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From the herb plantations to the palm tree covered beaches and tranquil tucked-away towns, we explore Zanzibar through the lifestyle of the locals and their cultural identification

Words: Emily Georgieva

Photography: Patrick Mueller

13 March 2020

A tropical idyllic tucked-away place, Zanzibar is charming to say the least. It is part of Tanzania, which includes the island massif of Pemba, Mafia and, of course, Zanzibar. The archipelago is notoriously known for the marine diversity and coral reefs. There, you can spend a whole say soaking up the sunshine whilst sunbathing on the sandy beaches.

Zanzibar is a palette of cultural exoticism. The place has been influences by tourists, yet it keeps its own charm intact. This is the very reason why the archipelago attracts so much attention. It is known to have appeal of a ‘must visit in a lifetime’ place and it does live up to this promise. The indigenous population started co-existing with Persians, who were among the first settlers there. In 1503 the Portuguese also settled down and their culture mixed with the one of the locals. In 1697 Oman established their control over the place, and later on, in 19th century, the British Empire took over from them.

If you found yourself walking the streets of Zanzibar with the palm trees throwing shadows over the sidewalks and the sunshine warms up your skin, make sure to explore the cities and little towns in more depth. Many of the buildings in the area are very old and you can tell from the preservation of their facades. Some little restaurants and coffee places are located within historical buildings. Sometimes when you pass by, you’ll see locals playing having their coffee whilst playing chess or bao – a traditional Swahili board game. Kinds ride bikes that are too big for them and when you look around you can see that the tempo of Zanzibar is a melancholic idyll that seems to give life a whole new and refreshing meaning.

People’s crafts are taken seriously. When looking for medicine shops or food places, it is often easy to spot them even from afar. Expect to see dried snake skins or heads above medicine shops, indication that this is exactly the place you’re looking for without even having to read the sign above the door. Spices and herbs are widely sold across the markets. Women wearing headscarves sell fruits and veggies, spices and nuts. The intriguing aromatic cuisine, the spice plantations and infused teas all carry the essence of Zanzibar.

This Tanzanian archipelago is more than your typical holiday destination. It is a rare place to see especially if you’ve grown up in a modern world. It had preserved symbols of every era it has been through, which can be noticed from the little street corners to the food in the restaurants and the cultural traditions of the locals. There, people make life colourful and vibrant. Even day-to-day activities have an authentic after-feel. Time stops when you visit Zanzibar and see the paint that peeling off the wooden beach shacks and locals selling fresh fish. And just like that, you realise that this is what tranquillity feel like – a place where you exist to appreciate life and really, truly live it.



NOMADSofORIGIN is an independent annual publication with a focus on sustainable travelling and global cultural values. Each issue features interviews, engaging articles and photo guides, which take our nomadic readers through different destinations and introduce them to local people's perspectives.



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