ZANZIBAR REVISITED

Created: 4/1/1967

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STUDIES IN

INTELLIGENCE

A collection ol articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and Iheotoiical aspects ol Intelligence.

All statements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies tn Intelligence axe those of the authors They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the Central Intelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in the contents should be consirued as asserting or implying US Government endorscmeni of an article's factual stalcmenis and interpretations.

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A case study in political research: reconstruction of4 revolution.

ZANZIBAR REVISITED

Helen-Louise Hunlec

A reconstruction of tbe events of the Zanzibar revolution of4 shows particularly well the usefulness of going back for an unhurried reexaminationrisis after all the returns are th: ft reaches conclusions about both events and causes quite different from what was generally believed at the time.1

Because the Zanzibar revolution was so unexpected and so quickly over, there was contusion and uncertainty about the most basic questions, even about who started it and why. The need for anassessment oo which to base VS. poUcy toward the new regime, however, required that conclusions be drawn on tbe basis of the information then available, though this was recognized to be inadequate. With the passage of time, therefore, and the accumulationreat mass of retrospective reporting on theecond look at the evidence seemed called for. As it turns out, the new evidenceew verdict

Contemporary Repotting

Needless to say. Zanzibar had notajor target of our intelligence effort Moreover, scholars on the outside bad not studied the politics of the island and so compensated for our lack ofinformation, mtelhgence reporting before the coup had concentrated on the Arab political minority from which the party in power was drawn, not on the African majority. This reporting indicated that active plotting for the overthrow of the government was being done in the Umma Party by followers of the radical Arab leader Abdulrahman Mohammed Babn. There were no reports of such plotting centered on the Afio-Shlrazi Party, the chief spokesman of the African majority. Thus we did not know then what has since

' In this article the author ruramarttea the resultsetailed study she madeember of the OA/DDI Research Staff. Zmatixm The Hundred Days' Revolution.

been esUbltibed from goodin Ihe Ado-Shiranadical group of African trade union leaders led by Abdulla Kassim Hanga was also making plans, independent of those of the Arab Babu and bis Umma Party group,evolution. As early as the middleroup of ASP leaders including Hanga had gone to Tanganyika to ask President Nyerere for money and arms inof their projected uprising.

In any crisis such as the Zanzibar revolution, there arc bound to be inadocjuaciei in the information available oo events of the moment In this case, however, we were all but cut off from any word about what was going on, because the new leaders promptly sent allew select foreigners on the island back to the mainland. For days the main news out of Zanzibar cameemarkable scries of radio broadcasts to the people by one Johnitherto unknown who thus suddenly emerged as chief spokesman for Ihe regime. The only thing known for certain about Okello was that he was an African. In bis first broadcast, he announced that be had been the strong man behind the revolution and that the government was now "run by us, tbe army."

We. tU army, bare* the rbro pa ofGkm,Wd anyone be rtsibborst aad disobeyill lake very rtrooj8 ttneaer than at present

Iery high ranking penoo ta Kenya la the Mau Mau army which knows how to make weapon*. an eaiCy make not lata than SCO

gun* pev day. anomb that can deatroy an areaquare mit-i an makerenade* In an hour.

As the days passed. Okello's boasts about his role in tlte revolution and his power grew ever more fantastic. On one occasionm above the government and cannott was these broadcasts, more than anything else, that seemed at the time to establishvolution and tbe new government as eatTcmist andoot irrational. Thisundamental misconceptioo-

Con!emporaiy Appraltal

The emergence of Okellooatioo of prominence was the most curious and most con/using aspect of the situation. Thereatural tendency to assume some logical ordering behind events evenevolution, In this case to assume that Okello must bo playing some pro-arranged role. It is not surprising that we were thereforeoss to explain his rise to power, since actually, as we dull ice later. Okello was the personification of srsontaneity; his role in the coup

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wai Ihe most unplanned and unanticipated aspect of (he whole unplanned affair.

La Ihe midstrisis the bard-pressed analyst has no time lo do research Into Ihe situation or check the assumptions of theAt the time of the Zanzibar revolution, there were reports that revolutionary President Kanirae, Babu, Hanga, and other Zanzibar! nationalists (sometime* Okello was Included) bad all worked together "without regard to nominal party affiliation" in planning the revolt It was only later that one could see the mistake In lumping the pro-Communist elements to the ASP with Babu and tbe radical Arabs. Then could be little bast*lose working reUtiorrsbip between men like the pro-Soviet African Hanga. wbo had strongeelings, and the pro-Chinese Arab Babu. At the time, however, tbe misleading assumptions of the reporting were not seriously challenged but carried over into the carry analyses of the dtuatioa.

