Karibu Zanzibar

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The moon dressed up for us our first night and used planets for her earrings. Appropriate since she is the symbol of Islam and Zanzibar is 95% Islamic. The boat ride to Zanzibar was extremely hot and long. I was drenched in sweat for a couple hours before we could find a spot to stand outside the boat. But we all made it there in one piece. We spent the first night in Stone Town, Zanzibar at the Narrow Street Hotel.

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The knife painter took us to his place which had amazing views of the city. He has this eccentric multistory studio all to himself.

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I didn’t really get a chance to see him at work, but the sights around his place were really interesting.

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This picture just feels like what I imagined Zanzibar to be

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The painter’s most recent work. He also does amazing brush work painting Zanzibar doors and tingatinga. His tingatinga is good, but it is of a newer style and isn’t as authentic.

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This guy is a young Norwegian Christian pastor in Zanzibar. He is thee guy when it comes to Christian/Muslim relations. His life work is devoted to creating peace between the two especially on the island of Zanzibar where Christians are sometimes frowned upon. Zanzibar sort of plays by its own rules when it comes to religion. The courts are based on Islamic family law and the government sponsors Islamic leaders for each area of the island. It was inspirational to see how much this man strived to love his Islamic brothers despite many negative encounters and a growing negative perception of of them. He and his wife run the shop pictured above. Christian and Muslim women get together and sew clothing and make jewelry for the shop. While they work they become friends and discuss life and their faith. The shop’s name is upendo which means love in Swahili (pictured above). We were able to talk to him for quite a while in the workroom of the shop. One thing he said really struck a chord with me. We as Christians are uninformed about the Islamic faith and Islamics are misinformed about the Christians. Islamics learn about Christians in a fundamentalist twisted manner in madras (Arabic school). Christians never really learn about Islamics. I think this is a large root of the misunderstandings between us. He also talked about the different languages people can use when they talk from different faith backgrounds. First there is the language of the head, which is represented by theology and can often lead to confrontation. Second is the language of the heart, which is represented by prayer and concern for others and for peace. Third is the language of the hands, which is represented by work. The language of the hands is represented very well in his store. If people of different faiths and accomplish something concrete like clothes side by side the begin to dream of what more they can accomplish. He told a story that represented the language of the heart very well. The Christians and Muslim leaders both felt like political leaders were not representing their common interest of peace very well. So they held a meeting with all the political candidates and Christian and Muslim leaders. Both religions took turns praying in their own ways for peace to be represented in the government in the future. Our Norwegian pastor friend said he could feel the holy spirit on the meeting and felt like the political leaders were impacted by it.

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This is an Old Anglican church that was built on the old slave market (note the mosque on the left). The slave market along with the spices grown by slaves on plantations were the staples of the Zanzibar economy for many years. They would sell slaves from Africa to all over the world. The Anglican church started by buying slaves at the market then give them a choice of living with them or having a free life. Imagine the choice of deciding what slaves go free that day. During the 19th century during the abolition of slavery the Anglicans bought up the slave market square and built this church there. We spent the first 20 minutes of our tour in and old slave chamber in the basement of the church. They built the church so that the alter is where the old whipping post used to be. The church also had beautiful stained glass of the Ethiopian eunuch. The church also has connections with the famous Stanley Livingstone, an explorer of Tanzania. By the pulpit there is a cross made out of the wood of a tree that his heart was buried under.

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We fit in quite a bit of shopping while we were in Zanzibar. I picked up a few gifts for friends and family. I was able to buy a few tingatina paintings after studying them for my art class. (see lower left giraffe for an example). It was nice because many of the artists did the paintings in their shop, so the person selling me the artwork was often times the artist. I could also sort of seem them at work from time to time.

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We went on a tour of a spice farm. This was a private spice farm so it had almost every verity of spice, whereas the government run spice farms mass produce one type. On our tour a kid would climb up trees and retrieve leaves and spices for us to smell. Our guide would have us try to guess the spice before he told us more about it. It rained almost the entire time, but it was still a really good tour. I had no idea so many spices grew on trees! Some of the spices that we saw/smelled included, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, cardamon, ginger, coffee beans, cocoa. At the end of the tour they had us try all sorts of tropical fruit. It was the first time I had starfruit, it was like nothing I had ever tasted, it was pretty good.

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Nutmeg… apparently it can get you high

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This young lad could scamper up and down trees as quick as a monkey. Here he is modeling a plant that ladies used to use for lipstick.

