Each 7 April is Karume Day in Tanzania to remember the legacy of Abeid Karume, the first president of Zanzibar and the first Vice President of Tanzania. The date of this holiday is the day on which Karume was assassinated in 1972.
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When the island of Zanzibar gained independence from the British Empire in 1963, it was initially a constitutional monarchy with a sultan. The sultanate was overthrown, however, in 1964, ending five centuries of Arab domination of Zanzibar. It was a quick, but bloody, revolution in which thousands of ethnic Arabs and Indians were massacred.
Abeid Amani Karume was on the African continent during the revolution but was soon called back to Zanzibar to take part in the government. Soon, however, a power struggle developed, which ultimately led to Karume banning his opponent John Okello from Zanzibar and taking charge himself as president. Soon thereafter, Karume led Zanzibar into union with Tanganyika to form the new united republic of “Tanzania”.
Karume’s actions helped ensure Zanzibar would not align itself with the Soviet Union during the cold war, but he also had many enemies. He was mowed down by four gunmen on 7 April, 1972, in Zanzibar Town. Today, he is remembered every 7 April in the national holiday called, in full, “The Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume Day”.