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)