Part 2 of Sacred Forests of Zanzibar, created by the villagers of Jambiani and Paje, Zanzibar.
Steeped in history and the aroma of spices, the islands of Zanzibar — a semi-autonomous region off the coast of Tanzania, East Africa — are a well-known and attractive tourist destination. Less well-known and appreciated is Zanzibar’s rich heritage of traditional cultures, today mostly represented by African people of Swahili origin. A key aspect of this heritage is Zanzibar’s wealth of sacred natural sites, such as sacred groves—patches of mature biodiversity-rich forests in an otherwise increasingly degraded forest landscape.
Cared for by custodian families or communities, these sites provide a vital link to Zanzibari cultural and spiritual traditions, and thus help promote social cohesion and well-being. Often the origins of the sites are lost in the mists of time, and many of the people associated with the sites are spread around several villages. Many of the forests were the sites of origin of certain lineages. Traditionally, custodians would go to the groves to make offerings of food and drink and make prayers and supplication to their ancestors.