Hidden Histories: untold stories of land and sea

Thembi Mutch (Hidden Histories) has started her own blog where you can follow the progress of her Innovation Project. You can read the first post, “Hidden Histories: untold stories of land and sea” here.

School groups visiting Mida Creek (Field Data August, 2019)

Discovering MUCH in Mida

Wes Forsythe and Caesar Bita – MUCH to Discover in Mida Creek

Marine Cultural Heritage continues to be the focus of the Mida Creek community in Kenya, as skills are developed, put in practise and new facilities constructed to act as a hub for learning, exhibitions and cultural events. Supported by the RftD project ‘MUCH to discover in Mida’, the work takes place on a beautiful part of the Kenyan coast – between Watamu National Marine Park and Arabuko Sokoke Forest Park. The parks contain important species of plants and animals, including extensive mangroves and herds of elephant and buffalo. The idyllic natural environment belies some of the challenges facing the community in this area including poorly regulated coastal development, timber depletion, unresolved land issues, social conflict and poverty. In addition, there persists the challenge of engendering a sense of ownership in an environment where exclusionary park protection measures can seem at odds with the needs of local residents.

Map showing Mida Creek

Mida Creek

In order to reconnect and recognise ‘people in the parks’ we have taken an approach to marine cultural heritage which seeks to enhance our appreciation of the past and celebrate the present. Activities associated with this approach include a survey of current marine practise and economies, and in recent weeks a campaign of archaeological fieldwork. The intention is that these activities will inform educational work with schools and the park managers, a community-run exhibition space, the recognition and development of coastal economies and policy recommendations.

Madam Arfa Salim Baya presents on MUCH at Mida Secondary school which is located at Mida Creek (Field Data August, 2019)

Madam Arfa Salim Baya presents on MUCH at Mida Secondary school which is located at Mida Creek (Field Data August, 2019)

School groups visiting Mida Creek (Field Data August, 2019)

School groups visiting Mida Creek (Field Data August, 2019)

The archaeological survey successfully uncovered new evidence of human settlement around Mida, including sites that likely served as an outport for the famous Medieval settlement at nearby Gedi and others which demonstrated an intimate understanding of the marine environment. These included ancient landing places sited near deep water to permit vessels to anchor in proximity at all states of the tide; trading locations at the edge of major routeways into the bay or settlements overlooking channels through the mangrove that would have afforded a degree of privacy and protection.

The MUCH Survey team interviewing elders at Kisiwani (Field Data August, 2019)

The MUCH Survey team interviewing elders at Kisiwani (Field Data August, 2019)

Our visit to Arabuko Sokoke was aided by Wataa elder, Geoffrey Mashauri who as a Park botanist had both inherited and direct knowledge to pinpoint forest sites once occupied by these elusive hunters, who later acted as middlemen with Swahili traders. As the largest coastal forest in East Africa, Arabuko-Sokoke presents serious challenges to archaeological investigation. Not only is the forest dense and strewn with leaf litter, but the presence of large animals require the accompaniment of a team of fully-armed rangers (our thanks in this regard to Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service). Undeterred, Mr Mashauri led us deep within the forest to uncover evidence of Wataa sites spanning hundreds of years of occupation and predate the better known Swahili culture of this coast.

The MUCH Survey team inside Arabuko Sokoke Forest under KWS guard and Mr. Geoffrey Mashauri on the right (Field Data August, 2019)

The MUCH Survey team inside Arabuko Sokoke Forest under KWS guard and Mr. Geoffrey Mashauri on the right (Field Data August, 2019)

Wavy lines pottery from Waata sites in Arabuko Sokoke Forest (Field Data August, 2019)

Wavy lines pottery from Waata sites in Arabuko Sokoke Forest (Field Data August, 2019)

Geoffrey was not the only member of the local community providing advice, diplomacy and orientation on the shore. We were joined by fishermen, farmers, activists, and on one occasion a self-appointed witch doctor! The hospitality of coastal residents was magnificent, as was that of our key partners Bidii na Kazi (‘labour and effort’) women’s group, who are in the process of eagerly documenting their efforts to put MUCH training into practise through the production of honey, butterflies and baskets. Much hilarity was had as they reviewed their first forays into film-making, however it was also clear that their efforts are beginning to improve the well-being of their households. The group have successfully identified marine resources that can be converted into economic opportunities. Some of these, such as palm bushes have traditionally been a source for basketry; others provide a distinct taste of coastal life, such as the black honey made by bees browsing the mangrove forest. Our determined community partners have begun to see real returns on their efforts as their produce has successfully sold at local markets.

Bidii na Kazi women display butterfly pupa for sale. These are now being grown at Mida (Field Data August, 2019)

Bidii na Kazi women display butterfly pupa for sale. These are now being grown at Mida (Field Data August, 2019)

Over the next months we will be continuing in our efforts to establish a boat house and yard to act as a hub for education and skills as we commission the reproduction of some of the craft traditional to the creek. It will also provide exhibition space in conjunction with a café for coastal crafts and the results of our archaeological and contemporary marine cultural surveys. We will also be launching a digital platform for the collaborative documentary work undertaken with our community groups, providing a key measure of progress and means to showcase their efforts.

“We learnt what it means to do Interdisciplinary Research” University of Dar es Salaam Students Narrate

Elgidius Ichumbaki, Edward Pollard, Jean-Christophe Comte

The Kisima Project

A team of researchers consisting of coastal archaeologists, hydrologists and cultural heritage management scholars have returned from fieldwork on Kilwa Kisiwani Island, in southern Tanzania where they are implementing the Kisima Project. The Kisima Project funded by the Rising from the Depth Network administered by the University of Nottingham investigates the possible links between freshwater conditions (presence, absence, salinity) in the stone-lined historic water wells and the economic rise and fall of a maritime community in East Africa. As part of capacity building, fieldwork for the Kisima Project involved students from the University of Dar Es Salaam (UDSM) to provide them hands-on experience of some of the theories they learn in class. UDSM’s Archaeology and Heritage Management programmes’ students namely Claudia Lubao, Neema Munisi, Hassan Juma, Betuel Mbogoro, Irene Reuben, and Javern Sabas share their experiences.

On the final fieldwork day, Elgidius Ichumbaki asked these students to share experiences gained from participating in the Kisima project field activities. Their joint response was, ‘we learnt what it means to undertake interdisciplinary research.’

They explained that the experience gained from working with a team of professionals was exceptional as they never had such a chance before. “Working with the hydrologists, archaeologists and maritime heritage scholars from Tanzania, France, Britain and Ireland confirmed what I recently heard from one of my instructors that ‘the best research projects must be multidisciplinary’” said Javern Sabas, one of the participating students pursuing BA Heritage Management.

Regardless of whether it was one’s first, second, or third time to visit Kilwa Kisiwani, they expressed their perceptions that the visit this time was special. “…. having studied at the University of Dar es Salaam for three years and having heard about Kilwa Kisiwani in six of the thirty-two courses I have studied, it was a shame that I had have no opportunity to visit Kilwa. Kisima project has quenched my thirst to visit Kilwa and learn about the Swahili civilization”, Irene Reuben, another group member narrated.

Cementing the same point, Claudia Lubao said, ‘…. I have visited Kilwa Kisiwani about three times, but my experience this time is different.  Visiting the families in Kisiwani, sharing food with them in their homes, as well as discussing issues about Kilwa history made me see another side of Kilwa Kisiwani that I didn’t know.’

Claudia Lubao (in the middle) discussing various project issues with a group of women from Kilwa Kisiwani.

Figure 1: Claudia Lubao (in the middle) discussing various project issues with a group of women from Kilwa Kisiwani.

Photo by E. Ichumbaki

Intervening the conversations, Irene Reuben added…. ‘although I have attended two practical training in archaeology, I have never been given opportunity to practice some of the skills such as undertaking mapping, interacting with local people to record their narratives as well as working together with other fellow students to address particular topics. Working together with the hydrogeologists gave me an exceptional experience.’

Likewise, another student explains how taking part in the project triggered a passion for becoming a professional photographer. “One of my interests has been to produce images that communicate a particular message to people of all walks of life. It came as a surprise to learn that I was supposed to capture images of various wells we mapped and excavated as implementation of the project continued” Hassan Juma, another team member informs.

Hassan Juma taking a photo of a historic well at one of the monument in Kilwa Kisiwani

Figure 2: Hassan Juma taking a photo of a historic well at one of the monument in Kilwa Kisiwani

Photo by E. Ichumbaki

Of much interest was to learn that the project changed some of perceptions they had regarding STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects as one of the students narrated. “The belief of many students in Tanzania is that ‘science and engineering subjects are hard to pursue.’ Participating in Kisima project has allowed me to question this wisdom! For nearly one week I managed to learn how to record geographic coordinates and elevation of wells using a differential GPS, configuring and installing groundwater loggers in the wells, and using these instruments to understand changing water level, salinity, and temperature. These methods are commonly regarded as ‘too scientific’ to be accomplished by students undertaking arts subjects. In fact, it is not very complicated to do ‘science’ as part of a multidisciplinary project” informs Javern Sabas, another project member.

Javern Sabas (in the middle) listening to Dr. Jean-Christophe Comte (right) from the University of Aberdeen and Dr. Simon Melchioly (left) from UDSM.

Figure 3: Javern Sabas (in the middle) listening to Dr. Jean-Christophe Comte (right) from the University of Aberdeen and Dr. Simon Melchioly (left) from UDSM.

Photo by E. Ichumbaki

The students have gone further to explain their interactions and engagements with some members of the local community. “I could not believe that the local people were eager to learn about our research topic and give constructive comments. Within a short period of our stay, some local people became aware of our research, gave ideas and advised strategies of how to collect data. Kisima Project has allowed me to physically witness the practice of ‘community archaeology’ I learnt in class” narrated Betuel Edson, another group member.

Agreeing with Betuel, Claudia Lubao added, “Kisima Project has enabled me to interact with fishermen and fish with them. Being the only woman in a team of six men fishing in a traditional boat, and listening to the songs fishermen sing or narrate as they travel from the beach to the ocean, undertake fishing activities, navigate back to the beach, land their dhows, and sell fish on the beach was the first time I experienced these activities.”

On a similar note, Neema Munisi comments that “local people’s narratives, myths, stories, beliefs, and customs about ancient wells are very interesting and must have contributed to preserving wells and ensuring sustainable water use.” She further narrates that “…. for me seeing beads that are made from the local aragonite minerals was exciting and evidence of the highest level of civilization of Kilwa people during the ancient times”.

The students also faced challenges during fieldwork, and they expressed the troubles they went through. ‘Some local people asked for money before they talked to me and others were not ready to hold discussions. I did not have money to offer them’ says Claudia Lubao.

