Zanzibar. The Insider’s Guide, by Ian Michler
Ian Michler is a sensitive, thoughtful, intelligent, and talented guide who shows delights through the lens of his camera. It is almost impossible not to enjoy Zanzibar: The Insider’s Guide with him.“
Zanzibar speaks of the romance of lazy languid days spent sun-soaking on palm-lined beaches and taking to warm, tropical, azure waters to dive and snorkel at leisure. Adding to the intrigue is the recollection of the mariners who established Zanzibar as the strategic and commercial centre of the Swahili Coast. It was no doubt chosen as a place to settle because of its proximity to the mainland. Traders and slavers, sultans and kings came from the Middle East and the Orient. They were followed in later centuries by European adventurers, explorers and missionaries. Together, they all forged the legendary Swahili nation, its rich culture and a period of wealth and prosperity. Present-day Zanzibar is revealed in a stunning palette of colours. Its character and charm seep from the fading walls of Stone Town's busy alleyways and historical buildings and are visible in the daily lives of the population. The shades of blues, greens and whites highlight the splendour of the coastline. For the visitor, these images are all on display. But so, too, is the sobering picture of poverty and under-development, exposed in almost every facet of life in both Zanzibar and Pemba. While the marketing images play well in the world of tourism promotion, they trade heavily on the bygone era of prominence that has long since faded. For the citizens of the archipelago, reality now is mostly a life of struggle under circumstances that are little improved since independence. Over 50% of the population live below the 'basic needs' poverty line. Stone Town, the nation's historical pride, is in urgent need of regeneration, the main airport remains shabby, roads and the general infrastructure are in a state of neglect and the health services are unable to cope with the rate of HIV infection and other diseases. There are also political tensions to deal with that, if left unchecked will hamper development and may just fragment the political union of the islands in the future. These concerns - the political separation from mainland Tanzania and the disparate manner in which development funding is allocated - divide the people of Pemba and Zanzibar Island. With the seat of local government in Stone Town, it is a fact that Pemba continues to play second fiddle to Zanzibar Island. ealistically, the separatist ideals are nothing more than an idealistic pipe dream, as the archipelago is unlikely to survive without the umbrella of support that is provided by the mainland Tanzanian government. There have been pockets of improvement over the last decade, and plans are apparently afoot for various development projects, including Stone Town's rehabilitation and a new airport (these will be primarily reliant on foreign funds and donor agencies). Their contributions and those of the private sector, which has increased substantially in the tourism sector, should not be solely relied upon. It is an open secret that corruption is a factor hobbling progress and, while the local government has been largely unable to provide for the country's ordinary citizens, many of its politicians have become fabulously wealthy. These realities, though, in no way detract from visiting Zanzibar. It's a place that is at once exotic and vibrant, and thoroughly re axing. And karibu is a word you will hear many times during your visit. It's a warm welcome in Kiswahili, and the Zanzibaris truly mean it.
This is an excerpt from the guide: Zanzibar. The Insider’s Guide, by Ian Michler.
Title: Zanzibar. The Insider’s Guide
Author: Ian Michler
Publisher: Struik Publishers
Cape Town, 2007
ISBN 9781770074606 / ISBN 978-1-77007-460-6
Softcover, 21x25 cm, 160 pages, throughout colour photos
Michler, Ian im Namibiana-Buchangebot
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