It was around 3pm and the sun was mercilessly shining down on me. I searched for shelter and found a bench under a coconut tree which served as my resting place to write my postcards.
An old man came by and I started talking to him for a while. He was pleased to know that I’m a Muslim and asked me to read Fatihah which I did. Then a boy who I spoke to earlier, Ali, who earlier showed me where the postbox was said “I’m so glad that you’re a Muslim.” I spoke to him for a bit and found out that he was 18 and wanted to learn IT in Dar es Salaam hopefully the following year. Suddenly Ali said, “Do you want to come and meet my parents in the village?” I quickly said, “Sure!”
On the way to our first stop which was his grandmother’s house, we came across a woman using the leaves of some tree to weave what would be the walls of their homes. I took pictures with her. She was so shy and was laughing all the time. The other women around the area were laughing too. The whole time I was at the village, people would say Mzuhri – beautiful. They were telling Ali that I was beautiful. How sweet. I gave salam to almost every single person I met because the whole village were Muslims.
I met Ali’s aunt who was cooking, who is a traditional doctor. Then I met Ali’s grandmother who is also so adorable.
She too was weaving several very thin dried leaves to make a rug. She makes long thin strips and then dyes them in different colours and sews them up together to make a big rug.
Next stop was Ali’s house where I met his mom and her friend, his brother Musa, his nieces, etc. The house had 7 rooms, a luxury. Their houses were very simple – almost no decorations anywhere. Just chairs in the living room and some pictures hung high up on the wall of his father when he was younger. The bedrooms had only a bed. That was all.
Ali’s mom was getting her hair braided by her friend who came from the mainland. I gathered my courage and asked if I could get a strand of my hair braided too and of course the answer was yes.
Then we met one of his aunts in front of the mosque with a friend of hers. Everyone said Karibu (welcome) to me and asked me to sit next to them. I don’t think anyone actually speaks English except Ali, so most of the time I just kept quiet and smiled and after a while Ali would say “okay let’s go to the next place”.
Next we went to his other grandmother’s house where there was a lady kneading some kind of dough to make some kind of bread. I met his aunt who has been living in London for over 40 years who was back in Zanzibar visiting the family. I had a chat with her and then we left.
We stopped by an abandoned house (not sure why) where Ali (for some unknown reason) had a picture of himself stored in there which he wanted to give me. We stopped to say hello to his dad who was playing a local game using marbles but in a box with about 16 squares. The dad was far from friendly for some reason. We then stopped by Ali’s office (he’s looking after a newly opened tourist information centre) to see if he can laminate his picture which he wanted to give me but since the power was out once again, we headed out.
We heard the sound of drums and Ali told me that the children in the village were having an Islamic song lesson type of thing. As we headed towards the sound, I saw a guy painting using what looked like a scraper (to peel off paint?) the Masai men paintings I’d been seeing everywhere. He asked me if I wanted to try and I said No on impulse – I didn’t want to destroy his masterpiece. I should have said yes. Everyone was just so nice.
So we finally got to the place where the kids were learning and singing (it could be) nashid with older men accompanying with drums and their flutes. They asked if I wanted to sit and I said yes. Hearing the children singing Lailahaillallah with the wind blowing, under the coconut tree, outside a house in the village, with the drums and the flutes, in an island in the middle of nowhere in Africa – I felt blessed and loved by my Creator. It was the greatest feeling.
By this time, I was extremely thirsty from all the walking. We then stopped by to see some guys doing karate. It was really weird. They were in the walls of a house, a very small area for 8 of them, jumping and kicking around with one of them counting one to ten in Japanese. How bizarre.
Next stop was to Ali’s sister’s house. Fatima is 27 and has 3 girls, the eldest is 6. Again I was invited into her home with “karibu” and after taking pictures and me saying “Asanti sana” (thank you very much) we left.
Final stop was to a grocery store where I got 2 mango juices and milk for Ali. The shopkeeper didn’t have any change so we both went off to find change. We still couldn’t find change and it was almost Maghrib and I wanted to head back. Ali said forget about paying for it. He would pay for me later. I felt so bad. So I said thank you and reminded him to write emails to me so he can practice his English and left.
What an afternoon and a wonderful experience meeting local people and being invited into their homes. What a lucky traveller I was.