Issue XCVI

21 OCT 2016

Today in History


Africa's 'forgotten genocide' marks its 50 anniversary: Revisiting the Zanzibar revolution


Zanzibar massacre claimed up to 20,000 lives, left 26,000 imprisoned and 100,000 exiled

Many call it “the revolution”, but for the victims this year marks the 50th anniversary of the mass murder of Zanzibar’s Arabs and Indians by the black majority. This 1964 event was labelled by some historians a “genocide” for the deliberate targeting of specific communities which is said to have claimed up to 20,000 lives, left 26,000 imprisoned and 100,000 exiled. Despite this, it has been poorly documented and probably forgotten in African history because it affected mostly non-black African populations. 

The genocide took place on the back of the 1964 Zanzibar revolution to overthrow the  monarchy ruled by Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah. There had already been tension on the island between ethnic groups. The 1960s population of the island had a tremendously cultural heritage with extensive diversity - trade from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East had converged on the islands, bringing with it a multitude of influences. The island had about 600 Europeans, 50,000 Arabs and 20,000 Asians from the Indian subcontinent. Even though at independence Arabs constituted under 20% of Zanzibar’s population, they were economically and politically dominant. 

When the British granted Zanzibar independence in 1963, an election followed in which the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) ran against the Sultan’s Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP) and the ZNP won with 54% of the popular vote. This compounded feelings of resentment within the black population that led to the fast uprising. Historian Jonathon Glassman described it as a purely “racial revolution” to empower the African majority. “It was a unique manifestation of racial violence between self-identified Africans and Arabs in post-colonial Africa, in that Arabs and not Africans were the primary victims.”

The coup was said to have been led by self-appointed field marshal John Okello, who was able to draw on pre-existing racial animosity for support. A Ugandan by birth who believed that he was divinely chosen by God to remove Arabs from power, in his biography “Revolution in Zanzibar”, Okello recounted his speeches made in public areas. It was clear that he intended to remove Arab presence in Zanzibar through violence with statements such as: “therefore my brethren, we must get them out of the Island by guns and knives”. 

On January 12, 1964, with...

Zanzibar: 1964 Revolution and the One-Party System

The revolution (see 1963 elections) did not only overthrow the ZNP-ZPPP government but also ousted the sultan and proclaimed Zanzibar a republic. State power shifted from the hands of one social class to another.

It is believed that the Zanzibar revolution was a reflection of racial conflict between the Arabs and the Africans. This may not be entirely correct. If we agree with Lenin that any political struggle is a class struggle, then the revolution was not just a mere reflection of ethnic conflict but the outcome of a long class struggle. It is quite true that class divisions were based on tribal lines. The 1964 Zanzibar revolution was, therefore, a revolution by landless peasants in alliance with other oppressed people against the landed aristocrats and their political leadership.

The first moves of the revolutionary government were to suspend the Lancaster House 1963 independence constitution, ban all political parties except the ASP and proclaim a constitutional decree that established a constitutional government and the rule of law. The constitution was set aside and the revolutionary council became the legislative body. Although it was stipulated that the constituent assembly was to be convened in one year's time to endorse a new constitution, this only occurred in 1979 and the first election was held in 1980.

The 1964 revolution which brought the ASP into power was the reaction to a situation that had become intolerable following the electoral manoeuvrings of the previous elections. Although the ASP had always polled more votes than other parties, it could not win more seats in the legislative council. The ASP believed that the British government was jointly conspiring with the Arab monarch to deny it any chance of winning the election. It was not surprising therefore, that just a few weeks after the British colonialists had gone the ASP took over power through a revolution.

At the time of the founding of the Union of Tanzania, on 26 Apri11964 Zanzibar was already under one party rule and mainland Tanzania had already formed a commission to look into the possibility of a one party structure. The Articles of Union provided for the existence of two parties, each operating in the territory in which they did before the union. This continued until 1977 when it was finally decided to merge the two parties and form one political party, the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), thus transforming Tanzania into a true one-party state.

In 1979 the first...


