention names of individuals it would be in the course of narration and illustration, not for the purpose of ridicule, sarcasm or cynicism. My aim is to tell the truth of what really happened. I will not hesitate to tell the truth, for that is my aim. For too long the truth has been suppressed. and distorted. With that I take full responsibility for what I herein write.

It is important I should request my readers to concentrate on my story, for it consists purely of undoubted facts and only facts. I beg them not to worry overmuch about my style of writing and about the language used or arrangement of chapters etc. for I am no writer.

If any question arises or anything is obscure, I am the one who should be referred to for clarification. I shall try my best to clarify any riddle that may occur. If I fail I will not be ashamed to confess my inability and to ask for forgiveness. Only God is perfect.

May God enable this humble effort of mine to receive a wide readership and appreciation so that the wrongs herein described may be righted. For the greatest good is to repent and to correct the wrongs. May Allah be our Guide and Protector.

Education before the 1964 revolution
For both nationals and aliens, from class one to eight education was free for all. Every pupil had a desk by himself, and every pupil was provided with free exercise books, free textbooks, pens and pencils, ink pots and ink, even blotting paper was provided free (in the days before ballpens had come into use.) Every Friday pupils were provided with free soap for washing their clothes. In rural schools pupils were provided with breakfast - beans and porridge - before they entered their classrooms.

In the '50's parents were expected to supplement a token sum for the pupils from class seven to class twelve. The payment was minimal and not every parent was obliged to pay. Most parents did not have to pay a single cent. Those who paid had to pay from five shillings to twenty shillings every term of three or four months.

Before a decision was made whether a parent should or should not pay there was a process to be followed. The parent had to fill a questionnaire regarding his income, his employment, and the number of his dependents. To ascertain the correctness of the information given the filled form was sent to the Sheha (headman), then to the Mudir (the area administrator). After this the form was sent to the District Commissioner. After this exercise decisions were made whether to pay or not to pay, and how much for each applicant.

From this sort of arrangement more than 70% of the parents were not obliged to pay, and their children received education absolutely free. Twenty per cent paid reduced fees, and only 10% paid full fees which was less than 200 Shillings a year. Those who paid full fees were almost entirely from the Indian community. The so-called Africans and the so-called Arabs were not in that category.

The important thing about education was not so much to pay or not to pay. The vital thing was the quality and type of education available in those days of pre-1964, and what became available after 1964. That is the deciding factor which we have to face. If what is branded as "Free Education" means what we are seeing today - schools having no desks, children having to squat on bare earth, no books to read or write on, and above all no qualified or trained teachers - that sort of education is indeed too costly even if free. It is the condemnation of generations to come. Our Zanzibari children have developed into hunchbacks having to double-bend in order to write on the floor. When they return from school they look like grave-diggers, so dusty and dirty are they after a whole day of crawling on bare earth in their classrooms.

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