Decades of Women

Strengthening Gender Equity in Agriculture

– a case study of gender and organic cocoa in Kyela

The informal slogan of the international Decade of Women (1976-1985) became “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work, receive 10 percent of the world’s income and own 1 percent of the means of production.” Twenty-five years on, as the African Union launches the African Women’s Decade (2010-2020), it would seem that here in Tanzania little has changed.

About two hours drive south of Mbeya, on the shores of Lake Nyasa, Kyela is famous for its high quality rice and organic cocoa. Around three quarters of Kyela’s 120,000 farmers grow cocoa, first introduced by Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah as a legacy of his friendship with Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement was asked to prepare a case study of the impact of certification on gender relations in Kyela by Development Partner HIVOS as part of the international Gender and Global Standards Initiative. This aims to ensure that men and women receive a fair share of benefits related to their contributions in production, harvest and processing.

Women work more than men but are paid less
We found that in Kyela women typically work 3 hours per day longer than men. As well as working on the farm they also have to clean, cook, and look after the children. But it is the men who sell the cocoa beans and have the final say on how the money is spent. Luckily, since the cocoa has gained organic certification, farmers’ incomes have increased significantly (from around TSh300/kg to TSh2,800/kg) which has benefitted both men and women across the whole community. Many families now have brick houses with iron roofs, and better access to education and healthcare. Some even have satellite TV and access to solar electricity.

One male cocoa farmer told us “Money was so little I was not bothering to show the money to my wife nor inform her on how I spend it; the little which I was receiving I used it for drinking pombe. But nowadays we are deciding together and we discuss on how to spend our income as a family.”

The problems start when men fail to share the money or involve women in decision-making. One woman confided, “Women harvest the unripe cocoa and sell it raw and unfermented to the middlemen (mjemuka) in order to get money for the upkeep of the family. They sell it to the middlemen at low prices because selling to the registered companies she can be noticed by her husband.”

Family disputes over cocoa income can spark gender-based violence. We heard that sometimes if a wife tries to ask her husband about the money he received from selling the cocoa, she could be threatened or beaten if she persists.

But when women are fully involved, not just in production but also in training, and decision making, then quality and productivity increases, maximising incomes and benefit to the whole family. Certification has added some extra workload but women say the additional family benefits far outweigh the extra effort.

Women own very little land and property
Certification has had no impact on gender equity in land ownership. Women rarely own land as ownership passes from father to son. However, as a result of increased incomes, you can see many Kyela women now riding bicycles, and chatting on mobile phones.

Certification can help women
We found that different types of certification have very different impacts on gender relations. While we saw very little impact as a result of ‘organic’ certification on its own, we noticed considerable impact as a result of additional ‘fair trade’ certification. As a fairly-traded cocoa manager candidly told us, “We are forced to do so by the standard.” His company is making considerable efforts to address gender inequality, employing more women, and insisting that women farmers get training as well as men. The experience has taught him lessons, as he explained, “Women don’t think they can do things but they are good workers, careful. Other employers may think they are unreliable.”

The call to action

It makes good economic sense to ensure women are fully included. Meticulous, responsible, and quick to learn, women farmers are strongly motivated to work for the benefit of their families. Harness that motivation and you capture major improvements to productivity, quality, and income.

A female farmer suggested “Awareness has to be created for people to realize that both of them, men and women, contribute to producing cocoa and thus equal ownership of cocoa and an equal say on spending money earned is essential.”

Launching the African Women’s Decade, Songea born United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said, “Empowering women is a moral imperative, a question of fundamental rights. It is also sound policy. Investing in women and girls is one of the greatest investments we can make. We must ensure that rural women can access the legal, financial and technological tools they need to progress from subsistence agriculture to productive agriculture. Let us accept in our minds, and in our laws, that women are rightful and equal partners – to be protected, to be respected, and to be heard.”

(The Gender and Global Standards Initiative is undertaken by four organizations in the Netherlands: Hivos, Oxfam Novib, Solidaridad and the Royal Tropical Institute.)

Kolo Rock Art

Had a day off (Eid) from baseline survey work in Kondoa, so went to see these 6,000 year old rock paintings, after a trek up a rocky hillside to reach the three sites, originally catalogued by the Leakeys back in the 50s. You can tell which ones are male by the dreadlocks. And it would appear that 6,000 years ago zebra, giraffe, elephant, and eland looked much the same as they do now.