The conclusions of the AMBnnsHftAmerican inteUigenceon the basis of tbe information then available were the following:

TT- lewahioOa was tha work of th*, led by Bahu and aided by OUflo.

I'.f'JiS WeeUyhe prime movers of tha revolutloa weraowever, they do oot represent tha majority of African*.

ofCmhiwifIH Speetni

Looms fat he Umma Party bae beenevolt, and the spark triuefaf seasatd ha early January by the Zanrlbar police on Uauna bead-quarter*. Ibe man snort rapooribU for the revolution wu Fibo.

The Western press must have left this same impression with the general public. Typical of Us anrJyses were the following:

Who atsfSneered tha coop? Tbe most fakaly answer ts Bahu, leader ml tbe Umcu Party, which bas ao scab to Farilaaaetit but has dose muxxOOa with the trade (mama.

. "Latter Fromew Leader. ITt Ii unltVely that tha Afio-Shtnul Party, avast ta the esplosteeanxflW. would batevoliitfanary toitUlfvW. It was waning far0 tlerttVma But ta tbeohammed Babu, wfth tbe perrl re ofonths to prison forad formed allUasma Party. Ha and failaa the ASP.a. appear to have baa* abt leading pcUrnos] Igwos behind the revolution.

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The coochisioo thai Dabu was prim* mover in lhe coup waswith what was known about bim. The leading Zarizabai taationsJast, be was the most outspoken critic of the West oo the island. He bad been kxiown for several years to have Chinese Communist contacts and he had just returned in rnsd-Dccember from China, where be was suspected of havingourse in the military tactics of resolution. When his Umma Party headquarters were searched in early January, the police had seized large quantities ofiary written fn Pekingull description of methods forovernment by violence. Further, tt was reported that the Umma Party had brought artipply of arms arid .numuuiiioV Into Zanzibarhree-month period at the end of the previous year.

It waseasonable conclusion, at the time, that Okello must have played some role in Babu's plan and that be must then be speaking with tbe authority and approval of Babu and the other leaders.

The Facte Reexamined

Forear after the revolution we continued to receive good new retrospective reporting which contributed to our understanding of what bad happened At the end of this time the main facts could be reasonably well established, and ft was poariblc to proceedeconstruction of what lay behind them.

The first step was to sort out fact from conjecture in the mass of conflicting reports on tbe revolution. This was something that most observers at the time hadn't dona Perhaps the most specracular eaample of their failure to discriminate was the widely pubueized report that Cuban naticnials had fought on the side of the rebels. Journalists to. and British refugees reported they bad seen Spanlsh-sperdang soldiers wearing Cuban-type uruTorms jumped to the conclusionumber of Cubans were Involved in the coup, and from then on the Cubans' presence on Zanraoar was reported as fact It was necessary to track down the source of the refugee report and Bad out what basis there had been for It

It was first established that the refugee* bad talked merely of Spanish-speaking sol diem. Now we knewroup of aboutannbaru, all Arabs, had received military training an Cuband our initial supposition was that these bad during the course of the fighting spouted Spanish slogans they had learned in Cuba. Then

fromvery reliable source who had been in Zanzibar at (be tirm of ihe revolution aod was closely questioned oo (hit point Liter, it was finally learned that oneakistani, had beenaround the island during the revolutionuban outfit,astro-type beard; be and no one else. Hb behavior, and that alone, bad been responsible for the rumor that Cubans were involved in the coup.

Such interviews with persons who liad been there at live time or had other first-hand information were of fundamental importance in establishing the_imain facts^Wo questioned. menBJ oot all, of the US. officials who had served ha Zanzibaruring, and just after the revolution, as well as those familiar with the Zanzibar sceneour of duty inoo the mainland. This lande-.tigating can be done from Washington only some time after the event, when most of those to be questioned have returned here tn the course of reassignment or at least for debriefing sessions.

Perhaps tbe main reason whyeconstruction as this is not done morehat ftot ofto collect all the reports, sift through, screen, and correlate them, and follow up the questions they raise in personal interviews. Time is one great au-vantagc the researcher has over the harassed current intelligence analyst. The other advantagereater variety ofreat deal of retrospectivevailable from new as well as the old sources. In tbe case of Zanzibar, the enrichment in sourcesreat improvement over pre-revolutionaryFor one thing, it provided new information on the pre-revolu-booary activities of the radical group in the ASP. establiihing the crucial fact that not justmma Party group but at least one if not two others were independently planningevolution.