Neema Munisi (left) and Irene Reuben (right) filling well survey forms

Figure 4: Neema Munisi (left) and Irene Reuben (right) filling well survey forms

Photo by E. Ichumbaki

On her side, Irene Reuben notes that “…people had perceptions that our movement from one well to another, asking them about the problems associated with water, and establishing archaeological trenches nearby the wells would directly improve their water access, hence, solve their water shortage problem. Indeed, it was a disappointment for the local people to learn that our research will not immediately solve their acute problem despite being a first step towards it.”

Language was another challenge the students faced as they were collecting ethnographic information. Claudia Lubao narrates that ‘some elders code-mixed and code-switched Kiswahili and their local languages, the later of which was unclear to me’.

“For me, the difficult moment was when I interacted with a boy; a student at Kilwa Muslim College. He completely ignored me and would not answer my questions. When I asked him about his name, he responded that his name is ‘mume wangu’ meaning he is my husband. Such response was a disappointment, but it did not stop me from carrying on with the interview”, says Irene Reuben.

The gereza (fort), part of the remaining monuments indicative of civilization in Kilwa Kisiwani Island

‘The Ocean Shapes Our Social Behaviour’ –Wives of Fishermen in Kilwa Kisiwani Island, Tanzania Narrate

Elgidius Ichumbaki, Edward Pollard, Jean-Christophe Comte

The Kisima Project

Sources of fresh water are vital, and also social places, for the Kilwa Kisiwani maritime community, as it is the case amongst many other communities. A team of researchers from the University of Dar es Salaam, University of Aberdeen, and Ireland’s Discovery Programme continue to investigate the role of freshwater wells, and seawater intrusion, in the Swahili civilization that flourished between the 11th and 18th centuries, and the lessons it may yield in terms of sustainable development. We undertake this project at Kilwa Kisiwani inhabited by an island community exploiting the Indian Ocean environment along the southern coast of Tanzania. Along with archaeological surveys and excavations, we are recording narratives, myths, stories, and other forms of intangible heritage that are linked to groundwater use, salinity and freshwater management within the Island.

A team of archaeologists and geologists at one of the historic well in Kilwa Kisiwani

Figure 1: A team of archaeologists and geologists at one of the historic well in Kilwa Kisiwani

Photo by E. Ichumbaki

In various discussions and interviews we have held with local women fetching water at the wells, we have noticed that in addition to being social places, freshwater wells are centres where women, the majority of whom are wives of fishermen, narrate to one another ‘the rewards’ and ‘the cruelties’ they face. The benefits and obstacles they encounter are part and parcel of their lives, which emanate from being ‘sea people’. Considering this scenario, we aimed to answer the question ‘what does the ocean/sea mean to the wives of fishermen’ concentrating at various wells to fetch water?’ Interestingly, we have found that memories, narratives, stories, songs, and other forms of intangible heritage linked to navigation and fishing activities continue to shape the Islanders’ daily behaviour. Here, we report our findings.

Women have informed the research team that what the fishermen say, narrate or sing as they travel from the beach to the ocean, undertake fishing activities, navigate back to the beach, land their dhows, and sell fish on the beach has shaped the women’s behaviour within the Island.

‘If you cheat your husband and his friends find out about your behaviour, they will inform him accordingly. His friends will not tell him directly but through singing various songs. They do so as they are on the way to go for fishing, in the ocean as they fish, on the way back from fishing, or at the beach selling their fish. When this situation happens, you (wife) are humiliated and your husband is ashamed of your behaviour too’—one woman informed the team.

A team of researchers and a group of women discussing various Kisima project issues.

Figure 2: A team of researchers and a group of women discussing various Kisima project issues.

Photo by Neema Munisi.

Javern Tenga (with an orange reflector), a student from the University of Dar es Salaam measuring the water-depth at the great-well—the main water supply in the Island

Figure 3: Javern Tenga (with an orange reflector), a student from the University of Dar es Salaam measuring the water-depth at the great-well—the main water supply in the Island.

Photo by Jean-Christophe Comte

‘Although foreigners may see the song as totally unrelated to the fishing activities, for the Islanders, the message is clear to everyone,’ another woman narrates. She further informed that, “the song mentions a name of a lady given a name of ‘meno ya chauma’ (biting teeth) or that she has bad habits.” As singing continues, the fishing crew evaluate themselves and if one realizes that it is his wife who cheated him, he divorces her upon returning home.

One woman added that, because of this scenario, women in the island of Kilwa Kisiwani are very careful to ‘misbehave’ especially when their husbands have gone out fishing. ‘If you don’t respect yourself, thinking that your husband is away fishing and that your acts will not be known, then, you will suffer the consequences,’ another woman insisted.

Apart from the songs that concern marriage, there are other songs and narratives which shape the daily lives of both fishermen and their families. For example, there are songs, which warn people of the island to be extra careful such as if an accident happens, they are in position to rescue each other as they navigate from the island to the mainland. ‘We are not allowed to continue carrying anything while in the boat. Be it luggage or children, as soon as we get into the boat, we must lay it down. Doing that is important so that if anything happens, then, other members in the boat will rescue you and/or your child,’ says one woman. These views from a woman residing in the island is shared by a fisherman who insists that ‘getting into the boat with shoes is like being against the voyage to where others intend to go.’

The ocean seems to have shaped people on the island to live communal lives by sharing the few resources they obtain from the ocean. ‘All newly-built fishing vessels or purchased nets must be acknowledged by many villagers; so, the first and/or second catch are distributed to neighbours of a villager who make the vessel and/or purchase new nets. According to over twenty interviewed women, the purpose of offering the first catch is to ‘give life to the new vessel or net’ so that it gains recognition in the society’.

Among the songs accompanying fishing activities is one that raises awareness of the marine resources that are protected within Tanzanian laws. Some of the fishermen, for instance, as they go for fishing, sing songs which remind them not to fish the protected marine resources. “Turtles are undesirable, totally undesirable; Whales are desirable? No undesirable! Dolphin is undesirable, very undesirable” some fishermen sing as they go fishing.

Some songs and other narratives warn young fishermen to be careful and avoid dangerous fish. ‘When you plan fishing, do not go alone. Going fishing as a group will save you from being attacked by venomous fish such as a stingray or stonefish. Even if you get stung, your companions will save you’ says one fisherman. Indeed, these stories, narratives and songs, which are linked to the fishing activities, seem to have been and continue to shape the lives and behaviour of people in Kilwa Kisiwani.

As it is today, islanders, whose daily life is supported by groundwater, Kilwa Kisiwani’s civilization was at a much larger scale supported by the use of groundwater through the 26 water wells the Kisima Project have located distributed across the island. Today, most of the known wells are dry and of those who remain in use by the small fishing community, most are too saline for drinking. Kisima project is trying to gather archaeological and hydrological evidence to understand the role of groundwater and saline intrusion, another direct influence of the ocean on islanders’ daily life, on the rise and fall of Kilwa Kisiwani great civilization and use the lessons learnt to inform future water security.

The island of Kilwa Kisiwani is located about 300 km south of Dar es Salaam adjacent to the Tanzanian coast. An ancient town on this island reflects the fact that the inhabitants of the Swahili coast were key players in the transoceanic Indian Ocean trade. Between the 11th and 18th centuries AD, Kilwa Kisiwani was a wealthy port that regularly served as the hub of trade between the Indian Ocean and the interior of eastern Africa. Products such as cloth, glass beads, perfumes, Chinese porcelain, silver, Persian faience and carnelian were imported in exchange for ivory, gold, animal hides and mangrove timber. As a result of this, in 1331, the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta considered Kilwa Kisiwani as ‘one of the most beautiful cities of the world’.

The gereza (fort), part of the remaining monuments indicative of civilization in Kilwa Kisiwani Island

Figure 4: The gereza (fort), part of the remaining monuments indicative of civilization in Kilwa Kisiwani Island.

Photo by Elgidius Ichumbaki

Kilwa Kisiwani’s cultural significance is exceptional and transcends national (Tanzania) boundaries. The island (and its monuments) is of common importance for present and future generations of humanity. It was because of this importance that in 1981, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee inscribed the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani on the World Heritage List.

View from the flight to Inhambane with coastal dunes and lakes in Vilankulos

CoastSnap Mozambique project is launched! A citizen-science coastal monitoring initiative (Part3)

Cari Ballesteros

In the final days of our hectic trip around Mozambique, the teams from UEM and BU flew from Maputo to Inhambane on the 3rd of August. Luciana and I, with our cameras ready to take the best shots of the Mozambique coast from the air, were amazed by the landscape beneath us. The coastal formation of the Macaneta spit in Maputo, coastal dune ridges, river meanders and disconnected meanders were like scenes from another planet. The lakes near Vilankulos and the coast from Vilankulos to Inhambane, the Bazaruto Archipelagos National Park introduced me to shades of blue I had never seen before. The Bay of Inhambane was no less fascinating, with the mixture of blue sea and white corallines sand dunes, and the coastal mangroves in the rivermouths were breath-taking!

View from the flight to Inhambane with coastal dunes and lakes in Vilankulos

View from the flight to Inhambane with coastal dunes and lakes in Vilankulos

View of Inhambane Bay and mangrove forest

View of Inhambane Bay and mangrove forest

In a taxi on our way to our last study area, Praia do Tofo, a landscape covered with palm trees revealed that I was in Inhambane. My Co-I, Pedrito from Ilha, had advised me previously “you are going to like Tofo, with its palm trees!”, but not only the vegetation was different to that seen on my journey around Nampula, with its cashew, banana and baobab trees, or the scrub vegetation around Maputo, the houses were built with the different materials and vegetation available at each location. This was interesting for me, not only from a handcraft perspective and the use of local-natural materials, but also because of my ongoing research (within the Rising from the Depths project) creating a social vulnerability index for the region, where I consider the vulnerability of constructions to the effects of natural coastal hazards.

In Praia do Tofo, from our beachside accommodation, we noticed a big spray coming from the sea. To my surprise and delight, it quickly became apparent that this was coming from a passing whale, on its migration from the north of Mozambique to South Africa. But it wasn’t alone, we had a constant view of spray and tale splashes, leaving me fascinated and Luciana and I glued to the binoculars. I guess I am not the only one in love with the area, as new developers, often not local, are creating resorts along the giant dunes, to meet the increasing demand from tourism.

After the final meeting with the Inhambane municipality administrators, to ensure they were content with the installation of the CoastSnap station in Tofo beach, we installed the station and carried out the beach survey on 6th August. The last workshop took place in the Escola Superior de Hotelaria e Turismo de Inhambane (ESHTI-UEM) organised by Dr Ernesto Macaringue, Lecturer at ESHTI-UEM, and Dr Jaime Palalane. The well-attended workshop comprised mainly of fishers’ association members, local NGOs, university students, teachers, and culture and tourism department representatives. The workshop highlighted the importance of beach monitoring and the potential for students at ESHTI and from local schools to work within the project. Some interesting ideas were raised in terms of how the project can be disseminated, such as mapping the stations, producing flyers for the tourism office and market, an exhibition of images in schools and museums and the use of images to analyse the human impacts to the beach, as well as documenting the different uses and users of the beach, and its carrying capacity.

