The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Four — Zanzibar, Tanzania, Carolyn Cornelius
My name is Carolyn Cornelius and I am in my senior year as a nursing student at The College of St. Scholastica. This summer I was given the incredible opportunity to travel to Tanzania in East-Central Africa. The school’s monastery has a sister monastery there. One of the nursing instructors, Sister Beverly, has made seven trips to St. Agnes monastery in Tanzania each time with a group of college students. Our purpose was to both serve and learn. We worked in their primary and secondary schools, orphanage, kitchen and dispensary and learned a great deal from their incredible hearts and culture. We spent two weeks of the trip at the monastery and two weeks traveling around Tanzania. We visited Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar, Mount Kilimanjaro, Moshi, and enjoyed safaris in Tarangire National Park, the Serengeti, and Ngorongoro Crater. Wow! What an experience. Here are a few days in my life in Africa.
July 4, 2013
Today we spent in Stone Town, Zanzibar. To get here a ferry needs to be taken from Dar Es Salaam that rides waves across the Indian ocean for about two hours. Zanzibar had been the hub of slavery for Arab countries in the 19th and even illegally into the 20th century. Arabic influence is still very obvious in the city. It is somewhere around a 98% Muslim population and displays a beautiful, intricately detailed, white building that used to function as their Sultan’s palace. The door on the palace is extremely large as the size of doors were a sign of wealth and therefore, in the city, it was law that no door exceeded the size of the Sultan’s. Looking at the size of it, I presume that was a pretty easy law to abide by. There was a catholic church in Stone Town that was the start of tours focused on the slave trade. Anglican Cathedral was built after slave trade was outlawed atop the site where the slave market had taken place. The intention was to offer a place for freed slaves. The altar took the place of the whipping tree, the place where the strength of slaves was shown by whipping them. If they didn’t cry, prices went up. Inside the cathedral is a small cross made of wood with the figure of Jesus on it. The cross is made from the tree under which Dr. Livingstone’s heart lies in Zambia, Africa. Dr. Livingstone is regarded as a hero throughout Tanzania and was always spoken of with honor and respect. He was a Christian missionary from the UK, but his legacy was left in his determination to help end slave trade. Our tour guide was a marvelous teacher who spoke very well of such a dark, dark history. He told us that men, women and children were captured only on the interior of Africa, never on Zanzibar itself, chained by the neck and walked, sometimes hundreds of miles. Many people were left for dead along the way. Bagamoyo was a holding port for those so brutally captured and then they were brought to the island of Zanzibar. Zanzibar was easily accessible by sea to Arab countries. The people were stuffed into holding cells until the day of the market. We went into the cells, which had low ceilings, were nearly completely below ground, and separated into two sides, one for women and children and the other for men. The one we went into was near a river that used to rise (I assume with the tide). Water would wash into a small window on one side, rush across the holding cells and out another small window. This mechanism was used to wash the waste of the many people piled upon concrete ledges. On market day, those so recently stripped of all their freedoms, their home and family, were sold as slaves. I asked our tour guide how the relationship between native Africans and Arabs was today. He looked at me and told me he was native and his wife was Arabic and that love and respect is the relationship today. It was a very humbling thing to hear. That was something I noticed throughout Tanzania. There could be a Muslim woman dressed in her burka standing next to a Christian nun standing next to a Maasai woman standing next to a “new age” college woman dressed in jeans with braided hair and there would be no sign of judgment of one another or focus on their differences. All seemed to respect the other completely. Tanzania is a wonderful place.
For all of the North Star Project 2013-2014 Reports, see https://mgjnorthstarproject.wordpress.com/
For all of the North Star Project 2013 Summer Reports, see http://www2.css.edu/app/depts/HIS/historyjournal/index.cfm?cat=10
The North Star Project: Collaboration between The Middle Ground Journal Student Interns, The College of St. Scholastica, and North Star Academy 8th Grade Global Studies Classes, 2013-2014 School Year Reports.
Under the leadership of our North Star host teachers and student interns, The North Star Project has flourished for two years. For a brief summary, please see a recent article in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at:
Having re-tooled and re-designed the collaborative program, we are drawing on the experience of our veteran student interns, ideas from our host teachers, and new projects provided by our incoming student interns. This school year The Middle Ground Journal will share brief dispatches from our North Star Project student interns, particularly from those who are currently stationed, or will soon be stationed abroad. As of the time of this report we have confirmed student interns who will be reporting from Mongolia, Southern China, Shanghai, northeastern China, The Netherlands, Tanzania, Ireland, England, Finland, Russia, and Haiti. We also have students developing presentations on theatrical representations of historical trauma, historical memory, the price individuals pay during tragic global conflicts, and different perceptions of current events from around the world. We will post their brief dispatches here, and report on their interactions with the North Star students and teachers throughout the school year.
Hong-Ming Liang, Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN, USA, 2013-2014 School Year
(c) 2013 The Middle Ground Journal, Number 7, Fall, 2013. See Submission Guidelines page for the journal’s not-for-profit educational open-access policy.
8 responses to “The North Star Project, 2013-2014 Report Number Four — Zanzibar, Tanzania, Carolyn Cornelius”
Respect is everything. It is very sad to remember that there are many people who still do not respect others. I honestly do not understand people who are incapable to respect. If we all accepted each other for who we are the world would be a much better place.
Thank you for writing this piece, I really enjoyed it. I think it is both interesting and wonderful that even with such negative history both cultures have learned to respect eachother. I am also glad to know that despite such a negative history, they still teach and capture the history through art. It seems that so many people want to push the dark times under the rug but when something is so deeply rooted in your culture, good or bad, it should be celebrated.
I wonder if there is a correct balance between moving past a country’s flawed past and reminding people of it. It seems like the United States has attempted to forget its role in the slave trade, Native American genocide, and unjust international conflicts. When attempts are made in teaching people a nation’s troubled history, who creates the teaching materials? I imagine there would be a large difference in material if the oppressed created it than if the oppressor created it.
I think it is interesting in the symbolism that people keep in mind when they are building things. It is amazing to me that amount that we in the church. It shows how careful people are and how meaningful a building can be. After learning these little things the building becomes that much more special.
Sounds like a really eventful trip! I thought the law about the door sizes was pretty interesting. Also, there seems to be a lot of symbolism that people follow in the places you were. I wonder why it’s so important to them? Great pictures too, thanks for sharing!
I thought this was a beautiful article to read because you talked about the beauty of Tanzania, but also the hardships faced by so many due to the slavery here. My favorite thing about this piece was the remark made by the tour guide when he said that the key to his relationship was love and respect. It’s amazing when people can but aside their differences in order to come closer together in unity.
it’s interesting that the city of Zanzibar is overwhelming Muslim, when the Muslim/Arabic countries of Africa are mostly located in the northern part of the continent. It’s also great to hear that even with the profound suffering of the Tanzanians, they did not hold a grudge against the Arabians. They are a great example of how humans should be able to coexist in peace.
Really beautiful pictures! it was nice to see how you talked about how beautiful Tanzania is, but also how you talked about their past and their history. It really shows that you learned a lot from this great experience.