- Posted May 30, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your photos from 'Inside Africa'
- Giant icebergs floating from Spegazzini and Upsala Glaciers into Lake Argentino. Southern Patagonia © Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
- Tibetan Woman and Her Yak at The Scorpion Lake - Yamdok Yumtso Lake. Tibet, China © Nora de Angelli
- Spring Paradises © Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
- Snow & Swans. London Hyde Park. UK © Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
- Indian Summer. Autumn Leaves. Sinaia, Romania © Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
My Little Friend from Zanzibar
I stayed in the North of the island, in Nungwi. Every morning I was going out capturing images, photographing almost everything that caught my eye.
One day while I was walking on the white sandy beaches, a little boy came to me and started talking in a mixture of English and Swahili. Swahili (known locally as Kiswahili) is a language spoken extensively in East Africa. Many believe that the purest form is spoken in Zanzibar, as it is the birthplace of the language.
He had a lovely smiley face and pretty soon I realised that he loved being photographed. At the end of the day, he asked me to buy him a bottle of Coca-Cola in return for his ‘posing efforts’.
The following day, he showed up again, this time with big green hand-woven palm hat, brought especially for the ‘photo shoot’. He lived not far from the beach, he told me, in the nearby village. I was also introduced to his elder brother. The perfect features of this boy’s serious face, stroke me. In a different world, in different circumstances, perhaps he could have been a model.
The following morning I met them again. This time I was going to be the witness of a strange spectacle for a foreigner but common for this part of the world. Not far from my resort, I found the beach covered in red fresh blood. In the middle of it, my little friend and his nine siblings were chopping a large fish, ‘a shark caught that morning’, they explained. In a matter of minutes, the fish was cut in pieces and everything was taken home by the girls to be cooked.
In Zanzibar, nothing gets wasted. The survival of those people depends on the ocean and on everything else it has to offer. The boys usually become fishermen, hardly being able to feed their families. The average annual family income in Zanzibar is believed to be below $250/year. Although there is a compulsory and free educational schooling system of 10 years, lots of children do not attend regularly or drop out in the first few years of school. In 2004, the institutions had a total enrolment of 948 students, of whom 207 were female.
Not far from where we were, we could see dozens of women harvesting red algae and seaweed from the bottom of the sea, during the low tide. Zanzibar is well known of being one of the most important exporters of seaweed in Africa.
The island is also famous worldwide for the finest exotic spices grown on the island on the ‘cash crops’, the ivory that came form Africa and for its terrific ‘slave trade’ in the past. Zanzibar City was East Africa's main slave-trading port, and in the mid 19th century as many as 50,000 slaves were passing annually through the slave markets of Zanzibar.
The Land of the Black People, was conquered and exploited along centuries by great empires: Assyrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Persians, Portuguese, Omani Arabs, English. The Arab traders used it as a base for voyages between Arabia, India and Africa.
I often think of my little friend from Zanzibar, trying to imagine what has become of him. Has he managed to go to school and get himself an education, or has he became a fisherman like his father and grand-father? Has he had a happy life?
I shall never know…