Zanzibar Island

Beauty of beaches, extraordinary mix of cultures, commercial genius, sulphurous past … what is the magic of Zanzibar? Undoubtedly to all this, so much the destination knows how to decline for its hosts several voyages, that of the pleasure alneary along beaches of exception, and that of the splendor of formerly …

  Nothing but the word is a journey, Zanzibar! … A trip which, when you stop in the city, immediately plunges into a turbulent past, against a backdrop of spices and shops Doubtful, and which takes, not far, the color of the paradise as soon as one gains the beaches … Should one choose? Surely not ! For Zanzibar is a whole, and this is what the word induces strongly since it designates both an archipelago, a province, an island and a city. Finally … A city … Or what remains of it, it was formerly with Mombasa most a large swahili community in eastern Africa, mixed over several centuries of Bantus, Arabs, Persians, Indians, all living from the monsoon, and doing so with genius since, pushed in March-April by the winds From the south-west, their boats left here loaded with slaves, ivory, animal skins, mangrove wood, coral bricks and turtle shells, to return from November, stuffed with pottery, Chinese porcelain, clothes, dates, tools and weapons …

If today we have fun counting the mosques in Stone Town – there are 48! Did not count at that time the number of bourgeois dwellings and flamboyant palaces, especially after the Sultans of Oman had expelled the Portuguese from the place, and that on a fine day in 1832 Seyyid Said decided to settle here The permanent seat of his sultanate. Until his death in 1856, the first Prince of Oman practically never left Zanzibar, elected by him as an Eden on earth. For the daily, it also made it a veritable hub of the spice market, doubling exports, especially thanks to the local cultivation of clove – which still remains today one of the country’s first resources – And it was finally this success that led to the rapid decline of the dynasty. For good things have only one time! They were spoiled here for the descendants of the Said at the end of the 19th century, when the powerful Europeans decided to share among themselves the African cake … To the British to place under the protectorate the Kenyan lands of the Omanis in 1887, Germans to do the same a year later for the Tanganyikese part, the two empires being very well thus, and appreciating henceforth above all that the sultan contented himself with a supreme luxury: to gently climb into the archipelago. It lasted almost ten years. Precisely, until the princely strolls were judged to be onerous, and the English, having exchanged Zanzibar with the Germans against an icy island of the North Sea, came one day with cannon to give Sultan of parade. It was in 1896, everyone remembered it, because the skirmish did not last an hour, the sovereign destitute immediately hoisting the white flag to enter before the hour in the “Guinness of Records” with The shortest battle in history …

  That being so, let us be fair; the English did not land here except with their troops, they also came there with their good manners, and especially their inextinguishable taste for liberty, which promptly eradicated them from the whole island Practice of slavery. Zanj el Barr, something like “the land of the Black Men”, suddenly became that of the Men in short, in other words: of all colors. With the Arab, stationed in the administration, the Indian, fruiting in commerce, and
The African newly freed, waiting for his hour … An hour that the ethnic population believed to have glimpsed with the independence of 1963, but that led only to To bring to power a minority immediately swept away by a certain John Okello, who, to get the country out of his torpor and the languid sale of the clove, found no better than to call his congeners to chase the local feudal lords And less large Arab or Indian families, all soon transferred from their shops or plantations. The blow of madness was an extravagant violence. There were 10,000 dead, perhaps 20,000, and witnesses said that the sea, by force, became red. Palaces and abandoned lands were again nationalized, the fields distributed to the people, and in the way of the tomorrow singing, it was in fact all the activity of a country that was led to ruin, evidently in the joy of d Hopes not yet sober. Today, Zanzibar inspires this first, Unhappy feeling of mess. In the capital Stone Town, in the first place, where some buildings are literally tattered, beside others, impeccably Renovated … In the lands too, on the outskirts of villages, where bits of rusty metal try to make a roof to walls of cob. On the roadside, again, where schools do not offer more than their walls disembowelled … Otherwise That by dozens, on foot, forming at certain hours very beautiful benches of a human tide, schoolgirls and scholars know how to put in their uniforms prides
Which go far, and, along the ditches, clear bursts in their black eyes. We see this also in the city, on the rubble, mounting cravings to build … Stone Town is besides the perfect witness of this disconcerting contrast, where the epochs come to cling to each other, without hesitation but with clearness, The luxury taking
The decay. For Zanzibar, the disillusioned, does not cease to inspire, in particular the architects who find here subject to splendid renovations, and how coulditi.