Participants of the workshop in Inhambane-Tofo beach.

Participants of the workshop in Inhambane-Tofo beach.

Dr Ernesto Macaringue taking the first photo “snap” from the CoastSnap station in Tofo beach (#coastsnaptofo)

Dr Ernesto Macaringue taking the first photo “snap” from the CoastSnap station in Tofo beach (#coastsnaptofo)

My time in Mozambique provided a fantastic experience to better understand the importance of protecting a unique coastal heritage, intrinsically connected with the lives of the people who live there. I was able to gain an insight into the major changes taking place (e.g. occupation and development of coastal areas), which makes me think about the issues faced by overdeveloped coasts in other parts of the world (e.g. the Mediterranean region I know so well). Appreciating the local socio-economic needs and the fantastic natural attractions, visiting Mozambique enhanced my interest in research that can contribute to more sustainable coastal development, where livelihoods and future generations are not compromised. CoastSnap Mozambique is helping to provide to a better understanding of the natural-physical capacity of beaches to protect against coastal hazards, their social and cultural relevance and the importance of the collection of data for best practice and management of this sensitive and changeable coastal fringe.

The next steps on the project are the analysis of the photos received and the continued dissemination of the results. After meeting with school teachers during the workshops, school projects will soon be developed, where students will work on different activities to integrate the CoastSnap project within their curricula.

Participate in the project! If you are travelling to any of the three CoastSnap Mozambique sites: Ilha de Moçambique, Ponta do Ouro (Maputo) and Tofo beach (Inhambane), find the CoastSnap stand, take a picture from there and share it using hashtag #coastsnapilha, #coastsnapponta and/or #coastsnaptofo. Find out more in our Facebook page (@CoastSnapMoz), the Rising from the Depths website or send an email to coastsnap.mozambique@gmail.com

The second CoastSnap Mozambique workshop in Ponta do Ouro

CoastSnap Mozambique project is launched! A citizen-science coastal monitoring initiative (Part2)

Cari Ballesteros

Continuing our work in the CoastSnap Mozambique project, we drove from Maputo to Ponta do Ouro, a popular touristic spot about 12 km north of the border with South Africa. In the recent past, the journey from Maputo to Ponta used to take over 4 hours and require a 4×4 vehicle. The new paved road has facilitate access and the journey now takes about 90 minutes, which is expected to increase the number of tourists and accelerate development pressures. This was one of the drivers underpinning the decision to install a CoastSnap station in Ponta.

Ponta is a beautiful spot, with a beach-dune ecosystem where new hotels and restaurants have been established on the dune ridge. This is in contrast to Ilha de Moçambique, where narrow beaches are surrounded by a coralline platform and bounded by settlements. Not only the physical configuration of the beaches was different, but also how the spaces were used. In Ilha, I could understand the importance of local fisheries on the livelihoods of the population. As a person who enjoys crafts, I was amazed by the boats in Ilha, handmade with tree bark, but at the same time, as a former professional lifeguard, I was fearful of the risk taken by the fishers using such a small “shell”, exposed to the weather and sea conditions. In Ponta do Ouro, although I had the opportunity to see some mussel collectors in rocky areas when the tide was out, the sea and the beach is principally a provider of tourism, particularly now with good road access to/from Maputo and South Africa.

Our activities for the day went as planned, in the morning we held the workshop in the hotel Kaya-Kweru, where attendees arrived slowly. The meeting started with a welcome from the Director of the Marine Reserve, who gave a brief overview of the Marine Reserve and the work they are doing there. Among the attendees were local authorities, a journalist, entrepreneurs, hoteliers, Marine Reserve employees and school teachers. After the presentation of the project by Dr Jaime Palalane and Dr Luciana Esteves, and while working in small groups, some good ideas emerged from the participants in the ways the project should be disseminated, such as the key points of the workshop though local WhatsApp groups, and other potential uses of the project, such as focusing on litter problems, or monitoring the dunes.

The second CoastSnap Mozambique workshop in Ponta do Ouro

The second CoastSnap Mozambique workshop in Ponta do Ouro

Participants of the workshop in Ponta do Ouro

Participants of the workshop in Ponta do Ouro

After the workshop, the team worked on the installation of the CoastSnap station and the beach survey. Work completed in Ponta, we returned to Maputo to fly from there to Inhambane, and install a CoastSnap station in Tofo beach. You can find out about Tofo in the next blog.

Fieldwork in Ponta do Ouro for the installation of the CoastSnap station

Fieldwork in Ponta do Ouro for the installation of the CoastSnap station

Dr Nordino taking the first photo “snap” of the beach from the CoastSnap station in Ponta do Ouro (#coastsnapponta)

Dr Nordino taking the first photo “snap” of the beach from the CoastSnap station in Ponta do Ouro (#coastsnapponta)

Participate in the project! If you are travelling to any of the three CoastSnap Mozambique sites: Ilha de Moçambique, Ponta do Ouro (Maputo) and Tofo beach (Inhambane), find the CoastSnap stand, take a picture from there and share it using hashtag #coastsnapilha, #coastsnapponta and/or #coastsnaptofo. Find out more in our Facebook page (@CoastSnapMoz), the Rising from the Depths website or send an email to coastsnap.mozambique@gmail.com

Leovigildo Cumbe taking the first photo “snap” from the CoastSnap station in -Praia de Miami-, the east site of the island (#coastsnapilha)

CoastSnap Mozambique project is launched! A citizen-science coastal monitoring initiative (Part1)

Cari Ballesteros

Last July I had the opportunity to travel to Mozambique to launch the CoastSnap Mozambique project. CoastSnap is a citizen science project in which participants take pictures of a beach from a particular viewpoint were a fixed metal stand is installed. The stand holds the smartphones and ensures pictures are always taken from the same position. These pictures are later shared with the project team using social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) or email. This allows the project team to build, over time, a database of images to understand shoreline behaviour, to analyse erosion, storm impacts and social beach uses. You can find CoastSnap stations in 40 locations across 10 countries and counting! We have extended the CoastSnap community to the African continent, with four stations installed in Moçambique: Ponta do Ouro (close to the border with South Africa), Tofo (in Inhambane) and two in Ilha de Moçambique.

After a long journey from London, I landed in Nampula on the 29th July, where I met my collaborators from University Eduardo Mondlane (UEM), Dr Nordino Muaievela and Leovigildo Cumbe. They had travelled from Maputo to coordinate the installation of the CoastSnap frames and the beach topography survey. We travelled by road to Ilha de Moçambique (a fascinating and somewhat frantic 3hour journey, which included, at one point, a pig on a moped!). Local collaborators were the partners from UNILURIO, Dr Pedrito Cambrao and Pinho Cololo waiting for us with a warm welcome.

The next day, I had the opportunity to appreciate the strong local connection with the sea. After checking the sites to decide on the best locations for the CoastSnap stations, we started with the installation and the beach survey. A community workshop was planned for the next day and we wanted the frames installed to showcase to participants. As part of the beach survey Leovigildo flew a drone to obtain accurate data of the beach elevations, which definitely produced a small audience of interested locals!

Dr Nordino Muaievela and Leovigildo Cumbe with the Installation of the CoastSnap station in Ilha de Moçambique and beach survey

Dr Nordino Muaievela and Leovigildo Cumbe with the Installation of the CoastSnap station in Ilha de Moçambique and beach survey

On 31st July, the first CoastSnap Mozambique workshop in Ilha de Moçambique organized by UNILURIO officially launched the project. With a healthy attendance, the workshop comprised of government representatives, school teachers, fishers’ association, hoteliers and students among others. The workshop started with opening and welcoming speeches by the Director of the Faculty of Social and Humanities Sciences at UNILURIO, the President of the Municipality of Ilha de Moçambique, the Administrator of the district and Dr Pedrito Cambrao. They highlighted the importance of the project outlining the need to better understand beach behaviour, particularly after the recent cyclones, which had some impacts in Ilha. During the workshop, local traditional dancing called “tufo” and the University Chorus delighted the participants with their singing, music, movements and colourful capulanas (a sarong-style wrap-around skirt).

UNILURIO chorus singing the University imno and representation of traditional dancing with the association of “Tufo Assanate”

UNILURIO chorus singing the University imno and representation of traditional dancing with the association of “Tufo Assanate”

With the help of a translator, I was able to introduce the project, highlighting the importance of beach monitoring and the ways participants and the local population can contribute. Finally, Dr Nordino Muaievela gave an overview of the importance of coastal areas in Mozambique and the main instruments and activities used by UEM to monitor the coast. Some interesting questions were raised from the participants, such as how this project may help to put Mozambique, and in particular Ilha de Moçambique, in the global spotlight. They also highlighted the necessity of advertising the project to reach more people, and some examples of how this could be achieved, for example by creating a video that could be displayed in the local tourist office and on social media.

Dr Caridad Ballesteros presenting the project

Dr Caridad Ballesteros presenting the project

To close the workshop, all attendees were taken to one of the two beaches where the CoastSnap stand had been installed. The team gave a demonstration of how to position a mobile phone in order to capture the beach and the ways to share this with the project partners.

Presentation of the CoastSnap station near the Fortress beach

Presentation of the CoastSnap station near the Fortress beach

Leovigildo Cumbe taking the first photo “snap” from the CoastSnap station in -Praia de Miami-, the east site of the island (#coastsnapilha)

Leovigildo Cumbe taking the first photo “snap” from the CoastSnap station in -Praia de Miami-, the east site of the island (#coastsnapilha)

As our trip in Ilha came to an end, we flew to the capital Maputo and from drove to Ponta do Ouro, in the southern part of the province of Maputo. Waiting there was Dr Jaime Palalane, co-investigator of the project from UEM, and Dr Luciana Esteves from BU, who had missed the work in Ilha due to flight delays disrupting her travel. You can follow what we did in Ponta do Ouro in the next blog.

Participate in the project! If you are travelling to any of the three CoastSnap Mozambique sites: Ilha de Moçambique, Ponta do Ouro (Maputo) and Tofo beach (Inhambane), find the CoastSnap stand, take a picture from there and share it using hashtag #coastsnapilha, #coastsnapponta and/or #coastsnaptofo. Find out more in our Facebook page (@CoastSnapMoz), the Rising from the Depths website or send an email to coastsnap.mozambique@gmail.com

Part of the Bagamoyo beach with local boats

Bagamoyo visitors love the sea—and want to get on it, University of Dar Es Salaam students find

Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu:

Undergraduate students Martha Kipande, Daniel Antony Munuo, Noella Mrosso and Javern Aveline Sabas and postgraduate student Neema Munisi report on their findings.

