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In pictures: Saving Zanzibar’s heritage

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Situated off the coast of Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar features many examples of Swahili architecture.

However, after years of neglect, many of the buildings are crumbling.

Now, a small group of local artisans is fighting to bring back the traditional skills and knowledge needed to preserve these buildings.

image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville
image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville
image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville

Stone Town, the historical part of Zanzibar's capital, was listed as a cultural World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) in 2000.

However, its buildings have been affected by a growing population, increased traffic and the tropical climate of the island.

image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville

The use of concrete for repairs, instead of traditional sand and lime mortar, has exacerbated the decline of many buildings such as the palace of Mtoni.

image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville
image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville
image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville

Students of the Zanzibar Built Heritage Job Creation project, which aims to resurrect the traditional skills needed to restore the buildings, have been trained in carpentry and masonry.

Omar Yussuf Abdallah, 38, says: "This training will give me a salary and help my life.

"It will help me to teach others how to protect our culture and Stone Town's doors."

image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville
image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville
image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville

A mix of old lime-washed, coralline ragstone and more modern, concrete buildings, Stone Town's skyline now has a more certain future.

image copyrightAurelie Marrier d'Unienville

Photographs by Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville

Related Topics

  • Architecture
  • Zanzibar

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  • Zanzibar profile