“Please. Come into my shop. Let me show you what I have. I will make you a good deal”. This was the constant litany that accosted us as we wandered the narrow lanes in historic Stone Town. But I wasn’t interested just in shopping. What I was really on the hunt for was to see the famous carved Zanzibar doors.
The photo for this post was recognized in the 2018 North American Travel Journalists Association awards competition with a Bronze in the Photography, Portrait, People,- Online category.
As we were touring the Sultan’s Palace Museum in Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar, a group of local students were also visiting on a school field trip. They were all dressed in what was clearly a school uniform – the boys in grey slacks and yellow polo shirts and the girls in ankle length grey skirts and yellow head scarves. I was struck by the contrast of the girls with their simple head coverings as they were studying one of the displays in the museum, and the painting behind them of a very elaborately dressed Empress Elizabeth of Austria. The painting was given as a gift when Zanzibar’s ruler, Sultan Barghash bin Said, signed a treaty with Austria-Hungary’s Emperor Franz Josef in 1888.
The narrow alley like streets in Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town are filled with stores and vendors that all seem to sell the same carved wooden masks, kaleidoscopic lion paintings and made-in-China t-shirts. There was one store that I discovered though that was different – Sasik. This is a non-for-profit women’s cooperative that makes beautiful applique cushion covers and wall hangings based on Arabic designs. The proceeds from the sales go back to the women and their families.
If you visit Stone Town, make sure to check out and support Sasik.