Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer



The Great Guano Rush of 2007–2008: “Filth,” Bats, and Food Sovereignty on Northern Pemba Island, Tanzania



During late pre-colonial and colonial times, European authorities represented Zanzibar as “filthy.” This caricature enabled government planning schemes as a means of social control. However, close investigations of “filth”—in this case, excrement—in the Zanzibar Archipelago reveal its possibilities to improve African livelihoods, to advance food sovereignty, and to revive an island ecosystem in an era of change. Led by farmer Amour Juma Mohammed, the bat guano rush of 2007–2008 helped to initiate farmer experimentation with waste on northern Pemba Island. Such creativity continues to elevate farmer productivity and collaboration in new ways.