A Supremely Bad Decision: The Majority Ruling in Bush v. Gore

Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear.  It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.
  -Justice John Paul Stevens [Dissent] Bush v. Gore (2000)

The Supreme Court decision that decided the 2000 Presidential Election should go down in history as one of the court's most ill-conceived judgments.  In issuing its poorly-reasoned ruling in Bush v. Gore, the court majority unnecessarily exposed itself to charges of partisanship and risked undermining the court's stature as an independent, impartial arbiter of the law.  Although the court majority correctly identified constitutional problems in the specific recount proceedings ordered by the Florida Supreme Court, the decision to end all recount attempts did immeasurable damage to the equal protection rights the court claimed to be guarding, since it favored a convenient and timely tabulation of ballots over an accurate recording of the vote.  In the controversy that followed this decision, some critics of the majority decision argued that the court had no business taking on Bush v. Gore in the first place, that it should have remained solely within the Florida courts (Ginsburg, J. [Dissent] Bush v. Gore [2000]).  This paper will argue that the court was correct to intervene but that the resulting decision was flawed and inconsistent, with potentially serious, adverse implications for the Federal judiciary if the court continues to issue rulings in this way.

The Court majority intervened in Bush v. Gore because it perceived a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause in the manual recounts that had been ordered in Florida (Bush v. Gore [2000]).  There is no disagreement that Art. II, § 1, cl. 2† of the Federal Constitution clearly specifies that it is the sole right and responsibility of the state legislatures to provide for the selection of Presidential electors.  Under Florida law, this had been accomplished by providing for a popular vote, the winner of which was to receive all of the state's electoral votes.  Since this right had been extended to the people of Florida, the equal protection clause mandates that the right to vote not be infringed either by preventing the act of voting or by unequal treatment of votes after they have been...

The Unbearable Rightness of Bush v. Gore

Bush v. Gore1 was a straightforward and legally correct decision. If one were
familiar only with the commentary that ensued in the decision’s wake, this claim might
sound almost lunatic. This article will explain why the Supreme Court acted properly,
indeed admirably, and why the ubiquitous criticisms that have beenleveled at the Justices
from both the left and the right are at best misguided.2NELSON LUND Unbearable Rightness of Bush v. Gore
Wash. Post, Dec. 14, 2000, at A35; Michael J. Klarman, Bush v. Gore through the Lens of
Constitutional History – Cal. L. Rev. – (2001); Peter M. Shane, Disappearing Democracy: How Bush
v. Gore Undermined the Federal Right to Vote for Presidential Electors, Florida St. L. Rev.
(forthcoming); Jack M. Balkin, Bush v. Gore and the Boundary Between Law and Politics, 110 Yale
L.J. 1407 (2001); David Abel, Bush v. Gore Case Compels Scholars to Alter Courses at US Law
Schools,Boston Globe, Feb. 3, 2001, at A1(quoting Margaret Jane Radin); Law Professors forthe Rule
of Law, 554 Law Professors Say: By Stopping the Vote Count in Florida, The U.S. Supreme Court
Used Its Power To Act as Political Partisans, Not Judges of a Court of Law (advertisement) N.Y.
Times, Jan. 13, 2001, at A7.
Conservatives have frequently defended the result and certain aspects of the decision, but
have generally been unwilling to endorse the legal reasoning offered by the Court as the basis for its
decision. See, e.g., Robert H. Bork, Sanctimony Serving Politics: The Florida Fiasco, The New
Criterion, March, 2001, at 4; Charles Fried, ‘A Badly Flawed Election’: An Exchange, New York
Review of Books, Feb. 22, 2001; Richard A. Epstein, Constitutional Crash Landing: No One Said It
Would Be Pretty, National Review Online (Dec. 13, 2000); Michael W . McConnell, A Muddled Ruling,
Wall St. J., Dec. 14, 2000, at A26; Ronald A. Cass, The Rule of Law in America (forthcoming 2001);
Harvey Mansfield, What We’ll Remember in 2050, Chronicles of Higher Education, Jan. 5, 200, at B16;
James W. Ceaser & Andrew E. Busch, The Perfect Tie: The True Story of the 2000 Presidential
Election 209-10 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2001).
Very rare early defenders of the Court’s legal reasoning included Marci Hamilton, A WellReasoned
“Right to Vote” Ruling in the Eye of the Storm, FindLaw, Dec. 14, 2000
[]; Nelson Lund, An Act of Courage, The Weekly


Shoot It Out? The Death of Fred Hampton


Fred Hampton, Illinois Chairman of the Black Panther Party, was living with his girlfriend and other Panther friends in the first-floor apartment of this building at 2337 W. Monroe St. on December 4, 1969. At 4:30 a.m. that morning, 14 officers from the state’s attorney office served a warrant to search the premises for illegal weapons. A shoot-out followed, in which Hampton and Peoria Panther chapter leader Mark Clark were killed. But after the sound of gunfire died down, investigations into the incident would shake the foundations of law and order in Chicago, destroy the career of the city’s brightest rising political star, fill newspaper headlines for over a decade, and create a scandal that reached all the way to J. Edgar Hoover’s desk at the FBI.

Fred Hampton’s family came to Chicago after World War II from Haynesville, Louisiana, part of the great migration of southern Blacks into the industrial cities of the North during the late 19th and the first half of the 20th century. Initially settling in suburban Argo, Mr. and Mrs. Francis Hampton both found work at the famous Corn Products plant in that city. The Hamptons’ first child was a daughter, Delores, and shortly after arriving in the Chicago area, their first son, Fred, was born, in August, 1948. A few years later, Iberia Hampton would give birth to a third child, William. The family lived briefly in Blue Island, but then made their permanent home in Maywood, at the time a mixed-race working-class suburb with solid schools and easy access into Chicago.

Growing up in Maywood, Fred Hampton was a good student, and active in sports, playing on the baseball, football, basketball, and wrestling teams at Proviso East High School. It was while attending Proviso East in the mid-1960s that Hampton became deeply interested in the civil rights movement. He began spending his evenings listing to recordings of speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, over and over again, and in this way, developed rhetorical skill that would soon turn him into a political wunderkind. As one Maywood resident later noted, “He never really was a teenager in the normal sense of an adolescent. When other teens were talking about clothes, dating, and sports, he always would be talking about ‘the movement’.”

Hampton was also a natural leader, and began organizing Black students at Proviso East in marches and demonstrations against the school administration,...

Black Panthers Fred Hampton & Mark Clark Killed On This Day In 1969


Since 1969, the deaths of prominent Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark have been shrouded in mystery with claims that the Panther leader and his fellow member, respectively, were assassinated. Over the years, details regarding the case reveal an insidious plot by the FBI and Chicago police aimed to tear down Hampton’s and the Panthers’ powerful reach among Blacks in the city.

Hampton rose quickly in the ranks as part of the Black Panther Party, discovering the group as a youth organizer for the NAACP as a college student in the West Chicago suburbs. Attracted to the message of upliftment and empowerment, Hampton became a vocal advocate for the Panthers and took up position in Chicago to continue his call.

Because of his ability to lead and create his own “rainbow coalition” of cooperative Chicago gangs, Hampton attracted the attention of legal authorities curious as to how he was able to corral warring faction to a peaceful truce. The FBI sparked an investigation of the Panthers and Hampton under the guidance of director J. Edgar Hoover.

SEE ALSO: The History Of The Black Panther Party

The COINTELPRO plot hatched by Hoover, who saw the Panthers and other Black nationalist movements as a threat to the U.S. Government, saw the Panthers get infiltrated by an inside informant.William O’Neal’s effective rise in the Panthers led him to becoming Hampton’s bodyguard, feeding intelligence to the FBI. Contrary to Hoover’s fears of the Panthers being a violent group, the FBI was willing to forge information to paint the Party as villainous.

O’Neal’s efforts eventually split the Panthers and the Blackstone Rangers, one of the gangs that Hampton helped with the truce. Tensions arose in the city between other groups and the Party, due majorly in part to the FBI’s meddlesome ways. The government agency’s systematic take-down of the Panthers involved all manner of trickery, including racist propaganda in the form of cartoons the Bureau created under the Panthers’ name.


Hampton met with BPP leaders in California in November of 1969, where he was then offered the position of Chief of Staff for the Central Committee. While he was away, a shootout took place between Chicago Police and the Panthers, leading to the death of two officers. Hungry for vengeance, Chicago authorities aligned themselves with the FBI and...


