We managed to catch the 12 O’clock speed boat to Zanzibar (from Dar), a journey that would take about one and a half hours. Being foreigners, we were charged Ksh. 3,500 each. Owing to the tidal waves, the ride was very bumpy at the beginning bwith kids screaming and adults laughing.

We went straight to 1001 Nights, a lil’ hotel on Malindi Road in Stone Town where we’d be staying. After freshening up, we were ready to take on Stone Town. Sauti ya Busara (meaning Sounds of Wisdom, one of the most popular music festivals on the island was kicking off the next day. There was a networking forum at Monsoon Restaurant that afternoon though. Here, everyone had to take off their shoes to get in. I liked the place, the cushions on the floor, dim lights and strong dark spice tea. After the forum, we walked along the seafront looking for a place to eat. All around Stone Town, banners, posters and programs of the Sauti ya Busara Festival abound. We settled on Mercury’s where we feasted on their sea-food pizza and the breathtaking view.

the Zanzibar beach

the Zanzibar beach

Later, back at the sea-front, we discovered that the place was coming alive right before sunset. Local vendors start setting up and selling fresh barbeque seafood at Forodhani Gardens’ Night Market as it is known.

the sea food yum!

Forodhani Gardens

With Naan to accompany the octopus, prawns, shark meat etc. we tried almost all of the sea food (in skewers dipped in chilli). We got into a lil’ trouble with the cops in Zanzibar (beware of the locals). You should know –cops are cops anywhere in Africa, be assured that they will want bribes here too.


I was grateful for the wireless internet at 1001 Nights because my Safaricom modem wasn’t working at all. Immediately after breakfast, we went on a tour of Stone Town. Mostly because my friend needed to take shots of some scenes for use in a music video. Wearing this t-shirt that read, ‘I hear voices in my head, but they speak Russian’, our guide Suleiman was very interesting and patient as he took us round.

teenage locals in Zanzibar

Teenage locals in Zanzibar

There were plenty of curio shops and hotels. The sugarcane juice >with a twist of lemon, was heavenly.

The souvenirs: I got two Deeras (flowing free dresses with bright colours and patterns). From the street vendors, I got ‘Taratibu za Jimai’-a book in Swahili about sex-conjugual rights rather. It is so detailed and shocking –I guess because I assumed the culture would disapprove of open sex talk.

At Jaws Corner (a place where we were informed men gathered to have coffee and talk politics), I met Kajole, who runs a curio shop just round that corner. He explained that a lot of political rallies have been held here, that President  Clinton has been here.  “… and Jaws Corner is not named after the four jaws of a shark , like your guide probably told you. This place is named after a game we used to play in the sea called jaws,” he insisted.

After the tour, we rushed to catch one of the Sauti ya Busara’s press conferences at Monsoon Restaurant. I had been looking forward to the Parade since I came here. However, catching it (after the press conference)was such a challenge because no one seemed to know which way it was. Most tourists were walking up and down the town asking about it. I was later to learn that the locals are not very keen about such.




The Opening Ceremony:

The finger

Circled is the finger that must survive

This was held at Old Fort, in Stone Town. A couple of speeches, lotsa live music, food, drinks, locals and tourist and businesses displaying items in tents-even our very own publishers Kwani? were there selling books.

Ary Morais really got be dancing

Ary Morais performs at Sauti ya Busara

There were plenty of great performances  but I especially remember Swahili Vibes and Ary Morais. Ary is a Norwegian based musician-originally from Cape Verde, and his music got everybody dancing.

THUMBS DOWN: Eti, if you left the event even for a second, you were not allowed back in unless you buy another ticket.


I had to leave my new found Island and miss the rest of the festival to get back to Nairobi for other commitments. I was especially sad about missing Bi. Kidude’s performance and Nigerian-German Nneka.  I told her (Zenji), rather happily that I’d be back in more relaxed circumstances to explore her mystique.

My flight back to Nairobi on Fly540 was departing at 12.20p.m so I was already checking in by 11 am. Unfortunately, we did not depart until 8.30 p.m-on an ‘East African’ branded plane. They did not quite explain the delay but they gave us lunch at the airport’s Palm Tree Restaurant. If it wasn’t for the red wine, the new friends I made and the whole season of Blue Mountain State on my laptop, I’d have been bored stiff. When we made a stop in Mombasa, there was even more drama at the immigration counter where we spent ages and kept being moved from line to line. Unable to stomach anymore crap, two people screamed and complained.

I recall finally getting into my bed at midnight that day, thanking God.

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