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Conversation With Zanzibar
Expert M. M. Ali And His Wife

June 18, 1964

[SOURCE: Long Live Mao Tse-tung Thought, a Red Guard Publication.]

The chairman: Let us first pose for a photograph! (Picture was taken and everyone was seated)

The chairman: You have come from Africa, from Zanzibar?

Ali: Yes.

The chairman: (to Chiang X) What language are you speaking?

Chiang X X: English.

The chairman: (to Ali) I heard that you have been in China several years.

Ali: Yes, some 4 years.

The chairman: You have done much work for us; you have helped the Chinese people with broadcasting work.

Chiang X X: He has helped us with the Swahili language broadcasts, and he helped us train cadres in Swahili.

The chairman: Good!

Ali: Radio Peking has also helped our people, helping them to understand the world situation.

The chairman: Are they able to hear us?

Ali: They are able to hear very well, not only in Zanzibar, but it is also clearly received in the entire Swahili-speaking region.

The chairman: How many countries?

Ali: There are Tanganyika, Kenya, a part of Uganda, and also the Congo.

The chairman: Which Congo? Greater Congo?

Ali: In both of the Congos.

The chairman: Thank you! (Spoken in English). Why must you go home?

Ali: My country requested it.

The chairman: Your country has asked you to return home. One of your ministers was in the delegation of your united republic which came this time, did you meet him?

Ali: That was Babu. I met him.

The chairman: I saw him for the first time, he is very tall.

Ali: Yes

The chairman: Is he now working in the capital of Tanganyika?

Ali: No, he is not. Maybe he will go there in the future.

The chairman: You were friends in the past?

Ali: Yes. As a matter of fact, he was the one who suggested that I come to China.

The chairman: When you leave, there will be no one else here.

Ali: There will, there are still six people from Zanzibar who are working here.

The chairman: After you two leave, there will still be four?

Ali: No, I am saying that there still will be six. One at the radio station, four at the Diplomatic Publications Bureau, and one in the Foreign Language Institute.

The chairman: They are all from Zanzibar, none from Tanganyika?

Ali: There is one; he is working at the China Map Publishing House, translating Swahili.

The chairman: Is the climate in your country different from the climate here?

Ali: Yes, but we have become acclimated. We do not have snow in our country.

The chairman: Several winters already!

Ali: But we have become acclimated.

The chairman: Is your country in the southern or northern hemisphere, the southern or northern latitudes?

Ali: It is actually on the equator.

The chairman: Isn’t it very hot along the equator?

Ali: Yes, but our country is merely a small island, and it isn’t too hot.

The chairman: Maritime climate.

Ali: Yes.

The chairman: Do you have any Chinese friends?

Ali: A great many, a great many.

The chairman: Have you toured and visited other places?

Ali: We have. In 1961, we went to Harbin, Canton, Shanghai, Hangchow, as well as other localities. Recently, we were fortunate enough to go to Ching-kang-shan once.

The chairman: Ah, you climbed the mountain.

Ali: We have also been to Jui-chin.

The chairman: Ah.

Ali: We saw the site of the first soviet administration. We chatted with the people of Ching-kang-shan, we chatted with the old cadres and the people in the old area. They provided us much information on the situation.

The chairman: We were there from 1927 to 1928, that is 37 years ago! We later shifted to Jui-chin. The district of Jui-chin was relatively large, it had a population of several million  —  not only the one county of Jui-chin, there were several tens of counties, and we won many victories in battles there.

Later, we made the Long March to the north. From 1934 to 1935, I went to the northern part of Shensi. I have also been to Kansu. I have also been to Shansi. We crossed the Yellow River in the vicinity of T’ai-yuan. Shansi is next to Hopeh. Later on, we fought the Japanese mainly in the various provinces north of the Yangtze River, with Yenan as the centre. Afterwards, the fighting spread to Manchuria. After the Japanese had gone, Chiang Kai-shek came again. Chiang Kai-shek fought us, so we fought against him; we fought for 3.5 years and defeated most of Chiang Kai-shek’s troops, 90 percent of his troops. The remainder all fled to Taiwan. He has always depended on the U.S. for protection, and he is still depending on their (the U.S.) Seventh Fleet. That is why the U.S. is still not at peace with us. U.S. imperialism is a very ferocious imperialism. It is also the greatest of imperialism. It has an influence on you people, too.

