Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The connection between Malawi & Zanzibar....

I think the Malawi connection is Zanzibar is the disputed "zanzibariness" of Sheikh Abeid Aman Karume, the first President of Zanzibar (1964-1972) and father of Dr. Aman Abeid Aman Karume (the 6th President of Zanzibar, 2000-2010).

The Sheikh (also called 'Fadha' Karume by some) is believed by many to have been born in Malawi of Malaian Muslim parents who immigrated to Znz. He grew up in Znz but had many relatives in Malawi. He did not have an original Birth Certificate in Znz but acquired an Affidavite in the late 1950s with the help of Himid Mbaye, a Notary Public of Comorian origin (who I think was a French subject).The Karume family also had close ties with Dr. Kamuzu Banda's family and also the Sepetu family.

The family name Karume is from the old Nyasaland from among the speakers of Chichewa (in Malawi, also called Chinyanja in Zambia). In Swahili, this language Chichewa/Chinyanja was called 'Kinyasa' and its speakers were referred to as 'Wanyasa'. Sheikh Karume was also referred to as 'Mnyasa' by some people in Znz befor the Revolution. The Muslim Malawians are mostly of Yao origin, and often bilingual in Kiyao and Kiswahili. (The Muslims in Malawi form about 20% of the population but are not proportionally represented in government etc.)

The terms 'nyasa', nyanja and 'nyanza' all mean 'lake' or 'sea' in many Bantu languages of eastern and central Africa. The personal name 'Karume' is an amplified form of the root 'rume/lume' (male, masculine person, man) meaning 'strong man', 'he-man', 'brave man', heavily-built man', 'hero' etc. (Compare with Swahili mume = husband, mwanamume = male/man, dume/ndume = masculine, uume = penis, etc). In some contexts in some languages the prefix ka- can have derogative connotations, such as in Swahili 'Kaburu' (Boer, Afrikanner, South African White racist; ukaburu = Apartheid racism, etc) from Zulu (ka + buru = the hated/ugly/cruel/savage/dirty Boer).

After a few years of primary school in Znz, Aman Karume and his younger brother Ali infact went to school in Malawi staying with Dr. K. Banda. (My friend Christopher 'Stoff' Banda of Uppsala now back in Malawi was their schoolmate and gave me all this info.) They then came back to Znz with Issak Sepetu and joined Saint Joseph's Convent in Kijiweni (Stone Stown). Issak Sepetu lived with the Karumes and both Aman and Issak finished Form 4 end of 1963, as I did, and we used to meet sometimes after football in the late afternoon at the 'Jobless Corner' at Wailesi.

Issak Sepetu was 'adopted' by the Karume, got a scholarship to study in GDR, and later became Tanzanian Ambassador etc while his parents remained in Malawi all their life. He attended their funerals in Malawi. I'm told Issak Sepetu, who was born in Malawi and came to Znz as a Malawi citizen, was never naturalised as a Zanzibar citizen, and therefore he cannot be a Tz citizen, but he was a Tz Ambassador anyway! Several others like him, 'Field Marshal' John Okello being the best example of those "revolutionaries" and other leaders or politicialns in Znz who were not Zanzibaris, rose to high ruling postions in Zanzibar after the Rev. (Okello did not even speak proper Swahili! This should be compared with the overthrown Sultan Jamshid who was a 5th generation born Zanzibari, or I who am a 7th generation born Zanzibari.) Issak Sepetu tried also to be nominated for the presidential election in Znz, but the Znz leadership opposed him on grounds of not being a 'Mzanzibari halisi' (genuine Zanzibari).

To date, little is known or written & published about this Znz-Malawi connection. More is known about Susi and Chuma, the great East African travellers and linguists who accompanied Dr. David Livingstone (the inventor and advocate of the sinister ideology of Coloniazation, Christianity and Commerce) from the Indian Ocean across Africa to the Atlantic and brought his remains back to Znz. They guided and protected him, fed him and took good care of him etc. Susi and Chuma were not Swahilis nor Zanzibaris - they were born Malawians! ......
Maalim Abdulaziz Lodhi.

by Abdulaziz Y. Lodhi (PhD), Professor.
Swahili (with Bantu Linguistics & East African Area Studies).
Dept. of Linguistics & Philology.
Uppsala University, Box 635,

1 comment:

  1. Heard about Karume but never heard about Issak Sepetu history before.