A guest article by Patricia Wehr, volunteer at Renewable Energy Zanzibar association (REZA)
Zanzibar – located in the Indian Ocean near the equator the islands warm climate invites hundreds of tourists from all over the world every year to enjoy the island’s beauty. With an average of almost 8 hours of sun a day it seems not only easy to enjoy seeing the sunbeams breaking in the clear, turquoise blue water on the beach, but also to use the sun and its solar power as a source of renewable energy. But why do so many residents still not have access to solar energy, even though it would be an inexpensive and sustainable alternative to the unhealthy kerosine lamps? How has the solar energy sector on Zanzibar developed; what has already been achieved; which difficulties it has to cope with and why solar energy on Zanzibar is more than just a business – are the questions I had in mind when I joined REZA as a volunteer earlier this year.
On our way to the BlueBikes-office we watched the grey clouds gathering above Stone Town. “Are you sure we won’t get soaked on our bike tour today?” we asked Yusuf, the leader of BlueBikes who was going to guide us to a Spice Farm by bike that day. By the time we were ready to go the rain clattered down and Stone Town’s narrow streets turned into streams, but Yusuf was confident. “Don’t worry it won’t take long until the rain stops and then we can start our tour.”
“Hi, I’m looking for a painting by Dullah Wise!” These were the words of a visitor to the Cultural Arts Centre last Friday. That can’t be a coincidence. He must have followed our CACZ online event. He did. “It was nice to follow.” Now he was looking for more art from Dullah Wise. Of course, he had come to the right place at the Arts Centre. We gladly forwarded him to the Hurumzi Henna Gallery, Dullah Wise’s workplace where he had the pleasure of meeting him. But what kind of event exactly did we have planned and what was it for?
“Can I wrap this up to give it to my mom as a present?”, asked one of the 17 young creatives who came to visit Cultural Arts Centre last week, after he had finished making a beautiful little notebook. Supervised by the Cultural Arts Centre team, the SEA team and some of their teachers, the lively group of 5- to 10-year-olds from South East Coast International School Zanzibar made notebooks and Burudika handmade soaps throughout the whole morning. Both of the activities use re-cycled and up-cycled materials.
You might ask why has the building of a new town in Zanzibar been given a space in our blog? The amazing thing about this development is its serious attempts to enhance and not destroy the natural environment of the area – and for that reason it is something potentially of great importance, for other developers to see!
What happens to all the plastic waste that the workers of JMJV (Vikokotoni Environment Society) collect every morning? That’s what we were about to find out, when we jumped on the loading area of JMJV’s small pickup truck for today’s trip to a nearby plastic shredding plant.
It’s a balmy evening in Stone Town, August 2017, and I meet Heather Chontos, an artist from the USA, and her 2 daughters for the first time. They are incredibly friendly, open and excited to be here.
Hamad (Director of CACZ) and I had been to Nafasi Arts Space, in Dar es Salaam, earlier in the year and discussed with their team that we are eager to welcome artists from not only East Africa, but across the globe, to share their arts experiences and meet up with Zanzibari artists.
One week ago: We were sitting in the Cultural Arts Centre when Tourguide Farid followed by a group of tourists entered the gallery. Today he didn’t only have interesting facts about the Arts Centre, but also told us about his self-organised Bread, or Mikate (Kiswahili for Bread) Party which should take place at the 8th of October. We were cordially invited. After handing us a flyer he continued his tour and dissappeard among the alleys of Stone Town.
The whole group jumps as suddenly the leaves far above our heads rustle. Looking up I can barely see the tail of a red monkey disappear behind the huge leaves of a palm tree. I hurry to get my camera out of the backpack and try to catch one of the agile little animals jumping from tree to tree but they always manage to hide away from my lens. It is a beautiful spectacle that you get to see walking through the Masingini Forest Reserve just north of Zanzibar-City.
Have you ever seen a sea so turquoise that it seems to be illuminated? Well that’s what it looks like in Jambiani. And within that beautiful scenery there is a festival every year. This year’s Jambiani Beach and Watersports Festival took place last weekend and we went to see the activities and information they offered.