The mainland

It seems to me like the people on Zanzibar has unresolved and conflicting feelings towards the mainland. Historically Zanzibar used to be the center of a big sultanate, but now it is just like a little brother for mainland Tanzania. In some aspects Zanzibar is a state on its own, but in others it is just a province of Tanzania, with no more than about 2-3% of the inhabitants (about 1 million people, compared to about 40 million). All the electric power on Zanzibar comes from the mainland, and most of the goods are imported the same way (or from Dubai), but still most people on Zanzibar thinks that they give more than they get from the union. If this is true or not, I don´t know. Anyway many zanzibarians make it clear that they would be better off without the union, and also that things are not so good over on the mainland as here out on the island, considering crime, moral and so on.

So this weekend I went with my girlfriend to have a look on Dar Es Salaam ourselves. I didn´t know what to expect, but was somehow surprised to see both how big and how small the city seems: The appearance is not very different from any European or American city that I have been in, because of skyscrapers and other newly build buildings. Also there are some historical buildings, mostly from the German colonial period. People are also dressed and behave more like I am used to from Europe. The stores are also more similar with the same brands and with fixed prices. The streets are straighter and cleaner, and everything just appears to be more organized. You can can also find areas more like Zanzibar, with the fish marked and with street wenders, but this is not dominating the picture in the same way. But the watchmen are as lazy as I have gotten used to…

On Sunday we took the trip to the city Bagamoyo, 70 kilometer north of Dar. This used to be the end of the road for all the slaves that were send through Africa to the east coast, and here they had the main port for the ships bringing them out to Zanzibar and the slave marked there. This is also the place where the Christian church established first on the East African mainland, in the same area where the Missionaries started to buy slaves and give them a certificate for freedom. For those who wanted, they established a Catholic freetown here. We had a guided tour in this area, which is historical closed linked to Zanzibar, since it was the Sultan of Zanzibar who ruled in the area and gave permission for this activity.

The fast ferry uses only 2 hours from Zanzibar to Dar es Salaam, and is quite comfortable. If you are judging from the standard of the boat, the price for the ticket (which is 35 US dollars for tourist, and 20 000 Tanzanian shillings, which is about 10-15 US dollars) or the cloths and smart phones to the passengers, there is nothing that will tell you that you are in a poor country. The contrast to a hospital that often can´t afford buying paper to write notes about patients on, is dramatic. It is also an interesting trip because –especially on the way back- the difference in religion is very obvious: When entering the boat in Dar Es Salaam most of the women around you are dressed in western stile, but when going off in Zanzibar most will at least cover their hair. This, and being met by 20 different taxi drivers and beach boys offering their services, reminded me that I once again am back in Zanzibar.

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2 Responses to The mainland

  1. Pingback: Confusing economy | Making Sense in Zanzibar

  2. Pingback: 17.mai i Afrika | Making Sense in Zanzibar

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