Ali: Yes, the U.S. is devising all ways and means to infiltrate into Zanzibar.

The chairman: Were Tanganyika and Zanzibar formerly colonies or semi-colonies of Britain?

Ali: Britain colonized Zanzibar and called it a “protectorate.”

The chairman: There was a king, called a sultan.

Ali: It was because there was a sultan that it was called a “protectorate.”

The chairman: What about Tanganyika

Ali: It was called a “territory.”

The chairman: Then it didn’t have any king? Was it under the direct control of the British?

Ali: Yes.

The chairman: There are also Kenya and Uganda?

Ali: Kenya is a colony, Uganda still has kings and is also called a “protectorate.”

The chairman: How about Northern and Southern Rhodesia?

Ali: There are no kings, they are colonies.

The chairman: Are there still quite a number of white people there?

Ali: Yes, there are immigrants in Tanganyika and Kenya. Because of the relatively cooler climate in Kenya, there are many settlers.

The chairman: How many are there? It is said that there are several hundreds of thousands.

Ali: Yes, there are several hundreds of thousands.

The chairman: It is said that there are 3,00,000.

Ali: Yes.

The chairman: What is the population of Kenya? Three million?

Ali: Eight and one-half million.

The chairman: It has that many people?

Ali: Yes, and the population of Tanganyika is larger, with some 9 million people.

The chairman: There are 10 million.

Ali: That is possible. My figures came from a census taken a long time ago.

The chairman: Have you ever been in Tanganyika?

Ali: I only passed through it.

The chairman: Have you ever been in Kenya?

Ali: I passed through it when I went to Uganda.

The chairman: Which route will you be taking when you return home?

Ali: I shall pass through Pakistan and Kenya, and maybe through Tanganyika and then to Zanzibar. There are two routes, one is a direct route from Kenya to Zanzibar, and the other is from Kenya to Zanzibar via Tanganyika.

The chairman: It seems to me that your skin complexion is slightly different from that of the people of Tanganyika.

Ali: Yes, the people of Tanganyika are a bit darker.

The chairman: There is also Madagascar. The skin of the people there is also different from the other localities in Africa.

Ali: Ahem.

The chairman: I hope you will have the opportunity to come back to China again sometime.

Ali: China has already become our home.

The chairman: Come for a trip, tour country. Shall we end our chat here? Do you still have any questions?

Ali: I have; I would like to ask you several questions. The struggle of the peoples of Africa at the present time is developing by leaps and bounds, and as the struggle develops, our blows against imperialism become heavier. However, this struggle still has a long way to go. Although I have read quite a number of documents, I still would like to have you digress on whatever views you may have regarding the outlook of the struggle of the peoples of Africa.

The chairman: I am not very familiar with the situation in Africa. However, according to the way I see it, in the past 10 or 11 years, starting with 1952 when Egypt overthrew the regime of King Farouk, the changes in Africa have been tremendous. The British and the French were unwilling to admit their defeat and carried out attacks against the Suez movement. Another place is Algeria, where war was waged for 8 years. Algeria resisted several hundreds of thousands of French troops with a few troops. As a result French imperialism was defeated and Algeria was victorious. Recently, there were changes in your country; your country merely has a population of 3,00,000, and dared to overthrow the lackey of imperialism, and the imperialists did not dare to do anything. Tanganyika also became independent and the British troops have gone. What about Kenya?

Ali: Kenya has become independent, but after the military coup, the British troops are still there.

The chairman: They are? I heard the troops in the African countries had left.

Ali: That was in Tanganyika.

The chairman: Oh, in Tanganyika.

Ali: In Kenya, the situation is a bit different. Kenya has an agreement with Britain; the British have bases in Kenya. The British troops will be withdrawn by the end of the year.

The chairman: Eventually, they will leave.

Ali: Correct!

