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  • Day491

    Stone Town

    March 1 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 28 °C

    Even though Tanganyika merged with the Zanzibar Archipelago in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania, Zanzibar still considers itself almost independent, or at least the leader.
    One claim to fame is that it held the shortest war in history. The Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 lasted less than an hour, between 38 and 45 minutes.
    It was the usual story of gun-boat diplomacy and closely followed the Imperial rules of engagement:
    1. Sultan appoints a successor without consulting the British
    2. Miffed British Consul demands appointment of a more tractable puppet, Hamud bin Muhammed
    3. Sultan disdains option
    4. Royal Navy has some target practice on the Sultan's Palace; 4,100 machine gun rounds; 1,000 rifle rounds; and 500 shells were launched.
    5. Hamud found to be a worthy successor.
    6. War ends
    Now the town is invaded by hordes of unsuitably or partially dressed tourists flouting local sensibilities in the humid 34 degree heat.
    One building, now the home of the Baraza La Manispaa Mjini or Municipal Council, is noteworthy for being "generally considered one of J.H. Sinclair's less-significant works"; perhaps not surprising for a man who after finishing his apprenticeship in 1891 joined the prestigious architectural office of John L. Pearson in London but "showed no great promise as an architect".
    Since he couldn't be an architect John Houston Sinclair became something in a new financial audit department of the Foreign Office in December 1893. They quickly shunted him off to East Africa to become the the local auditor for the East African Protectorate in Kenya, beginning a career in East Africa that would span 29 years.
    After three years in Mombassa he was posted to Zanzibar in April 1899 where, not learning from experience he built a number of structures in Stone Town, in a style described as "Saracenic," a mish-mash of Arabic, Portugese, Italian, Greek, Indian and Gothic vernaculars.
    The building was commissioned by a rich rich Indian merchant, Mohamedbhai Sheikh Hoosenbhai, who belonged to a Bohora family. Begun in 1922 and completed in 1923 it was originally a tenement block for clients of varying status, located in the Malindi Quarter of Stone Town on the edge of the creek that divided Stone Town from Ng'ambo. Thus, it is all facade and the rear is virtually undecorated.
    This is evident from the rent records that the owner's family occasionally occupied the building when tenants were scarce. In an effort to secure higher rent, the building was leased to the Senior British members of the Zanzibar protectorate probably around 1925, after JHS concluded his his time in Africa having reached the pinnacle of his career in the position of Resident from 1922-1924.
    Stone Town is now on the World Heritage list, with access to international funding to restore significant buildings. The canny Town Council now describe Bharmal Building as a beautiful, historic edifice exemplifying the rich Zanzibar fusion of Oriental and Romanesque architecture and plans are afoot for its restoration.
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  • Day491


    March 1 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    "We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labor that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories." [Cecil Rhodes]

    “Captivity is the greatest of all evils that can befall one.” » Miguel de Cervantes

