Zanzibar is an archipelago located in the Republic of Tanzania, made from the island of Mafia, Pemba and Unguja. The largest island, as know Zanzibar, is actually on the island of Unguja, which literally means “island of plenty”, but it also called “spice island”. It is about 90 km long, it covers an area of approximately 1700 km2 and is 30 km from Tanzania.
Over the years, Zanzibar has endure various dominations: from the African to the Persian, from the Middle East to the Portuguese, up to the domain by the Sultanate of Oman, then defeated British occupation, which occupied the state until current United Republic of Tanzania. It was the migration of the Persian people, from the city of Shiraz, which made the island of Zanzibar an important center for trade, particularly in ivory, spices and slaves. They built mosques, agile ships and dhows, boats presenting the first triangular sail that, as opposed to the square, allowed to exploit the wind not only with downwind, but also allowed to go back.
Today, this place has become a popular destination for relax and natural attractions, and lives not only tourism, but also fishing, handicrafts and agriculture. The latter accounting for 80% of global demand due to the planting of cloves.
Swahili culture, typical boats Dao and Ngalawa
The Swahili culture is the traditional culture of the peoples of the coast of Tanzania, but not only. In this culture belong countries such as Kenya, northern Mozambique and most of the islands of the Indian Ocean, from Zanzibar to Comoros. This name not only refers to a culture, but the native language of the inhabitants.
The origin of this culture reflects the complexity of the history that characterizes these places, subject to many dominions over the years. Effectively, the Swahili culture owes its origin to the union between the civilization of Bantu, it is the original population, with the peoples of Africa, the Middle East, Persia, India and Europe (England, Germany and Portugal).
As regards the characteristic vessels, in this culture, we find the Ngalawa and the Dao. The Ngalawa is a typical type of canoe Swahili tradition. It is about 6 m long and has a pair of rocker arms, one on each side, which favour the boat’s stability and allow the use of a propulsion sailing. It’s used for short journeys and as a fishing boat.
The city of Zanzibar are characterize by their architecture, of the nineteenth century, which reflects Moorish influences, Arabic, Persian, Indian and European. The most important is the capital, Stone Town, which, for its historical importance, it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The historical centres are mazes of streets and alleys, markets, palaces and historic buildings from the inlaid doors. Here, the Sultan of Zanzibar, has left many signs of his rule, especially in the construction field.
One of the most famous and important monuments is the Palace of Wonders, dating back, at the time of the Sultanate of Oman. This palace is the largest architectural structure of the entire Zanzibar, but besides the very white colonnade and its elegant decor, the Palace of Wonders owes its name to two circumstances: it was the only building in the whole island to own electricity and was the first in all of East Africa to connect two separate levels through a lift.
Zanzibar International Film Festival
The Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) is the largest festival in East Africa, where it presents movies, music, arts and talents typically African, Middle Eastern and Indian. This event is base in Stone Town, in the period between late June and early July. How opening ceremony, it is traditional to serve a dhow race, where these vessels characteristics, become the true symbol of the festival.