The chairman: In the Congo, I speak of Greater Congo, there was a Lumumba, a national hero, who was put to death, but the struggle is still developing. In the recent greater part of the year, there has been development in the struggle. In Southwest Africa and Angola, the Portuguese colony, struggle is still underway. Although I am not familiar with Africa, as I see it, according to the circumstances of the past 10 years, it can be said that there will be still greater changes in the next 10 years. Maybe you also see it that way. We must look at it from the standpoint of history and development! South Africa is a bit more difficult. That area has more than 3 million white people, and they are unwilling to leave. That place must be liberated, but I’m afraid that it will take a little longer.

Asia, Africa, and Latin America, these three continents all have the conditions for revolution at the present time, and these three continents make up the vast majority of the world’s population. This is a fact. They constitute the vast majority of the world; Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and North America the minority.

(Ali offers a cigarette to the chairman)

Ali: Africa does not have a communist party at present. Do you believe that the time is ripe for the establishment of a communist party in Africa? Do you have any views regarding a united front in Africa?

The chairman: The question of establishing a communist party must rest on whether there are any industrial workers. I see that there are industries in Africa. Many of the countries have industries, some have been established by the imperialists and some have been established by the Africans themselves; there are mines, railroads, highways, and other industries. Although there is no communist party at present, there will be one of these days. It isn’t that there is no communist party at present time, because there are communist parties in Algeria, Morocco, and South Africa. The Communist Party of Algeria is not a revolutionary party, it is a revisionist party. Revisionist parties, such as the party in Algeria, are not like a national liberation front which conducts a war for national liberation; the communist party in Algeria is against a war for liberation, it follows the dictates of the French communist party. The communist party in Algeria is against us, it opposes China; the Algerian Government and the Algerian National Liberation Front cooperate with us. I do not know why they oppose us. They might be opposing us for some reason that we don’t understand.

There is still another example. The Iraqi communist party in Asia also opposes China. It only pays attention to opposing the Communist Party of China and does not pay any attention to the dangers of coups which it faces. Even during the past year a coup took place and Kassem was executed and the secretary general of the party was also killed. Do you know of this incident?

Ali: I know about it. I read about it in the newspapers.

The chairman: Many in the communist party were killed, many of the revisionists were killed, and many progressive persons were killed. You tell me, why does the communist party of Iraq oppose us?

Ali: They follow the conductor’s baton.

The chairman: Follow the conductor’s baton and carry on peaceful transition.

Then there is Brazil, which is also not in favour of us because we do not agree with peaceful transition. Several months ago, a coup took place and its president was kicked out. The leader of the revisionist party was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. The leader of this party had been to China. His name is [Luis Carlos] Prestes. He was a noted member of the communist party who later became a revisionist. The U.S. imperialists and their lackey did not care whether one was a revisionist or not. Nine Chinese were arrested, of which six were traders and three were newsmen.

This is to say that revisionists do not oppose imperialists; they compromise with the imperialists and reactionaries. The working class of Africa will learn their lesson. It is possible that some revisionist parties will make their appearance, and it is also possible that some Marxist parties will make their appearance.

The question of a united front is a question of opposing imperialism or not opposing imperialism. Those who oppose imperialism must unite. Speaking of the categories of bourgeois democratic revolution, they determine whether one opposes imperialism or does not oppose imperialism. As for establishing a genuine socialist state (not one in name only), establishing an economy with systems of ownership by all the people and collective ownership under proletarian leadership, that is another thing. This not only stimulates the interests of the imperialists, but it will stimulate the interests of the bourgeoisie. Let us say, for example, that at the present time, it is possible for Algeria to go socialist. The older group of people will not be able to keep pace, including premier [Ferhat] Abbas of the provisional government and Belkacem. They will be unable to keep pace with the others.

Class struggle. Genuine Marxist-Leninists preach class struggle; there is class struggle in society. On two occasions we had a united front with the Kuomintang. One was the Northern Expedition, in 1927[1]. The second was during the war against Japan. During the first united front, the Northern Expedition fought to the Yangtze River Valley, and when the Kuomintang held the power and opposed us, we could only fight with them. We went up to Ching-kang-shan, and later came to Jui-chin.