    Slavery has always existed in various forms and even the Roman Seneca the Younger wrote “Slavery takes hold of few, but many take hold of slavery.”
    The East African slave trade was funneled to the markets in Zanzibar, (although there were several others on the mainland,) partly because there was already a well established trading route run by Omani Arabs up the coast. In the 10th Century many slaves were sent to Iraq to fight in wars there, but by the 19th C the enormous numbers required to work in the cinnamon & clove plantations inspired several tribal groups to prey on each other.
    All of the main racial groups were involved in the slave trade in some way or other. French and Portugese used slaves in their plantations in the Indian Ocean islands (Martinique, Reunion etc), and Africans captured and sold prisoners taken in battle, or just kidnapped them. (The British developed the Western, Atlantic routes which competed for heads.)
    There was a fate worse than slavery: when there was a glut of potential slaves the Doe tribe north of Bagamoyo enjoyed eating the ‘excess supplies’.
    The trip down to the coast -often 1000 km - was unpleasant and an astonishing number died. One would imagine that the slavers would look after their assets but they were marched enormous distances daily on a bowl of gruel with a log around their necks or carrying enormous quantities of ivory. Any that couldn't make it were disposed of unceremoniously. Then, when they were near Zanzibar, the traders decided whether it was worth paying the tax or duty on each person: if not they were murdered on the beach.
    In Stone Town they were kept in various cellars such as the one photographed. Stuffy and claustrophobic, after an average of 3 days in here the weakest collapsed and were chucked on the beach to die. The rest were taken up to the market and apparently flogged on the spot where the Anglican Church's altar now stands; to increase their sale value if they didn't cry out. (I suspect this is a bit of hyperbole for the tourists but then, it wouldn't surprise me.) After all that, being sold must have seemed a minor problem for, whilst plantation life was certainly rough, domestic life was better than they might have had previously.
    One testimony in the exhibition on the site of the old slave markets, is from a woman who was accused of being someone's slave and managed to prove her manumission to the magistrate. She was awarded a sum of money and when asked what use she would make of the cash, said that she would buy a slave.
    Another celebrity was Salme (1824-1924), the daughter of Omani Sultan Sayeed Said (d. 1856) and a Circassian concubine from the Caucasus Mountains of Russia who was part of the his harem. She eloped with a German merchant, changed her name to Emily Ruete and wrote "Memoirs of an Arabian Princess from Zanzibar" about her life.
    Many women were suria, which was a state of slavery for them but not their children. This has resulted in a rich and varied gene pool in Zanzibar, often in particularly attractive people.
    In 1822, the Omani Arabs signed the Moresby treaty which made it illegal for them to sell slaves to Christian powers. After helping to convince Sultan Barghash of Zanzibar to abolish the trade on 6th June 1873, (in the usual British Diplomatic way,) the Royal Navy enforced the agreement by patrolling the waters and intercepting any dhows with human cargo.
    Interestingly, the good Anglican sailors deliberately attributed the trade in its entirety to heathen Mohammedans. In fact, the richest trader was the infamous Tippu Tip (1837-1905) otherwise known as Hamed bin Mohammed, who was African. Usually though, it was the Africans who collected and the Arabs who divested.
    Despite the best efforts of HM Navy, and numerous photos of rugged matelots lofting liberated and wriggling brown babies into the air, (one can rely on the British shoulder for innocent propaganda,) the trade continued, particularly on the mainland. Slaving was illegal but existed openly until Britain defeated the Germans in the First World War.
    Freedom was not all it cracked up to be, even when the illiterate and often isolated plantation slaves finally understood what it meant that they were free. Some slaves had even been allowed to save a little money they made for their owner and buy property: on manumission they lost the land. Worse, they could not stay on the plantation as squatters and had to leave, becoming vagrants and thus subject to imprisonment and hard labour. The British authorities were concerned about keeping the now government owned plantations running and offered minimal wages to ex-slaves to continue working. Restricted land rights and a compulsory hut tax made sure they never escaped.
    Thus the modern system of slavery was introduced. It has grown in the 21stC in every country of the world to somewhere between 21 to 36 million people. That is more than the number of slaves seized during the entire African slave trade. The International Labour Organisation has put the value of slave labour output at 150 billion USD annually. This includes bonded labour, forced labour, child slavery, early or forced marriage as well as descent based slavery.
    In the news over the past few days, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute revealed that the Uighurs were being captured and made to work as prisoners for multinational companies in China. They are an Islamic people of Turkic origin whom the Chinese Communist Party portrays since 9/11 as auxiliaries of al-Qaeda. Without any evidence. But that didn't stop the US locking 20 of them in Guantanamo Bay for years without being charged with any offence. We don't really care about them of course, (we care about big Brand names being tarnished and wasting all that advertising money,) but still it is slavery.

    “The distinguishing sign of slavery is to have a price, and to be bought for it.” [John Ruskin]
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  • Day491


    March 1 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Even though Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island, the Spice Girls were not its most famous offspring.

