May 6, 2021
1 Min. Read

Two sides of a coin

Episodes from planet Fumba

Narrated by the very people who live and work there

I learned something new today. I was walking around the Kwetu Kwenu Farmer’s Market when I saw a table that was selling coins that could be worn as jewelry. I had been in the search for a nice neck piece. They had coins from as many countries, continents and time periods as you can possibly imagine. The vendor knew the history of each and every coin. The one that stuck out to me, was the “Heller”. This coin was introduced to Tanzania by the Germans in 1904 during their colonial rule.

The reason its history stood out for me is because I had always assumed that the word “hela” that we use to refer to money had its origins in the Swahili language. Little did I know that the word came from a time when my people were colonised and oppressed. 

I am fascinated with the history of language, especially the history of words that we have re-modified and call our own. It is interesting to note that a significant amount of words that we use in our day-to-day language originates from another political era all together. 

As I bought my neck piece and continued to walk around the market, I wondered whether a coin introduced by an oppressive power should be given value by using it as a jewelry piece today? Or is it the other way around? Could I, by adopting it alter its meaning connecting it to my own interpretation of history? 


Related Articles

March 31, 2021
3 mins.

Two Fumbas - One Idea

Find out all about new exciting seaside developments just outside Zanzibar city It’s all happening on the Fumba peninsula: Two major real estate developments creating modern living space with holiday flats and permanent family homes near the overcrowded capital. By ANDREA TAPPER Both aspiring seaside communities, started in 2015/16, fascinate locals as well as a […]
read more
July 15, 2024
2 mins.


A-Z protection guide: what fish may I eat? Some of Zanzibar’s most delicious dishes include seafood – hardly a surprise on an island. But certain fish species are under threat, even here. Chumbe Island, Zanzibar’s greenest holiday spot, has come up with a practical household seafood guide. Fish burger with ginger and sesame seeds? Warm-crusted […]
read more
July 9, 2024
3 mins.


New series: Living with kids in Zanzibar Does one have to come to Africa to find intact schools? Started by parents, a small coastal school in Jambiani sets new standards. Eight-thirty sharp, and school starts with a school assembly and joint singing. Quietly the kids have come in, each and every one washing their hands […]
read more
July 4, 2024
2 mins.


The first homeowners to receive residencies in Zanzibar. Joy and relief were expressed when the first foreign homeowners were granted legal resident status in May in Zanzibar. All four are Dutch nationals and have bought the property in Fumba Town, the growing eco-city near the capital. The new residence status is granted with an investment […]
read more

Are you looking for a property in Zanzibar?

25 essential questions and answers to buy property in Zanzibar

Whatsapp Us