Journal – Zanzibar and the 1992 OIC question

Defending oneself can sometimes take a toll on you, but all of a sudden a novel idea could come from nowhere to help out in such situations. That being said, I have been struggling to find an event that would link the idea of identity to resources. The geographical connection between the two can always be easily defended, but the religious and ethnic ones prove a little harder to tackle.

Yet I remembered an event that I could use for my paper. The 1992 Zanzibar’s attempt to Unilaterally join the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). This action was even blessed by the then Union President Ali Hassan Mwinyi. A Zanzibari himself, Mwinyi and other Zanzibaris defended the move as saying that OIC is not a religious organization; they wanted Zanzibar to join it in order to tap economic benefits that the organization offers. Most importantly, the OIC clearly stipulated in its mission that Islam is its main focus – thus Zanzibar’s desire to join OIC was both religious and a matter of (Islamic) identity.

Until today the Zanzibar-OIC issue is regularly invoked as to whether or not Zanzibar reserves a diplomatic autonomy to act on matters beyond national borders. The matter was shut down by the Union parliament when it declared the move unconstitutional as Zanzibar’s autonomy does not transcend Union boarders.

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