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EAST AFRICA PHOTOS - Dec 2004 - Jan 2005
Provided By: Jaffer Manek FCCA FCEA
Director, Affilica International

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Travel notes and photos - Stone Town, Unguja Island, Zanzibar (Part 1)
15 Dec 2004

Dear all on EAcircle, I arrived in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday morning and checked into New Africa Hotel. Took a shower and went out for a walk into the city centre. It was humid and 32 degrees centigrade. My straw hat is very useful in the hot sun.

Hardly anything has changed, only we get a much better exchange rate for GBP Pound Sterling.

At the mosque, the new thing was a screen on which they project notices and translation of prayers.

Have not yet seen most of the familiar faces from last year.

I had changoo fish fried and matokay and vegetables for lunch at "J J Restaurant" on Samora Street. In the evening I had dinner at a friend of mine at an outdoors tandoori restaurant.

Today I discovered the Hindu part of Dar es Salaam. There are so many temples, Swami Narayan, Sanatan, Bhatia, etc. I went to lunch time namaaz at the mosque, had a madaf before, had a roasted maize cob but gave away half of it to children trailing me begging for money. I went to Maharaja restaurant for a buffet. Great food for one Pound (about two US dollars. I was hoping to find saragwo singg, those green drumsticks but they did not cook it today.

I went to a jeweller to repair my ring with ruby stone that broke in London - my mum's remembrance. In London, you cannot find a jeweller who can repair it for any price. In Dar, I found one on Indira Gandhi Street. He will put a new band and repair one of the four broken handles for the stone. And done in the afternoon, I pick it up at 5 pm. All for 30,000 shillings, about 30 US dollars, about 16 British Pounds. Now that is competitive. Wake up Brits.

They tell me the zamrahu season has not started yet. Hope to find them in Zanzibar. I take the speed boat at 10.30 Thursday morning, in 1 and half hours I should be there. Dread all the hacklers at the both the ports.

My mobile phone number is Voda 0744 488 985 in case anyone wants to text me or phone me.

More later. Jaffer Manek


16 Dec 2004
I discovered the mobile phone chip I bought from a legitimate shop thinking the chip was new, was a disappointment. It had some people in its phone book (five items) and also it showed the own phone number that I posted yesterday. Wrong. I got diddled. Wow, I have been duped already on my first day. The real mobile phone number is 0745 699 983 - Voda in case anyone wants to text me.

at 5.30 pm I went to the jewellers (had left my ring at 12.30pm). It was ready and in great shape. Brilliant workmanship by the Kutchi speaking Indian jeweller on Indira Gandhi Street.

Then I bought a charcoal roasted maize cob from a street vendor for 200 shillings, GBP 10 pence. While I ate it on the edge of the street, I watched the evening rush traffic and quaint old buildings built by Indians in the early 1930s - they had dates and names of owners. Many are looking dilapidated. Someone said the owners are waiting for them to collapse out of neglect so that they can build a 20 storey block of square shape!!

There was a jolly African man on a converted bicycle selling ice cream from an ice box at the front part of the bicycle. He had a canopy and was ringing his bell to attract customers attention. Also, he was playing loud Indian movie music. How cute!

I walked around Indira Gandhi Street. Outside the old Jamaat Khanna of Ismailis, african street vendors were cooking hot Mandazi, witumbwa and mogo mix. I tried a little of each. Such lovely taste and since it was hot off the stove, I did not think there was a risk. Then went to have a tea at an off-street snack shop opposite the Ishnaasheri masjid for 200 shillings, 10 pence.

Went to masjid and met a few friends, had a chat to catch up. Went to Bally restaurant with a friend of mine. It is a themed restaurant with seating under thatched roofs in an enclosed courtyard. Fantastically tasty Indian dishes and fresh passion fruit juice. Ordered lots and could not eat all but the bill was US $ 17 GBP 9, wow! Gave the askari guarding our car 500 shillings, 25 pence is a value for money parking meter.