Women

The round thing is the sun apparently

Eland and maybe a trap.

Guys with dreads

Zebra

Abdi with giraffe, animal skin, and oddly positioned men

Some sort of antelope – eland maybe.

The GMO thing

GENETIC MODIFICATION SPREADS TO TANZANIA

Previously officially GM free, Tanzania has now opened the door to GM biotechnology. Research on GM cassava and field trials of GM maize have already started, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Biosafety regulations and guidelines have been approved and legislation is being fast-tracked to pave the way for testing and commercialisation.

US Political Science Professor Robert Paarlberg, author of ‘Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa, is supporting the GM drive. Paarlberg, described by Internet sources as an advisor to the CEO of Monsanto and a GM industry lobbyist, extols the virtues of GMOs, citing improved productivity of Bt cotton in India. According to Paarlberg, Africa is denied access to biotechnology that could boost production, reduce hunger and improve incomes of small farmers. He claims that no new risks have been documented so far, and insists that liability laws in Tanzania should be tailored to ensure clear cause-effect in cases of litigation, thereby avoiding “vague” accusations against GM companies.

He argues that GM crops must play the central role in solving Africa’s hunger and poverty and that, through inadequate investment, external lobbying and stringent regulations, Africa’s farmers are being deprived of the technology and prevented from achieving agricultural success.

Ian Scoones, co-director of the ESRC STEPS Centre and Dominic Glover of the Technology and Agrarian Development Group at Wageningen University agree that Africa needs investment in agricultural research and technology development but do not share Paarlberg’s insistence that GM is the answer. “Starved for Science summarily dismisses a slew of other scientifically-validated approaches to agriculture, including low-external input approaches, integrated pest and soil fertility management and even other types of biotechnology. This is entirely unjustified. Much solid scientific research demonstrates that such approaches have performed well in African contexts – sometimes better than higher-tech, higher-cost technologies.”

http://www.steps-centre.org/PDFs/GM%20crops%20in%20Africa%20(aug%204).pdf

Meanwhile, the World Agriculture Report (IAASTD) 2009, developed by 400 scientists and endorsed by 61 governments including Tanzania, is a call for governments and international agencies to redirect and increase their funding towards a revolution in agriculture that is firmly agro-ecological. The core message of the final IAASTD report is the urgent need to move away from destructive and chemical-dependent industrial agriculture and to adopt environmental modern farming methods that champion biodiversity and benefit local communities. More and better food can be produced without destroying rural livelihoods or our natural resources. Local, socially and environmentally responsible methods are the solution. The IAASTD concluded that such techniques as genetic engineering are no solution for soaring food prices, hunger and poverty.

“Genetic engineering is considered by some to have important ramifications for productivity but some of its uses and impacts are hotly contested. Contamination of farmer-saved seed and threats to biodiversity in centers of origin are key concerns with respect to biotechnology and genetic engineering in particular. The environmental risks and evidence of negative health impacts mean that SSA’s ability to make informed decisions regarding biotechnology research, development, delivery and application is critical. In part, the current limited capacity of individual countries to address risk assessment and management of transgenics is being addressed through regional capacity building and harmonization of guidelines, policies, legislation and creating an understanding of biosafety issues” (IAASTD Sub Saharan Africa Summary for Decision Makers).

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/genetic-engineering-not-a-prio/

Genetic engineering and the use of GMOs are clearly not compatible with the principles and practices of sustainable agriculture, and evidence shows it to be of little benefit to poor farmers because: the productivity gains are poor compared to conventional methods; it increases the use of toxic chemical pesticides; it’s expensive, requiring costly inputs; it reduces biodiversity, increases the dependency of farmers upon agribusiness, and may pose unknown health risks, while diverting resources (people/time/money) away from the real and clearly expressed needs of small farmers.

http://www.ifoam.org/press/positions/Biosafety_Protocol_Submission.html

http://www.bma.org.uk/images/GM_tcm41-20804.pdf

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/GMCIPU.php

http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20090810/fp1

GM’s impact on small farmers in India hit the headlines in the UK’s Daily Mail: “Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead. Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts – and no income. So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html

