Print Culture, Islam and the Politics of Caution in Late Colonial Dar es Salaam: A History of Ramadhan Machado Plantan’s Zuhra, 1947–1960

In: Islamic Africa
James R. Brennan Department of History, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA,

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This article examines the history of Ramadhan Machado Plantan’s newspaper Zuhra, an independent African weekly newspaper that served as both an advocate for Dar es Salaam’s Muslim African community, as well as a kind of spiritual advisor and diviner. The content of Zuhra engages with a host of issues that were germane to its reading public, some of which were conventionally nationalist (segregation, land rights) and others which seem particularly religion (cemeteries, dream interpretations, religious counsel). Plantan’s Zuhra was often out of step with the rising nationalist movement embodied in the Tanganyika African Nationalist Union (tanu), which ultimately led to its estrangement and opposition to the country’s victorious nationalist party. Finally, this article explores how these disjunctions between Zuhra and tanu played out, first as a matter of a changing newspaper political economy, and second as a mouthpiece for a new Muslim opposition party.

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