I sneaked past immigration and made it onto Zanzibar on Friday. Seemingly a lot of sneaking was being done into the festival grounds, too – there’s a big difference in the resident price and the tourist price, but it seems a bit sad that the festival organisers lose out on those extra funds. It wasn’t the most polished event – the bars ran out of most alcohol pretty early on – or is that again simply a reflection on us terrible expats and our expat habits? After all, the mzungus probably outnumbered Tanzanians, to the dismay of one of my festival-friends, who’d expected a more African affair. In other senses though, it really did live up to the tagline – the music was truly African and the skies, lit up by the moon rising above the walls of the Old Omani-built Fort, wonderful.
True to form, our hotel had given our room away by the time we arrived; both Stone Town and the ferry there were full of the same faces I see around Dar all the time; and being pummeled around the sweaty dancefloor of the post-festival party by drunken mzungus /slightly aggressive local men was wearying. But the island retains its charm in the little details – the too-short 4-poster beds we eventually got in the spacious spare room of another hotel-owner; the men in the carpentry workshops showing off photos of their days in Zanzibar’s “national” football team; the guitarist playing Tracy Chapman on a kerbside; the little girl who offered me a piece of chocolate and then advised me to cover up my bare legs.
The real sauti za Busara – voices of wisdom, perhaps.