The Mermaids of Zanzibar

Imagine you're on an island with a beautiful white beach, palm trees and crystal clear water. The other children are splashing around, swimming and diving, except you. Unfortunately this is the reality for girls in Zanzibar. Why? Nearly all the inhabitants of Zanzibar are Islamic, which means that there are certain restrictions for girls and women. Tourists from all over the world come to Zanzibar to swim, dive and surf. Not always are they aware that there are special rules in this seaside paradise. Among other things it‘s taboo, that the local girls learn how to swim. Thanks God it's changing gradually. Since there are burkinis, a small step has been taken towards emancipation. Burkinis are full-length swimsuits, which are far from practical and convenient. But when girls can enter the water without compromising their cultural beliefs, then burkinis are a benefit.

The NGO Panje Project has worked in Zanzibar to ensure that girls can also take part in swimming lessons.  Parents agreed, with the obligation, that their daughters are dressed with burkunis. Since then the girls learn to swim, float and dive. And finally they will discover the fascinating underwater world around their islands. What do we learn from it? Under difficult conditions sometimes a step back is a step forward!

Anna Boyiazis filmed the swimming classes of the Sansibari girls and won the World Press Photo Award 2018!

We, Angelika and the team of afrika-junior, congratulate Anna Boyiazis! More photos of her can be found on the website of World Press Photo Award.

Fairy tale of the month


Find more on Zanzibar

Preview: Visit us again, in June we will report about the Day of the African Child.