50 Years Later, Just Exactly What Does The Union of Zanzibar and Tanganyika Mean To The Tanzanian Women
For those of you who might be unaware, Tanganyika (mainland) became an independent state from the British Commonwealth back in 1961. Three years later Tanganyika formed a union with Pemba and Zanzibar islands forming what we now call Tanzania, in the year 1964. It has been 50 years ever since the birth of Tanzania, and celebration for their year of jubilee was held last weekend on 26th April 2014.
The union between Tanganyika mainland and Zanzibar Island has opened up doors for economic empowerment especially for women folks doing business. In our Fem Boss article of this week we take the insight of one Ms. Rukia Yussuf, who coincidentally also celebrates her 50th birthday alongside Tanzania’s year of Jubilee. Ms. Rukia has been running a successful business between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam for period of 20 years now.
Ms. Rukia says, “I started a small business after my husband divorced me because he never wanted me to work. My husband was unable to provide me with essential needs including two meal daily, yet he never wanted me to work. When I decide to ignore his ban he responded by divorce”. Ms. Rukia further continues, “It was big test for me, somebody I love to divorce me just because of work. I could not reverse my decision to get employed I proceeded with my business which grew.”
Ms. Rukia business entails buying foodstuffs from the Mainland in Morogoro and retailing them in Zanzibar. She says she makes a good profit which enables her to live a decent good life and she can now also find happiness despite no longer being married. Ms. Rukia’s case is not an isolated incident since there are many women who are also engaged in various businesses running between mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar Island. It is thus evident that this union is opening up lots of business opportunities for the women folks in Tanzania, since it allows them to move to and fro freely and they are not in any way agitated by the union.
However, there are no official statistics as to just how many women do trade between Zanzibar and Tanganyika, but all indications show that women are in the lead in trade between these two regions. Abdalla Abass, the President of Zanzibar National Chamber of Commerce says, “If you move around shops in Zanzibar and Dar es Salam, it is easier to notice that women are the majority. They are the leading consumers and traders in the product.” The women rely mainly on ferry services offered by Flying Horse and Azam Marine which have ferry rides operating between Zanzibar and Dar es Salam. Ms. Rukia says, “Food items like rice, beans, maize flour and vegetables: clothing like children dress, kanga and shoes are bought from Dar es Salam and brought to Zanzibar for sale, while electronics like TV sets are bought and transported from Zanzibar to Dar es Salam for trade.”
Mr. Nassor Mazrui, the Minister for Trade, Industries and Marketing says, “Most women are engage in entrepreneurship, small and medium business which link them. Women continue to make history, specifically in small business sector as success among women-owned small businesses grows”. Mr. Mazrui’s observation is that the women folk are earning big from this union and are further helping Tanzania in stabilizing the national economy while also generating more jobs.