What’s new at the M.A.D. project?

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We are back (to Denmark) from our two months trip in East Africa (Zanzibar and Comoro Islands).

It has been long time we wanted to go to explore places and people in Africa and hoped to go far beyond the single story. The idea of this project would be to show an other side of the African reality, a more positive image of the continent by documenting beautiful architectures, inspiring personalities and stories, progress, development, arts, cultures etc.

Due to limited funds and time, we knew we have to focus on a small territory. We first landed in Dar Es Salaam where we stayed for few days before taking the boat to Zanzibar. After having enjoyed the white sand of the beaches of the Indian Ocean, we started our little research in Stone town, the center of Zanzibar. As soon as we stepped in, we knew right away the focus of our documentation: the Swahili culture. It is an incredible mix of cultures from all around the world – Africa, Arab peninsula, India and even Indonesia, Europe and China. It is like a miniature model of the diverse world (minus armed conflicts, ethnic tensions and racism). It is one feet in modernity, while other is still kept within cloves scented pages of history.

We thought that this could be a good stereotypes breaker since we have the tendency to think that Africa is a monolithic block that is lacking diversity in its population, architecture, nature, geography etc. So, for days, we have been walking through the narrow streets of the old town, taking photos of its stunning architecture, its multi-racial faces, its historical, artistic and cultural heritage.

Unfortunately our time was limited so we could not carry on by meeting scholars, architects, artists and other professionals like we did for the first project. But we definitely put Zanzibar on our M.A.D. map and hope to go back there soon enough to explore more.

After two weeks in enchanting Zanzibar and with no clue of what to expect we moved on to Comoro islands.

Comorian ladiesWe already knew that our main focus will be the Aanda (the Great Wedding), but we did not expect THAT! We learned that the Comorian wedding is much more than a union between a man and a woman or between two families. For having lost their power and dignity under French colonization, the Comorian wedding developed in a way that it became a social and economic system that restores the pride and honor of Comorian people. We were even told by a Comorian scholar that “without the Aanda, there would be anarchy in Comoros”. In other words the Aanda is also an alternative political system that regulates the Comorian society. This is one example that shows how Africans are creative not only artistically but also economically and politically. They just don’t wait that things happen. In Africa millions of people take their destiny in their own hands despite all efforts made nationally and internationally to keep them under control. Of course, later on, we will share much more about the Comorian society and traditions.

So yes, we are back and eager to bring you all the interesting stories kept in our minds, notebooks, computers and storage disks. Keep with us!

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