AMANDA LEIGH LICHTENSTEIN is a writer and editor with roots in Chicago (USA) and a heart tilted toward the Swahili coast.

She writes about arts, culture, politics, travel and education with a focus on East Africa (Zanzibar).

She is currently based in Chicago (USA) as a digital editor on the Global Security desk with Public Radio International / The World and also serves as the sub-Saharan Africa regional editor with Global Voices.

For nearly 20 years, Amanda has designed and led unique literary projects and programs in the USA, Mexico, Honduras, Ethiopia and Zanzibar (Tanzania).

Amanda holds an English degree from Kalamazoo College and a Masters in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and also holds an advanced certificate in Swahili studies from the State University of Zanzibar.


ALESSIA LOMBARDO works as a development professional with over 15 years of experience in the charity sector. She has lived in Tanzania since 1999, since 2001 in Stone Town in Zanzibar.


Alessia has a deep understanding and knowledge of Tanzanian culture, with a Master’s Degree in Eastern African Languages and Cultures, a Major in Swahili Language and Literature with a dissertation in taarab music. 


The first few years of her professional career Alessia worked as an educator, community organiser and activist for NGOs and community organisations.


She believes that education and culture can be a major force for economic and social development in Tanzania. Recently, Alessia started working, as director, at Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA), one of the most prominent ambassadors of taarab music in the world and the only music school in Zanzibar. The Academy promotes and preserves music heritage of the Dhow Region which includes countries along the shores of the Arab Gulf. Particular emphasis is being placed on teaching traditional taarab. In training the students it ensures the continuation, knowledge, and legacy of taarab music.