After that, the Japanese fought their way in. Chiang Kai-shek felt that it would not do to continue his fight with us. The second united front was then established. This united front lasted for a period of 8 years. On the one hand, the Kuomintang united with the Communist Party to oppose Japan; on the other hand, the Kuomintang also opposed us each day. What could we do? On one side, there was Japan; on the other side, there was also the Kuomintang, so we adopted the policy of uniting while waging struggle, with unity as the main factor. In this way, we endured with the Kuomintang for 8 years. With the surrender of Japan, the Kuomintang fought against us, and the united front disintegrated. We did not have any large cities. We did not have the assistance of foreign powers, our troops were few in numbers, we had no air force, we had no navy, we had no airplanes, and we had no artillery. We only had light weapons. They were not made by us; they had been seized by us.

Thus, it is not so that there is no united front? We drove them to Taiwan, but there still is a united front. In reality our united front is more widespread. Our China has eight democratic parties[2]. When the Kuomintang existed, the contacts between the intellectuals, university professors, middle and primary school teachers, and us were not very extensive. After liberation, they did not run away. We united with them. The university professors in Peking, such as the professors at Peking and Tsing-hua universities, and the university professors in Shanghai and Canton did not all run away. They felt that there was no future in following the Kuomintang.

The fundamental united front is the united front with the workers and the peasants. It was also after liberation that the Workers and Peasants’ Alliance was realized on a national scale.

The Kuomintang represents the big bourgeoisie, the comprador class, and the feudalist landlord class. I am talking about its later period. The Kuomintang had represented the national bourgeoisie and the broad masses of people. At that time, with Mr. Sun Yat-sen as its representative, it was China’s only and most progressive political party. There was no Communist Party at that time. The Communist Party only came into being afterwards; it was 1921 before there was a Communist Party. Afterwards, the Communist Party and the Kuomintang set up the first united front.

Later on, the Kuomintang opposed the Communist Party. They fought each other for 10 years. It turned into an agent of imperialism  —  U.S. and British imperialism. Why were we still able to form the second united front with it when it turned into an agent of big bourgeoisie and the big landlord class? It was because Japan was fighting its way into our country.

When Japan invaded the Northeast, the Kuomintang was still battling us. It was when the Japanese had fought their way down through the pass and were advancing toward the mainland that it felt it would have to make peace with the Communist Party. It was then that the second united front of the Communist Party and the Kuomintang was formed.

Chiang Kai-shek stood on the side of the U.S. Britain, and France in opposing Japan, Hitler, and Mussolini; it was one faction of imperialism fighting another faction of imperialism. The three countries of Germany, Italy, and Japan became vanquished nations. It is necessary to look at certain conditions; at the time, the U.S., Britain, France, and we were also able to cooperate with them. Changes took place after the war; the U.S. wanted to dominate the world. Japan had been defeated; Italy and Germany had been defeated; Britain and France had been weakened. Why did Africa rise up? It was because imperialism had been weakened. Britain and France had been weakened.

In general, Africa . . . , as far as the broad masses of people are concerned, none have any good feelings toward Britain, the U.S., Belgium, Portugal, or Spain. Why is it that we are on speaking terms with you Africans and the black people? We have things in common.

Ali: We people of Africa carried on a protracted struggle with imperialism. We saw that China had been liberated and the struggle of the Chinese people greatly inspired us. After the Liberation of China, we had a much better understanding of China.

Our struggle continued to develop because China provided us with a great deal of experience; China provided the people of Africa with a tremendous amount of support and encouragement for which we are extremely grateful. China issued many statements expressing support for us. In recent years, we have been able to come to China and visit many places, and this has been a great help to us.

The Soviet revisionists told us that we must coexist peacefully and carry out disarmament; they told us that this was our main task and said that they would use the money saved through disarmament to give us aid. However, our struggle must depend on our own efforts.

The chairman: Right!

Ali: In this aspect, the revisionists are colluding more and more with the imperialists. According to your way of thinking, how far will their collusion go?