    The greatest man, at least for my generation, was Farrokh Bulsara, the son of Parsi Indian parents. He used to live in this house, or maybe not as there is more than one claimant to associative prestige. The Zanzibar Revolution in 1964 encouraged the family to flee to Middlesex, where he continued to live until dying of complications due to aids.

    Bend the knee respectively for I speak of Royalty; the Queen, and in particular Freddy Mercury.

    Another famous building is the Majestic Theater; apparently the first flick shack in Africa. Again, the story is a little light on details: some say the original burnt down and this is a replica, or maybe just a new building. At any rate, it is now reduced to replaying football matches on a projection TV.

    BTW Zanzibar is also renowned for the Doors, more of that later.
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  • Day491


    March 1 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 27 °C

    Not too musical but a mere 400,000 TSh will get you a carved Door, though for that price it will be more like a nick on the edge than anything like these ones.

    The four-fold doors with an pair adjacent are common and still in use. They are known as Gujarati doors because the Indian lads used to open a shop with 4-fold doors, living at the back of the shop. As business improved they built a second story accessed by the adjacent dual door entrance for their wives and children. Though maybe the wives and children came first and then the second floor. Nobody seems to know and I know how frustrating it must be not to be informed of these details. Sorry about that.Read more

  • Day491


    March 1 in Tanzania ⋅ 🌧 25 °C

    A day was plenty to trek round the whole of Stone Town, another World Heritage site that is being prettified for voyeurs. There was one museum I wanted to visit but it was closed for reparation so there wasn't all that much to see other than the allies and buildings.
    On the other hand ... ... ... there are different fingers. If one was after a nice couple of weeks break on a beach, with the option of a little bit of site seeing to break up the time, this is just the place. A day in Stone Town on arrival, off to the beaches and a day visiting plantations in the centre. Perfect.
    This International Airport also keeps travellers waiting in the sun for 40 minutes before allowing them through the x-ray machines and into the lounge to grovel before the check-in chicks. As usual only empty water-bottles are admitted past them: then it is straight through immigration to this grotty little departure lounge. [I dream of making an airline security officer demonstrate how to mix two 100ml bottles of liquid ingredients to create an explosive whilst sitting on a vibrating chair. Can't be done. The mixer provokes an exothermic reaction and gets burnt. Governments invent a possible disaster and say they are taking all measures to prevent its occurrence. Then when it doesn't happen they say that it is because of their actions! Brilliant politics and a bloody nuisance when the tap water is not drinkable and bottled water is sold at a premium] A tourist shop posing as a duty free and one snack counter offering drinks at 4 times the normal rate is the sum total of facilities. And there is no money exchange leaving the country.
    3 aircraft were scheduled to leave at around the same time, so the room was absolutely stuffed and the fans moved the hot stale air around without cooling anyone. When an airline employee opened an outside door there was a surge towards it that made the staff visibly nervous, but they too welcomed some air circulation. I waited until one flight left to take the photo, just so you can see the size.
    Agh. Africa.
    BTW the National Anthem for Tanzania is called “Mungu Ibariki Afrika.” If your Swahili is any good you will know this means “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” in Xhosa. Originally an African liberation song composed by Enoch Sontonga, South Africa adopted it for its own National Anthem in 1997, and Zimbabwe also claims it.
    "God Bless Africa"; 3 countries; 1 song. Can't sum it up better myself.
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  • Day491

    Rocky Road

    March 1 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 30 °C

    Stone Town is the UNESCO World Heritage listed part of the capital and a maze of small alleys like every other old town in the world. Could easily be Andalucia except for the young girls having lunch beside the road.
    Most of the town was built in the 19th century when Zanzibar was one of the most important trading centres in the Indian Ocean region. The coraline rock of Zanzibar was a good building material but it is also easily eroded and many houses are falling apart. Thanks to UNESCO they are gradually being fixed up and a theme park developed.
    Really, this is just a bit of quasi-cultural voyeurism for sweaty tourists looking to spend a couple of weeks on one of the delightful beaches, It is easy to avoid Tanzanian poverty by not venturing into the interior except perhaps on an air-conditioned tour of one of the clove or cinnamon plantations.
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  • Day194

