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If you would like to cook some coconut, you have come to the right place.

Hello hello. I have spent the last four weeks studying the great and mighty coconut. Although I have completed some semi-serious research, the most enjoyable part of my study was all the DELICIOUS coconuts dishes I got to cook with wonderfully talented local Zanzibari women! I wanted to share with you some of my favorite recipes that I have collected thus far. With that, enjoy my COCONUT COOKBOOK!! yum


*3 Coconuts
*1½ kg Flour (Unga)
*1/4kg Sugar (Sukari)
*1Tb Yeast (Hamira)
*10 Cardamom Pods (Hiliki)
*Oil for Cooking (Mafuta) Use coconut oil if you can afford it!

1) Take cardamom out of pods and grind to a powder.
2) Mix together all dry ingredients.
3) Shave coconuts and squeeze coconut milk (about 3 times).
4) Add coconut milk slowly until you have dough like consistency.
5) Kneed with hands until the air bubbles have disappeared (add more flour if it becomes too sticky).
6) Form into balls about 3 inches in diameter.
7) Roll each ball into a flat circle of about ¼ inch tall. Coat first in extra flour so the dough does not stick to the rolling pin.
8) Cut each circle into 4 identical triangle pieces.
9) Allow triangles to rise (Kuumka).
10) Heat oil in a frying pan. There must be enough oil for the bread to float.
11) Delicately place dough triangles into hot oil. You do not need to do one at a time. Place as many as fit while lying flat on their side.
12) After placing into oil, flip each. This helps them rise even more and the puffier the better!
13) Allow maandazi to brown slightly on one side then flip to the other side and repeat. Flip back and fourth a couple times until they are evenly browned.
14) Take each out of the oil and place into a strainer over a bowl for some of the oil to drip off.
15) Once dripped, take out of the strainer and place into a bowl.
16) Repeat steps 11 through 15 for the rest of the dough triangles.
17) Serve warm with literally whatever you want. There is no wrong way to eat these because they will always be incredible.

“This maandazi is magical!”
–Salma (Ate three maandazi despite being allergic to gluten), 23/4/2015


*1 Coconut (Nazi)
*Chili Peppers to Taste (I used 5) (Pili Pili)
*1/2 Green Pepper (Pili Pili Boga)
*2 Limes (Ndimu)
*5 Garlic Cloves (Vitunguu Thomu)
*1cup Water (Maji)

1) Shave the coconut.
2) Toss the shavings into a blender.
3) Pour the water into the blender.
4) Take the stem off the chili peppers and cut them in half then put them into the blender.
5) Cut the green pepper into slivers and put them into the blender.
6) Peel the garlic and put the whole cloves into the blender.
7) BLEND until you have reached your desired consistency.
8) Pour mixture into a bowl.
9) Grab something tasty to dunk into your chutney and ENJOY!

SPINACH (Mchicha)

*1 Coconut (Nazi)
*1 Large Bunch of Spinach (Mchicha)
*1 Small Onion (Vitunguu Maji)
*2 Small Tomatoes (Tungule)
*Salt (Chumvi)

1) Peel leaves off thick spinach stem (alright to leave some stem) and rise in water.
2) Grasp the leaves in a bunch and cut into ½ inch pieces and place in a pot.
3) Cut onion and tomatoes into small slivers and toss into pot.
4) Shave the coconut and squeeze out the coconut milk. Set aside strong milk.
5) Pour not strong milk into pot so that it just covers the spinach and vegetables.
6) Set on high heat until the coconut milk is soaked into the spinach and the leaves are soft and condensed.
7) Add strong coconut milk and keep on high heat until this is also soaked into the leaves.
8) Add salt to taste.
9) Scoop into a bowl and enjoy!


*About 1/2kg Cassava Leaves (Kisamvu)
*3 Coconuts (Nazi)
*2 Onions (Vitunguu Maji)
*2 Green Peppers (Pili Pili Boga)
*4 Carrots (Karote)
*4 Garlic Cloves (Vitunguu Thomu)
*Salt (Chumvi)

1) Wash leaves and place in a large kinu and beat with a large mchi until the leaves are soft and broken.
2) Place leaves in a pot and cover with water. Set to high heat. Leave until the water has evaporated.
3) Shave coconuts and squeeze coconut milk (enough to cover leaves). Set aside strong coconut milk.
4) Cut the onions, green peppers, and carrots into ¼ inch pieces.
5) Smash garlic into a paste.
6) Add vegetables and garlic to the cassava leaves. Add not strong coconut milk.
7) Keep on high heat until coconut milk has evaporated or been absorbed.
8) Once milk is absorbed, add strong coconut milk and cook for about 10 more minutes or until it is also absorbed.
9) Add salt to taste.
10) ENJOY!