The chairman: They might carry their collusion a step further. The imperialists and the revisionists have their collusions and they also have contradictions. Revisionists and revisionists also have contradictions. The revisionists have several tens of parties, but they are not very united. The imperialists are also not very united among themselves. You see, France and Britain are not very united either. The Japanese monopolistic capitalists and the Japanese Government first struck the U.S. at Pearl Harbor; afterwards, they occupied the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaya, and Indonesia; they fought on to the eastern part of India and occupied the greater part of China. As for Korea, it goes without saying that it was originally its colony. Now these places have all gained their independence, and some are still under U.S. control. Among those controlled by the U.S. are: South Korea, South Vietnam, and the Philippines. Japan is also partially controlled by the U.S. You can say that Japan, but you must not say the people, is big bourgeoisie. Can they feel comfortable? I don’t think so. I do not believe that there are no contradictions between the U.S. imperialists and the Japanese monopolistic capitalists.

We have said that there are two buffer zones. Asia, Africa, and Latin America are the first buffer zone. Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan are the second buffer zone. The Japanese monopolistic capitalists were deceived [on this] by the U.S., and we oppose [this] deception. There are other people who subscribe to [this] interpretation of going into the buffer zone.

This is not the first time I am saying this; I said it in 1946[3]. At the time I said nothing about a first and second zone, but only one buffer zone, the buffer zone between the Soviet Union and the U.S., which included China. 1946, 1956, 1964,. . . that’s 18 years ago. At that time, we were in Yenan; I said it to the American correspondent, her name is Strong.

Ali: I know who she is.

The chairman: She is already more than 70 years old!

At that time, the U.S. had taken the place of Germany, Italy, and Japan, and it wanted to dominate the world; its objective was to invade the buffer zone and not to fight the Soviet Union. The anti-Soviet slogan was a smoke-screen. Like the anti-China characteristics, its objective was to manipulate the buffer zone with an anti-China slogan.

Ali: I deeply appreciate the time the chairman has given me. May I be permitted to express my feelings to you? Ever since my arrival in China, I have looked forward to this day. There are no words which can express my feelings.

The chairman: Have you read any Marxism-Leninism works?

Ali: I have, and I have also read your works.

The chairman: I have learned from Marx and Lenin.

Ali: You have developed Marxism-Leninism. Your works are much easier to understand than those of Marx, Engels, and Lenin.

The chairman: They are somewhat easier to understand.

Ali: That is my feeling, your works are very readable.

The chairman: I do not have many writings.

Ali: No, you have a great many.

The chairman: Good, let us end our conversation here!

Ali and Mrs. Ali: Till we meet again!

The chairman: Till we meet again!



[1.] The Northern Expedition was the punitive war against the Northern warlords launched by the revolutionary army which marched north from Kwangtung Province in May-July 1926. The Northern Expeditionary Army, with the Communist Party of China taking part in its leadership and under the Party’s influence (the political work in the army was at the time mostly under the charge of Communist Party members), gained the warm support of the broad masses of workers and peasants. In the second half of 1926 and the first half of 1927 it occupied most of the provinces along the Yangtse and Yellow Rivers and defeated the Northern warlords. In April 1927 this revolutionary war failed as a result of betrayal by the reactionary clique under Chiang Kai-shek within the revolutionary army.

[2.] These are: (the date of their respective founding included following parentheses): Zhongguo guomindang geming weiyuanhui (the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang), 1948; Zhongguo minzhu tongmeng (the Chinese Democratic League), 1941; Zhongguo minzhu jianguohui (the Chinese Democratic Association for National Construction), 1945; Zhongguo minzhu cujinhui (the Chinese Association for the Advance of Democracy), 1945; Zhongguo nonggong minzhudang (the Chinese Peasant-Worker Democratic Party), 1947 Zhongguo Zhigongdang (the Chinese Zhigong Party); Jiusan xueshe (the September Third Study Society), 1944; Taiwan minzhu zizhi tongmeng (the League for Democracy and Autonomy for Taiwan), 1947; Zhongguo renmin Huguohui (the Chinese People’s Association for National Salvation); Sanmin zhuyi tonghzhi lianhehui (the Association of Comrades of the Three People’s Principles), and Zhongguo guomindang minzhu cujinhui (the Association of the Chinese Kuomintang to Promote Democracy).

[3.] See “Talk with The American Correspondent Anna Louise Strong”, Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung, Vol. IV, pp 97-101

Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung