Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Forgotten Episode

Harpymarx was describing Srebrenica as the "worst massacre post-ww2" the other day, and Laban linked to a host of worse massacres, including "10,000 Arabs massacred by black Africans in Zanzibar in 1964".

The highly religious Okello was convinced he had been given orders in his dreams by God to break the powerful position of the Arabs and to found the revolutionary state on Zanzibar and Pemba. On the night before the “revolution”, Okello gave his men the order to kill all Arabs between 18 and 25 years of age, to spare pregnant and elderly women, and not to rape virgins.

The coup led to the poorly-known massacre of between 5,000 and 20,000 Arabs, whose families had been living in Zanzibar for centuries, between January 18 and 20. Footage of the massacre can be seen in Gualtiero Jacopetti's film Africa Addio.
Now of course the Arabs were descendents of slave traders, while the black Africans were descendants of their victims. But isn't there a word for killing people on the grounds of their descent? They can't be blamed for the sins of their forebears.

I'd forgotten that I'd read an eye-witness account of the massacre, in Ranulph Fiennes' excellent "Where Soldiers Fear To Tread".

Fiennes is recruiting in Ziki, Oman, for his 'Recce Patrol' - part of the Sultan's anti-guerilla forces staffed by Brit officers on secondment :

A six-foot Zanzibari with a handshake that crushed my fingers and a head of fine black fuzz wished to join for original reasons. Recce Platoon had more machine guns per man than the Companies. And Mubarreq Obeid - for that was the big negro's name - had been unable to have a machine gun in his Company. With such a weapon, he said, his thick lips compressed in a snarl, he could kill many Chinese shooyooen (communists) in Dhofar and that was his desire. I protested that there were no Chinese communists in Arabia let alone Dhofar, but he was adamant.

"You are wrong, Sahb. They are behind all the troubles everywhere. Soon there will be many like locusts in Dhofar. In Zanzibar they talked to the African how he must throw out the Arab. Then, seven years ago, they rose and murdered all they could catch; slitting their throats by night as they slept. Some of us escaped to the dhows but my parents were chased along the beach by a crowd - although my mother was African. They ran into the sea to swim to the boats but some of the crowd followed, caught them by the hair, and drowned them.

So I, Mubarreq, have no parents because of the Chinese rats."

When he had gone I looked at the others. All nodded their assent.

The book's interesting as showing the 180 degree inversion of the Left in relation to Islam since those early 70s days. The Chinese Maoist and Soviet Communist trainers of the Dhofari guerillas told them that Islam was an invention of the British, a device cooked up between the Brits and their corrupt rulers to confuse their minds and keep them subservient. The guerillas were taught to kill and torture those who put their religion before the needs of the revolution. I'll dig a few other quotes out when time permits.

1 comment:

Foxy Brown said...

I'll not hold my breath for an apology from the Zanzibari government.