This morning I checked out of the hotel. I asked for a taxi, 400 yards to the pier. The taxi is 1,000 shillings according to everyone and the hotel porter. So, I put the bag in the back seat, got into front seat but before closing the door I asked him " Elfoo moja siyo?" He relied "Ah AAA, iko elfoo bhillee!|". I do not like daylight cheats in my face, so I hoped out, took out my bag from the taxi back seat, opened the back zipped flap and so the bag turns into a ruck sack. I put it on my shoulder and walked, saved myself the taxi fare and also porters 1,000 at the pier. Dread the hackling.

The boat was full up. There was a family of eleven Hindu Indian women from young girl to grandma. Some spoke with English cockney (London working class) accent. They were so confused about their seat numbers they changed seats three times. The trip was boring otherwise. My travel agent met me at the pier and a porter carried my bag for a fair price to the hotel.

More later, Jaffer Manek


17 Dec 2004

I arrived in Zanzibar by boat. I am staying at Safari Lodge Hotel, a very clean and affordable little hotel. It is in Kiponda, the older part of Stone Town full of narrow alleys. The lanes are bit filthy, congested and with a stench in places (rotting rubbish in alley corners).

Since they are full up tomorrow, I move to an equally clean and affordable hotel near the Court House. This suburb, Shangani, has better maintained paving, cleaner streets and is where the British colonials lived and worked.

I got a seat on a flight from Zanzibar to Mombasa on 3 Jan. There is only one more seat left. It costs US $ 110 one way, about GBP 60 Brutish Pound - compare that to GBP 320 for a return charter flight from London to Mombasa, one fifth the price for a hundredth of the distance. The planes monopoly is earning big profits for the South African operators!!

The famous big baobab tree under which boats are repaired and dhow journeys are negotiated.
This is a few yards from the dispensary, near the ferry port and opposite Mercury's Restaurant

A variety of ships: Pushing a boat for repairs. A freight ship at the port.
A dhow with triangular sail. A passenger ferry ready to depart for Dar es Salaam

The view opposite the tree. Dell Boy's expression is even on a Zanzibari boat going to the islands opposite.
(Dell Boy is a character in British TV comedy "Fools and Horses")

I was talking to a freight company's owner. He was saying the export import trade is booming so much in the Indian Ocean that he has more cargo than ships to deliver it by. How different from Europe where they do such intensive marketing to get customers. Who says Africa is poor!

I had a walk about in the market. Wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables and fish etc. Diju-bhai Joshi showed me around the market and explained me some of the exotic fruits. There were a few "inzee" but it was not too bad.

Large fish being unloaded - a marlin

Barracuda and which fish?

Diju-bhai Joshi runs a seafront Indian food restaurant and recruits passing tourists into trips for a commission. His brother Dipak spends a good proportion of his time in Canada. Diju-bhai used to be a school teacher and so is well-known in the town. He is very charming to tourists, gives them all sorts of helpful information and sometimes reads their palms to tell them their future. Diju-bhai was delighted with my Gujarati and said it was good to have proper Gujarati conversation for a change since most Indians speak a lot of Kiswahili and English or mix their languages in each sentence.

Diju-bhai took me to a tiny shop in the market where a kiswahili lady sells "mix" (indian savoury with tamarind sauce), samosas, snacks, tea and soda. Some school boys were there to eat during their school break. They recognised Diju-bhai and had a chat with him. Young people are still so respectful of their elders in Zanzibar.

Diju-bhai showed me this door and explained that it was of Arabic style, which is the carving in the frame and no squares on the door itself. The large metal studs are inserted in door frames for a good reason; in medieval times, invaders guided their elephants to push down the doors of courtyard houses but elephants shied away from doors with spiky studs that would hurt them on pushing! The little girls lives there.

At the doorstep of the "Khoja Shia Ishna-Asheri Widhwa-ashram" (house for widows). The door is in Indian style which has plain squares layout. Notice a small door (behind the children) within the main door for daily use.