Part of the Bagamoyo beach with local boats

Photo 1: Part of the Bagamoyo beach with local boats

 Photo by E. Ichumbaki

A team of students from the University of Dar Es Salaam (UDSM) have been out and about in the Tanzanian fishing town of Bagamoyo finding out what some of its over 17,000 visitors a year enjoy—and what they’d like more of. Unsurprisingly, the natural beauty of the beach and its busy fishing community rate highly. But the students—on UDSM’s Heritage Management programme at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies—also found that visitors would relish a trip on a traditional boat. Undergraduate students Martha Kipande, Daniel Antony Munuo, Noella Mrosso and Javern Aveline Sabas and postgraduate student Neema Munisi report on their findings.

Bagamoyo’s beach, with its busy fishermen, traditional wooden sailing boats, fine sand, clear water and seashells is a key attraction for tourists visiting the town, we found in a questionnaire we conducted among visitors this month as part of the Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu (Our Sea, Our Heritage) project. “The lives of people, fishing boats, dhows, white sand, the sunset, clean beach and palm trees are all very interesting” one Danish tourist, a postgraduate student, told us. A Russian visitor said simply that, “The beach is the best”.

Daniel and Martha interviewing a tourist from Spain

Photo: Daniel and Martha interviewing a tourist from Spain

Photo by Neema Munisi

Tourists were also interested in the sights and history of the town itself—citing its historic architecture, fish market, curio shops, food, people, climate and slave-trade history among its attractions. “The old-style buildings have not changed,” noted a tourist from South Korea, “The structures are still original.”

We conducted the survey over almost two weeks. For us—young people waving clipboards in the street—the main challenge was to win the trust and patience of visitors, and also to convince the tour guides that we were not stealing their business. Many tourists were in a hurry. Some ignored us, and others thought we were beggars!

But, in the end, we gathered more than 110 reponses, and were amazed by the results. People enjoyed their stay, but there is a clear market for boat-trip experiences that is not currently being satisfied. Overwhelmingly, respondents said they’d love to go on a traditional boat—especially one with a sail—for activities such as visiting an island or snorkelling. A German tourist interviewed by Daniel Munuo was typical—he favoured going on a short boat trip using a tradition wooden boat with a sail. But, with very few exceptions, these activities are not available in the town, and they are not publicised at all.

As a group we enjoyed face-to-face conversation with visitors from more than 20 countries, including Brazil, Israel, Australia, Mexico, Spain, the USA, Ghana, German, the UK, and Zimbabwe. “It was a great experience interviewing the tourists and I was amazed with their response,” says Javern Aveline Sabas, another UDSM team member. But as a group we have also enjoyed the food, festivals and people, who are simply lovely. “Being a Maasai and coming to Bagamoyo for the first time was a season to remember”, says Martha, a member of the UDSM student team. Like many of the tourists, “I really enjoyed the culture and the authenticity of the people especially engaged fishermen at the beach.” “Walking from one street to another, and restaurant to restaurant to talk to tourists and get their feelings about Bagamoyo was my first experience but indeed evidence that undergraduate and postgraduate students can collaborate to produce tangible outputs” says Neema, another team member and UDSM postgraduate student.

Martha and Javern interviewing tourist from United States of America (U.S.A)

Photo: Martha and Javern interviewing tourist from United States of America (U.S.A)

Photo by an unknown

Bagamoyo is a quiet town, with a seafront area that is packed with historic buildings, some of which are crumbling, while others are still in use. It was once a very prosperous settlement, and the main port of mainland Tanzania until the increasing size of ships moved international trade to Dar Es Salaam. It was also a major port for ivory and slaves.

Currently, the historical buildings of Bagamoyo are managed by Tanzania Forest Services (TFS) and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), which aim to revitalizing the old ‘stone town’ area.

For a better experience in Bagamoyo, tourists said they also wanted a good map of the town, and better signage, street lighting and public transport. One Brazilian tourist interviewed by Noella Mrosso also suggested “better prices on accommodation and better internet.”

Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu is a collaborative research project investigating ways of leveraging Bagamoyo’s rich maritime heritage for social benefit. Part of the Rising from the Depths Network, it brings together researchers from the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and the Universities of Exeter and Southampton in the UK. It is funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF).

2 Contemporary capulana with designs linked to coastal themes, purchased for the project in Maputo, July 2019

Women’s Identity, Textiles and Heritage: Coastal Style in Mozambique (WITH Coastal Style)

Women’s Identity, Textiles and Heritage: Coastal Style in Mozambique (WITH Coastal Style) is a one-year project (June 2019-June 2020), researching and promoting women’s identities and concerns linked to marine heritage in Katembe District, Maputo, Mozambique.

 

The project is an international collaboration between National Museums Scotland, the Fortress Museum (with Eduardo Mondlane University), and the Fisheries Museum in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Rising from the Depths Network in the United Kingdom https://risingfromthedepths.com/.

In July, I travelled from Edinburgh to Mozambique for two weeks on the first of three project visits to undertake start-up meetings with our project partners at the Fisheries and Fortress Museums, launch the project and begin the research. During the first week we held a public event at the Fortress Museum, an imposing 19th century building located on the city’s busy waterfront. The event was well attended by a variety of interested groups, including artists, designers, and academics, and at the last minute I was invited to promote the event on local radio. Co-Investigators Moises Timba from the Fortress Museum, Valda Marcos of the Fisheries Museum and John Giblin from National Museums Scotland introduced the interests of the project partners and Professor Paul Lane and Dr Solange Macame from Rising from the Depths introduced the aims of the network and the scope of the fascinating projects underway along the east African coast.  Also present were Project Research Assistants based at Eduardo Mondlate University, Claudio Mondlate and Emilia Machaieie.

At the Project launch event, Fortress Museum, Maputo, July 2019

At the Project launch event, Fortress Museum, Maputo, July 2019

I provided a detailed overview of the project background, aims and outcomes, which seeks to contribute to knowledge of marine cultural heritage (MCH) on the eastern African coast and identify ways, in times of change, that MCH can be utilized to build social cohesion. This project identifies the fundamental role of textiles and dress in the development and maintenance of identity, as expressions of the connections between people and place. It takes as its focus the role of the Mozambican capulana printed cotton cloth as markers of female identity and as archives of women’s histories and memories.

As a symbol of Mozambican heritage, capulana have been preserved and passed from one generation to the next and with them the stories of the women who wear them.  The project will focus on collecting these stories from the women who live and work among the six fishing communities of Katembe, situated on the southern bank of Maputo Bay. The projected urbanization of this region following the opening of the suspension bridge in 2019 directly linking the capital to Katembe by road, and cutting journey time into South Africa, will impact on material practices and living traditions among women in these coastal communities. Through the research local women will have the opportunity to share, not only information relating specifically to their material heritage, the capulana, but also their experiences related to life in this coastal community, and this, amongst other project outcomes, will be presented to the community and wider audiences through exhibitions in Maputo and Katembe.

Over thirty guests were present at the launch. These included students in tourism, journalism, heritage and the arts, fashion designers and representatives from ISAC (Higher Institute of Arts and Culture) and CCBM (Centro Cultural Brasil-Mozambique), the media and the museum sector. A lively question and discussion session followed the presentations, relating to issues of Mozambican material culture, heritage and identity. Conversations continued over the delicious accompanying lunch provided for guests, set out under the trees in the grounds of the Fortress. Huge thanks are due to Oswaldo, Sigone and Ed for their excellent language translation skills.

At the fish and sea food stall near the Maputo-Katembe ferry quayside July 2019

At the fish and sea food stall near the Maputo-Katembe ferry quayside July 2019

During the second week in Maputo, we undertook a visit to the district of Katembe, the focus of the research. Here, with the support of the President of the Community Council of Fisheries, we held the first of six planned focus groups with women from the fishing communities. In the shade of trees close by the jetty of Maputo-Katembe ferry we met a small group of women who had agreed to take time out from attending their stalls of fresh fish and seafood to share fascinating insights into the role of the cloths in daily life, in celebrations and as indicators of religious and political identity. We are interested to understand whether certain coastal themed designs have any cultural significance for coastal communities and a distinctive sea shell design was recognised from the photographs we showed from the NMS (1990s) capulana collection. They also confirmed that there were designs shared and worn by women in the community, of which we will learn more during further individual interviews. Interestingly, we were also told that another item of Mozambican clothing, the lenço, a patterned headscarf which has an even longer history of use than the capulana, is obligatory dress for the fish sellers, a requirement of health & safety regulations. From this first discussion I feel sure there are many more insights to come and I am particularly interested to hear the response of the younger generation to their clothing traditions as we progress.

At the focus group near the Katembe-Maputo ferry quayside July 2019

At the focus group near the Katembe-Maputo ferry quayside July 2019

Following the meeting, the team travelled along the coast to connect with other fishing communities in Katembe district, where they will continue the fieldwork in the next few months. I return in November when we will begin to develop the planned project exhibitions, one at the Fortress Museum and another community travelling exhibition. Interesting and exciting times ahead!

The collection of project inspired coastal themed capulana cloths has also begun for the Fisheries Museum, as a new resource for visitor engagement, and to add to NMS collections. Check out these great designs.

Contemporary capulana with designs linked to coastal themes, purchased for the project in Maputo, July 2019

Look out for further project updates from all the team.

Sarah Worden. August 2019

National Museum of Scotland Eduardo Mondlane Fortress Museum and Fisheries Museum Logo
Fishers haul a fishing ngalawa onto the beach at Bagamoyo before the tide ebbs (Image: L.K. Blue)

A maritime heritage paradox: aspiration and preservation on the beaches of Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu Project Team:

John P. Cooper, University of Exeter

Elgidius Ichumbaki, University of Dar Es Salaam

Lucy Blue, University of Southampton

 

The first field season of the Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu project is under way. Academics from the University of Dar Es Salaam, the University of Exeter, and the University of Southampton are working with fishing and boatbuilding communities around Bagamoyo to examine the stresses this heritage faces, while documenting its material and intangible manifestations. As the project progresses, the team will hold community events to celebrate this heritage and develop pathways to heritage sustainability.

Fishers haul a fishing ngalawa onto the beach at Bagamoyo before the tide ebbs (Image: L.K. Blue)

Figure 1: Fishers haul a fishing ngalawa onto the beach at Bagamoyo before the tide ebbs (Image: L.K. Blue).

The Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha has a fleeting, but transformative effect on the seascape off the Tanzanian coastal town of Bagamoyo. On any other day, a glance out to sea would reveal an industrious scene of fishers setting nets and traps, mostly in locally made wooden boats powered by sail our outboard motor, or otherwise heading out to more distant fishing grounds. On the town beach, teams of stevedores and crew would normally be noisily loading timber, vegetables or livestock bound for Zanzibar, or unloading bright yellow plastic containers of cooking oil coming from there. But on Eid morning, the scene is unusually empty, as the community prepares to celebrate with feasting and family time in community with the global Islamic ummah.

The gradual appearance of a handful of fishing boats on the water as the day progresses, however, is a sign that not all is well among the Bagamoyo fishing community. A smattering of fishing lamps on the sea after dark shows that some are working even into the night. “In the past, no one would have gone fishing on Eid,” on elder fisher tells us. “But these days, some people cannot afford to lose a single day”.

The inshore waters of Bagamoyo, as elsewhere along the Tanzanian coast, are increasing overfished, with even immature stocks being depleted. Meanwhile the human population is rising, with more fishers active, and demand for fish on the up.

Fishing in Bagamoyo is arranged around small crews operating small, privately owned, wooden boats. The large majority of craft are striking sailing dugouts fitted with outriggers, called ngalawa, used for line and net fishing, with a smaller number of stout mtumbwi dugouts powered by outboard engines for setting traps and nets. A smaller fleet of larger plank-built vessels, up to 11m long, are also powered by outboard engine: recent innovations, they pursue sein netting by day or night. Other similar-sized plank-built daw still use sail.

A range of fishing vessels—mtumbwe (front), ngwanda (rear left) and mtando (rear right)—moored on the waterfront at Mlingotini (Image: J.P. Cooper)

Figure 2: A range of fishing vessels—mtumbwe (front), ngwanda (rear left) and mtando (rear right)—moored on the waterfront at Mlingotini (Image: J.P. Cooper).

“You won’t find a single person in this town who would prefer to keep the sail if he was offered an engine,” says one fisher. With coastal waters overfished, the need of communities dependent on fishing to go further and faster in pursuit of fish trumps any sentimental attachment to sailing craft as ‘heritage’ objects. This does not mean that people are not aware of the historic importance of their craft. “I would like to see research conducted into the origins of the ngalawa and its connections across the Indian Ocean,” one fisher tells us. Yet owners of the sailing ngalawa struggle to make a living for their families, and builders of larger plank vessels complain of the soaring cost of timber.

Bagamoyo is a historic town. Its role as entrepôt of the East African slave trade and capital of the short-lived German East Africa has left a series of historic buildings. Tourists come from near and far to see these—but few miss the beach and its maritime bustle, and most rate it as a highlight of their visit. Polling by University of Dar Es Salaam heritage management undergraduate students as part of the Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu project is beginning to reveal the prominent role that traditional boats, especially those with sails, play in the tourist experience of the Bagamoyo. Yet the relationship between tourists—especially those pointing cameras uninvited—and porters, fishers and boatbuilders on the beach is not always a comfortable one. Work clearly needs to be done to improve mutual understanding and beach etiquette.

Members of the Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu project team, together with fishers, boat-builders and spiritual practitioners, at a project co-creation event aimed at identifying the key issues faced by the community (Image: unknown photographer)

Figure 3: Members of the Bahari Yetu, Urithi Wetu project team, together with fishers, boat-builders and spiritual practitioners, at a project co-creation event aimed at identifying the key issues faced by the community (Image: unknown photographer).

The more fundamental issue, however, is the disconnect between the ailing economic health of traditional maritime activities for the Bagamoyo community, and its value to that community, and its visitors, as a globally important cultural and heritage asset. The wooden sailing boats and their attendant cultural practices have to weather an economic storm of overfishing and rising material costs: if not, they could disappear at a rapid rate as technological alternatives come to market and accelerate a fishing-technology ‘arms race’. If that happens, they would take with them a wealth of material, spiritual, cognitive and linguistic heritage. Preventing that loss cannot entail forbidding fishers and sailors from seeking prosperity through changing practices. But the solution might be through finding new ways to deploy and valorise this heritage—even on a smaller scale.

Preserving the Maritime Cultural Heritage on Pemba Island, Tanzania – Women’s work

East Pemba Maritime Heritage Project Team:

Mark Horton, Royal Agricultural University

Eréndira Quintana Morales, Northern Illinois University

Shadia Taha, University of Cambridge

Abdallah Khamis Ali, Zanzibar Heritage Foundation.

Abdallah Mkumbukwa, State University of Zanzibar

Laura Basell, University of Leicester

 

Women’s work

The role of women in this economy is particularly interesting. In the past, with the men taking all the fish and selling it, the women and their families had to rely on their own food supply. This mostly involved agriculture, rice paddy, where the terrain supported this, or millets in the drier coral lands, together with bananas, citrus fruit and coconuts. Zebu cattle grazed on the harvested rice fields. An important source of protein was shell fish, with large groups of women going out at low spring tides (every two weeks) to collect them.

A typical rural scene behind the fishing towns. The rice is being harvested by women, while cattle graze on the stalks left behind.

A typical rural scene behind the fishing towns. The rice is being harvested by women, while cattle graze on the stalks left behind.

This familiarity with the inter-tidal zone was useful for the women to exploit another cash rich resource – seaweed. Seaweed (Swahili: mwani) farming is a relatively recent phenomenon in East Africa, dating from 1988. Processed for lotions, cosmetics and even toothpaste, it is a major export for Zanzibar and around 80% comes from Pemba island, especially in the north east where the shallow lagoon environment is ideal. The seaweed (Eucheuma denticulatum and Kappaphycus alvaresii) is planted in small plots and is harvested 6 weeks later, where it is then carried ashore and dried. The dried seaweed is then sold for cash per kilo, to an agent. The women benefit and can be financially independent of their husbands. With the success of seaweed farming it seems that shellfish collection has declined – or has become more a social event. There have been reports that the price the women get has declined, and that the seaweed has to be planted at greater depths, as a result of the warming of the ocean. One result has been the use of light weight plastic boats to provide access to deeper water.

Seaweed being laid out to dry on the beach at Tumbe

Seaweed being laid out to dry on the beach at Tumbe. In the foreground can be seen a light plastic boat, supplied by the agents, to help facilitate harvesting in deeper waters.

So where do all the fish go? It seems that the maritime societies of Pemba island both in the past and the present are successful entrepreneurs, who realised that fish are more valuable as cash resource to be sold, in the past to the Arab plantations, and in the present to the beach hotels; meat and shell fish were the preferred everyday protein source. This is a hypothesis at least, that we are now testing at the household level and by future excavations on some of the ‘living’ towns.

Preserving the Maritime Cultural Heritage on Pemba Island, Tanzania – The technologies are changing

East Pemba Maritime Heritage Project Team:

Mark Horton, Royal Agricultural University

Eréndira Quintana Morales, Northern Illinois University

Shadia Taha, University of Cambridge

Abdallah Khamis Ali, Zanzibar Heritage Foundation.

Abdallah Mkumbukwa, State University of Zanzibar

Laura Basell, University of Leicester

 

The technologies are changing

Fishers need boats, and one of our observations was that traditional dug-out catamarans (known as ngalawa), wooden dhows (mashua) are being replaced by fibreglass boats with outboards engines. Modern fibreglass boats have the advantage of being less dependent on the winds, but of course require expensive fuel to operate and are more difficult to repair.

 

Fibreglass boats are increasingly replacing traditional wooden boats for fishing.

Fibreglass boats are increasingly replacing traditional wooden boats for fishing.

We were told that the fisheries ministry issued new boats to fishers a few years back in an attempt to increase catches, but within a short time, they had been abandoned, as the engines and the boats themselves fell apart. It was a relief to see that traditional boat building continues along much of the north east coast. For example, on the beach at Likoni, opposite to Kojani island, we observed four enormous hulls, from dug-out Mango trees in the course of construction. The people of Kojani are especially well known as traditional boat-builders.

Project Investigator Abdallah Khamis interviewing Kojani boatbuilders as they construct a dug-out from a mango tree truck.

Project Investigator Abdallah Khamis interviewing Kojani boatbuilders as they construct a dug-out from a mango tree truck.

The government fish market at Tumbe, north-east Pemba

Preserving the Maritime Cultural Heritage on Pemba Island, Tanzania – Where do the fish go?

East Pemba Maritime Heritage Project team:

Mark Horton, Royal Agricultural University

Eréndira Quintana Morales, Northern Illinois University

Shadia Taha, University of Cambridge

Abdallah Khamis Ali, Zanzibar Heritage Foundation.

Abdallah Mkumbukwa, State University of Zanzibar

Laura Basell, University of Leicester

 

Where do the fish go?

Our ethnographic research perhaps helps in solving this riddle. In the south-east monsoon season, there were two main harbours where the fish was landed, Tumbe and Shumba Mjini and where we spent a lot of time recording interviews from the fishers. Both have fish markets; Tumbe is an impressive government building.

The government fish market at Tumbe, north-east Pemba

The government fish market at Tumbe, north-east Pemba.

There is considerable tension between the traditional fishers, who use lines and traps, and the more modern ‘ring-net’ fishers, who are seen as overfishing and reducing the catches for traditional fishers. The fish is generally landed around midday, and is auctioned for cash, to agents and wholesalers. We talked to several women who bought the smaller fish, and then resell at road-side markets. However, the larger fish were bought by the hotels and restaurants – mostly on Unguja island, as there were few on Pemba. We also learnt that many of the fishers could be away for months at a time, fishing on the mainland coast, as far away as Kenya, where they were able to sell the fish directly to the many hotels there. The Kojani fishers are well known as purse-seine net fishers, who travel huge distances, and are reported to illegally enter marine protected areas from Mafia to Malindi.

An informal transaction for a local hotel (left); preparing the latest catch for sale (right).

An informal transaction for a local hotel (left); preparing the latest catch for sale (right). The fish is normally auctioned in bundles that can include several species of fish.

It seems that many of the fish caught do not get to the villages where the fishers come from, but instead generate cash for the fishing families to invest in new houses, mosques or boats. At Kojani for example there is a ‘new Kojani’, where the old houses are being replaced by modern dwelling built of coral and concrete blocks. Many of the old mosques are being torn down to be replaced by large concrete buildings, and unusually the work is being funded locally.

A new mosque being built over the destroyed 18th century mosque at Wingwi

A new mosque being built over the destroyed 18th century mosque at Wingwi. The original building was one of the of the most attractive in East Africa and described as ‘having the proportions of a Greek temple’.

Chinese bowl set into the mosque’s mihrab at Kichokochtwe

Preserving the Maritime Cultural Heritage on Pemba Island, Tanzania – Kichokochtwe – a typical site?