“Mmmmm, you can really taste the coconut!” – Eliza, 22/4/2015


*1 Coconut (Nazi)
*1/2kg Sugar -white sugar is recommended- (Sukari)
*About 1cup Water (Maji)

1) Shave the coconut.
2) Boil the water.
3) Add the sugar into the boiling water and keep the heat high.
4) Stir continuously so the sugar does not stick.
5) Continue to stir until the mixture begins thickening.
6) Add the shaved coconut.
7) Keep stirring! Don’t let it stick.
8) Stir until the water has evaporated and the mixture has completely thickened.
9) Scoop the mixture onto a flat tray and spread out to desired thickness.
10) Wait for your treat to cool.
11) Cut into pieces sized to your liking.
12) Enjoy! (I hear this is especially delicious eaten with coffee)

These are my favorites!! Let me know what you think and how it goes if you try to cook any of them!

~Fatma for six more days~

To the DAY. I have Two and a Half Weeks Left in Zanzibar.

I will be home in two and a half weeks. I will be home in seventeen days. I will be back in Ann Arbor, Michigan surrounded once again by what is familiar. My mom, dad, and sister will pick me up at the airport and wrap me in their arms time after time again. They will tell me how much they have missed me and I will, with my whole heart, express the same over joyed feelings of a comforting welcome after a long term separation. I will see my best friends. I will see my boyfriend. I will lay in the bed that has held my imprint for as long as I can remember. I will look out my window and I will sit on the reuphoIstered couch in my living room while smelling my moms delicious, mouth watering, attention grabbing cooking. I will eat said cooking and it will be spectacular. I will be back behind the wheel of my car, driving the same roads I have driven thousands of times, seeing the same familiar sights. After three and a half months, I will no longer be in Zanzibar and I ask myself, how do I feel about this?

No, I am not getting ahead of myself. This is the first legitimate time the concept of my coming home as seemed like a near sighted reality. This is not to say that I am not enjoying myself here. But It is to say that I have more than ever learned to appreciate the unconditional warmth and comfort that comes with being at home. I have grown to love Zanzibar after initial shock, I have greatly appreciated all that my time here has given me, and I have (somewhat) learned my way around the winding streets enough to give my relationship with Stone Town the status of “it’s complicated but we are working on it”. It has been three months (of course I spent some time in Pemba and Dar es Salaam) and Unguja and I are only just beginning to understand each other. I know where the cake place is (the one with the slightly lemon flavored frosting), and I just learned as of two days ago that the large, open, park by the water has free wifi.

Well as I said, the feeling of familiarity is impending. I feel as if I should want to more tightly hold on to my time here. I admittedly have begin looking up at the buildings as I walk down the street with an encroaching sense of a potential future nostalgia. However, not to minimize the spectacular experiences I had had here (thinking back on it now I smile thinking of the likely once in a lifetime adventures I have taken this semester), this semester away has made me more excited to return home that I believe I have ever been before in my life.

Going home now seems like a whole new adventure. I find myself looking forward to details I never before realized I consciously noticed. My familiar sanctuary has not for a while now been my familiar sanctuary and I have not truly been able to think of another place in that way since I left. Yes, I am comfortable here. Yes, I like talking with my home stay family. Yes, these other students I met three months ago have become wonderfully good friends. No, I have not truly felt at peace any place in Zanzibar. That is a feeling I yearn for. It is a feeling not easily found and when you lose it all you hope for is to find it once again. I have no doubt that is is waiting for me. My peace is nestled safely in all the crevices I left it tucked. I know each one of those crevices, they are imprinted into my mind and mine alone. The upcoming opportunity to untuck them, pull them out, and wrap them snugly around me is a thrilling one to think about. Soon it will come. Soon I will be at peace.

Shout out to my most wonderfully, warm, beautiful mother on her birthday today! I love you more than I could even think to express. There are no words to describe what you are to me. xxoxox

How do you feel about your home? How do you feel about being away from it?

~Olivia Gramprie~

Karibuni Tena! Welcome Again!

How many times a day I hear this phrase is astounding. Sure, I walk up and down the streets of Stone Town and “Karibu” is hollered in my direction by shop keepers of all sorts with some common misunderstanding that just because I am white all I am looking to do is shop, shop, shop until I drop. A simple “asante sana” (thank you very much), a brisk walk, and a gaze turned directly ahead will usually halt the hollers long enough for me to pass and move onto the next group of shops where the process once again repeats itself.

However, thankfully, this view of welcoming hospitality is also shared by the people I actually want to continue a conversation with, people I thoroughly appreciate being welcomed by. If you ever make your way to Zanzibar, the very first pieces of Swahili you should learn are the greetings. Knowing how to properly greet someone here, especially someone who is your elder, is of the utmost importance. After living here for almost three months I think I have finally got this down. Let me tell you, people here absolutely LOVE it when a “mzungu” (white person) can greet them properly and respectfully in their own language. These phrases have been the most useful out of anything I have learned here. If you come here, just learn them okay? Trust me!


List of most proper greeting with best responses listed below:

*”Shikamoo” (Respectful greeting to an elder)

*Marahaba (response)


*”Salaam Alaikum” (Peace be with you)

*Alaikum Salaam (And also peace be with you)


*”Hujambo?” (There is nothing wrong with you?)