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At the end of the tour they gave us hats made out of leaves. They also gave Sara a basket and rings and ties for the men.

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We spent the next two nights on a hotel on the beach. It was really different 1. Being pretty much the only Christians around 2. Being treated like tourists 3. Being treated like white people who didn’t know any Swahili. Everyone would greet us by saying “jambo”, which is Kenyan Swahili and a test of if you are a tourist or not. We would answer back “sijambo” signifying that we knew at least some Swahili. We would then exchange more and more greetings until we started using slang. Then they would get really excited that they could talk to wazungo in Swahili. This happened a lot on the beach, but then the person would end up trying to sell you something and you couldn’t get rid of them when you wanted to.

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The beach itself was beautiful and full of beautiful life and seashells. Our group spent a lot of time walking the beach looking for pretty seashells. It was easily the most enjoyable beach I’ve been to even though there were scattered showers for most of the time.

The place that we stayed at had delicious food. On our last night Tim and I both ordered some King prawns in lemon butter sauce that were really tasty.

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Kids playing soccer on the sand at sunset.

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Bicycle versus feet, wonder which will win

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Sea cows. We also ran into Massai from the Morogoro area. It was like running into family

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The boats ran on man power, long poles and sails

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Peter was brave enough to pick up a sea urchin. Careful not to step on them!

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Watch your step!
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When we walked out into the ocean for a while we found a seaweed farm. They just have ropes attached to posts and seaweed grows on it. Our area was protected by a reef so it was relatively shallow all the way out to the reef.

We visited near the reef when Peter, Tim, Luka and myself went snorkeling. We took a primitive sailboat a couple kilometers out into the ocean where there were some big clumps of coral and lots of tropical fish. It was definitely the highlight of my Zanzibar trip. It was like watching the movie Finding Nemo, but it was real. I actually found nemo, and dory, and red spiked starfish, and fish of all sorts of electric neon colors, blues yellows and reds. At first we used our snorkels more as straws then breathing devices, but then we got used to how it worked. It we ever got in trouble we could just stand up on a big piece of coral and adjust our masks. The ocean floor was probably only 20 feet below at the deepest. At one point I was pointing out a jellyfish to Luka when we were standing on a piece of coral, then the jellyfish turned and headed straight toward Tim’s face! You could tell the exact moment Tim saw the jellyfish. I don’t think they were too dangerous, but we didn’t want to find out. From that point on Tim kept running into jellyfish while the rest of us hardly saw any. The sun came out for our journey and left us with a little sunburn, not too bad though. I can see why people want to be marine biologists and spend all day in that sort of environment, too bad my camera isn’t waterproof.

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Sunrise as the fishermen go out to sea

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Yet another picture you might find hanging at the dentist’s office

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As we drove back to Stone Town we ran into some monkeys on the side of the road.

For much of the trip Peter was feeling sick, but was still able to participate in about everything he wanted to. We just found out that it is malaria, that twice for him for those of you keeping score at home. After our boat ride back he was dehydrated and low on electrolytes. He turned to Tim and said, “I think I am going to faint”. Then he put the cap back on his water bottle and blacked out for a few seconds. The man next to him caught him and Tim made sure he didn’t hit his head and still had a pulse. He revived in a few seconds and was helped to some nearby shade where he recovered more fully. We are glad it is malaria because now we can treat it, he should be feeling much better in the next few days.

This weekend we are getting ready for the evangelist conference that will be taking place this next week. All the evangelists, pastors and their wives and kids will come from the Morogoro area. It will be nice to be able to see all the evangelists one more time before we leave. Also it will keep us busy and minds of going back home so soon…. One week from today!

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~ by Steve and Lindsay on December 5, 2008.

3 Responses to “Karibu Zanzibar”

  1. Thank you Steven. Again, great pictures and commentary! It is hard not to be envious of your experiences. I don’t know if Pastor Enea Mashana from the Pare Diocese will be at the conference, but if so, say hi for us.

  2. Exotic Zanzibar…what a trip and what a pictorial/text review. Will you ever visit Zanzibar again? Or for that matter, even TZ. What does the future hold after such an eye-opening, life-changing experience? I sure hope I’ll get to meet your 3 companions, Peter, Tim and Sara. I feel like I know them pretty well already via their blogs. What gifts you all have been towards giving us some understanding of another culture so unfamiliar to us. Thanks so much. g/g/B of FC

  3. What did you find odd about Tanzania? be honest i know there is always something odd when you encounter a different culture and i want to know what it is, if you don’t mind……thnx

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