A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Island Call


Exotic lure. Ancient trading route. Azure seas. The mystery was all too tempting and so a visit to Zanzibar was called for. The timing was excellent, as it coincided with the annual Zanzibar film festival (ZIFF); a hub in the regional cultural diary.

The festival plays host to a wide spectrum of events; film screenings (shown in an outdoor amphitheatre, in a fort- not bad!), critic workshops, music shows, photographic and art exhibitions and literary workshops. This year ZIFF also incorporated a ‘women’s panorama’, two week series of events promoting women’s issues. Topics included ‘Gender Challenges for Women in Leadership Roles’, ‘Women’s Mental Health’, ‘Women’s Entrepreneurship’, and ‘Relationship Skills & HIV Prevention’.

Zanzibar is an interesting mix of the ancient and contemporary influence. The architecture with a distinct Omani and Persian twist. An Indian influence came through the spice trade. Islamic heritage is heard daily through the call to prayer. The majority of islanders are Muslim, and women wear the traditional headscarf, and some, depending on their religious orientation, the Burka- eyes only showing. Henna patterns adorn hands and feet.



The contemporary influence come with the flurry of tourists and the dollars they bring. Touts gather at the ferry port, selling their wares, and far to keen to escort new arrivals to hotels. The main thoroughfare is best avoided if tourist trinkets are not on the cards. But as soon as the white sands beckon, and the sunset does its splendid tricks, and you know it was worth it, so very worth it.



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