*Sijambo (There is nothing wrong with me)


*Habari? Harbari za leo? (What is the news?/What is the news of the day)

*Nzuri na wewe? (good/nice/swell/etc. and you?)


There are more than these four greetings (probably an almost endless list) but if you learn these and their proper responses, you are golden in Zanzibar. People will still call you “mzungu” but maybe you will be upgraded to “swahili mzungu”. Congratulations!

Anyway, with these phrases finally tucked securely under my belt, I was more than prepared to venture off into the not all the wild small urban city of Stone Town and give this independent study by best shot. Once I properly greet someone and explain how I am a student studying coconuts, I am most always warmly welcomed into their home. I have made friends with many older women as I ask them my questions about cooking with coconuts while sitting comfortably in their living room after being told to make myself at home. This is all just minutes after meeting them. I have cooked with a few families now and they treat me as if I was part of their family and always have been. The women smile at me warmly and the head of both houses gave me a kanga to borrow and wear around my waist (a piece of traditional Zanzibari cloth that is used as clothing or as a headscarf) so that my clothing would not become dirty while cooking.

Hospitality. Hospitality. Hospitality.

I am not used to this concept from living in America. Sure, most everyone I know is welcoming of me into their homes but the key is that I already know them. These people are my family, or very good friends. I know there are programs such as couch surfer but the majority of people I know would not welcome a complete stranger into their home and then on top of everything offer them a delicious cup of chai. Walking around a city in America, walking up to the doors of strangers, and greeting them with a warm welcome would leave me solely with weird looks or with the resident of said house purposefully walking out of direct sight as to pretend as if they were not home.

Doing this kind of research in America would be next to impossible. Good thing I am in Zanzibar.


Okay, I am now off to the market to buy bananas, spinach, and coconuts to cook for dinner with my sister!

Does this post make you want to be a more welcoming person? Let me know of experiences when you have welcomed someone into your home or into your heart!


Coastal Ecology

For the coastal ecology section of this semester, we worked primarily with the coastal expert, Dr. Matt Richmond. This man has lived primarily in Australia and England but traveled around the globe to more remote locations than I can remember. He wrote the majority of the field guide on the Indian Ocean that we use as our textbook and even helped illustrate many of the aquatic drawings. We went on four field trips with him to four different islands. We enjoyed the underwater views at each while snorkeling but we also learned techniques for coastal fieldwork such as using quadrats and line transects to determine species density. We even went “manta-towing”. This activity is actually used scientifically as a means of underwater observation but we just partook in the activity as a thrilling joy ride. Basically, there is a wooden board about one foot by four feet. Holding the board so that it is wider than it is tall, holes are drilled into each end and a rope is attached to each end. The ropes are then attached to the back of the boat and the wooded board is placed in the water. We took turns, one at a time, and slid into the water with our snorkeling gear on and laid face down in the water holding onto the board with our hands outstretched in front of our head. Once we are in position, the boat turns on it’s motor and begins to drive along over the coral reef. Imagine tubing but a slightly a slightly sketchier set up with a supremely improved view.

Aaaaaanyway, for the final project in this class the eight of us students were split into four groups of two. Each pair was required to write a paper and then present for ten to fifteen minutes on our findings. Each pair was assigned two reefs we snorkeled during throughout the semester and the assignment was to asses the health of each reef and come up with creative yet realistic conservation plans.

To determine the heath of each reef, this is the list of indicators we had to look for:

*Presence of the four indicator fish (trigger fish, butterfly fish, groupers, parrot fish)

*Presence of Crown of Thorn starfish

*Presence of sea urchins

*Bleached or diseased or broken coral

*Presence of fishing or destructive fishing practices (lines, nets, traps, etc)

*Presence of human activity (destruction from tourists hitting their fins on the coral while snorkeling)


*Coastal development

With all those health indicators in mind… understand that my partner and I chose to present our data in RAP form. Yes I am cool. I rap about fish.

Sooo…. without further ado I present to you, my gracious audience, my Coral Conservation Rap! *I am sorry I am unable to share a video. For those who know me, I am sure you can imagine what I would look like performing this.

Coral Conservation Rap (Watoto Bop Take #1)

By Olivia Gramprie & Caroline Ladlow


This is our coral conservation rap.

Watoto Bop take #1.

This is DJ Fatma Slick and Queen Latifa coming at you from SIT Stone Town

This is an educational rap. Creative conservation plan.

Two reefs we had and will discuss.

One unprotected, one half-protected were given to us.

The former was Bawe not far from Stone town,

Misali, the later, of Pemba where we faffed around.

Both appeared healthy upon first look,

But then we got a lesson from the Matt Richmond book.


In order for a reef to be perfectly biodiverse

It needs sea grass, soft coral, hard coral, and the works.

There are four indicator species that mustn’t be shy

We got trigger, grouper, parrot, and butterfly.

There are other signs that might signal trouble

Like the crown of thorns, sea urchins, and coral rubble.

Boat traffic, fishing, tourism, and trash

All cause permanent harm you couldn’t fix with any amount of cash!

