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Zanzibar is crumbling. These artisans are putting it back together

(CNN)To walk the streets of Stone Town in old Zanzibar City is to step back in time; to feel the echoes of untold wealth that once pulsed through this UNESCO World Heritage Site, 19 miles off the coast of Tanzania. Persians, Arabs, Indians and Europeans have all laid claim to these islands across Zanzibar’s long history. Like a palimpsest, it bears the mark of each culture that has settled there.

But today, where majestic palaces once stood, crumbling bricks remain. Faced with a growing population and increased motorists, many of the town’s historic buildings have either fallen down or are in a deteriorating condition, leaving huge gaps in Stone Town’s narrow winding alleys.

In the five decades since the 1964 revolution, Zanzibar has become unrecognizable says fashion designer and repatriate Farouque Abdela. After living in the UK for years, Abdela describes seeing his hometown upon his return as nothing short of traumatizing.

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