Seaweed activity in Zanzibar Island is a current practice that gives coastal women a way to get an extra income for themselves and their families. As observed in Msuya 2012, this occupation is also a well-established kind of activity in the Island, providing raw material for food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and textile industries, that, among others, use seaweed extracts for making their products.
Anyway, condition of working of women, even respect their main role in the traditional (or extended) families of belonging, exposed them to some health and home hazards, facing hard risks during long work sessions and then and also creating disruptions in their family lives, impacting relationship with husbands, childcare, and community activities (Msuya 2012).
In my short reportage, I tried to observe some instants and moments of women’s work in the sea, while they were collecting seaweed, separating good (for farming) from unwanted ones. The hard conditions of working (especially during African summer, with hot weather and high sea temperature) never hurt their smile and their will to make even those hard time as a community shared moment of true life. They always dress the traditional “kanga”, that, more than a simple and nice-to-look coloured dress, is a real way of communication between wives and husbands, as a sort of complementary semantic of everyday family living.
Msuya, F.E., 2001, A Study of Working Conditions in the Zanzibar Seaweed Farming Industry, available at http://www.wiego.org/sites/default/files/publications/files/Msuya-Zanzibar-Seaweed-Farming-OHS-2012.pdf