Zanzibar, an archipelago off the Tanzania coast, has long attracted travelers to its capital city, Stone Town. Visitors come to cap off a safari, dance to taarab music, and snorkel among dragon moray eels—all in the historic birthplace of the Swahili language.
The cotton kanga (pictured above), worn as a wrap dress, skirt, or shawl, is the principal item of clothing for East African women. Named for the dappled feathers of the guinea fowl, the kanga is not complete without a Swahili maxim printed along its border. One favorite: Kupata na kukosa kwangu, wewe kunakuhusu nini, or “Whether I succeed or fail, it’s not your business.”
This appeared in the May/June 2011 issue.
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Chiseled Doors, Zanzibar, Tanzania
In Stone Town’s labyrinthine alleyways, see the city’s carved wooden doors. These massive works of art are detailed with benedictions from the Koran and augmented with brass spikes. Only a few hundred of these entrance ways—some from the 17th century—remain. The best preserved examples are in the Bhagani and Shangani districts.
It's great to walk around the spice market, where a dizzying cocktail of sweet, spicy, and earthy aromas fills your nostrils. But don't forget to walk into the significantly less pleasant-smelling chicken market, where people barter and purchase live chickens for a freshly-prepared dinner.