  To be different in this narrow city of stone, at the same time oriental medina and bazaar of the Indies, punctuated here and there of pretty colonial buildings, teeming with world, of bicycles, of scooters, and at certain hours so much Silent … How many brand-new boutique hotels are now in the city, and who are trying in jet-set refinements to make their guests live the splendours of ancient palaces?

  And how many others are preparing to open? … How many projects still latent behind these thick carved wooden doors and their heavy barazas, beneath these walls of coral bricks and ceilings streaked with dark wooden beams of mangrove? … It is sometimes by patching up things as well as the things that have recently opened certain addresses in old houses of maharaja, but in other cases it is by putting everything on the ground … The result is that, Today Stone Town offers a choice of accommodation, from its emblematic palace, the
Serena Inn, beautifully located in front of the Indian Ocean on the elbow of the Shangani district, to the small and recent “jewels” Kisiwa House and Mashariki Palace, including a palette of charming establishments in Traditional houses … Facing the sea, next to the crenellated walls of the Palais du Peuple – great witness to the princely life with its collection of vintage cars and period furniture – and before arriving on the Old Port where The Dispensary with the Aga Khan Foundation, is about to open a new lighthouse of the hotels in the destination, the Great Stone town Zanzibar … 36 luxury suites managed by Elewana, that’s all saying, because the name
In the hotel business is already no longer a chain, it is a signature …

  In order to offer their clientele a stop as elegant and as cultural, in a city classified since the beginning of the 19th century, Year 2000 at Heritage of Unesco. What also to animate even more the waterfront, against a background of Omani Arab fort of the nineteenth century, right next to the House of Wonders built by the English to assign the sultan to residence. Today, transformed into a museum, it is said that there is worse as a prison in the world, so much it shines from its dozens of high iron pillars imitating Greek columns, and supporting on two floors large veranda terraces that make The entire tower of the building, all covered with a corrugated iron roof Enhanced by a cloche with a clock pulling an impala neck on the alert … In the evening, on the dike separating the palace from the ocean, along the Fordhani gardens,

  Youth of the city finds himself for a drink, and often more, nibble a discreet flirt in the smoke of barbecues. It is not only the offshore wind that digs, love also. As for the seaside offer of Zanzibar, it is also not outdone either, so far seems the time of the “pioneers” Breezes and Karafuu. Today, there are dozens of hotels on the southern tip of the island, where Dolphins keep company with the men, a little on the west coast, with fertile and undulating lands, sometimes punctuated with baobabs, at the top of the northern ridge, around Nungwy, the last village to make dhows in a real marine wind , And of course along the southeast and northeast coasts, where

  More beautiful beaches. It is here that the signs follow one another, with establishments of all sizes, of all styles, for all budgets and for allMarket segments, from the bungalow without frills – but all the same, feet in the water! – to the delicate gem for diamond wedding trips, passing by the private villa, hotel club, incentive resort …

  Besides, it must be admitted that the choice is not bad, because the view of the ocean is simply splendid on this side! … at low tide, when the water has gone beyond Of the barrier of coral, leaving behind it an immense expanse of sand in gray, blue, or beige, or gold; And at high tide, when the docks of the fishermen return, one behind the other, skirting the coast as in regatta, all dragged by a straw-white sail rounded by the wind. In Chwaka Bay, when it is dry, it is the women who pick up the bait: small starfish. Further north, in Matemwe, it is the women who also roll on the thigh of coconut fibers To make the ropes. Men, it will in turn later, sails out, with the fish. It’s been like that for a long time, exactly since we also found stars in the sea. It’s simple. So simple. Why, then, should life change?