Bawe, our unprotected reef…

It has no conservation plan so we’ve got to give it one!

The health of this reef was quite surprising,

Not always are protected reefs better we are realizing.

The abundance of fish, colors, and species galore

Extended for great distances off the shore.

Three of the four indicator fish were found,

Many butterfly, some parrot, two trigger, but no grouper around.

Destructive crown of thorns were pleasantly lacking,

Which allowed the coral species to grow without cracking.

Unfortunately, the boat ride showed presence of waste,

Demonstrating how fisherman and tourists often behave in poor taste.


 The second reef, Misali, unprotected on the East side,

Which we sadly missed out on due to the tide.

The West side however, left us with plenty to see.

We determined it was healthy, viewing all four indicator samaki.

Before we share what we found, you must hold onto your seat.

What are these? – 7 parrot fish of various kinds

And these? – 36 beautiful butterfly fish

Oooo and what are these? – At least 10 groupers

Ah! What is this? – And only 1 trigger fish

Is that all you found? Shouldn’t there be more?

Sawa sawa I’ll continue. I didn’t want to be a bore.

We saw octopus fisherman and 2 dema traps

No crown of thorns eating coral as snacks

But sadly a great number of urchins were seen

Oh! And a hawksbill sea turtle just escaped the scene

No way! That’s pretty neat! I hope no one fell out of their seat.


Both reefs seemed fine but biodiversity can be improved

Conservation plans make sure no resource is over used.

Why save the reefs? One may ask.

These are the reasons it is a necessary task.

Reefs protect the coast, provide income, and supply people with food.

If they want tourists to visit, locals need to change their attitude.

At Bawe we aim to promote sustainable recreation

By becoming an MPA and encouraging environmental education

Halting harmful practices, giving the reef its deserved relaxation.

With this plan in place everyone will enjoy a more pleasant vacation.

On the other fin, Misali, which is already protected,

Requires additional funding to ensure it won’t be further impacted.

To increase tourism, Misali must be promoted as a reef unaffected.

Accessibility is important so the one boat we saw has got to be resurrected!


 Alright, it is time to wrap this rap up!

To conclude our presentation, this is what we uncovered.

Reefs must be protected to save what is known and what has yet to be discovered.

A management plan is necessary for this to be done,

So that all the people and fish can have oodles of fun… in the sun.

Also, giant clams equals underwater.

And we love the black saddled Toby.

In the sun…

And the rain…

They are always cute.


Maybe one day soon I will be able to actually share the video. Yes one exists but that is something for you all to look forward to right?

Go out and learn how to rap yourself! Or don’t learn and just give it your best attempt! I had an absolute blast creating this, I will admit to a significant amount of coffee being involved. It was more than necessary.

Just do something creative. Do something you have never done before!

~Olivia/Fatma~ I don’t even know my real name anymore… <3



The University of Dar es Salaam

University, during the time you spend there, seems like such an important part of a student’s life. Not only do we spend at least four years of our lives calling this place home but before we even arrive, many stressful, worrying yet exciting hours are spent figuring out which university may best fit our specific needs. Lets just hope that once we find that place and finally form the perfect admissions essay, that our feeling of love for them is then mutually reciprocated.

I have so far been enrolled at two separate universities (colleges to be exact but I will continue to call them university for comparison benefits) and after spending these past two weeks at the University of Dar es Salaam, I have now gotten a taste of a third. My first university was Earlham College where I spent my freshman year. Now, I attend Skidmore College and after this current semester I only have to complete my senior year before I am able to graduate. Being a college student myself, it was particularly interesting to visit another university. Especially in such a comparatively different country, with such new and I have to admit somewhat peculiar ways of doing things (in my own personally opinion).

First off, the University of Dar es Salaam is obviously in the HUGE city of, you guessed it, Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam is the largest urban city in all of Tanzania and holds a total population of around five million. This fact alone I am unused to. Skidmore is located in Saratoga Springs, a town well known for their famous horse race track with a surprisingly great deal of fun activities for people of all ages to partake in. However, compared to Dar, Saratoga seems like a side street. With my unfamiliarity of going to university in a huge city, I significantly appreciated the campus being a part from the city center, having its own space belonging solely to the students.

The dorms are separated by gender. The girl’s dorm is about a ten-minute walk from the guy’s dorm. This was largely unfortunate for the one male student in our group, as he was not allowed by campus rules to share a space with any of us girls, even if we wouldn’t personally mind having a male roommate. With eight students total (an oddly small group for an SIT program that is used to at least sixteen), once the one male was assigned to his dorm, the group was left with the uneven number of seven girls. We stayed together in pairs of two with one student left to stay with another foreign exchange student from Austria who thankfully turned out to be quite friendly and welcoming. The rooms (at least the girl’s, I did not get the chance to see the guy’s) were pretty normal compared to the dorms I have seen in the US. Two beds, two desks, two closets, two pillows, no pillow cases (I put one of my “inappropriate” T-shirts on mine), one balcony, one clothes line, two bug nets, two buckets for bucket showers, one cut water bottle scoop.

