Capital Art Studio
Ranchod Oza began working as a photographer in Zanzibar in 1925. For five years he worked for the firm Gomes and Sons, as a junior photographer. Then in 1930 he opened his own shop, the Capital Art Studio, just up the street from the more famous DeLord photography Studio.
His work soon caught the eye of Sultan Khalifa, a known patron of the arts and letters. That began a relationship that would last more than 30 years. Oza became the semi official royal photographer and went on to produce some wonderful images.
Here are some examples of his work for the Sultans family from a 1959 booklet celebrating the 80th birthday of Sultan Khalifa, Seyyid Khalifa was at that time the longest continuously reigning monarch in the world.
Ranchod Oza died in 1983. During his almost 60 year career in Zanzibar he saw and photographed much of Zanzibar's 20th century history. Some see his life as bittersweet; the travel writer Tony Weaver gives this description of his visit to Stone Town in 1999,
. pausing at the Capital Arts Studio where the works of Ranchod T Oza, official photographer of the Revolution, are displayed by his son. Stark black and white portrait's of Zanzibar through the ages, Ranchod was 80 years old when he died in 1983, his world was one which spanned a lifetime of opulence, splendour, bloodshed, terror, poverty and despair. His son sits below the faded Agfa and Kodak ads from 20 years ago, photographing the pretty little girls who come in to show off their festival dresses.
Here are some additional examples of the work of Mr. Oza.
The Capital Art Studio is still open for business today in Stone Town. 2007 will mark it's 77th year of operation. It is run now by Rameh Oza, a fine photographer in his own right. He and his brother, who has a small photo supply kiosk near the market, carry on the proud tradition of historic Zanzibar Photographers; without whose work our windows to the past would be closed forever.
2006 by Barghash@msn.com
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