“Not so long ago, everybody lived in areas of coral plantations, in huts made from coconut leaves, and only went to the coast to fish and harvest coconuts. There was no tap water, no electricity, and no school. But gradually the custom for building houses from stone and lime that originated in the island’s merchant area, Stone Town, spread east, and people started to build more permanent houses along the shore. The school was built, meaning the new generation is much more educated than their ancestors were, and there is a small dispensary also in the centre of the village, meaning that villagers gravitate toward the heart of the village for their needs.
Previously young people left Jambiani in droves to seek work in town, but the current abundance of hotels means that most people are now staying in their home village and hoping to find employment in the tourist industry.
Eco + Culture Tours, which started as an NGO then we added a Tours Company to our operations to generate funds for our community projects, we are trying to lead by example in Jambiani – by showing people simple ways of making money or food and improving their lives.
Walking in our coral rag garden you various trees including an Indian almond tree, which was used to make soft drinks long before the advent of Coca Cola on the island. There are also a variety of mints – one type used to combat flu and another kind that was used in the past to cleanse and scent dead bodies – as well as ylang ylang trees and screw palms.
Jambiani, with its curious linear shape, suddenly opens to reveal further strata. The next layer is of light forest – here villagers used to come to pray to spirits believed to be present in the trees. First there is the beach, and then the sandy soil, and then the coral, but most tourists just lie on the beach without learning any more about the landscape.
Eco + Culture have been working on for some time. It’s designed to show villagers that coral rock, thought to be barren by most people locally, can actually provide a home for most plants given enough time and attention. There are about 100 species of plants here – almost everything you can imagine. Look one way – pomegranate trees. Another way – guava trees. There is also eucalyptus, golden mango, lemon, kaffir lime, vanilla, lemongrass, aloe vera and cloves. There is a henna tree – used to make up henna paste to adorn the skins of local women, and also sadly to brew a tea to bring on miscarriage. There is a glue tree, which produces white sap so sticky it is used as a local alternative to Superglue. There are green curry leaves and small starfruit that can be used to make vinegars and chutney. Not bad for a landscape of rock that few people thought could yield much. The plantation is open to all locals – anyone is welcome to come and pick fruit or leaves. Its fundamental purpose is to encourage people to try to plant coral gardens themselves.
Zanzibar’s fertility is notable – if even barren land like this can produce such a rich harvest then nobody should go hungry. It is also reflected in the abundance of herbal remedies that locals use to treat ailments. Visiting a fourth-generation local herbalist’s quarters, here you will be shown leaves and branches that make up the art of the herbalist.
One tree root can be used to treat classic malnutrition in children where stick-thin children model unnatural pot bellies. It’s mixed with coconut milk or oil, fed to the children, and then their stomachs return to the right proportions and their diminished appetite returns. Another leaf can be grinded up and mixed with honey to treat children with asthma; another is used in a tea to lower high blood pressure; another is used to extract poison from a stingray sting. One leaf can be treated to extract castor oil, used as an antiseptic in the process of male circumcision. There is a thin vine that can be used to treat blood hemorrhages. Trumpet flowers are dried and then rolled up and smoked by adults to treat asthma. The list goes on and on – name just about any malaise and there is a local plant cure. Many medical researchers have visited the herbalist, Mr Suleiman, to find out about the cures that he uses.
Still, the most important tree remains the coconut. The people of coastal Zanzibar rely on this palm to meet most of their basic needs. The tree provides branches to make shelter, food, drink, rope, oil for cooking and skin, cooking implements, drinking cups, soap, even rudimentary toothbrushes. The next part of the tour takes in a typical local house, where the woman of the house is using an “mbuzi” – a small stool with a long extension capped with a serrated edge – to shred the insides of a coconut. Then she uses this grated coconut flesh to extract coconut milk, which she will cook with rice. She also demonstrates a large-scale mortar and pestle, used to pound rice into rice flour and to make uji, the local porridge.
Local women demonstrate how to make rope from coconut husks. The husks are left to soak in the sea and sun for some weeks until they start to disintegrate into wet fibres. These are dried and cleaned by pounding them with a wooden stick until all excess moisture and debris is expelled. Women then roll small lengths of rough rope from the fibres and pleat these together into longer lengths of rope that can be used to make local beach beds, or combined into larger ropes for anchors.”
The other major activity here is seaweed farming. Walking out through the squelching white sand at low tide, through shallow pools of darting, silvery fish, finally you reach the seaweed “farms” – wooden stakes with rope strung between them, on which seaweed is grown and later harvested for sale to the Far East, where it is used in cosmetic products and in the silk-making process. From beginning to end the process of growing, harvesting and drying seaweed can take under a month, so it’s a quick crop to turn around.
Driving to the very end of the village come to the end of the tour,after tour we you will be invited to have an opulent local lunch. Calling itself a cultural tour is perhaps misleading – it is as much a tour of the local flora and geology as the local people, but it does certainly give tourists who would normally see only Jambiani’s white sands the chance to contribute to its future and to begin to appreciate what life is like within the village houses they pass in their minibuses on the way to their hotels
PRICE: ( Per person in USD )
|No of persons||1 Pax||2 pax||3 Pax||4 Pax||5 Pax||6 Pax||7 Pax +++|
|Price per person (USD)||150||85||65||50||45||40||35|
Please note: the above prices are from Stone town hotels,contact us from any beach hotels.