Curiosities and traditions of Zanzibar

Persian New Year

In the village of Makunduchi, south of Zanzibar, on the occasion of the Persian New Year that falls in the month of July or August according to the moon, the population organizes a characteristic celebration that lasts four the first of which is dedicated to purify and bless the old year the new year. The first day of this ritual begins with the cleaning inside the houses (as a sweeping gesture of removing burdens of the past year), and then take a ritual bath in the sea (Mwaka Kogwa means "to wash the year"). By midmorning, the majority of Makunduchi down in the center of the village, where a medicine man builds a coconut straw hut accompanied by the singing of women. Completed the construction the magician enters the hut and a group of elders from the fire to the hut. As soon as the flames flare up, the magician rushes out and throws himself unharmed in a nearby bush. All the inhabitants who are around are starting to pull earth and stones on the fire to put it out. So it is believed, that if someone were to flare up at the home of a fire in the New Year, no one will lose their lives. Another ritual is a fight with blows of banana stalks. The fight has a number of rules that are normally observed by the participants, without the need of a referee. When a fighter does not feel any further, simply he raises both hands and give up or change his weapon for a better and continue the fight. It may sound painful and confusing, but in fact no one gets hurt because the banana stems in contact with the body after just disintegrate. The ritual is completed within three days where the party continues with dancing music and feasting. This is the time when women and girls appear in all their beauty with fine ornaments and with hands and feet painted with henna.


Small curiosities

The name Zanzibar is derived from a combination of two Arabic words, 'Zenj', meaning black, and 'bar' which means "land" then "black earth".

African culture, mixed with other cultures, mainly Persian, Arabic and Indian, has given form and content to the Swahili language born in Zanzibar.

The war fought in 1896 between Zanzibar and the then British Empire is the shortest war in history, the state of Zanzibar surrendered after just 45 minutes.

Zanzibar was the first African country to introduce color television (in 1973). In other regions of Tanzania this service reached more than twenty years later.


The Stone Town doors

Stone Town is characterized by carved cedar wood and brass studded doors and shutters of its wooden houses skillfully worked. The skill of the craftsmen is found in many other items that can be found in flea markets and in stores across the island. Some of them are quite curious as an extraordinary carved wooden headrests: uncomfortable, but beautiful, or walking sticks, figurines of Masai beaded rich and varied sculptures usually made of ebony, the result of three hundred years of tradition.