    Sansibars Hauptstadt Stonetown

    September 25, 2018 in Tanzania ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Neben Gewürzen ist der einst wohl beliebteste Export Sansibars: Freddy Mercury. Bei gutem Essen und Drinks in einer ihm gewidmeten Bar an der Hafenpromenade von Stonetown ließen wir den aufregenden Tag so langsam ausklingen. Eins muss man Sansibar wirklich lassen: wir haben hier immer vorzüglich geschlemmt. Verdient trägt die Insel den Beinamen „Spice Island“!! 👌🏽
    Wir schlenderten durch die schmalen, verwinkelten, orientalisch wirkenden Gassen der Hauptstadt, stöberten durch einige Läden, ließen uns beim Kauf von Souvenirs über’s Ohr hauen 😂🙈🤣 trotz Sébs bekannter Verhandlungskünste, kletterten die kleine Stadtfestung hinauf, und endeten pünktlich zum Sonnenuntergang beim Apéro in einer Strandbar. 🍸🍹🥃🍷
    Unser Fahrer hatte den Tag zum Glück nicht gelangweilt im Auto verbringen müssen, sondern nutzte die Gelegenheit um seine Familie in Stonetown zu besuchen. Das erleichterte uns. Sansibar hatte sich heute von vielen schönen, interessanten, sehr unterschiedlichen und wie immer überaus leckeren Seiten gezeigt. Ein Genuss durch und durch!
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  • Day166


    March 14, 2019 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    Wie auch in Asien verfügt das Hostel in Stowntown über Cubes die mit einem Vorhang für mehr Privatsphäre abgetrennt werden können. Zudem haben die Betten eine Größe in der locker 2 Personen schlafen können. Super angenehm also. Ich habe auch mal locker 9h geschlafen. Nach dem frühen Aufstehen gestern aber auch kein Wunder. Frühstück gibt es im kleine 100m entfernten Stonetown Café, wo ich auch die beiden deutschen Mädels von gestern, Miriam und Laura, wieder treffe. Danach laufe ich ein wenig durch die engen verschlungenen Gassen von Stowntown, entdecke beim Verlaufen einige nette Fleckchen, wie das Kholle House. Nichtsahnend gehe ich hin, weil ich dachte es gehöre zu den öffentlich zugänglich Gebäuden, die zu besichtigen wären. Ein junger Mann erklärt mir ich möge kurz warten und dann führt mich tatsächlich eine sehr nette Afrikanerin durch das kleine Hotel mit 6 Zimmern. Sie zeigt mir sogar eines der Zimmer, das im typisch arabischen Stil eingerichtet ist. Ein sehr süßes Hotel und für einen Aufenthalt in Stonetown wirklich zu empfehlen. Ich streife weiter durch die Gassen und lande irgendwann bei einem kleinen Schuhladen. Ein TripAdvisor-Aufkleber weist auf gute Bewertungen im Netz und ich frage die 4 Amerikaner, ob sie sich die Schuhe gerade haben anfertigen lassen. Es wäre möglich, aber nein, sie hätten nur neue gekauft. Sie wären vor 3 Jahren schon einmal hier gewesen und so begeistert von der Qualität, das sie jetzt wiederkommen mussten. Ok, überzeugt. Meine Treckingsandalen sind kaputt, riechen alles andere als gut und in den Sneakers dampfen meine Füße. Also finden Mr. Surti und ich handgefertigte Ledersandalen in seinem Shop, den er zusammen mit seinem Sohn betreibt, für mich und es gibt von ihm noch einen kleinen Schlüsselanhänger aus Leder dazu. Endlich neue Sandalen. 😄 Zusammen mit Laura und Miriam geht es dann später auf den Nightmarket zum Abendessen. Ein leckeres Shawarma und einen gegrillten Oktopus mit Pommes müssen heute mal reichen. 😂Read more

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