Multimedia: Eid al-Fitr in Zanzibar

U.K. and Kheiry

These young Zanzibari men go by the names of U.K. (left) and Kheiry. They’re dressed up for Eid al-Fitr festivities last week. Read, watch and listen to my multimedia report on

ZANZIBAR, Tanzania — The morning of Eid al-Fitr broke in the narrow streets of Stone Town, Zanzibar, with a few minutes of intense tropical downpour. It was a fitting start to a day that celebrates the closing of the holy month of Ramadan — a day when everything should be clean and refreshed.

Stone Town, or “Mji Mkongwe,” as it is known locally in Swahili, is the oldest section of the main city on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. It has lain at the crossroads of vast Indian Ocean trading networks since ancient times. Today, it is a hub of Swahili culture, which thrives on the eastern coast of Africa, stretching from Somalia to Mozambique. With influences from mainland Africa, Arabia, Persia and India, the enclave’s people, architecture and customs capture the eclecticism of Islamic life. Continue reading…

Crossroads of the Indian Ocean

I spent the weekend in Zanzibar. It’s a place with streets like Damascus, music like Cairo and Congo intertwined, and an equatorial climate. It’s perched on the rim of the Indian ocean, ringed in palms, and everywhere bears the imprint of a history equal parts East Africa and Arabia, with plenty of Persian, Gujarati and other Indian Ocean ingredients thrown in. And I even found a band of roving, self-taught capoeiristas. They call themselves the Spartans (which means they have a link to my Guerreiros in New York, more on that later).

So yeah, you could pretty much say I’m in love. Not much time to write now, but here are just a few photos. I didn’t take many, because I hope to go back soon with more time for impressions.

The streets of Stonetown reminded me of Aleppo.

The streets of Stonetown reminded me of Aleppo.

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