Ng’ambo Tuitakayo : reconnecting the Swahili City


  • Antoni Scholtens Folkers TU Delft
  • Muhammad Juma Muhammad



The City Of Zanzibar is well known for the historical Stone Town which is a World Heritage Site since 2000. What is less known about the City is the fact that it consists of two parts, Stone Town and Ng’ambo,  of which Ng’ambo is the one that has received far less attention. The two parts of the city have been developing alongside since the mid-19th century, becoming together the biggest Swahili City in the world by the beginning of the 20th century. Despite the social and economic differences existing in the two parts of the city they retained, an intimate connection translated into the economic, social and cultural sphere.

It is only with the advent of the British dominance, that the two parts started to be perceived as separate entities. Through colonial policies and planning interventions they became segregated and Ng’ambo received a lasting stamp of being a slum in need of upgrading. From the time of the British Protectorate, through the revolution and post-independence modernization projects, Ng’ambo has been a subject to various, not always successful planning initiatives. Despite the turmoil and major upheavals it witnessed Ng’ambo has managed to retain its distinctly Swahili character which has been sustained by the resilience of its inhabitants.

This pejorative image of Ng’ambo has lingered over the area for a long time and it is only recently that Ng’ambo has received renewed attention by being designated as the new city centre of the Zanzibar City. The Ng’ambo Tuitakayo (Ng’ambo We Want) project was started in the wake of this renewed attention directed towards Ng’ambo with the aim of developing an inclusive redevelopment plan for the area guided by the principles of UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape recommendation. One of the underlying aims of the project was to revive the historic connection between the two parts of the city.

Through this paper it will be argued that the perceived distinction between Stone Town and Ng’ambo is not inherent to the place, but was created through foreign impositions. Through an in-depth study of the morphological development of the area and discussion of the layered urban history of Zanzibar City, the (dis)continuities between the two parts of town will be unravelled. The paper will also unfold the methods explored in the Ng’ambo Tuitakayo project from the beginning until the completion of the final draft of the redevelopment plan and policies.

Author Biography

Antoni Scholtens Folkers, TU Delft

Phd Researcher, Dept. of Architecture, TU Delft


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How to Cite

Folkers, A. S., & Muhammad, M. J. (2016). Ng’ambo Tuitakayo : reconnecting the Swahili City. International Planning History Society Proceedings, 17(1), 25–40.