Zanzibar Film Festival – Safari ya Gwalu


Image from google images

Every year Zanzibar holds an international film festival for one week, usually in July, showcasing talented local and international film directors work as well as music and art exhibitions in various locations around Zanzibar from the Old Fort to the Double Tree by Hilton, which is where we sat in a room to watch the two hour film, Safari ya Gwalu, written and directed by Daniel Magane, this was a film inspired by the Kenyan film called First Grader.

The film highlighted the struggles of, not only adult education, but also daily life in Tanzania for both the adults and children. It certainly captured the hearts of its small audience at the Double Tree, with spectators giving a round of applause and praise to the director and the main actor who played Gwalu, Salim Ahmad, who provided a question and answer session at the end.

The Director, Daniel, said that many people have said to him that, if they were able to go to school it would open up new opportunities for them and enable them to live a better life, this was the main inspiration for him to create this film and to emphasise that, even if you are older than the average child that attends school, it is never too late to seek an education and work towards living a better life.

Salim said the main reason he took up the role was the message of education and just how important it is to go to school, no matter what age you are. The message was that if someone really wants to go to school, they should just go to school, no matter what anyone else says.

This film was great at showing what life can be like living in Tanzania, if not in other parts of Africa too, it showed how important it is for the young to go to and stay in school and for those who never went or never finished school before, to go at whatever age they can and if they don’t think they have the courage to go, as Gwalu in the film says, bravery can make a man do things he never thought possible.

Very Own Shop

john2Three months ago the house of Art in Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam opened its own fair-trade shop. Supporting the local artist that is in need to find new business strategies than just the usual market places with tens of competitors and their own artist the shop offers jewelry, clothing, paintings, interior design and music.



John who works as a gardener during the days maintainskangas the shop. He is responsible of contacting the local artist and find the best sources for the shop. At the moment most of the shops customers are the volunteers and tourists coming to stay in the house of Art in Tanzania. In the future though the shop is planned to spread by online sales. At the moment you can already find some of the products in, which is a Finnish fair-trade channel. (Originally published on Oct 28, 2013)

Be smart, don’t start – A story about Detroit Sober House

By Emilia Sten and Anna Kevin (Originally published on Oct 2, 2013)

Suleiman Mauly

Suleiman Mauly

Suleiman Mauly was a normal child, who liked playing football and was good in school. In school he felt bored and started to hang out with the “wrong” people and using drugs. After a while he became an addict. He says he ended up hurting himself and others more than he could ever imagine. Today he is clean and he is the founder of Detroit Sober House on Zanzibar, together with Fatma Juma.

They call it a recovery community and the idea of sober house is to change the addict’s environment and give them a drug free zone. When using drugs, your friends are often also users, so getting away from them and making new friends who are not drug users is essential for healing from the addiction. At the sober house they can find someone to talk to about their problems – people who have been through the same.

It is the addict’s own choice to join the sober house, but often they got help from their families to pay for the stay. The first months of the recovery the people are not allowed to go outside the sober house. In the beginning many of them are sick, as a side effect of getting clean from the drugs, and just need rest.

As the recoveries gets better they start taking part in the daily programme. The programme consists of yoga, meditation, self-support meetings etc. The recoveries can take part in different programmes, like arts and sports, depending on their own wishes. Many of the recoveries are artists and makes paintings and sculptures at the sober house. The 12th of November they will have a big exhibition of their arts. There they will also sell jewellery and clothes they have made themselves.

The sober house doesn’t employ anyone to do the daily duties, because the recoveries take care of making food and cleaning etc. But volunteers are very welcome since they need all the help they can get. Actually it was a volunteer from Art in Tanzania who introduced the yoga sessions to the sober house.

At moment Detroit Sober House have 30 recoveries who have suffered from addictions of heroin, marijuana and/or alcohol. The staff contains five persons. As the recoveries gets better they may become volunteers, meaning they are helping the staff with the arrangements of the house.

