Beneath the Tide is a story about Zanzibar’s biggest commodity after tourism. Unexpectedly it’s not coconuts or spices (despite its nickname ‘Spice Island’) – it’s seaweed.
Seaweed farming has long been a tradition in these parts of the world. Most seaweed farmers are women and their work is considered one of the hardest occupations around. Raw seaweed is at best worth, 20 cents per kilo so in the past the farmers worked incredibly hard only to sell their crop to large companies for close to nothing. The companies would then grind the seaweed to a powder and mix it with other ingredients to make soap and other cosmetics which of course they sold for a lot more.
The Zanzibaris began to work with local scientists and began to add value to their product themselves. Now seaweed farming and soap making is one of the most lucrative businesses on the island. One of the scientists at the helm of this revolution is Dr Flower, who for over 20 years has become intrinsically linked with the local communities. She wants to see the women continue to expand their knowledge and success.
The Seaweed Center, one of the first official organisations for processing seaweed, was orginally founded by a group of foreign students. Flower spent time with them as an advisor during set up. After a challenging few years it became clear that the Seaweed Center needed a fresh start so Klaartje Schade, a former banker from the Netherlands, was brought in as the new CEO.
On an island full of contradictions lies the core of Beneath the Tide. A story about community focused science, ethically sound buisness but most of all a story about strong women empowering themselves through knowledge.
A documentary that attempts to examine the rich tapestry of its settings.