Zanzibar for such a small Island it is pouring with history. From ancient Arab and Persian emigrants, wars and revolutions, Sultans, Dr Livingstone, Freddy Mercury and the center of the slave trade.
This is my third trip to Zanzibar, I must say you certainly never get tired of this beautiful historical place.
Zanzibar is where Freddy Mercury was born. His house has since been turned into a gift shop. Thousands of tourists come to visit to see where the famous rock star lived.
Zanzibar Island is divided into two main islands, Pemba and Unguja. The population is approximately 800,000, of which 150,000 are found on Pemba. 95% Muslim, 5% Christian all living in harmony. The language spoken is Swahili. The climate hot and humid. The currency Tanzanian Shillings, although the locals will accept US dollars.
Major Industries on Zanzibar are Tourism, Spices and Fishing.
The old part of Stone Town is built from rock and Coral from the sea, little did they no about the damage they where causing to their coral reefs. One tiny piece of coral broken off will take up to 60 years to grow back.
Walk threw the narrow streets of Stone Town you will come across the most amazing doors, the big brass knobs on the outside of these doors was to stop the Elephants from leaning on them, luckily there are no Elephants on Zanzibar anymore.
That is a quick overview of Zanzibar, for now I will chat about the famous Spice Tour.
Beautiful aroma’s full the Island. Get a guided tour of Zanzibar’s Spice Island taste and smell the fresh spices.
All the spices are organically grown.
In the western world we use spices and herbs for mostly cooking purposes, not the locals of Zanzibar.
The Island grows a bush called Annatto, looks like a Lychee. From this the local people use it for dye in food and lipstick for the ladies. This is a bright red berry.
Soap Berry Tree is used for washing clothes and washing hair. It is a little brown berry, you open and rub into the water and lather it up in your hair.
Tamarind is a pod, its use making juice, the leaves are boiled and used for asthma in babies.
Cardomon used to spice up food and drinks such as rice, Indian bread, Tea and Coffee.
Ginger they make soda drinks, it is also used for tenderizing meat, and commonly used for sea sickness.
The Almond tree also known as the Umbrella Tree, the local fisherman use for timbers to make their Dhows.
Cloves is the biggest export on Zanzibar. The clove tree grows 10-15cm, they are all hand picked.
They pick the cloves when the bud is green then dry in the sun. They make oil from this for tooth ache, you can boil the clove then drink the water, this will help stop tummy ache.
Pineapple is used for the digestive system.
Cassavi is used to make crisps, it doesn’t look like your traditional crisp, but sure tastes good.
Zanzibar grows chilli’s which they call Pili-Pili ho-ho, the smaller the chilli the hotter.
Henna is picked and dried, grinned to a powder then used to make temporary tattoos.
Paw Paw also called Pa pain is used in the manufacture of chewing gum. Paw Paw is also applied to the skin if you should stand on a sea urchin. Rich in vitamins A&C.
The trunk of the Iodine tree is used to stop bleeding, the locals use this much like we would use a band aid.
Cinnamon is used in cooking, but the most fascinating thing about the cinnamon tree is. If you take the root of the tree it smells just like menthol, so this is commonly used in colds and flus much like vicks.
The root of the Tumaric tree is used for food colouring and dyeing mats.
Passion fruit leaves are boiled, this is to prevent high blood pressure.
Choco beans are sucked just like sweets.
Lemon grass is used as a mosquito repellent.
Kapok looks just like cotton, this is used in the manufacture of pillows and mattresses. The local fisherman also use this for binding up their dhows so they don’t sink.
Nutmeg is used for making alcohol, they also say to much nutmeg will make you hallucinate.
Many more spices are grown on the Island, Lang Lang used for perfumes. Vanilla, Jack Fruit, Bread Fruit Tree, Guara, Coconuts, Bananas, Avocado which they make juice from. And many more.
When your tour is over, relax and try some of the wonderful fruits that are grown on the Island.
Then you can head off to the local gift store and purchase some of the spices and teas you have just heard about.
You can even buy some beautiful soaps, body lotions and perfumes made right on the Island.
This is just one of the great places to visit while in Zanzibar, I was fascinated with the many uses of the spices.
This is one place you should put on your to do list.
Until next time
African Art Online
We are on the spice tour