Research at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) reports that ‘the maximum gains from genetic modification are small, much lower than with either conventional breeding or agroecology-based techniques. The heavy publicity may be due to the politicized international debates about genetically engineered crops. In particular, biotechnology firms have been eager to use philanthropic African projects for public relations purposes. Such public legitimacy may be needed by companies in their attempts to reduce trade restrictions, biosafety controls, and monopoly regulations.’ http://allafrica.com/download/resource/main/main/idatcs/00010161:79c889d407e1685067f8869a403d79e7.pdf

Global corporate dominance is rarely achieved by placing ethics above profits. As the world leader in GM biotechnology sales, few will be surprised at Monsanto’s aggressive GM stance, but what are we supposed to make of the ‘philanthropic’ Gates Foundation buying 500,000 shares in Monsanto, having head hunted two of its top lieutenants to join the Foundation, then agreed a $6.7m grant to develop GM biotechnology in East Africa, and commissioned GM advocate Paarlberg to carry out major studies in eastern and southern Africa – on the politics of accepting biofortified food crops in developing countries? http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/1-news-items/12442-gates-foundation-ties-with-monsanto-under-fire http://www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Profile/mr/rpaarlberg.html

It’s no longer just about biotechnology development; it’s now also about oiling the African political machinery, as the Gates Foundation’s $5.4m grant to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center reveals. According to Truth about Trade, a pro GM lobby group: “The funding will help the center secure the approval of African governments to allow field testing of genetically modified banana, rice, sorghum and cassava plants that have been fortified with vitamins, minerals and proteins.” http://www.truthabouttrade.org/content/view/13106/54/

It is perhaps predictable that these particular US based donors and biotech corporations are selling a top-down technical fix for African poverty. But surely by now it must be clear that poverty is multiple, with interconnected issues of health, education, income, governance, conflict, land-use, climate change, access to water, credit, markets, roads, electricity, and services. And that Tanzania’s small farmers need several of these issues to be resolved before they and their families can escape from food insecurity. It should be clear that the GM industry may have made life easier and more profitable for some large scale animal feed producers in industrialized countries, but has yet to understand let alone effectively address the needs of smallholder farmers in developing countries.

And that high tech seeds requiring expensive chemical inputs are not going to be much use to the millions (80% of Tanzania’s 42m population is dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods) of extremely poor risk-averse small farmers, male and female, who are currently trying to feed and support their families by working two or three acres of rain-fed land with a hand hoe. Yes, they need improved seeds and technology, but it’s got to build on their farming system, not replace it. They will welcome high yielding and resistant varieties, but only if they can afford to buy and grow them, and only if they are tasty enough to eat and to sell.

Meanwhile Tanzania’s estimated 100,000 certified organic farmers will be waking up to two new challenges: protecting their crops from GM contamination… then proving it!

NaneNane – Tanzania Farmers Exhibition

Spent a long week at the annual farmers show in Dodoma (officially the capital of Tanzania but you’d have to know that – we think it may be the only capital in the world that has no scheduled flights and no traffic lights, although it does have the nation’s largest and possibly only psychiatric hospital – until recently the only such facility catering for three neighbouring countries -Hmm there’s an export niche market for you.)

Anyway NaneNane is Swahili for 8/8 as the eighth of August marks the big finale day. This year the theme was ‘Kilimo Kwanza’ – or ‘Agriculture First’ – the government’s big push for a green revolution to increase agricultural productivity, ensure food security and raise farmers’ incomes.

Our Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement display was one of the few stalls staffed by folk who didnt have Kilimo Kwanza on their tee shirts. Instead we had KilimoHai – living agriculture – Swahili shorthand for organic agriculture. Which meant we were a little off-message. Unfortunately the issue for us is that while we are happy to see increased focus, support and investment in agriculture, and improved livelihoods for small farmers, one of the main planks of government’s Kilimo Kwanza is a massive increase in the use of agro-chemicals, fertiliser and pesticides, whereas we of course are promoting sustainable methods without the nasty chemicals. We do however agree on a lot of points including the need for more seeds to satisfy farmer demand. Again the govt take on this is to encourage the big multinational agribusiness companies to come in and  provide the seed multiplication services, whereas we would like to see more farmer driven local research and seed production.

Anyway we saw lots of interesting demonstration plots, quirky ideas, and interesting faces.


The bad patch.

