Sunday, July 11, 2010

Are We Still in East Africa?

We arrived in Zanzibar on Friday evening after a two and a half hour ferry across the Zanzibar Channel. As we said goodbye to the African continent, we entered a world that hardly feels like East Africa at all.

First of all, the climate of Zanzibar is quite different than that of East Africa. With the exception of a few coastal areas, East Africa is fairly arid, with large expanses of dry grasslands like you see on the Discovery Channel. However, Zanzibar is a tropical island with vast forests and plenty of rainfall each year. It makes for a nice change of pace since Kitete has been so cold (it is the winter after all).

By far the greatest difference is a cultural one though. Ninety-seven percent of the people of Zanzibar are Muslims. This is clearly reflected in the architecture as well as the people’s dress. Mosques can be found around nearly every corner. They are all outfitted with big megaphones in order to announce the daily prayers at various times (including 5:30am this morning!). Most men wear Kufis, and women keep their heads veiled. It makes for a pretty stark contrast between the Western tourists and the locals.

Tyler actually bought a Kofi on the street and was wearing it around yesterday. We received many questions from the local people about how a Muslim and a Christian could be friends. We simply said, “Why not?” I guess in our own way we are promoting interreligious peace.

Zanzibar Fun Fact: Zanzibar is believed to be the location of the last public slave market. The Sultan of Zanzibar was forced by the British in 1873 to close the Stone Town slave market. The British then proceeded to build a cathedral at the site with a memorial to the many slaves who passed through Zanzibar.


  1. Charlie and I say jambo! We're watching the World Cup final and reading your blog. Enjoy the white-sand beaches of Zanzibar! Make sure you make it up to Nungwi- best swimming there. Oh, and if you get the chance, swim with dolphins.

  2. Three different songs went through my head as I read this post:

    1.) Africa by Toto, brought on by the title
    2.) Lorenzo by Phil Collins, brough on by the hole leaving East AFrica Bit
    3.) And part of a song from Muppet Treasure Island where Gonzo says "To Zanzibar to meet the Zanzibarbaians!"

    Sound like you are having a great time and hear hear to a Christian and a Muslim being friends.

  3. Cool! I really like the part about you guys saying "why not?"