Oh yea, the water situation provided me with another beneficial learning experience. Have I talked about bucket showers before? Well actually I have gotten used to them by this point and admittedly have leaned to enjoy them. Instead of having the luxury of turning on the shower and stepping slowly under the spouting stream, bucket showers force the “go big or go home” kind of attitude. You have to take the scoop, fill it up, and pour it directly onto your head because the bucket only holds so much and there just is not room to ease into it slowly. The water will be cold and you will probably shiver at first. The resulting level of cleanliness is not ideal but it is a great improvement from the sweat-covered monster you were prior to your bucket experience. The amount of water you save is remarkable. This little fact was especially helpful regarding water conservation as we only had running water about once a week. The taps were left on and every time someone heard the water flowing out and hitting the bottom of the sink, everyone ran to the faucets with their buckets and large empty water jugs in an attempt to horde as much water as possible for the following waterless days. Large water jugs were available in abundance as the tap water was unsafe to drink so all the students needed to pay extra to purchase their own clean, bottled water.

I suppose at this time I should begin to discuss the University’s academics. I will talk about them in the best of my ability but I have to clearly state that I am sure the experience we received differed greatly from the experience actually students of the university receive. I hear it is actually a highly respected university with interesting, engaging professors, and challenging classes. However, this was not my experience. The eight of us did not attend classes with the rest of the full time students but we instead had small lectures on a number of different topics where we were the only students making up the class. The lecture topics included:

*Aquatic Resource Management

*Land Based Pollution in Dar es Salaam

*History of Nature Conservation in Africa/Tanzania

*Research Ethics, Environmental Law and Policymaking

*Social Science Research Methodology; Coastal People, Social Organization and Production Systems

*Background of Biodiversity in Tanzania

*Impact of Economic Development and Tourism on Natural Environment and Human Settlements

*Alternative Energy Technologies in Tanzania

As you can see, we attempted to cover a wide range of topics in a short period of time, just about a week. Each lecture lasted approximately two hours and each was given by a different professor who was supposedly an expert in the particular topic. Part of the problem could have potentially been the language barrier between us American students and the professors who obviously had to teach in English otherwise we would understand nothing. However, I am not sure this is true because I am told the majority of classes at the university are already often taught in English. Because of this, I am going to blame the apparent difference in teaching styles and purposes of education.

They teach in monotone. Rote memorization is key. They promote learning what is taught but not necessarily learning how to think about what is taught and then turning that information into something new and inspired.

I am so happy to say Skidmore’s motto is “Creative Thought Matters”!

Coolest looking building on campus.


Intensely loved “wifi tree”. I think trees here in Africa have magical powers.


I come home in less than four weeks!

See you all soon!

xxoxox ~Fatma

So…. I went on Safari.

Yes you read that correctly, I just came back from two days of intense safari-ing!! The other wanafunzi and I spent the last two weeks on the mainland of Tanzania, capping the trip with a three day excursion to Mikumi National Park. Monkeys and zebras and elephants OH MY!!

There is not much to say about this adventure as the photos will give you a better story than I could ever type.
With that said, I present to you…. MIKUMI!!!

These animals are real right?

Look how close I am! Ah look at the safari animals in their natural habitat.

Don’t make a noise, you may frighten them.


Amber taking the impala for a joy ride!


First animal sighting. Look at his lumbering gate.


A grazing elephant (tembo).




He is so close to civilization!

Roaming, strutting.

Chilling like the elephant boss he is.



This one got in our way.

He stepped into the road, turned towards our van, and flapped his ears.

Eventually he moved out of the way.

I supposed you could say we were the ones in his way.


Ah and then there were ZEBRAS!

Apparently they are stripped black and white because that makes them more difficult to see when they run away from predators.



This one is apparently not running fast enough to be blurry.

Still looks faster than I can run though.


Who is ready to see some giraffes???

Their Swahili name is fittingly twiga.



Can you spot the twiga?

Teehee get it? SPOT!


Water buffalo are so cute when they flap their ears.


Half of the group, popping their heads out of our safari van!

True animal sleuthing at place.


Now for my favorite photos.

Got to love the scenery.


The clouds were spectacular.

Can you see the rainbow?

It did not even rain that day. I declare an act of safari magic.



My FAVORITE photo!

This scene is just too gorgeous.


Everyone should go on safari and some point in their lives.

I plan to go back and stay for even longer so if you want to join, come tag along!

The next time I WILL see a lion!!

Be wild. Be free.