Translation of the stone tablet to the left of the door:
Khoja Shia Ishna-Asheri
Marhoom (deceased) Haji Mohamed-bhai Alarakhya Sheewji
settlement to khoja shia ishna asheri
widowed ladies (wakaf = charitable gift)
dated 25th January 1935 (Christian calendar)
dated 19th Shawal Hijri 1353 (Islamic calendar)

This photograph of Marhoom (deceased) Haji Mohamed-bhai Alarakhya Sheewji,
about 2 feet by two feet, hangs opposite the entrance door inside the courtyard of the building.

This building is part of the heritage of the Khoja Shia Ishna-Asheri but sadly it is under-utilised.
It located three minutes walk behind the jooni (older) masjid in Kiponda suburb or Stone Town, Unguja Island of Zanzibar. It is laid out in the traditional easter quadrangle. As you enter, there are a couple individual rooms each with a door from the central open space. The photo is on the far side of the wall. On the right is a wooden staircase going to the upper floor. The lower floor is occupied by the caretaker and a few Swahili widows, who are very polite and modest ladies. Upstairs is guesthouse for KSI travellers. There are three rooms, each with four beds and hardly any other furniture. There are overhead fans and windows but no air-conditioning. To the far left corner are two latrines and one sit-down on a wooden stool bathroom. The place is tidy but so basic that hardly any KSI guests stay there. It is a well-maintained and sturdy building. With some renovation and a little interior decoration and furnishing, it can be a wonderful and cheap place for KSI visitors from around the world to stay in a building left for them by one of their forefathers. The guest house nearby in Kiponda is derelict and closed since it was occupied by apparently Pemba squatters who ran down the building. The property is understood to be still in KSI ownership there and so a new hostel could be built there one day.

KSI Guest House from the front

KSI Guest House from the side (the derelict one to the right)

KSI Guest House entrance door boarded up

Here is a remarkable building in Kiponda, near Safari Inn (owned by Zuli of the speed boat from Dar es Salaam to Zanzibar). It is a historic building but it is overcrowded and badly utilised by so many people staying in there. It is a large building with room around a central courtyard.

Established and endowed by Khoja Esmal Ramjee of Cutch Sama-Goga for the
use of only the khoja caste travellers in the reign of H H the Sultan Sayid Ally Bin
Sayeed of Zanzibar. December 29th 1892

The sign above the entrance mentions Khoja but it is not clear whether it is all khoja or khoja Ismailis only. That is about the time that the Ismaili community split and some left to turn into Shia Ishn-Asheri. The first leader of KSI was not allowed to be buried at the Ismaili cemetery and so his grave is at the KSI jooni masjid (KSI older mosque) in Kiponda. I was shown the grave from the first floor window.

Here is an alley popular with tourists. It goes from near the Post Office in Shangani to go to the Catholic Church, Emerson & Green hotel (roof top restaurant is always full up with tourists) and all the way to the Anglican Church built on the site of the slave market. Amazing variety of things are sold from the doorways of little shops but prices for tourists are much higher, must haggle unless you can sort them out in kiswahili. They got very confused with me because I looked a tourist but I talked in their own lingo. :-)

I branched off as Diju-bhai had work to catch up with his work and he is vegetarian, a strict Hindu. I went for lunch to Mercury's waterfront restaurant, and had kuku wa kwapaka, that quintessentially Kiswahili dish.

I spent the afternoon at "Bayat ul Ajayb". It is a big hall with galleries on three floors.
Lovely ornaments and artifacts. Hardly any security; antiques thieves could easily take old things on display.
Here are the views of the four sides from the top floor.

Looking out to Foradhani. The sea front is looking west, that is where you see sunset.

It is 37 degrees Centigrade and humid. Bring me more madaf. My madaf man with a cart was just by the water front. I would have two or three at a time and left him the change.

