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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 (Part 2) and Jumbiani

Mon Dec 20, 2004

Yesterday morning I tried to get my mobile phone repaired. A tiny bit of seawater got in when a wave splashed against me at the beach. It does not work any more :-(

Then I went into the Palace Museum. Entry 3,000 sh. It has the furniture of the last Sultan. Not much left there and the ceiling has big holes from rainwater leaks. One room is dedicated to Princess Salme who was half Russian. She eloped with a German army man and lived in Germany and turned Christian. There is a Princess Salme Society who are trying to publicise her. A diversion to Zanzibar history, n'est pa?

Then I walked to the Anglican Church. There is an underground chamber in the grounds where the slaves were locked up in a tight space before the auction. Auctions were held where the church alter is. The visitors signature book was signed by people from various countries.

There is a cluster of statues with a large name plaque with Swedish large corporates as sponsors. Would the corporates put up a similar plaque in Ku Klux Klan locations in southern USA?

An African middle-aged couple arrived. We started talking. These visitors did not appear knowledgeable as they did not know the slave auction spot was where the alter is now. I was telling them that at least the Arabs married their slaves and Islam encouraged freeing of slaves, whereas the slave trade from West Africa was bigger and nastier, example, the Ku Klux Klan is a problem, the civil rights movement under Martin Luther King in 1960s.

They were surprised when I told them the British started abolition of the slave trade because the French sugar farms in the West Indies were making profit whereas the British sugar farms were losing money. The British imperial power was surely not so benevolent to abolish the slave trade for altruistic reasons only.

I went to Foradhani (open air kitchen and informal eating for cheap) after sunset. Had the "Zanzibar Pizza", (600 sh) pastry with onions, tomato, minced beef, chilli, covered up as a rectangle and then baked in tiny bit of ghee. I had five sticks of beef mishkaki (100 Sh each) and chips (400 sh). (2,000 sh for one pound sterling, 1050 sh for 1 US dollar). Amazing prices and an amazing setting under the stars by the waterfront.

Then I found one stall who had mandazi. At night there are no "inzees" (House flies). So, I ordered one and a chai wa maziwa. They asked me to sit at a table and benches with about eight people sitting there at any given time, people having a cup of cha and then moving off. That is Rashidi's stall.

There were many tourists too, Dutch, Norwegian and others. The two local men sitting next to me talked to me. They told me most vendors were not Zanzibaris, the majority were from Pemba and those who sold curios were from Masai and Arusha and also Dar es Salaam. It was great to see all having free flowing chat with people arriving and leaving. These two also said the Aga Khan has put up a board about plans to renovate the Foradhani waterfront and they do not know if this food culture is going to continue as prolifically as it does now. So, this could disappear and be replaced by sanitised cement landscape that yields profits to corporates.

Today, I went to Nungwe, (northern most tip of Unguja Island) to try to see if I liked a hotel there to stay over for a few days before the New Year. As it happened all five little hotels were full up. One had a 90 dollar deluxe cottage available but that is too expensive for me as a single person.

I had lunch on one of the platform restaurants just where the waves crash on the beach. The whole place is small and rapidly expanding. I predict this will be like the next Aya Nappa in Cyprus or Costa Del Sol in Spain or those tourist spots in Florida. The prices are about three times as in Stone Town, the quality of food and amenities is not better than that in Stone Town and there are all those Rastafarian types walking around trying to fleece the tourists. Looks and feels very artificial, commercialised and like any other tourist trap! The road to Nungwe is good tarmac for the first half, but pot holed dusty road in the next half, bone juddering.

Wed Dec 22, 2004 1:40 pm

It is just plain Jaffer Manek on my new passport. in case the paranoid airport officials get visions of terrorism and go agog when they see Ali and Husein as my middle names.

In a couple of hours, I am going to see sunset from an Italian ice cream house overlooking the water.

Sitting by their Christmas Tree having an authentic Italian ice cream while watching the sunset

Then round the corner to a swahili style restaurant run by a Swahili person, sit on floor and sea food menu and live tarab swahili music (can include indian movie tunes with swahili lyrics), all for six pounds sterling!

Yesterday, I had dinner at Camlur's Restaurant, authentic Goan cuisine. The coconut fish curry was delightful. Two Goan ladies ruin the restaurant. They have not kept up with decoration and advertising and so there were hardly any customers. The building they are in is where Faroukh Balsara (also known as Freddy Mercury) was born, I am told from a reliable source. The building looks and feels very run down. It is in Shangani, the British part of the town. A 100 yards from the court house and 400 yards from Serena Hotel.

I had a sit down at the smart four star Serena Hotel by the water front. Their prices are three times the normal prices.

I am told a lot of hawkers and beggars and drug addicts in Zanzibar are from Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Somalia. They do hassle tourists on Kenyatta Street, the main road into Foradhani. Yesterday evening, there was scuffle and problem on the street. Two zanzibari brothers ruin a curio shop, one brother was drinking alcohol all day and in the evening he was smoking bhangi. he then started smashing up the shop and so was pulled out on to the street. People gathered and the disturbed man was manhandled and restrained around the alleys for about an hour with a lot of shouting and punching. Police arrived and the bunch of people then dispersed.