~Olivia (Fatma)~

COCONUTS or as the locals call it, “NAZI” (pronounced na-zee not the German party that caused the Holocaust)

Getting past the title of this post and accepting the fact that I honestly only realized the Swahili word for coconut is a word already well known to the world that comes with a very different meaning in the English language (give me a break, I have been speaking Kiswahili for far too long now), lets spend some time talking about coconuts! The coconut palm (cocos nucifera) is by the most commonly utilized tree in all of Zanzibar. By a wide margin. Despite its many uses in the entirety of Zanzibari culture, this post will focus on its uses in traditional Zanzibarian cuisine! Yummy I know.
The coconut is used in every common dish that each of us students have eaten more times than we could possibly count, thanks to our home stays. Only touching on the basics, coconut is used to cook: rice, beans, cassava, spinach, curry, bread, fish, and the much loved dish of sweet bananas and coconut sauce. These are staple foods in the diets of all Zanzibarians and comparatively taste nowhere near as delicious without the use of coconuts. However, outside of being used in cuisine, coconut trees have many other uses, the most frequently utilized and most destructive being cutting down the trees for timber. The trees cut are those really tall ones that you see in all stock photos of tropical paradises but these tall trees are often over 100 years old. The biggest issue with this entire situation is that hardly anyone is replanting trees after they cut them down. This is making the price of coconuts left on the remaining trees increase exponentially to such an extent that many local are becoming unable to purchase enough to cook with. The coconut culture is beginning to die out and no one seems to care enough to be doing anything about it. They still see trees on the horizon and simply figure this is an issue more easily dealt with by future generations. It is frustrating that many people seem to only think of the now and have difficulties understanding the real difference their small actions could make in the future. About a decade ago the average price of a single coconut was about 30 Tanzanian Shillings. The price has now increased to 300 Tanzanian Shillings per coconut and only continues to rise.

Here is a list I compiled on the most important ways in which coconuts are used in cuisine. They literally use the ENTIRE coconut. Nothing goes to waste and the process is extremely sustainable and environmentally friendly. However, this is only when people continue to let the trees grow and continuously produce fruit instead of cutting them down to use once for lumber. No trees = no fruit. You would think that is obvious but it is surprising how many people don’t seem to understand.


The Coconut as Food

Nazi (Coconut) *Both the whole fruit in its entirety (outside husk to water inside) and the raw untreated meat*
Maji ya Nazi (Coconut Water) *The pure, uncontaminated water found inside a coconut after it is cracked open*
Tui (Coconut Milk) *The end product from repeatedly adding water to freshly shredded coconut and squeezing out the liquid*
Chicha (Shredded, Squeezed Coconut) *After a coconut has been shredded and the milk has been squeezed out*
Mafuta ya Nazi (Coconut Oil) *Pure, natural coconut oil that comes from a process of boiling high quality coconut milk*
Tembo (Toddy) *Sap from the trunk of the tree used as sugar or fermented into alcohol*
Dafu (Young Coconut) *Any type of coconut while it is still young. Used primarily for drinking water*
Kitali (Inside of Young Coconut) *The cut off pieces of the inside of a young coconut. Eaten in chunks like chips*

The Coconut as Cooking Aids

Mnazi (Coconut Tree) *The entirety of the coconut tree*
Kumbi (Coconut Husk) *The most outer layer of each individual coconut*
Shushu (Coconut Fibers) *The rough, stringy fibers found inside the husk*
Kifuu (Coconut Shell) *The hard, protecting layer found outside the meat*
Karara (Dried Coconut Leaf Stem) *The thick, dried, inside steam of each leaf*


Mtaimbo (Iron Stick) *Stick a few feet tall, stuck in the ground and used to remove the husk*
Mbuzi (Coconut Grater) *Bench with a jagged, rounded, knife at the end. Used to shred coconuts*
Kinu (Mortar) *Large, lone standing bowl. Holds items to be ground and crushed. Works in conjunction with pestle*
Mchi (Pestle) *Large, heavy pole with a rounded end. Grinds items by forcefully hitting the inside bottom of the mortar in a downward motion*
Panga (Machete) *Large knife used to cut coconuts off the tree. Also used for chopping off the top of a coconut to open a space for drinking*


Kufua (To Husk) *The process of husking a coconut*
Kukuna (To Shred) *The process of shredding a coconut using an mbuzi*
Kutwanga (To Grind) *The process of grinding using a kinu and mchi*
Kupanda (To Climb) *The process of climbing a coconut tree*
Kuatika (To Germinate) *The process of germinating a coconut seed to prepare it for planting*

As you can see, the coconut is used in numerous ways and overall is a significant part of the Zanzibari culture in almost every aspect of their lives. The easy solution to the declining coconut population is to plant more trees! All that requires is taking an older coconut, germinating it, digging a hold, planting the nut, and going back briefly every day to give it some water. Although that last step is almost unnecessary in the rainy season (end of March to mid June) when it pours sporadic rain bullets. This seems easy enough, especially with how beneficial just one more palm could be for a community. But of course, people have difficulties thinking of the future. When asked why people don’t often plant palms one woman responded, “Planting doesn’t make you money. You could either spend your time planting a palm that you may never personally see, or you could spend your time doing something that actually makes you money”. The same woman said she is truly worried that her children will not have the opportunity to appreciate the coconut in the same way she does. It is sad that the connection cannot be made between these two thoughts.