Not sure why I’ve been off the blog for so long. I think I’ve been going through a bad patch, feeling bad about myself, feeling sluggish, a bit fluey/queasy, a bit scared, a bit lonely, and so – in a Men are from Mars kind of way – I tend to retreat, to go into my cave. Its not over yet but at least I’m recognising it. Thinking about it – my usual coping strategies are missing. In UK I had put together a package of support systems to deal with shit. I was going to the gym 3-4 times a week, ashtanga yoga once a week, rock climbing on Friday nights, running, not drinking, shopping at Unicorn (Manchester’s amazing organic everything shop), a fair few buddies, and regular counselling sessions (Reevaluation Counselling or ‘co-counselling’ where you exchange time with other co-counsellors, switching between being counsellor and client at half time) plus the odd yoga holiday (Ibiza yoga) or sport climbing in El Chorro or the Costa Blanca.

Here my main exercise is drinking beer! And to be fair its got me through some tough times, but I guess its not that sustainable as a coping mechanism. And everyone is leaving. I get to know people, become mates with them, then they up sticks and fuck off somewhere else. It feels like a losing battle just trying to keep a few mates around. And money is an issue. I’m not quite sure whether I have enough money or not – which is a bit of a worry.  Living in Dar has its pros and cons, lots of stuff to do but obviously the most expensive place to be in Tz. And why do people keep looking at me? You get used to it but jeesus it pisses me off sometimes. I mean if you went around a city in the UK staring at black people, theres a fair chance you’d get your lights punched out.

I really need to do something about it – my lifestyle I mean. I’ve just started to do an ashtanga self practice at home at the weekend – about an hour working up a sweat – which is good. And I need to either quit drinking or ease off a fair bit. That World Cup bollocks didn’t help. The evening games started at 9:30pm local time, and I don’t have a TV so I had to watch in the pub, which makes for a long day and a lot of beer drinking. I could really use some co-counselling to keep me sane, but cant find anyone locally, and internet access for skypeing has been prohibitively expensive, although today I spotted that the favourite internet provider had seriously reduced their prices. So I’ll have some of that. And I need to get some new mates who are going to be around for a while. I should make a list.

  • get my own internet access and sort some counselling sessions
  • ashtanga at least once a week
  • go for a run once in a while
  • make my home more comfortable to hang out in
  • ease off on the beer / quit (yikes!)
  • find some mates who are going to be around a while

Right – thats what I’ll do then!

Car Jacking in Dar.

I was hoping I’d got to the end of the recent spate of lawlessness when the laptop that was sneak-theived from our 8th floor office was recovered after the thief got scared and dumped it in the mens loo two floors down the stairs. Probably worried he would get beaten to the ground floor by pursuers in the lift, arrested or possibly worse. However, that evening I’m driving home, waiting in a queue at the traffic lights at a major intersection, when an oldish white saloon car came past me in the right turn filter lane, and stopped alongside a smart silver new-looking 4wd Rav4. Three guys jump out and attack the Rav, surrounding it, trying to get in, shouting and intimidating the driver, then I see the flash and hear the explosion, cant work out if its gunfire, then another, sounds almost too loud and too bright for gunfire, maybe it’s dynamite or a really big firework. Can’t workout if they are shooting, or trying to blow the locked door open, or just intimidate the driver into submission. Everyone around is beeping their horns to get the cars in front to run the red light and get the hell out of there. The cars scatter. I’ve no idea whether its green or not but I stamp on the gas and cross two lanes to turn left – just trying to get as far away as quickly as possible, my heart pounding. I see the Rav speeding off, and the would-be car jackers scrambling to get back into their car and get away / give chase.

Now I realise why cars rarely stop at red traffic late lights at night in Dar, but rather keep going, albeit tentatively, beeping to warn cross traffic as they go. It seemed like a crazy risk to take but now I understand its maybe the lesser of two evils. Risk a car crash or a car jacking? Hmmm – not sure.

Kitimoto

Kitimoto is a Tanzanian national treasure, easily missed and rarely covered in the guide books. You probably need someone local to introduce you to the concept, as its found at small kitchens attached to local outdoor bars.  Vegetarians should look away now. On paper – it should be disgusting but its really delicious. They chop pork into bite sized pieces (some lean, some very fatty) then deep fry it in pork fat. Serve with deep fried banana/plantain, chopped chillies and salt on the side and a cachumbari salad of onions, tomatoes and cucumber. Ideally order in advance – say half an hour or so, by the kilo – say half a kilo per person. Yummy.