New HypothesU

The second phase in the process of reconstructing the Zanzibar revolution consisted of developing tentative hypotheses and testing litem against the facts. At this stage the theory of Babu's responsibility for thegenerally acceptedto pieces. Lengthy eannuhatioa turned up no credible evidence that he had played any significant part at alL He was not in Zanzibar when the fighting started tri the early hours ofanuary, but returned to the island only that evening. The testimony of Israeli businessmsn Mishab Fetnsilbcr, who owned and operated the boat which brought him back, is crucial here: it was Feirrsdber's strong impression at

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lhe time (hat Babu wai completely uninformed about the events of thata mi pari attorney who knew Babu well was also convinced that Babu had oo previous knowledge of tbe coup. During the course of tbe day's fighting some of Babu's followers eventually joined tbe ranks of tbe rebels, but tbey do not seetn to have played any part In the initial attacks.ruficant of all is the fact that the supplies of wins and amnrunitioo which the Umma Party had brought in and concealed to different spots on tbe Island were not used.

Other hypothecjjrere. tested tothrt^aarne manner. Then several 'reports that Okello bad actually plartned the revolution himself was unconvincing In tbe absence of any evidence to that effect, and Okello's own performanceational leader afterward raised doubts that he was capable of planning anything at all. It was much more reasonable to suppose that the reports reflected deb Derate attempts by Okello and bis followers to enhance hit role in the revolution; these men were definitely known to have distorted other facts to fit their exalted picture of htm as the uvior of bis country.

The possibility that the revolution was the result of the secret planning by Hanga and other mcmbcrr of the extreme left wing of tbe ASP proved to be tbe best working hypotheais. It was consistent with tbe most obvious and the most important fact about the ZanzibarItovement by Africans, not Arabs, to put Africans In control of the government. Tbe violence of tbe revolt and tbe bloodletting that followed the overthrow of tbe Arab Sultan was manifestly racial violence by Africans against Arabs.

Sew Account trig

There wereew facts lhat were oot consistent with this broad hypothesis. The third and last phase to the reconstruction process consisted of refining it to square with these. For one thing, Hanga's plan apparently calledoup to March or April, rather than January; asew days before the revolution tho planners were still proceeding on the basisay in the spring. Several of the key planners actually expressed surprise that the revolution occurred so soon, not according to tbefr plan. Apparently something bad rrrecipitated events ahead of time.

A great majority of the reports trace the course of the revolution from the tame starting point an African fete held at ASPon the night of Saturday.anuary. Gradually it became

Zonr ibor

clear that Ihe revolt murt have grown wit of spontaneous sett on by the Africans at litis affair. It seems to have been triggeredumor that the government planned mass arrests of ASP leaden the ocitumber of disgruntled ex-members of tbepolice force who knew where the police arms were stored and bow to get access to them are known to have been at the fete; they appear to have urged the crowd to followan attack on thetrongholds. It Is fairly well establislted that Hanga, Karume, end other ASP leaders did address the crowd that night at the Seamen's Union Club, whither it bad moved from Party beadepaarters. Apparently, scoring the exerted state of the Africans, they decided then and there to seize the opportunity to overthrow tbe government- The revolution that materialized on the morrring ofanuary was thus actually not the one planned by either Babu and bis Umma Party or Hanga and his ASP group. It was morepontaneous action.

OkeUoreature of this spontaneity. It is possible that he was at tbe African fete and somehow contributed to touching oS tbe attack with wild talk of revolution, but not one report mentions him by name as having played any role In inciting the crowd. He does not appear oo the scene that night until he emerges several hours biter as the hero of the attack on the Ziwarri police armory and is immediately accepted by the rebels as their new leader, lt Is now erufte clear tl>at Hanga, Karume, Babu, and the other leaders had had only chance contacts with him before the revolution; they had certainly not foreseen that he would come out of itarge popular following andhare equal to their own In running the government Afterward, as soon as they conveniently could, they rid themselves of him.

Only such an explanation of the Zanzibar revolution fits all the major known facts about it It is recognized that the researcher has an unfair advantage over tbe current analyst in being able toumber of Iiypotheses slowly and carefully against all the informsUoo that has gradually come to lighteriod of rime and only then commit Mimt1'* to an Interpretation. On the other hand, because of thi- advantage, heesponsibility to get the answer right

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