Pemba and so on…

The other wanafunzi and I spent the last six days living on the even smaller island of Pemba, north of Unguja where Stone Town is located. We spent the first two nights in a nice guesthouse in the town of Wete then the last four nights with new home stay families in the largest town in Pemba called Chake Chake. Since this was our most permanent move out of Stone Town thus far, and since we were no longer near the SIT office which acts as a base camp for us all to meet when need be, the SIT directors set up a deal with a local restaurant in the middle of Chake Chake called Le Tavern to act as our temporary base, giving us a place to become familiar with and to join back together as a group. Basically, they opened up the back of the restaurant to us and laid three large mats on the floor creating a make shift play/read/nap area. Picture us as giant toddlers, doing what toddlers would do, sprawled out napping on giant colorful mats laid haphazardly on the cement floor. This was Le Tavern.

Pemba was something different. Different in the way that compared to Stone Town where around almost every corner I am able spot another white person, of course never dressed as appropriately as the other students and I, in Pemba we were the only white people as far as the eye could see and oh man did we stick out. It probably didn’t help that we all dress so properly because apparently men in Pemba are more conservative than the men elsewhere which means they are looking for nice respectable ladies like ourselves. As a result, the group collectively received at least ten marriage proposals over the six days as a whole. The town was very small and the locals got to know us quickly. By my third day there, walking from my home stay to Le Tavern (an eight minute walk at the most), two men looked directly at me, called out my Swahili name, and asked how I was doing in one phrase or another. I had never seen these men before in my time there, never spoken to them previously, definitely never gave them my name. Maybe the home stay coordinator spread the word? Maybe they know the family I was staying with and the family shared my name? There are a lot of unanswered questions, but quite little I can actually do about it, so the overall message I have taken away from this experience is that in one way or another, word spreads QUICKLY. You have no personal business. Everyone knows everything.

The home stay in Pemba was an overall umm interesting experience. On the afternoon I arrived at my home stay, I quickly came to learn that I did not have my own room as promised with a solid door and secured lock but instead was sharing the doorless room with the three young children in my family. There was a cloth drape hanging from a beam where the door should have been and hordes of neighbor children loved coming into the house and peeking slyly past the drape blowing this way and that from the wind coming through the barred windows. I did not feel secure, I had no privacy, I would have gone crazy living any longer in this situation, so after the first night I moved out of that house and into another one, now sharing a room with my friend and fellow student, Jess. This room was plenty secure, located behind three separate doors with three separate locks. Each time we came in and out of our room it took us a solid five minutes simply dealing with the locks. The difference between my first home and second was drastic. To be fair, although the first house I arrived at was not able to accommodate me in the manner promised when signing the contract with SIT, the family as a whole was wonderfully nice and welcoming.

My second family, the one I shared with Jess, was loud and bubbly. Just my type. They had four children, ages two to eleven, and once Jess and I taught them the chicken dance, they loved us forever and wanted to play for hours on end every night, along with the rest of the neighborhood. On the night we taught them the chicken dance, outside on the pathway between houses, all the neighborhood kids heard the joyful singing and laughing and came running to join in on the fun. I kid you not we practically started a riot that night. Parents stuck their heads out of their doors to see what all the commotion was about. Our new brothers and sisters loved it and our mom laughed right along.

Last thing I will say about my Pemba family is that my mom made the best pilau I have had thus far in my life and I have eaten a great deal of pilau while here. I will share with all you the recipe at a later date but for the time being my observation journal (where the recipe is written down) has been turned in for grading.

Here I am grating a delicious coconut for the pilau.


Well, I have to go now because I am about to be kicked off the internet as I have to leave Stone Town, travel on the crowded dala dala back to Mangapwani, and attempt to talk to some locals about the ways in which they use coconuts in traditional cuisine. This will be my project and hopefully I get some good information in the next five days but at this point I still have very little idea of what I am doing. Oh boy, the adventure life takes you on.

Try do something today that scares you. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. I hear amazing things can happen.


Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Area

My fellow students (wanafunzi) and I spent the last two days closer to the eastern side of the island in a protect forest called Jozani-Chwaka Bay Conservation Area. While there, we spent the first day studying two different areas of mangroves and looking into and comparing the species density in the two areas.


Instead of walking over the bridge, my group took a right unto the depths of the mangrove on the outter edge of the bridge. I did not know what to expect. Coming from Michigan and going to school in New York, I have never before experiences a mangrove. It was quite a bit different than what I expected.


DSCN0483I was in a group of 4 including myself. The other student’s Swahili names were Salma, Latifa, and Eliza. My Swahili name is Fatma. I love saying ninaitwa Fatma. People here get a huge kick out of a white girl like me telling them to call me such a traditional name.

The techniques we used for collecting data on the mangroves include:

*A measuring tape to map out a circle with a 11.8meter radius.

*A diameter tape to obviously measure the diameter of the trees. We only included the data for trees at least 2cm in diameter and measured this at breast height.

*A 3meter stick to measure the height of the significant trees. Literally a stick with notches cut out at each meter. This part was slightly challenging with the trees reaching 10 plus meters but I we gave this job to Salma who I renamed Magic Stick as she excelled so exquisitely at this task.