At night time it has lines of stalls selling cheap eats from mishkaki to fish kebabs, sugar cane juice, tea and mandazi, zanzibar pizza (thin pastry filled with minced beef meat, chopped onions, a whole egg, all folded in a square and then fried on both sides). The eats are very cheap but not all of it is fresh or hygienic and so you take your chances. I had a few skewers of mishkaki with no ill effects. I would eat zanzibari pizza and then go to Rashidi's stall to have spicy tea and mandazi and afterwards tangawizi (ginger) tea, sit on the bench at the table and chat with all sorts (locals and tourists alike) who would sit there for a few minutes drinking their tea. I made many local friends including Ali Baba.

One day I was so tempted by sugar cane juice, I bought a small plastic bottle of mineral water and then asked the man "tiya hiyo moja kwa moja kwa bottle yangu, bila ice" and he did get it straight into the bottle - no ill effects, and it was delicious, just 25 pence or half US dollar! At night time there is no public lighting but the charcoal grates and tadoba (oil lams) and storm lights make an amazing setting.

That restaurant with blue roof is abandoned, they say a white South African operator ran it for a couple of years and then disappeared without paying his tax liability! The whole of Foradhani is being redeveloped by Aga Khan, from his hotel Serena to the dock and so Mercury's restaurant will be gone.

Looking on the left immediately below. The inside of the fort has an amphitheatre. Almost every Saturday night there is live music or gomma dance or some cultural event. I never got an opportunity or inspiration to go there. The ticket would include food and drink. During the day, the shops sell curios. Little tourist children wearing local dress and looking at paintings for sale - how cute!

Looking to the right towards the docks.

Looking left towards Shangani. Cars go through the tunnel under the building. Above the tunnel there used to be a school. What a lovely tree with red flowers. The trees are neglected; has some dead branches. The grass is neglected too. Taxi drivers parked along there will always ask "Taxi???" and it is best to smile and say "Badai" (later on perhaps).

Through the arch into Shangani, towards the beach, looking towards Sarena Hotel. It is low tide now. At high tide just before sunset a lot of young men do acrobatics and then jump into the water. Very lively and noisy; better than watching television and playing nasty games on "Game Boy"

Having a cool off at Sarena Hotel by the swimming pool at the water's edge.

A dhow shuffles past Sarena Hotel. Once I saw two dolphins here!

School children on holiday having a swim and fun time


19 Dec 2004

I moved from Kiponda to Shangani, the old Brutish colonial suburb where the Court House and the Post Office is.
The hotel in Kiponda was full up for a few days and so I had to move. Clean, two beds on tall stilts, B & B, for US$20 a night in high season, very affordable.
Here are some photos of Shangani.

The road walking from Maharaja Restaurant and the court house

The Post Office

This is the main tourist walkway. Rastafarian types and scroungers (import from mainland and neighbouring countries) sit here and hassle the tourists, asking to be tour guides, begging for cigarettes and then asking for money. They even ask questions like, how many days are you here? where are you staying? Most tourists are too polite and give away too much info. I just ask "Sababu na ooliza hiyo?" Why give out such sensitive information and create personal danger by telling them too much?

The Catholic Church.
As if the people of Zanzibar were pagans without any religion or
were unable to see mosques around almost every street corner

Vervet monkey, a common pet, tied to the railings of the outer wall of the Catholic Church

Zanzibar is so multi-lingual that even electricity boxes on the street carry warning
Danger (English)    ?? (Arabic)   Hatari (Swahili)   Jokham (Gujarati)

Nice old building

I guess this is the university building on the way to the fish market. Can anyone clarify?

Went on spice tour with a dozen wazungus, from USA, Canada and South Africa and Germany. The guide was very knowledgeable and did a great job. I took loads of photos - see "Spice Tour" section. Some of the crops we saw were cinnamon, cardamom, cocoa, clove, red dye for chandlo, vanilla, lemon grass, turmeric, cassava, mimosa, nutmeg and many more. The trip ended with a visit to a nearby beach. I walked at the water's edge. Sea water from a wave got into my mobile phone. Am trying to get it repaired.



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Last updated January  2008 Copyright Mahmood Fazal 2005 - All Rights Reserved Created By Husain Fazal