East Pemba Maritime Heritage Project team:

Mark Horton, Royal Agricultural University

Eréndira Quintana Morales, Northern Illinois University

Shadia Taha, University of Cambridge

Abdallah Khamis Ali, Zanzibar Heritage Foundation.

Abdallah Mkumbukwa, State University of Zanzibar

Laura Basell, University of Leicester

 

Kichokochtwe – a typical site?

Kichokochtwe, located on a tidal islet, covers around 5 ha, with a shoreline on three sides. The occupation located across a series of low hills, visible as pottery scatters and a grey soil. A coral-stone mosque with a mihrab adorned with the Chinese blue-and-white bowl (probably Kang-shi) of the early 18th century is located at the highest point of the islet and a small cemetery of stone tombs is just outside the settlement to the east.

Chinese bowl set into the mosque’s mihrab at Kichokochtwe

Chinese bowl set into the mosque’s mihrab at Kichokochtwe and showing that even these small fishing villages were still connected into the Indian Ocean trading networks.

The economic data from the test pits we excavated was particularly revealing. There were enormous quantities of shells and bones mixed in with the ceramics, and carbonised seeds (which still have to be analysed). The shell assemblage is dominated by Strombus gibberulus, which is found along the intertidal littoral that surrounds the site, and which is still collected nowadays. 14 other species were also found, including the African land snail, Achitina fulica. The quantities of shellfish suggest that this was a pretty common staple in the diet, and not just an occasional famine food.

Graph Showing Counts of shell fish recorded at Kichokochtwe from two test pits

Counts of shell fish recorded at Kichokochtwe from two test pits. 14 of the 21 species of shell recorded from our excavations in East Pemba occur here, but the assemblage is dominated by Strombus gibberulus (right) a small conch shell, collected from the intertidal flats.

The bones were also of interest in reconstructing the economy. This was dominated by cattle bones, with a few sheep goat, and very rare chicken. But the big surprise was the almost complete absence of fish bones – despite every attempt to ensure that we were recovering material from fine mesh sieves, and wet-sieving large samples of deposit. The villagers of Kichokochtwe were not eating much fish, and this was a pattern found at all the other sites as well.

Large quantities of cow bones

Large quantities of cow bones were found with the shell fish, but very few fish bones.

Drone image of the ruined 18th century mosque at Mandani (July 2019).

Preserving the Maritime Cultural Heritage on Pemba Island, Tanzania – The Thirteen Maritime Towns of East Pemba

East Pemba Maritime Heritage Project Team:

Mark Horton, Royal Agricultural University

Eréndira Quintana Morales, Northern Illinois University

Shadia Taha, University of Cambridge

Abdallah Khamis Ali, Zanzibar Heritage Foundation.

Abdallah Mkumbukwa, State University of Zanzibar

Laura Basell, University of Leicester

 

The Thirteen Maritime Towns of East Pemba

Thirteen fishing settlements, or towns (Swahili mjini) are located in north-east Pemba. The two monsoons (south-east from July to November; north-west from December to March) provide for two distinct fishing grounds of lagoons and inlets protected by the fringing reef and coral islands. This seasonal pattern explains why several towns are located a little inland – but equidistant from both shorelines. Some indication of the time depth of these settlements can be gauged from their mosques, with inset Chinese bowls in the mihrabs – although tragically several have been torn down recently to be replaced by larger concrete edifices. However, there is strong likelihood that they all date to the 18th century if not earlier.

The rare surviving mihrab from the mosque at Shumba, dating to the 18th century

The rare surviving mihrab from the mosque at Shumba, dating to the 18th century, with Chinese bowls inset into the architrave. The other four historic mosques in the area have been torn down and replaced by modern concrete buildings. 

Seven of these towns (Tumbe, Micheweni, Shumba, Wingwi, Maziwa Ngombe, Kiyiu and Kojani) still survive as thriving settlements following the traditional economy that seems little changed since the 18th century. Our project has been able to interview the fishers (normally all men), as well as the women, the agents, middlemen and women, as well as government officials who attempt to regulate their activities. But an extra dimension is that a further six former towns, abandoned in the 19th century, provide an archaeological opportunity to record what these settlements were like in earlier centuries.

Project investigators Omar Haji and Eréndira Quintana Morales interviewing boat builders and fishers at Tumbe

Project investigators Omar Haji and Eréndira Quintana Morales interviewing boat builders and fishers at Tumbe

Today fishing is mostly undertaken from three harbours, Tumbe, Shumba Mjini and Kojani, where there is good access to the sea. Government constructed fish markets have also tended to concentrate activities in these areas enabling the catch to be readily sold. But informal fishing was also undertaken, often in dug-out canoes, where there is a beach or harbour, to supply food at a household level.

Dugout canoes in an informal harbour, on the beach near Tumbe

Dugout canoes in an informal harbour, on the beach near Tumbe. The boat in the fore- ground is being scorched to kill marine boring insects.

The abandoned towns present their own challenges. They were first listed in the 1930’s by a district education officer who, on his days off, went searching for ruins. We relocated the sites in the 1980’s now much more ruined and covered in thick bush. With expanding populations, this has now been cleared away and the sites are now extensively farmed, allowing us to map them in detail, to collect surface pottery, and dig test pits. The Department of Antiquities has made a major effort to conserve the ruined mosques and tombs and several have part time guards to protect the sites.

Drone image of the ruined 18th century mosque at Mandani (July 2019).

Drone image of the ruined 18th century mosque at Mandani (July 2019).

In July, we mapped six sites, Kichokotchwe, Mandani, Kiungoni, Chambani Mjini, Tumbe / Chwaka and Shengejuu, excavated test pits and made surface collections. All the sites lie close to the seashore, with accessible harbours, and cover around 4-5 ha. Each had a mosque and stone tombs. Chronological range could be judged from the ceramics – that included post-Ming dynasty Chinese export blue and white pottery, and at the final phase European Maastrict painted wares of c. 1850. Why they were abandoned at this time is unclear but may be linked with the economic dislocations linked to plantation slavery and the decline of the Mazruis.

The Kichokochtwe site

The Kichokochtwe site, showing its location with fringing inter-tidal flats, facing out onto the sound between the main island and Kojani island.  

 

Tomorrow we will be looking further into the Kichokochtwe site.

Preserving the Maritime Cultural Heritage on Pemba Island, Tanzania – Part 1

East Pemba Maritime Heritage Project Team:

Mark Horton, Royal Agricultural University

Eréndira Quintana Morales, Northern Illinois University

Shadia Taha, University of Cambridge

Abdallah Khamis Ali, Zanzibar Heritage Foundation.

Abdallah Mkumbukwa, State University of Zanzibar

Laura Basell, University of Leicester

 

In a year-long project from the Rising from the Depths Network, a collaboration between Zanzibar Heritage Foundation, State University of Zanzibar, the Royal Agricultural University and the University of Leicester investigates the maritime heritage of Pemba island.  

Bringing the catch in; Tumbe fishing village Pemba island, Tanzania (July 2019).

Surviving in north-east Pemba is a maritime way of life that apparently has changed little in the last 300 years. Using traditional fishing methods and boats enable the fragile reef and marine environments to be exploited in a sustainable way. The daily rhythm brings in the catch for sale at midday for sale on the beach, while the women go out in search of shell fish that can be collected in the inter-tidal zone. Behind the villages the rice fields provide the carbohydrates, the cattle graze on the harvested grasses, while shade is provided by the coconuts, mango, banana and citrus trees. But it is not all as it seems, and the East Pemba Maritime Heritage project has been investigating how modern fishing methods are now threatening not just the maritime heritage but also the sustainability of marine environment.

Pemba – the green island of the western Indian Ocean

Pemba island is the sister island to Zanzibar and was known to the medieval Arabs as the Green Island or Jazirat al-Khadra on account of its verdant fertility. Pemba became famous for its spices, especially cloves, grown on slave-operated plantations from the 19th century. These plantations introduced a new population to the island (Arab landowners and their slaves from the interior of Africa) and cleared much of the centre and south of Pemba of its coastal forest. The original inhabitants, Swahili people who were the descendants of the medieval port cities, were confined to the coast, and in the 16th century moved to northern and eastern regions, where they could grow rice in stream-fed valleys and fish in the sheltered lagoons and estuaries.  Here they abandoned their former activity as Indian ocean merchants, and instead created a food-producing maritime economy that produced such surpluses that it was able to feed much of the mainland coast and plantations that were being established during the 18th and 19th centuries – these activities accrued much wealth for the new towns’ inhabitants.  This economy linked the production of grains, such as rice and millet, extensive dairy herds of cattle, the exploitation of fish and of shellfish. One of the towns is still known as Maziwa Ngombe – ‘the milk of the cow’, because we were told there was so much milk, that is was literally poured away into the earth!

Location of research area and towns on north east Pemba island.

Since the 19th century, north-east Pemba has been neglected. It was the capital of the Mazrui who built a fort and tombs at Tumbe, but they were defeated by the Busaidi rulers of Zanzibar in 1822. With the new plantations in the south, the inhabitants of the north east, especially in the Micheweni peninsula, were allowed to continue their way of life, with little colonial or indeed British interference.  The East Pemba Maritime Heritage project, as part of the Rising from the Depths Network, is looking at this neglected part of the Zanzibar archipelago, where there is little supervision or control of the maritime activities by government officials, and where the Swahili towns still rely on the sea for their survival. We are working as a collaborative team of Zanzibari and international scholars. Our approach is both contemporary and historical – to record through observation and interviews what is the current situation, the challenges of the future, and to delve into the past, though interviews, archival study and archaeological surveys.

 

Discussing (Marine) Cultural Heritage at a Development Studies Conference

Rosalie Hans, Making Maritime Museums Matter in Mozambique

The annual Development Studies Association (DSA) conference took place in Milton Keynes this year from 19 to 21 June and as a novice to a conference in this discipline I was excited to find out how it would differ from the heritage and museum studies gatherings I’m used to (spoiler alert, it wasn’t so different). However, the fact that, as a heritage professional, it was the first time going to a conference in development studies surely indicates the need for merging these fields more often to discuss the multiple challenges of maritime heritage and development that Rising from the Depths also addresses.

The panel that brought me to Milton Keynes was called ‘History and Development: Practicing the Past in Pursuit of ‘Progress’’ and fell squarely into the cultural heritage and sustainable development theme that has become increasingly topical over the past few years. Conveners Charlotte Cross and John Giblin represented both sides of the discussion respectively as a Lecturer in International Development at the Open University and as Keeper of World Cultures at the National Museums of Scotland and introduced the topic from their areas of expertise. Dr John Giblin started with the uses of post-conflict heritage in northern Uganda and the meanings of memory while Dr Charlotte Cross talked about the invocation of tradition by local vigilante groups in Tanzania. Then Dr Ioanna Katapidi, of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, presented on an international research project that looked at how and what UNESCO world heritage sites can contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Using case studies from Jordan and China, she highlighted some of the challenges of translating the potential of world heritage sites into practical action contributing towards the SDG’s. Following this, Dr Mark Lamont, who is currently a co-investigator on a RftD-funded project in Mida Creek, Kenya, raised some useful questions on the expected value derived from cultural heritage projects in a development environment, particularly related to GCRF funding in the UK. His point on whether the visibility afforded through digital humanities technologies, such as those promoted by RftD, really put the control over scholarship and knowledge in the hands of UK academia is especially relevant for Rising from the Depths.

