Religion and Politics in Tanzania from the 1880s to the 1990s
When Tanzanian President the late Julius Nyerere abolished schools for religious and racial communities, and government support for the Muslim Council of Tanzania it was seen as a political maneuver designed to weaken specific communities in Tanzania while maintaining a political and economic status quo that was predominantly Christian in outlook. The emergence on both sides of a militant ‘fundamentalism’ in the 90s inspired public rallies, one of which on February 13th 1998 has come to be known as the Mwembechai Riots – two people were shot dead and there was considerable destruction of private and public property.
A Tanzanian Muslim Dr. Hamza Njozi suggested in his book, Mwembechai Killings, that the killings were “a culmination of a long historical conspiracy between the Church and the Government: a twin alliance whose objective has always been to marginalize and oppress Muslims”. The author of this timely book explains the rational behind The Cross versus the Crescent.
‘It was partly because I was dissatisfied with Dr. Ngozi’s limited historical context of the crisis that I embarked on my own research. In doing so I was guided by the hope that a broader historical context might help a better understanding of current relations between the two faiths in Tanzania’.
The study is a serious work providing pertinent insights into the spread of Islam and Christianity in Tanzania.
About the Author
Lawrence E. Y. Mbogoni is Associate Professor of African History in the Department of Africana-World Studies, William Paterson University of New Jersey. Previously he has taught at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, and at Luther College, Iowa.