Our tour guide’s name, who took us around Stone Town, was Shaban. He is Muslim. Due to his job as a tour guide, he prays 3 times a day instead of the usual 5 times a day. During our casual conversation, we told him that we were South Africans and he immediately said “Oh! from Madiba!!”I asked him if he had ever been to South Africa and he said no but that he hoped to be able to do so soon. Other locals also referenced to South Africa as “Madiba’s country”. It’s a catch22 thing I guess…on the one hand South Africa would not have survived Apartheid had it not been for the struggles of Madiba and other struggle stalwarts. For that, we are appreciative and grateful that we can live a different life. On the other hand, it also seems as though the pride and good old days in South Africa passed along with Madiba. We walked the streets of Stone Town and Shaban explained to us that the Zanzibar doors are very popular but very expensive, sometimes even reaching $10 000. The Indian doors have prominent arches at the top and the Arabic doors are rectangular in shape. As we turned the corner, I saw muslim kids playing in front of one of the Indian doors (featured image).
As we continued walking, Shaban explained to us that the Masai men come to Zanzibar for work and live in the nearby villages. After about 2months or so, they go back to Dar es Salaam to visit their families. My boyfriend and I stayed at Karafuu Beach Resort and Spa and there, the Masai will assist the tourists with their luggage to their rooms upon check-in and check-out. They also patrol the beaches and are like the protectors of the resorts along the coast. Funny thing is, sometimes you would see a Masai wearing his traditional shuka carrying a stick and then he would whip out his cellphone and play pop music. I couldn’t help but smile just a little bit as I walked passed one of them that did that. Being a Masai is a right of passage and these men really do pride themselves of that fact.
Before I left South Africa for Zanzibar, there were two occasions where I spotted a praying mantis. A praying mantis is often said to symbolise stillness and patience.Now for anyone that knows me, you will know that those are low ranking qualities when it comes to my personality. The energy that the Masai exude, in my opinion, is also one of stillness, patience and being calm. I don’t know if it’s because of how they are raised but whatever it is, I have a great respect and appreciation for them. I’d often find one of them on the beach, leaning on their sticks and quietly stare at the horizon. Just watching them gave me a sense of calmness as well. Coincidence? I don’t know…
My favourite beverage in Zanzibar is their spice tea and the main ingredient in the tea is cinnamon. I can drink gallons of that tea every day. Pineapples are called “Ananas” in Zanzibar. The juiciest pineapples I’ve ever had! We were also lucky enough to view the soft-wooded Baobab tree called a ‘Mbuyu’ tree. The tree trunk of this tree is filled with water hence the swollen trunk. There is a Mbuyu tree on one of the islands that has fallen over but is still alive; as one of the roots is growing in an upward direction. Everything in Zanzibar is natural and has its “place”.
Visiting this spice island was absolutely worth it! Not only for my physical and mental wellbeing but for my soul as well. Everywhere I went, I would greet the locals by saying “Jumbo!” and their response would be to say hello back or “Karibu” which means “Welcome”. That is exactly how I felt for the 7 days I was there…I felt WELCOMED by them. I just wish that this notion does not become a foreign concept to humanity for if we do not make each other feel welcome, then there is absolutely no hope for the human race.