Congratulations on taking the initiative to look into the serious prospects of establishing a body of the kind that you have outlined in your email.
This is long overdue because Zanzibar and its populace is in dire need of a navigable “road map” – first to catch up with the rest of the world and then to take off into the 22nd century! My heart bled when I visited this “Slice of Heaven” two years ago and saw the condition of the ordinary Zanzibari!
The Island has immense resources of assorted kinds that can be identified, harnessed and then developed for the benefit of the nation and more so for the inhabitants of this beautiful Island.
We live in a global village and therefore we have to be mindful of what we do for ourselves and our umma such that there is no conflict of interest within the Island or with its immediate neighbours, or with the continent or the world itself.
This means that somewhere along the mandate of this august and responsible body, there will have to be provision made to accommodate some kind of direct or indirect involvement of other players who are located beyond the shores of Zanzibar!
Having said that, it is very vital that the Zanzibaris themselves should have the final say and have absolute and total control over their own destiny. Imported ideas, proposals, development plans and investment projects often come with chains attached to them.
This phenomenon is obvious for all of us to see IF we look “critically as well as objectively” at some other communities where gradually, foreign influence – under the guise of mentors, financiers, advisers, developers, investors and in some cases the NGOs – has been “allowed” gradually and subtly to take full charge at the helm of the vessel of future of the community.
The most common fall out is that the common man on the street is always left high and dry as the benefits of the “reforms” and development never reach his shack!
Zanzibar and Zanzibaris MUST avoid this common pitfall for it is not only common but the offer of involvement by outsiders is normally “gift packaged” to make it look attractive and to camouflage its real contents and its ultimate goal.
Zanzibar is still “pure and innocent” compared to its neighbours. While the standard of life and therefore the standard of living of ALL ZANZIBARIS must be improved, it is imperative that the culture, traditions and the overall ambiance of the way of life of Zanzibar NOT BE SACRIFICED at the alter of development!
Cell phones, computers, super highways of communication, giant airports to accommodate super planes, deep harbours to anchor huge ocean liners, 10 star hotels to pamper the millionaires and other such visual landmarks MAY be important, necessary and or termed as development BUT……… that is just a very tiny segment of what MAY be required in the long run – IF REALLY NECESSARY.
Therefore the first MORAL responsibility of the ZANZIBAR INSTITUTE FOR RESEARCH AND PUBLIC POLICY will be to involve the locals at GRASS ROOT levels so as to get their input for identifying their immediate needs.
What springs to my mind is a list containing items such as universal health, universal education, improved and stable ways of earning sustained livelihood, all weather basic shelter shelter, clean running and drinking water, personal safety of the umma, waste matter management, recycling for local industry, improvements in the farming sector, regaining control over the natural resources both on land and at sea….. the list is endless!
Zanzibari diaspora of doctors and lawyers and teachers and professors and planners and other professionals….. ALL of them are vital cogs in this wheel of change but there will be a time and a place for all these noble individuals to participate in this JIHAAD!
The fist chance MUST be given to the sons of the soil now living on the Island. In MY own personal view, it is time for the fish monger, the coconut vendor, the seaweed harvester, the water carrier, the waiter at a foreign owned resort, the muhogo seller, the owner of the small joisk at the vegetable and meat markets, the little girl selling mandazi at the street corner, the boy struggling to scratch a living selling jugu karanga and thousands of others in their mold to be given a break NOW!
Let us collectively – not only keep on thinking and planning BUT lets us – start the ball rolling because every day we dilly dally and procrastinate, more opportunities are lost and the situation is going from bad to worse!
I take this opportunity to thank you for kick starting this idea and I will pray to Allah SWT to bless you and guide you to success. I believe that serving humanity is serving Allah! Take care and keep in touch.
PS: I am not a Zanzibari but just a few months before the trauma of 45 years ago, I had visited the Island for a month and made a firm decision that I would settle in Zanzibar for the rest of my life as soon as I completed my teachers’ training course at Nairobi’s Kenyatta University.
I am 65 years old today and freezing to death in the arctic Canada! However, my 45 years’ old dream is still alive and strong. I will one day land on the shores of Zanzibar and spend the remaining few days of my life in peace, and when my days are done and Allah SWT sends His Angel to take me to Him, I hope and pray that my tired and worn out body will be laid to rest on the Island after my last sunset on this earth. Insha-allah. If possible, please forward this email of mine to those who have been participating in this forum – IF YOU CAN. Shukran jazeeran.