This blue marble

– and yet it spins

Village life on Zanzibar

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nungwi-1On Zanzibar the tourists occupy the prime beach front and the locals the remainder of the island. Right after the beach-lining hotels and restaurants, real Zanzibar begins. It is sad that the locals have mainly lost access to beach-front living. But in Nungwi, the village is so much more present. It spills onto the beach at the northernmost tip of Zanzibar: kids playing soccer, women fishing in tidal pools, and fishermen repairing their boats and nets. The water is turquoise and shallow for several hundred meters, until the reef that catches the breakers. Here everything happens on the beach, also after sunset if the tide is low.

The contrast between tourist areas on the beach and the villages is huge. The people in a village, like anywhere in East Africa, have proper concrete houses, but no need for furniture or lamps or gardens or any decoration for that matter. Torches and lights are hung up for the night, and people sit on simple mats on the floor. Everything is functional and nothing is further developed. Food is served on the floor in whatever dishes the house has. There might be a toilet, or there might (most likely) be an outhouse with a hole in the ground.

Perhaps our perception of what is necessary differs from those living in a village on Zanzibar. Why buy a side table and a lamp when you can hang a torch from the wall and grab it with you as you go?nungwi-2(Nungwi, Zanzibar, Tanzania; August 2017)

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