Kitimoto

The day job.

Just in case you thought that all I do is go to the beach / get mugged, here are a few words about my day job.   I work for TOAM, the Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement, an NGO which was set up in 2005 as the national umbrella body for organics. Now organics in the UK is a bit middle class guardian reader tofu burgers and muesli. Here it’s very different. Its not about ‘the good life’ or middle class mums (justifiably) feeling good about providing their families with a nutritious healthy diet and saving the world from eco-meltdown. And its not about flying food that you can grow in your garden half way round the world.

The point is that about two thirds of the world’s ‘bottom billion’ are small farmers, mostly subsistence farmers, who eat what they grow and rarely have enough food to get by on let alone surplus to sell. As such they are therefore pretty much excluded from the benefits of having cash in their pockets to pay for stuff like education, health, and the things we in the ‘developed’ world take for granted. This includes the inability to pay for agricultural inputs – like fertiliser, seeds, pesticides, herbicides – the upside of which is that very many small farmers are ‘by default’ practising sustainable / organic agricultural production methods. And bear in mind that around 80% of the 40 odd million Tanzanians are dependent upon agriculture for their livelihoods. So here in Tanzania, agriculture is the biggest sector of the economy, and as such presents the greatest opportunity for economic development  – with the potential to lift millions out of the poverty they currently experience.

<Tanzania is an LDC (a ‘least developed country’) and officially referred to as ‘desperately’ poor. Recent statistics indicate that over 58 percent of the population lives on less than $1 per day. More than 40 percent of the population lives in chronic food-deficit regions where irregular rainfall due to climate change causes recurring food shortages.  A quarter of households are female headed and women account for 70% of the agricultural workforce. With an estimated 1.4 million people already living with HIV/AIDS, the epidemic is exacerbating the country’s poverty, reducing agricultural productivity and the availability of farm labour.>

So what can we do about it?  Well – the main issues for the sector are that the farmers need support to increase their agricultural production, get organic certification, and then to get their produce to market (local and abroad), and generate some income.  TOAM is a membership organisation (89 members – NGOs, Farmers associations, Food processors, Exporters, Service providers), and works in a number of ways to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. This includes raising public / consumer awareness of the benefits of organics, capacity building trainers, extension staff and facilitators to go out and support the farmers, organizing training courses on organic agriculture, organic certification and value chain development, providing information, lobbying and advocacy, linking and networking, and developing a stronger voice nationally to support organic farming.

My role since I’ve been here has been largely confined to fundraising, writing concept notes / funding bids for international aid agencies, so that we will have the wherewithal to get out and support farmers and their families. I’ve led on about 5 bids so far (I’m losing track) in collaboration with colleagues, and we got the first response on Thursday. A Dutch NGO has agreed a contract with us for 240,000 euros (or 432 million Tz shillings!) to deliver 3 years work to support 8300 farmers to grow and sell organic ginger, sesame, and hibiscus. So hopefully I’ll be getting out of the office and seeing some more of this country and getting a bit closer to the business of international development. Fingers crossed for the other bids.

ps. apparently the next big cross cutting issue / focus of international development funding (HIV/AIDS was the last one) is going to be for climate change work (both for ‘mitigation’, i.e. carbon reduction,  and ‘adaptation’ i.e. living with it). The bad news is that while Africa has had precious little to do with creating the problem, it stands to be hardest hit by the effects – e.g. floods and drought, because of the dependence on agriculture (rather than say financial services or manufacturing), and because of the poor infrastructure (e.g. flood defences are virtually nil). The good news is that organic / sustainable farming is well positioned to respond to climate change issues like soil fertility and water conservation, and that there are 100,000 certified organic farmers already in Tanzania!

A smallholder farmer in Kilimanjaro

The Zanzibar trip

What a joy Zanzibar is!

Particularly after several weeks in this grimy city. Zanzibar – aka the Spice Islands – is a 2 hour boat ride away from Dar es Salaam, perfect for a long weekend.