In the afternoon, I presented on ‘the promise of the museum’, using RftD research in Mozambique as one of my case studies. The Museu das Pescas, or Fisheries Museum, in Maputo provides an excellent example of a museum that was constructed as part of a larger development project to add a cultural component to an otherwise economically focused programme. My argument that there is a danger of reducing museums (and cultural heritage in general) to an ill-defined resource that does not live up to its expectations resonated well with the overall theme of the panel. I proposed that to live up to their promise, the expectations of museum benefits should be changed to aims that they can deliver, such as social and cultural visibility, political recognition and promotion of local cultural appreciation. After this, we stayed in east Africa with Dr Lotte Hughes presenting her research on alternative rites of passage (ARP) that aim to replace FGM practices in Kenya. These ceremonies include a range of activities drawn from different sources of inspiration such as Christian religion and international development discourse leading to hybridised cultural performances. A presentation recorded in Zimbabwe by Kemist Shumba informed us on a research plan for looking at the use of traditional games and song in promoting health and well-being. His presence via Skype was greatly appreciated but also a stark reminder of the difficulty of African academics and professionals to receive visas for the UK which affected three other papers scheduled for this panel. It was a shame that these presenters could not share their research with those able to attend. Rounding off the panel for the day was Camila dos Santos who presented on Brazil’s development engagement with Angola and the ‘renegotiation of its position to modernity’ by engaging with Brazil’s and Angola’s shared (but not the same) colonial pasts. The article she wrote with Maira S. Gomes on this multifaceted topic came out in 2019 and can be found here: https://pucrj.academia.edu/CSantos. Last but not least, Dr Astrid Jamar shared some pictures which give an impression of the panel on Twitter which can be found here: https://twitter.com/astrid_jamar/status/1141717027331223554

During the panel I felt ‘like a fish in water’ (excuse the Dutchism) among colleagues concerned with the same challenges surrounding heritage and development, but the keynotes and other panels of the conference were extremely interesting and inspiring as well. It was a privilege to attend the keynote by Professor Mahmood Mamdani who gave a broad overview of the history of the structures of power that underpin the nation-state, colonial ideology and the prosecution of minorities. A second, and equally inspiring, keynote was delivered by Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey, entitled ‘De-Centering the ‘White Gaze’ of Development’ which was an important call to address race as the elephant in the room in development studies. She combined critical race theory and critical development studies in order to ‘mainstream race, like gender and class, as the way forward’ because as she argued powerfully ‘to oppose racism one must notice race’. I would urge any heritage specialists working in development contexts to explore development theories, to attend conferences such as these and to inform themselves on key themes current in development studies. Looking at development through a (marine) cultural heritage lens can offer new perspectives on thinking about how past-making (heritage) influences future-making (development) (see Basu & Modest’s introduction to their edited volume ‘Museums, Heritage and Development, 2015). Nevertheless, development studies also has a lot to offer to heritage studies when it comes to critically appraising development contexts and thinking through the social, economic, cultural and environmental implications of development interventions. This conference was an enriching experience and just like Rising from the Depths, the panel was a step towards bringing different disciplines together to think about the uses and relevance of the past for creating sustainable futures. The edited volume that is planned as an outcome of this panel will hopefully contribute to furthering the dialogue on cultural heritage and sustainable development as well.

Lobster trap on a beach in Madagascar

‘Scoping’ Maritime Cultural Heritage: A visit to SEED Madagascar and Sainte Luce to prepare for June’s Festival of the Sea

Jonathan Skinner

(Featured image – Sainte Luce fishermen in handmade pigoues (canoes) rowing out to check their lobster pots – J. Skinner, April 2019)

There were no bins where I was staying. This was one of the things I noticed first and stayed with me during my first visit to Sainte Luce reserve, Madagascar. Jerry’s Huts sits right by the sea with very limited running water and electricity. It has a continual breeze in from the sea that keeps the air fresh and the mosquitos away. The Indian Ocean crashes in day and night. I was opening my food packs from the UK but there was nowhere to put the plastic wrappers. In fact there were scant plastics around at all. I was in what SEED Madagascar staff colloquially call ‘the bush’.

Yet, Sainte Luce is more coastal than bush environment. It is in the Anosy part of southeast Madagascar, 50km northeast of regional centre Taolagnaro (Fort Dauphin), a coastal region where French settlers first landed, and one of the last few places of intact coastal forest. The Sainte Luce Reserve is a hamlet of three villages (Ambandrika, Ampanastromboky, and Manafiafy – the last is by the sea and is also the name of a nearby exclusive luxury beach and rainforest lodge for ‘primitive’ tourists, that is tourists of the primitive, I suppose). The approximately 2400 inhabitants of Sainte Luce depend on natural maritime resources, local forestry, subsistence agriculture and mahampy reed weaving products (mats, hats, baskets) for their livelihood. It is also the epicentre of the lobster export industry in Madagascar: according to NGO Azafady (2014: 4), 50% of Madagascar’s annual national spiny lobster catch comes from along a 150km stretch of coastline focused around the Sainte Luce hamlet (approximately 18 tons/yr). 80% of Sainte Luce’s population depend upon this fishing (Sabatini et al. 2007) making it the core means of income generation for the community.

In Madagascar, there are many taboos (‘fady’ such as not pointing, avoiding certain animals, or talking about food). Likewise, ‘fomba’ is the term given to local cultural traditions that show respect to other, including the ancestors. One central decision-making tradition is the practice of ‘kabary’, group discussion-making. SEED Madagascar – a UK registered NGO with offices in Taolagnaro – had recently facilitated in Sainte Luce the re-establishment of a local Riaky (sea) committee to represent the community in the management of coastal maritime resources, assist with the implementation of local ‘dina’ (rules), and to help them to develop a new voluntary no-take zone (VNTZ) with closed and open seasons (currently open April to May and August to September inclusive). They did this through close, intense kabary discussion with the community, effectively co-producing a successful ‘community-managed small-scale lobster fishery’ (Long 2017a).

University of Roehampton and SEED Madagascar Reharbouring Heritage grant partners - Hannah Shepherd, April 2019

University of Roehampton and SEED Madagascar Reharbouring Heritage grant partners – Hannah Shepherd, April 2019

I was the only person staying there at Jerry’s in Sainte Luce, visiting the SEED Madagascar’s base camp nearby where they conduct their public health, social development, and conservation projects that range from supplying village wells for safe, clean water to drink to reduce levels of severe and life-threatening diarrhoea; to recording the daily lobster catch, sales and effort endured by the fishermen to ultimately facilitate community-based, sustainable lobster fisheries management; to night patrolling ‘bush’ transects counting lemur eyes shining back at them in the dark to assess annual animal levels and to facilitate their safe movement; and promoting and supporting a local women’s embroidery group, Project Stitch, with social enterprise, business advice and marketing platforms.

Project Stitch, Sainte Luce – J. Skinner, April 2019

Project Stitch, Sainte Luce – J. Skinner, April 2019

I was to spend three nights in the bush, spending the days learning about the Voluntary No Take Zone (VNTZ) where local fishermen have agreed to operate a community lobster fishing regulation system of open and closed seasons – in addition to national regulations to leave female lobsters with eggs and lobsters less than 20cm in size, and to not use nets, spears, harpoons or snorkels while fishing. I was to liaise with the Chef Fokontany (Head of the Village) of local villages in preparation for a return visit in June when I was to bring a textile artist and a filmmaker from the UK, and co-organise with SEED a range of local and regional bands and dancers to hold a Festival of the Sea to celebrate local marine cultural heritage: the traditional practices that best-suited conservation and sustainability, maritime cultural heritage as resilience in the people, and to swap skills and co-produce knowledge, artefacts and choreography. This was also an opportunity to test a community-engagement-through-festival approach developed in the Caribbean (Skinner and Bryan 2015), and the conservation-through-carnival suggestion that we had developed on Anguilla when examining a contentious sea turtle moratorium established until 2020 (EU BEST 2016).

EU BEST sea turtle conservation grant

EU BEST sea turtle conservation grant

There, on this current British colony, the University of Roehampton partnered with the Government of Anguilla’s Department of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and the Anguilla National Trust. From 2016 to 2019 we have been working to mitigate the overexploitation of the sea turtle – ‘combining community action with scientific evidence to drive legislative change’ (EU BEST 2016). The project brings stakeholders together to engage in open dialogue about the island’s limited natural resources and their best management. We combined scientific evidence of sea turtle foraging and breeding with information about the cultural heritage of local people to engage and increase national awareness and support for the sea reptile. One initiative was to join in the annual ‘Festival Del Mar’ (Festival of the Sea) with sea turtle floats to raise public awareness as to their plight (EU BEST 2016). To translate concepts: Anguilla used Malagasy techniques of kabary group discussion to transform and develop support structures for the animal, its husbandry, and its fishermen; the Sainte Luce Festival of the Sea was to use Caribbean carnival to celebrate best lobster conservation and fishing management practice in the community in one of the first VNTZ’s of its kind in the Indian Ocean. We wanted to test the plasticity of the Caribbean model as an appropriate mode of maritime cultural heritage expression in Madagascar.

Musician awaits auditions at the entrance to Sainte Luce Reserve – J. Skinner, April 2019Musician awaits auditions at the entrance to Sainte Luce Reserve – J. Skinner, April 2019

In the mornings – very early in the mornings – the lobster fishermen return with their catch caught in vahipiky vine pots skilfully woven by the family or bought from mountain villages nearby. The lobsters are measured and weighed by SEED before being sold on to collecteurs (middle people) who send on the lobsters to Taolagnaro for international distribution. Many of the fishermen use boats owned by the opérateurs and so have to sell the lobsters at uncompetitive prices to collecteurs working with the opérateurs. Stephen Long (2017b) notes that the development of a No Take Zone concentrated the efforts of the fishermen when they could fish, and brought them ‘bumper catches’ from the replenished supply, but that an unexpected consequence of the surplus was to break the buyers’ monopoly, giving a 33% rise in price for the lobster that added significant value to the lives of the fishermen and their families.

