Tourists have only been visiting Zanzibar since the late 1980s, but today, they already represent the biggest source of income for the archipelago located off the coast of Tanzania. Over 200,000 of them landed on the islands of Zanzibar last year—a 14% increase from 2013. The tourism board expects that number to grow exponentially as more and more people hear about its pristine sandy beaches and vibrant aquatic life. But New York-based French photographer Ania Gruca was interested in Zanzibar’s other face. “When I saw the Zanzibar that was sold to tourists, I asked myself how people lived in such a place,” she says. “What is the real Zanzibari identity outside of the tourist package?” Fascinated by the remoteness of the semi-autonomous territory, she embarked on a longterm project that took her deep inside the culture of a little-known place. She joined R&K from Nepal.
Roads & Kingdoms: Hi Ania, what are you doing in Nepal?
Ania Gruca: I’ve been here with the United Nations for two and a half months, working for an agency that provides services in reproductive health. It’s following the earthquake, I’m here with the humanitarian response. I started working in the PR department at the UN in New York this year, which followed up with a contract in Nepal. I go on missions that last a couple of months and I work on anything that touches visual communications. Next to that, I try to work on personal photography projects but it’s not always easy because I have a lot of work. I really want to find a balance doing this, rather than working odd photography jobs in New York. This is very close to what I’m interested in because it’s on the field.