Germans have had very interesting relations with Zanzibar. They were here on commercial terms and with counsellor representation before Berlin Conference and occupation of Tanganyika. Almost all their explorers took off for the interior Africa using Zanzibar as their launch pad and least one forget the issue of Heligoland Island that put the two sides on international level when the Sultanate was in control of the whole East African Coastal strip.
Also German soldiers are buried here after their war vessel Konisberg sunk in our territorial water. In all humility they are our family after a German business man eloped with Seyyida Salme, a princess and hence out there is our royal blood.
Zanzibaris would never forget the interest that East Germany took over Zanzibar soon after the 1964 Revolution in recognizing the nascent state and helping out as close friend. Hence it was befitting gesture and high note endorsement of Zanzibar made by the German President when he walked along the Forodhani Road on his arrival, something never done by any visiting leader. The visiting German President was at home.
I am sure President Gauck was thrilled as he was boisterously cheered by the friendliest people on earth chanted for him and Germany which they admire their football and hard work.
The Forodhani Road passes through many land mark buildings such as the Old Dispensary, the Big Tree, the Custom House, the Sultan Palace, The Forodhani Gardens, The Old Fort and the Tembo House. It always feels pleasure to walk the road. To me it was more than a walk surely to see the sea front which needs repair badly and which the German government would intervene to re-enact and strengthen, the same as it has done to pave the narrow streets in one of the biggest project it had undertaken in Zanzibar. Whoever planned for that walk must have thought very well for Zanzibar which for a long time now has been suffering heaps and heaps of blame on insecurity so much at times the exaggeration is beyond belief. The visit killed it all.
A Western Europe leader walking in the streets of Zanzibar, what a script to run for security endorsement in a place where the Western media bombard with stories on religious violence, extremism and connections made with Al Qaeda, Al Shabab and such groups mainly because certain individuals have collaborated with them.
The walk is big public relations to Zanzibar that tourists here are safe despite hiccups on mugging, acid attacks something that can happen anywhere and in fact such attacks are prone at any big city anywhere in the world.
The walk has sent good messages to potential German visitors to Zanzibar being the second biggest group after the Italians. But to the rest like the Britons, the Scandinavians, the Spanish, the Belgians and the Swiss who come to Zanzibar in their droves. Of course the endorsement by German President Gauck comes with very high price which the Zanzibar Government has to pay, as they say there is no free lunch.
It means it has to clear its house and put it into order to match the gesture. Granted there are religious frictions that can lead to extremism. Not refuted that tourists have been attacked and foreign residents have been targeted as criminality is a real threat. Drugs are galore.
Zanzibar cannot relax at all when tourism sector is being threatened because it now its heartbeat with 200,000 visitors per year channelling over 60 per cent in the Zanzibar Government financial machinery.
To me, the doors have been just opened for Zanzibar and it is for us to decide how to walk the distance.
By Ally Saleh