Measuring, weighing and selling the day’s lobster catch - J. Skinner, April 2019

Measuring, weighing and selling the day’s lobster catch – J. Skinner, April 2019

There are exceptional musicians and dancers in the local community, and part of the visit was to audition them for the Festival of the Sea as well as troupes in Taolagnaro so that was to be a local as well as regional event.

Village life stopped when the drums and strings played and Group Dodomy entertained. Both the local music and dancing can be described as traditional with a Southern African influence of polyrhythms and contrabody movements: stillness in the torso, fast leg movements up and down or side to side, hands flicking stylishly upwards and downwards characterise some of this dancing.

Group Dodomy Festival of the Sea auditions (https://youtu.be/8DHkzPu9Sis) – J. Skinner, April 2019

Group Dodomy Festival of the Sea auditions (https://youtu.be/8DHkzPu9Sis) – J. Skinner, April 2019

The dance auditions showed the local skills in body isolations, and contra-body juxtapositions – opposing patterns, or contrasts between movement and non-movement. Forward-side-back sets of kicks; or side-to-sides with loose arms and hands towards the waist remind me of some salsa, rumba, cumbia complexes that have their origins in Africa and travelled at different times most notably to the Caribbean islands and eventually to the Americas. At the end of the Sainte Luce audition, we took turns dancing, swapping moves. Unfortunately – or fortunately (see the following June blog) – only I had a camera so there were no recordings!?

Tsimihantaravye Tandroy dance audition (https://youtu.be/6RBmhlbIzVA) – J. Skinner, April 2019

Tsimihantaravye Tandroy dance audition (https://youtu.be/6RBmhlbIzVA) – J. Skinner, April 2019

Back in Taolagnaro, we held meetings to consider the possibilities of the Festival: what would work; what the community wanted and needed; how the logistics of food, water, electricity might be resolved; what was best ethical practice between the University of Roehampton and SEED Madagascar. We held further open auditions to urban hiphop singers, a reggae band, and traditional Tandroy and Tanosy music and dance groups. Here is a Tandroy clip: the ‘people from the thorns’, as the name translates for this ethnic group, are known for their short and pointy straw hats (satsok bory), and the dance has the similar fast-feet still-torso but there is also a characteristic hand-shaking. It reminded me of the Maori Haka in places and has similar rhythmic shouting – you can hear ‘Eka!’ in the YouTube clip which is ‘Yes!’ in Malagasy. Mirohondroho are a semi-professional troupe that perform regularly for locals, tourists, festivals. Here they are giving an audition that is loved by SEED staff, bar staff and a visiting anthropologist, all of whom are a dancing audience.

The next blog will showcase the Festival of the Sea that we held in Sainte Luce, 7-8 June 2019.

Stunning land and waterscapes and the obligatory lemur shot – J. Skinner and R. Rossizelà, April 2019Stunning land and waterscapes and the obligatory lemur shot – J. Skinner and R. Rossizelà, April 2019

Stunning land and waterscapes and the obligatory lemur shot – J. Skinner and R. Rossizelà, April 2019

 

References

Azafady (2014) A final report on Project Oratsimba – Prepared for SmartFish/FAO: Activities from June 2013 – March 2014. Tolagnaro. https://madagascar.co.uk/application/files/8515/4027/7111/11.03.2014_Phase_1_Final_Report.pdf.

EU BEST (2016) Saving the Sea Turtles of Anguilla: Combining community action with scientific evidence to drive legislative change. Project grant details website, ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/biodiversity/best/pdf/fs_saving_sea_turtles_en.pdf.

Long, S. (2017a) ‘Short-term impacts and value of a periodic no take zone (NTZ) in a community-managed small-scale lobster fishery, Madagascar’. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177858. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177858.

Long, S. (2017b) ‘The world is your lobster: sustainable fishing in Madagascar?’ UCL research blog post, https://london-nerc-dtp.org/2017/06/07/world-lobster-sustainable-fishing-madagascar accessed 16 July 2019.

Sabatini, G., Salley, S. Ramanamanjato, J.-B. (2007) ‘A review of the spiny lobster fishery in the Tolagnaro (Fort-Dauphin) Region’. In J. U. Ganzhorn, S. M. Goodman and M. Vincelette (eds.) Biodiversity, Ecology and Conservation of Littoral Ecosystems in Southeastern Madagascar, Tolagnaro (Fort Dauphin). Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., pp. 299–308.

Skinner, J. and D. Bryan (2015) ‘Introduction’. In J. Skinner and D. Bryan (eds.) Consuming St. Patrick’s Day. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.1-8.

CoastSnap User meeting and workshop in Toulouse (France)

Caridad Ballesteros

On 18th June 2019 the first CoastSnap User meeting took place in Toulouse (France) under the umbrella of Boot Camp Coastal Imaging 2019, organised by Dr Mitch Harley from the University of New South Wales, Australia. This was the first time the CoastSnap site owners have gathered together to discuss best practice, to share ideas and to learn key project tools. Starting in Australia, CoastSnap has been spreading around the world since 2017 with current sites in the UK, France, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and others. CoastSnap is a citizen science project in which participants take pictures of a beach from a particular viewpoint using a fixed metal stand. The stand holds the smartphones and ensures pictures are always taken from the same position. These pictures are later shared with the project team using social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) or email, and users are instructed to indicate the date and time the picture was taken. This simple idea allows the project team to build, over time, a database of images to understand shoreline behaviour, to analyse erosion, recovery cycles and storm impacts.

During the meeting, all users presented the first results and analysis for their site, as well as any difficulties experienced. I was there to present CoastSnap Mozambique, one of the 19 Rising from the Depths networkfunded projects. CoastSnap Mozambique will be the first site in Africa, which really excited the CoastSnap team, as this could bring new ways to obtain records in countries with a severe shortage of coastal data. Although it was not possible to present any outputs yet, as the CoastSnap stations will be installed in Mozambique later this month, I was really happy to present the relevance of a citizen science project in Mozambique, not only to record data in shoreline dynamics, but also to understand local perceptions of natural and cultural heritage.

CoastSnap team at Meeting

I noticed that there was something missing in all of the presentations, and that was the level of involvement of the local community. From the viewpoint of CoastSnap Mozambique, this is one of the strongest aspects. It is for this reason that in parallel to the beach surveys and the installation of the CoastSnap station (the metal frame and information boards) we will be running workshops to present the project and to understand coastal communities’ views on the project. We will consult with them, and other potential uses, over the pictures collected during the project to tackle potential concerns and conflicts which could later be built into coastal management plans. We will design activities, alongside educators, which will be carried out in schools to integrate the project outputs within sociology, the arts and science, and this will cover aspects of coastal identity and cultural and ecosystem values.

During my time in Toulouse, I learned the most technical aspects of the project, involving the analysis of coastal imaging and shoreline change using MATLAB. The tool will enable the team to analyse the series of images shared by our users, allowing us to view the evolution of the coastline over time. I will be sharing this newly acquired knowledge with my co-Investigators based in Mozambique, and these skills will then be passed on to project students within their universities, so the project can become self-sustaining after the formal project end date.

Next week, Dr Luciana Esteves (BU) and I will be in Mozambique to join the rest of the team, Dr Jaime Palalane from Eduardo Mondlane University and Dr Pedrito Cambrao from Lurio University to set up the four CoastSnap Stations and to run community workshops at each location (see table below) to encourage participation and ownership of the project and to obtain the views and knowledge of the local population.

Location Date Activity
Ilha de Moçambique Tue 30th July Beach survey and CoastSnap Installation
Wed 31st July Workshop
Ponta do Ouro (Maputo) Thu 1st Aug Beach survey and CoastSnap Installation
Fri 2nd Aug Workshop  (location: Kaya-Kweru Resort)
Tofo beach (Inhambane) Mon 5th Aug Beach survey and CoastSnap Installation
Tue 6th Aug Workshop (location: Escola Superior de Hotelaria e Turismo de Inhambane)

Snapshots of research in Maputo, Mozambique – Rosalie Hans

Being back in Mozambique for the first time since 2010 provides an interesting mixture of recognition, nostalgia and learning about the many changes the country has gone through in the last 9 years. I am fortunate to be here for one month for a pilot study on maritime museums and how these institutions can increase their role and relevance for their maritime communities. This collaborative project with Daniel Inoque of the Instituto Superior de Artes e Cultura has led us to research the Museu das Pescas in Maputo and the Museu da Marinha on Mozambique Island (Ilha de Moçambique). The first museum was opened in 2014 and shows the traditional fishing culture of the Mozambican coast in a modern building while the naval museum has been open since 1969 and forms part of a museum complex with the Palacio de São Paulo and the Museum of Sacred Art, located in a monumental building.

 

Apart from the challenge of speaking Portuguese the entire day, which I love but at times requires the patience of my colleagues, there are so many other aspects of the research that are not strictly speaking ‘research activities’ but nonetheless are necessary to make the research happen. While I was aware of this from my own PhD research in Kenya and Uganda, I still underestimated the time we are spending in meetings, making phone calls and negotiating administrative and infrastructural issues. As an early career researcher this is a useful lesson to be reminded of and hopefully the connections made and network built over these few weeks will be the foundations of future research in Mozambique on maritime cultural heritage.

 

The research so far, and the meetings with the fishing community of Costa do Sol in Maputo in particular, has been rewarding and insightful. The Conselho Comunitário de Pesca (CCP) or the Community Council of Fisheries is an active organisation at Costa do Sol, a neighbourhood known as Bairro dos Pescadores, where, unsurprisingly, the majority of people lives from artisanal (or small-scale) fishing. The president and secretary of the CCP helped us to invite different people to talk to about their perspective on fishing culture, their lives and current issues and challenges in their community and we conducted a number of interviews, returning another day for a group meeting. The different people we spoke to were keen to get across the importance of knowledge about different types of fish and preservation of the maritime ecosystem in Maputo Bay. While they showed pride in the boats they built, owned and maintained, the increase in the number of fishermen and the decrease of the average daily catch led our participants to conclude that they wanted a better life for their children outside of the fishing industry. They generally found that many Mozambicans and visitors were unaware of the hardships of fishing life.

 

In the Baixa of Maputo the Museu das Pescas is still developing its vision and direction for the future. The current indoor and outdoor exhibitions focus mainly on the material culture of the artisanal fishing industry but museum staff expressed plans to broaden its remit to include more of Mozambique’s diverse maritime heritage. We discussed how such an expansion could include the ideas of fishing communities, could be used to give visibility to the challenges of the fishing communities along the Mozambican coast and allow them to feel pride and ownership of their knowledge and skills.

 

The research continues this week in Mozambique Island, a UNESCO world heritage site in the north of Mozambique where centuries of global trade, occupation, resistance and renewal have led to a unique architectural mixture, with many different aspects of maritime cultural heritage to be considered. More on that in the next blog! Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome, just email me on Rosalie.Hans@nottingham.ac.uk!