Even after six months or more, when they are totally clean from their addictions they still have contact with the people at the sober house, to avoid falling back in old habits. They are like a family, who are there for each other when help is needed.

The Detroit Sober House also drives a campaign, where they try to prevent children and youngsters from start using drugs. The campaign is called “Be smart, don’t start”. They are visiting schools where they hand out their own brochures and tell the young people their stories. Hopefully there will be less drug addicts on Zanzibar in the future.


Wonder Workshop, where art meets innovation

By Laura Alioravainen and Marjut Valtanen

Team Leaders, Art in Tanzania (Originally published on Sep 9, 2013)

Artists work on a wood at Wonder Workshop of Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam

An artist works on a wood at Wonder Workshop of Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam

When you pass between tens of little stores and boutiques selling imported shoes and clothes from Asia and all the pirated DVDs salesmen,  you can find a true gem in the streets of Dar Es Salaam. Behind the red gates exists Wonder Workshop. This craft shop was founded in 2005 by Paul Joynson-Hicks and its business model is pure genius.

Starting with three employees Wonder Workshop was making art out of scrap metal. Presently the organization employs 42 Tanzanian nationals with different disabilities. The brilliancy of Wonder workshop lies in the ability to see resources and potential where others so often overlook. Here used products and trash, typically scrap metal, wood, glass and plastic, from the streets get a new life in beautiful forms of greeting cards, jewellery, art, toys and in so many ways that our imagination can’t reach. The employees of Wonder Workshop say their inspiration comes from the nature and beauty of Africa and its wildlife.

Paper making at Wonder workshop

Paper making at Wonder workshop

Every year there is about hundred new applicants to work in Wonder workshop and get off the streets. A valuable asset to the workshop’s development and expansion is collaboration with volunteers and interns from all over the world. Volunteers can use their education and knowhow to help develop new products. Volunteering here is also a great opportunity to work with recycled material, truly test innovativeness with limited resources and learn the unique wonders of this workshop.

For more information, visit the workshop’s website:

Up-and-coming artist on Bahari Beach tells us his story

By Katie O’Reilly-Boyles (Originally published on Aug 26, 2013)

Creating traditional African art on Bahari Beach may sound like the dream job, but 29 year old Musti has been working hard at his artist’s studio, Zamani Sanaa, Swahili for ‘Old Art’ for over a year and a half. Painted using water colours and oil paints on canvas, the Tingatinga style which he uses is very popular with art lovers, so Musti’s workshop is gradually growing as a successful business as he makes contacts, and his studio/gallery becomes more well-known in the area.DSC08458-300x168

Although he has been interested in pursuing his talent for painting for the last six years, Musti wasn’t always going to become a professional painter. His creative ability was evidently always present, however, because he was an artist in a different respect, working as a lyricist and singer as a teenager! As well as his pastimes including sports activities and travelling, art was also a hobby alongside this, but his passion for painting truly blossomed and developed in his twenties.

Although creative arts seem to run in the family, with his brother being an artist and filmmaker as well as a boxer, Musti tells us that his inspiration was himself, as he made the important decision to change from music to art, feeling that this could be a more successful life plan. Quickly and successfully learning how to use strong and vibrant colours to produce Tingatinga at Bagamoyo, where his friend was studying sculpture, his art career was soon launched. Unlike many shops which may have security apparatus or perhaps a security guard to prevent the merchandise from being snatched, Musti insists that he does not need to worry about people stealing art which is in the style of Tingatinga because of its traditional nature, and the fact that even potential thieves would therefore not disrespect it to that extent.DSC08461-300x168

Although Musti runs the business himself, he does have some helping hands around the studio from some boys, who he mentors and wants to teach working skills in order to help them survive in the future. Similarly, Musti, although retaining his individual talents for producing the Tingatinga art, is keen to pass on his expertise, and the joy of expressing through art, to people who want to come to the workshop, hire some canvas and learn how to produce traditional African art.

Admitting that Art in Tanzania has been very helpful and supportive for his career, he also wants his art business to be internationalized – we hope to see more of Musti’s work in the future!