Zanzibar dhow at sunset

The Zanzibar boat ticket business can be a bit of a pain. Admittedly I was trying to explain to a bunch of ticket touts, while they were busy jostling me and trying to get me into their ‘offices’, that my choice of boat was dependent upon two criteria. On the one hand I wanted to go on a slower boat than the Sea Bus which I had been told was really over-airconditioned and liable to catch ones death, erroneously as it turned out, but definitely not the slowest boat (the Flying Horse) as that takes for ever. On the other hand I wanted to go on a boat that was leaving soonish, which was the more essential criteria. Surprisingly I kind of got what I wanted – although on the return leg I reverted to the swish fast boat which I now officially recommend as by far the best way to go ( Sea Bus I and II, and the new MV Kilimanjaro – http://www.azam-marine.com/ ). The slower boats seem to have a lot of pushing and shoving going on – a bit like the maritime equivalent of a daladala. And Azam Marine has a very plush aircon ticket office/waiting room complete with pump-action-shotgun-toting security on the door, no touts, wide screen European footie, and occasionally free chips and ice cream (really!).

At least they have on the Dar side; in Zanzibar they have a perspex hole in a wall!

MV Kilimanjaro - the favourite. If only they ran the city buses...

Dead quick - but the sound of people chucking up was a bit off-putting.

I did make a mental note that it’s best not to leave ticket buying to the last minute, particularly on the return trip, as you may well get on the boat but with considerably higher stress levels than you might experience otherwise, and probably very little choice of where to sit. In fact if you play your cards right you can smugly watch others get stressed out while you relax in the comfort of your seat on the shady side of the upper deck.

Another tip I discovered the hard way: Zanzibar is north of Dar so the POSH rule is reversed. (OK – brief etymological excursion for those whose first language is not English – and possibly then some: I’m told that the origin of the word ‘posh’ is that colonial british families used to travel to the various bits of the empire by boat, and that the most sought after cabins were on the port side on the outward journey heading south, and the starboard side on the northbound return leg, thereby avoiding the afternoon sun, hence ‘posh’- port out starboard home.

So to Zanzibar.

Stone Town seafront

Got off the boat at Stone Town, evaded the hard-sell taxi drivers, and hit the first watering hole by the port – Mercury’s Bar – named after Freddie who was actually born in Zanzibar. (Remember that for the pub quiz).

Mercury's bar - nice place to chill after a ferry ride.

Becky – a fellow Skillshare International volunteer of 2 years experience – had recommended a couple of hotels so I headed for the upmarket of the two – the Shangari – stopping to have a quick look through Zanzibar’s cutely named House of Wonders museum, which doubled as the colonial HQ under both the Brits and the Germans.

The House of Wonders - formerly the colonial state house.

Inside the House of Wonders

Then on into town, booking a morning minibus ride to the north of the island at one of the more authentic looking Tourist Informations on the way. Checked in to the hotel, shower, change then out to the fabulously colonial New Africa House Hotel sunset balcony bar.

Sundowners at the New Africa House Hotel

Back to the seafront for some seafood – bit touristy but its gotta be done. The ‘Zanzibar pizza’ is a must.

Stone Town seafront - You pick your fish and they BBQ it.

Up to Kendwa next morning – really chilled out beach scene at the north of the island – gorgeous white sand beach, four poster carved Zanzibari beds, hammocks, string sunbeds, full moon parties, dive centre, pretty fishes, coral reefs.

Kendwa beach

And the swimming with dolphins. We’re coming back in the rib (inflatable boat with two 85hp outboards) from a very long dive (my 74th dive, 74 minutes) and we spotted a big pod of dolphins so we scooted over to them to have a closer look. The dive master said go for it – mask, fins, jump in – so we did. I reckon I got closest – to the point where I could see, underwater, four dolphins broadside-on, all in a diagonal synchronised pattern about ten metres away. We swam back to the boat and headed back to land when two of the dolphins joined us and surfed along at the front of the boat – hopping back and fore from one side of the bow to the other, obviously having great fun – just a few feet away. Anthropomorphism notwithstanding, I did get the feeling that there was at least a recognition of my cack-handed attempts to communicate (squeakily rubbing the side of the boat / making absurd chirping noises under the water).

Scuba Do dive centre - nice people, good diving.

‘Sunset cruise’ on a dhow. Very relaxing once you get used to the slow pace. And they provide a cool box with ice for your beers.

Check the mobile phone

And all too soon its time to go home, and check the calendar for public holidays.

Sunset at Kendwa