USSR and Zanzibar in the Years of Its Struggle for Independence and Unification with Tanganyika (Based on Archival Sources)

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Based on documents from the Russian archives - the Archive of foreign policy of the Russian Federation, the State archive of the Russian Federation, and the Russian state archive of modern history, the article examines the relations of the USSR with Zanzibar in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Soviet-Zanzibar relations are examined against the background of a complex period in the history of the island state, which included the stages of inter-party rivalry during the struggle for independence, the Zanzibar revolution itself, and the unification with Tanganyika. The author also draws attention to the ethnic composition of the Zanzibar population in the years before the start of the national liberation movement, the history of the origin of ethnic groups in the archipelago and their traditional relationships. The author examines in detail the composition and political orientation of the parties that took part in the struggle for independence. He also considers the influence of the political spectrum and the international situation of the Cold War period on the decisions of national leaders in choosing a support side for further development. The author also considers actions of two leading actors of the bipolar system, the USSR and the USA, in the struggle for influence on the young national elites of Zanzibar in particular, and then Tanzania as a whole. The author conducts a detailed analysis of the United States actions and its allies to intervene the party struggle within Zanzibar society and the further reaction of the USSR to these steps. He also considers the reasons for the decline in Soviet influence on Zanzibar and the events that led to the closure of the Soviet diplomatic missions. The author points out the ambiguity of Zanzibar and Tanganyika’s unification, which could be perceived as an artificial political act supported by interested global forces than the process of voluntary unification of the two young countries. A number of issues are considered almost for the first time in Russian historiography.

About the authors

Alexander Stepanovich Balezin

Institute of World History, RAS

Author for correspondence.
Moscow, Russian Federation

PhD, Dr. of Sc. (History), Professor, Chief Research Fellow, Centre for African Studies, the Department of Regional Studies


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Copyright (c) 2020 Balezin A.S.

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