Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Two Karumes; A Bicycle and and a Range Rover

A picture of a gray-haired Mwalimu Julius Nyerere hangs on bedroom wall. Besides it is a small picture of Thomas Sankara in a military combat and red beret and on my study table lies a picture of Martin Luther King as he addressed civil rights supporters at Lincoln Memorial in Washington in 1963. I admire these three men. They remind me who and what I want to be. They are all great men in the eyes of the world. Despite their glittering roles in modern history, their simplicity and modesty inspire me the most. 

This week am in Zanzibar for work. I have had an opportunity to visit the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) headquarters which was the venue Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume, the first president of Zanzibar was assassinated in 1972. Outside the party headquarters is his statue with a revolutionary message:

 Zanzibar Serikali yetu ni ya Usawa
Hakuna Bwana Juu ya Binadamu Mwenziwe
Kila Mwenye Haki Apewe
Tumepindua Kuondoa Mabaya
Lengo Letu
Kuleta Usawa na Maendeleo
Ubinafsi ni Adui wa Maendeleo

As you get inside the building, on the right hand corner is a small office where Mzee Karume used as an office and where he was killed. Inside the office is a small table with few chairs. Besides the chairs is Karume's bicycle. Am told that Mzee Karume always used this bike to go around and that was the only means of transport that he owned. 

Later in the day, as I take my colleague to the airport, we are stopped by police sirens. I ask my Zanzibar friend, Salim what this was about. "Karume is going to the mosque for Friday prayers," he tells me. A white porsche Range Rover pulls over at the mosque and Amani Karume (immediate former president of Zanzibar and son of Mzee Karume) walks out and heads to the mosque. Am told his house is barely a kilometer from the mosque. I try to juxtapose my morning encounter with this and am dumbstruck. How times change! After all, we are not all cut from the same cloth!

Ramadhan Kareem from Zanzibar.