Silvio Berlusconi bows out after Italian MPs vote for savage cuts


PM hands in resignation at presidential palace in Rome, bringing to an end his 17-year domination of Italian politics

Silvio Berlusconi's scandal-ridden premiership ended in ignominy as he was forced to hide from a jeering crowd in Rome after handing in his resignation at a late-night meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano. His departure followed a historic vote in parliament that paved the way for a new government tasked with shoring up the ailing economy.

Berlusconi was forced to leave the presidential residence through a side entrance, to chants of "buffoon, buffoon" from thousands of demonstrators outside. The news agency Ansa reported that he told aides: "This is something that deeply saddens me." The protesters, including a choir singing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah, rejoiced at his departure.

The 75-year-old billionaire brought down the curtain on a government that has become plagued by scandals and seemed increasingly helpless in the face of the economic storm that has taken his country and the euro to the brink of catastrophe. The dramatic end of his 17-year domination of Italian politics came as the lower house of parliament approved a package of savage cuts and stimulus measures demanded by the European Union to trim Italy's massive €1.9 trillion debt.

After losing his majority in the house, a weakened Berlusconi had pledged to resign as soon as he had pushed the reform package through parliament. The reforms were passed by 380 votes to 26. Opposition parties did not participate.

The package was passed as José Manuel Barroso, president of the European commission, issued a sharp rebuke to Eurosceptics in the UK who want to use the crisis to disengage from the European Union. Writing in the Observer, he said all members of the EU need to unite and "advance together".

Despite support eroding within his own ranks, Berlusconi was greeted by cheers of "Silvio, Silvio", and given a standing ovation by his party as he took his seat in the chamber. Fabrizio Cicchitto, a member of his Freedom People party, told MPs: "We express all our solidarity to him for the attacks he has suffered." Berlusconi stood to give a slight bow to the chamber.

Italy's longest serving postwar prime minister raised a toast with ministers at a final cabinet meeting after the vote, only for his car to be chased by protesters shouting "Go, go, thief!" as he left for a second meeting with party officials at his Rome residence.

Outside, pro-Berlusconi demonstrators...

Silvio Berlusconi Steps Down: Protesters Celebrate in Front of His Home


Protesters celebrated outside his home after the Italian prime minister stepped down.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s 17-year stint in Italian politics, which began with hope and optimism, ended in embarrassing shame on Saturday night.

After losing his majority in Parliament last Tuesday, he promised Italy’s president, Giorgio Napolitano, that he would resign once the two houses of Parliament passed a key austerity bill. Napolitano urged Italy’s top political officials not to delay in passing the bill, which moved through Parliament in record time, passing both houses by Saturday afternoon.

Growing concern on Friday that Berlusconi would somehow squeak out another month or two at the helm was replaced on Saturday by what seemed like an epiphany as the country realized he might finally be gone for good. Outside Rome’s Parliament, as the House of Deputies swiftly passed the bill, a crowd of revelers gathered, carrying signs touting Nov. 12, 2011, as Italy’s liberation day from Berlusconi’s hold. When the bill passed, the crowd erupted in celebration.  Berlusconi was the last to leave Parliament Hall, prompting some observers to wonder if he was planning to put off the inevitable. He then held his last cabinet meeting before heading to the Grazioli Palace, his personal residence in the center of Rome.

By the time he arrived at his home, the crowd had made their way down Rome’s busy Via Del Corso to greet him, waving Italy’s tricolor flag and shouting, “Resign, resign!” Meanwhile, an even larger crowd began gathering in front of the Quirnale Palace, where President Napolitano waited for the embattled prime minister. There a professional choir had assembled, repeatedly singing the hymn “Hallelujah” a cappella. Berlusconi was expected to arrive at 8:30, but he was nearly a half hour late. In the meantime, the crowd sang partisan songs and shouted “Mafioso,” “buffoon,” and “Berlusconi is a piece of shit.” At times the scene felt like a sporting event, with the crowd resorting to chants normally reserved for out-of-favor soccer fans.

By the time he arrived at his home, the crowd had made their way down Rome’s busy Via Del Corso to greet him, waving Italy’s tricolor flag and shouting, “Resign, resign!”

When Berlusconi’s motorcade finally arrived at the Quirnale Palace, fronted by an armored police riot van, the crowd went wild, screaming insults and spitting on the car. He was in the...