(What a pro)






Muddy muddy mangrove. So many trees. So little time.



The previous photos show our morning plot of mangroves in the protected area of Jozani.

Where as the following photo shows our mangrove plot in the unprotected area of Uzi Bay.

Check out the difference.


Nature is so neat.

All of these trees are considered mangroves but the different type of tree and the area and substrate in which it is located can make all the difference.

NEXT we studies animals deep into the forest (It felt like a jungle to me)

We looked for a number of animal indication including:

*A visual of the animal itself

*Foot prints

*A loud call (generally from monkeys)






Our guide trashing his way through the trees and ferns


And LASTLY, we observed MONKEYS!!!

Red Colobus Monkeys to be exact!

We basically just studied their behavior.

Were they…





*Excreting their bowels?



Surreal surreal surreal





What a cutie. Am I right??

I may be away from internet for the next two-ish weeks so don’t fret while I am away.

Stay wild and stay free!

~Olivia (Fatma)~



Creative Solutions

I just returned from a magical wonderland called Creative Solutions, an NGO that works towards promoting environmental education and creates beautiful recycled art.

This wonderland is located in the small fishing village of Mangapwani on the western side of Zanzibar. The other students and I packed ourselves into our rented van and chatted throughout the half hour trip from Stone Town to Mangapwani. Driving through the village on our way to the entrance gate of Creative Solutions gave us not the slightest indication of the warm, inviting, inspiring land nestled soundly behind that colorfully painted gate. After passing through the gate my jaw dropped, my mouth turned upwards in and uncontrollable expression of joy, and my eyes almost burst from pleasurable visual stimulation.

After a description like that, I would only be teasing you all if I did not focus the majority of this post on photos from this delightful bundle of perfect creativity, strewn together in the most pleasing manner. The following photos will give you the best sense of the place I could capture but sadly that’s all you’ll get, a sense. If only you could be here with me.




***This is the first wall to the left as you walk in. EVERY wall is made into an art piece of one kind or another***

**The artist in us all could not help but feel inspired here**




***Quick snap of the “apartment” I stayed in with another student***

**Is this Africa? What is Africa?**

*Again, all handmade to the best of my knowledge*



***Creative Solutions also runs a preschool where they teach English and environmental education***

**So, NATURALLY, a playground would be a requirement**

*America should work on creating more hand crafted, recycled, play equipment*





**Sure this is meant for three year old children but yes I laid on it to watch the clouds pass overhead**

*Ah, school is just too difficult sometimes. What a challenging life I lead*


**Let him stare into your soul**

*He will release your inner child*



**More examples of random recycled art scattered around the grounds**

*They also have art studios. Glass bottle art such as cutting and melting is their forte*



****Meet Vanderbilt “Vandy”****

***The sweetest, and most beloved dog in Zanzibar***

**Her owner is American and therefore finds it acceptable to own a dog as a pet**

*She likes napping. Don’t we all*



Lastly but most importantly, each group that comes through Creative Solutions must leave a creative imprint of their own somewhere on the premises

**Our group unleashed our artistic wiles in two ways**

*The first was by helping build the already started recycled wine bottle house*

The building steps I picked up goes as follows…

1) Take two wine bottles and cut the tops off so the entirety of what is left is the same width across.

*There are many online instructions on how to cut bottles.

2) Take two of these cut wine bottles and securely tape them together in the middle, creating one long tube that will act as your brick.

3) Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have a solid brick collection.

4) Stir together a mixture or sand, mud, cement, and water (Make sure it is nice and moist).

5) Lay down a layer about two inches thick (tall) of this cement mixture under where you want to lay your first row of bottles.

6) Then start laying out your bottles so that the two ends face the inside and outside of your soon to be house.

*Make sure they are parallel to the ground and about an inch or an inch and a half apart from one another.

5) Let them lay there while the cement around them dries only slightly so that they secure in place.

7) Once secure, pick up hand fulls of cement and to the best of your ability, forcefully throw it at the spaces left between your bottles.

*Eventually you will make it so that the cement covers from one end of the bottle brick to the other while still being able to see both ends so the light can shine through.

8) After the cement is packed to the edges, use a damp sponge to smooth out the cement to it is even throughout and tightly packed into all the crevices.

9) Once this is complete, allow the cement to sit and harden for maybe a day (I only worked on it for a few hours so I am not exactly sure of the time needed), then continue adding on more and more rows until you are satisfied of the height (allowing proper time to dry between each).

*I do not know how they are planning to attach the roof.

*Make sure to leave a space for the door!!




*The darker top rows to the left are what I worked on*




**The second imprint we left, was our collaborative wall painting**

*Inspired by our current experimental, hand-on, education*




*I personally painted the left ear of the elephant and a portion of the blue fish*

*I more so enjoyed forcefully throwing a sand and cement mixture within the bottles to create the house*

*****SIT SPRING 2015****

Well, that is all for today folks.

Try to create something today. Unleash the inspiration you may have bottled inside.

Do something to make the world even more beautiful that it already is because you are in it.


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