Photographing street culture in Zanzibar
Carl van der Linde captures what it is to be a young man on the Tanzanian island.
Carl van der Linde is a 27-year-old South African photographer from Cape Town, who gravitates towards subjects “whose strong individuality, style and pride” radiate from within. Travelling across the continent — and occasionally overseas to South America — he likes to wander the streets of different cities for days, finding subjects to shoot collaboratively and organically. “When I started out, I was taking a run-and-gun approach where I would try to candidly ‘steal’ a photograph from a street scene or unknowing subject,” he says. “I soon realised that this does not allow me to establish a bond with the person I was photographing.”
To shoot the following series, Carl travelled to Zanzibar in 2020, curious as to what day-to-day life was like on the Tanzanian island, particularly during a quiet period when the usual glut of international tourists weren’t present. The resulting series has a gentle ease to it; no heavy or forced messaging, or attempts to create a particular narrative. Shot between the island’s high streets, pier fronts, boda boda motorbike taxi ranks, and beaches at dusk, these images take a particular focus on what growing up on the island from boyhood to manhood is like.
“There is a vibrant youth culture spanning from the island's capital, Stone Town, to smaller villages like Paje, a kite-surfing destination on the east coast,” he says. “But with this series, I set out to really explore what it means to be a young man in Zanzibar. I noticed a real diversity amongst the Zanzibari young men with regard to culture, religion and ideologies. Zanzibar has a long heritage of being one of the most fluid nodes of the Global South, where different ideas and views have intermingled for centuries.”
All images courtesy Carl van der Linde