In Zanzibar, there is hardly any decorations or mad shopping for Christmas. Good, Xmas is such a commercial circus anyway.

Cutting the grass by swinging a knife-sharp metallic blade at the end of a rod

I am away to south east coast from Thursday for three nights. Internet can be very expensive out there and so you may not hear from me until Sunday.

Masjid mabuloo (The Blue Mosque). Lovely tree next to it. On the way out of Stone Town.

The reeds are overgrown and the harbour is silted but many years ago dhows would tie up by the mosque.
It was knocked down by the government for road widening but they had to build this replica due to public uproar.

Sat Dec 25, 2004 7:24 pm

I went to "shamba" for two nights. By the way, the Kiswahili word "shamba" in Uganda normally means farms; in Zanzibar it means sea-side.

I stayed at Jumbiani, south east Zanzibar, at a bungalow at Visitorís Inn, next to Sau Hotel. It was a pleasant experience. The tide was out from morning to about 4 p.m. So, swimming was not feasible but people went walk-about trying to avoid stepping on sea urchins but would see many fish, octopus, shells and exotic marine creatures. Others would go on hire boats to snorkel and to walk on the reef about half a mile away - the open sea is after the reef, next stop Malaysia.

The beach was bright sunshine and powdery white sand. But too much seaweed deposited on the beach.

My bungalow was US $ 20 per night. Clean room, bed with mosquito net and fan, another room with washbasin and mirror, shower and WC. Good value for money. The grounds had many coconut trees and exotic flowers. The restaurant was a large hall with "makuti" roof, thatched of palm leaves.

The prices otherwise were three times that in Stone Town. I had a fabulous fish coconut curry Swahili style, only I thought it had too many cardamom seeds. For 3,000 T Sh (1.5 pounds sterling or 3 US $) it was excellent value for money. Had prawn masala but it was bland with sauce made of chopped large green peppers and tomatoes.

The local people were just remarkable. It is so safe in that section of the beach. No one will rob you or steal from you. My acquaintance today informed me if you forgot your camera or clothes on your sun bed or on the beach, it will be still in the same place tomorrow. I walked to a restaurant at 8 in the night along the beach for about 15 minutes to a restaurant. I had my watch, ring, money and passport with me. No one bothered me. When I asked someone for directions, they would happily explain the way. There were no street lights, only full moon casting strong shadows. And then I walked back. It felt so safe as they were all at their houses and going about their evening chores. They are very Islamic.

On Friday at lunchtime, the whole beach became devoid of local people. It was Jumma prayers at the local mosque of course.

They ask tourists about boat trips, buy curios, buy cloth wraps, etc but they were not aggressive. A South African (white people) family on the transport back were saying their little hotel owner was very helpful about reminding by phone to make sure the transport arrived. The local children were out playing on the beach unsupervised. In Mombasa on the other hand, one gets robbed for walking a quarter mile on Bamburi Beach.

Sun Dec 26, 2004 5:45 pm

I saw the BBC news about the tidal wave. So tragic for the lives lost. It is dangerous to live on the beach. I am in Stone Town and so there is low fear of tidal wave as we are in the channel between Unguja Island and mainland Tanzania. The tidal wave would be dissipated after the distance but its maximum impact would be on the east coast of Unguja Island.

I went to Africa House Hotel to see the sunset. My South African friends said they saw a large wave come in but it was only about a meter high. Shall wait to hear the news in the night if there is any big waves.

I would like to tell you of the people I have come across. Zanzibar hotels and guesthouses are full up over Christmas and New Years with tourists. But what sort of tourists? On the shared mini-bus to the north, there was a Danish couple with me, in their mid twenties, working in Ethiopia for "Save the Children Fund" international charity. They said Zanzibar looked like a luxurious place compared to where they work in Ethiopia surrounded by poverty and people doing their morning shit in the street!

On the spice tour there were USA and Canadians who were working for some NGO in mainland Tanzania. On the shared mini-bus to Jumbiani (east coast shamba) there were two men in early twenties, one from Seattle USA and another from California, working in Iringa teaching about environment (not to chop trees, keep streets clean, avoid pollution) funded by some charity or NGO and they spoke basic Kiswahili. At an eating-place in Jumbiani, there was a group of about ten British youngsters about 19 years of age, all Voluntary Service working in Arusha. They had taken a year off college. They get paid nothing by the charity they work for and even paid their own air fares but get free basic accommodation and canteen food. Most of these white workers learnt to speak Kiswahili and perpetuate the "dependency culture". There were many Swedish youngsters also, again doing Swedish Church charity work.

Another bunch of people were South Africans. Most of them are on cheap accommodation and cheap food holiday. One family was even driving back from Dar via Zambia and Mozambique to SA.

At my guesthouse, there is a female from Poland who has been living in Zanzibar for eight years and studies trees.

There are a few Brits and Germans and other tourists. This is the profile of their tourists. I do not think this is tourism in the sense of what we see in Europe where people take two weeks off work for annual holiday (vacation in American speak).

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