MAFIA ISLAND TANZANIA image branding - people of Mafia Island

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Bweni village 1985-2010

Bweni is the northernmost village of Mafia and is smaller in size than Kanga. Its lies right on the sea shore and its houses are closely packed together. Although the residents practice agriculture, as do people in Kanga, they own less land and depend more upon fishing, from which they have benefitted over the period I have been carrying out research. Bweni fishermen began to buy outboard motors and refrigerated boxes for transporting their catches to Dar before their colleagues in Kanga. They were ahead of the people of Kanga too in purchasing corrugated iron (bati) for the roofs of their houses, indicative of their greater wealth. In the early days after independence in the 1960s, they also engaged very actively with TANU politics. Although on each of my fieldtrips I have visited Bweni regularly, I have photographs only from 1985 and 2010.

By the time of the latter visit, Bweni had a number of brick-built houses, a large brick-built mosque and a madrasa, as well as a new secondary school. The last was particularly large, well-built and well equipped, by comparison with other secondary schools on the island, thanks to funding coming not only from the government but from donors in the Middle East.