Once you have feasted your eyes on the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar, it is difficult to pull yourself away to explore Stone Town. Without a tour of Stone Town however, your trip to Zanzibar will be incomplete. The town captures the history of the city and the unique fusion of cultures that cannot be found anywhere else. The culture is an amalgamation of African, Arab and Indian which you will notice in the food, clothes, handicrafts and even the people.
Stone Town will either fill you with intrigue or it will make you want to run away. The colonial architecture is beautiful but tainted by the poorly maintained exteriors of the buildings. Make sure you get a tour-guide or research as you wont have a clue otherwise.
I learnt so many interesting facts about Zanzibar on the tour however the former slave market overshadowed everything. Everything the tour guide said pulled at my heartstrings and it made me realize how much we had failed as Humanity. Of course I was aware of the slave trade well before this trip, however learning the details and facts made me feel sick to my stomach. As we stood in a room where the ceiling was so low I had to bend down, he explained that this is where slaves were held for weeks and months on end until somebody bought them. They were starved and chained together as a means to test them. They had no toilets no amenities, they were crammed in like sardines into a space that wasn’t even big enough for me to stand in.
The energy in the room made me feel sick, I shuddered at the thought of what these four walls had witnessed, how much suffering this tiny room had endured, how humankind had inflicted this on their own, how people were treated worse then animals. They were given very little food and it was survival of the fittest. They were whipped and tortured as a test to see who was strongest and those who screamed were sold for less or simply just left to die.
It was heartbreaking to listen to and part of me was relieved to move on to the markets. Although there are many tourists, Stone Town is full of locals. You will find them at the many markets doing the daily shopping. There is a market full of artisanal handcrafts, meat, fish and vegetable markets and also Foradhani gardens. Foradhani was my favourite! A streetfood market on the waterfront that comes alive after 5pm. There is a delicious selection of local favourites such as zanzibar pizza, zanzibar mix, grilled skewers of various meats and seafood and plenty of other dishes. I tried all of the above and recommend them all!
Stone Town definitely has an eerie feel to it for me, I loved exploring it but wouldn’t stay there too long. I am definitely a beachbum and those beaches are too good to miss! You will see them in my next post.
Ciao for now x