Monday, January 02, 2006

Another ZIFF moment!

My sister and I with some friends(actually the guy with the white hat and shirt is just a random guy who decided to jump into our picture!!) we meet at the 2005 Zanzibar International Film Festival. I think this was the last night of the festival. Have been to many festivals in the U.S, but nothing beats this one so far!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Cherono-notes from Kapiri Zambia, Daresalaam Tanzania

so i left lusaka on thursday to catch a bus to kapiri mposhi, which is where the train leaves for Dar es Salaam. I must say, that assumption that i have that it is only in south africa where people assume that if you are black, you should speak their language is also very true in was abit hard getting around coz half of the time everyone was speaking in another language. anyway so got to the train station, ended up meeting such interesting people,
a) meeting the body guard of former zambian president kenneth kaunda, chatting with train station guards about african countries and zambia. it was so funny coz when the guards were asking me about south africa, all they cared about was that zambia is peaceful, south african is full of crime, why would you want to live of them asked me, which would you prefer zambia or south africa and when i responded south africa, the look of disgust on his face was so funny, from then on he became really cold and bossy about wehre i could sit n put my bags, also shocking was the views they had about africans,black people versus europeans. they all told me, white people brought civilization to africa, africans were walking around in barks and skins, if it wasn't for the europeans where would we be, infact tanzanians were living like animals just 10 years ago so white people brought development, that's why we are called developing nations!!!!! all in all in the guards were very helpful, i really enjoyed their company and they all made sure that i had everything ready for the train ride.
b) THE TRAIN RIDE WAS AMAZING, notice i say the ride, not the train, the train is ok, its actually abit of a joke but can't be picky coz the ride makes the difference, we passed through a national park on the way to dar, got to see hippos, giraffe,zebra, was hoping for an elephant but didn't happen. would defnitely recommend the trip to everyone and anyone, but i think its better from mbeya tanzania, its shorter and its the best part of the trip. with less people. coz the people who take the train in zambia are only getting to the border, not into tanzania
c)evyerone here loves isidingo, (fyi: isidingo is a south african soapie) whenever people heard i had travelled from south africa, they would always ask about isidingo and all the characters, apparently its of the most watched soaps in Zambia.
c) all the people who've helped me out througout the trip, i'm really impressed by how some people went out of their way to make sure everything was ok with the journey.
d) Dar es Salaam, i love it, the weather is nice and humid, the city is chilled out, saw a nice sun rise this morning. heading for zanbiar later in the day
low lights
a) zambian women who lighten their skin, its quite a fad here, the compartment i was in, had 4 other women and all of them used some sort of skin lightener on their faces which from what i've seen on the train has really horrific efects, for some they get a reddish tint around their eyes cheeks, as wel as side burns, and moustaches and then the worst i saw was scaling that happened around the eyes, the skins starts to crack and turn a dark brown color. not a nice thought
interesting to note
men were much more friendlier than women,in helping out with directions and general knowledge. women sometimes tended to be abit hostile...also of the people i met, the guys would always be like, take a picture of me, please snap me, and when i asked a group of women if i could take a picture, they were completely against it. i'm not saying this is true of all the women and the men, it was just interesting

Cherono- notes from harare, lusaka, i'm your romeo, will you be my juliet

hi every1
so the guest house that i'm at has an intense love for music, this morning i had my breakfast to i'm your romeo, will you be my juliet by lucky dube at full blast. lucky dube is like the african bob marley. so yes i'm in lusaka, got in at 5 in the evening, even though the bus was supposed to get in at 11 in the morning. very many interesting things to report about the trip.
a) the bus drivers: there was a problem with the brake light on something so we had to keep stopping to get it fixed therefore someone asked
why didn't you take care of this before we left the station
response from bus driver: nothing manmade is 100%, only God can make things like that, therefore we are not responsible for things happening. (they didn't check this when they left the bus station).
when asked : how much more of the trip do we have left
response: stop asking me so many questions, you are confusing me....
b)saw three trucks overturned in zambia, and these are the big ones you use to transport fuel and stuff, anyway the first one we saw had all these computers for cargo and they were burnt to a crisp after the accident, someone on the bus is like, woooi computers.. something something (this is in another language) bill gates. i'm guessing he was symphathising with bill gates b/c of computer situation....i don't know if bill gates could appreciate/would need that symphathy but it was a good gesture..
c) i really liked zimbabwe, actually harare, it was funny coz you could change money at the steers where we stopped but you had do it undercover coz drama/suspense mystery had to be involved. harare also reminds me of nairobi, so does lusaka, i guess this would explain why africans are not big on travelling, its almost the same thing wherever you go, but still nairobi kicks ass
d) my new name is mama africa, i had forgotten how my dreadlocks bring about alot of attention in places other than south africa. everyone was like, jaman, rasta i've been waiting for you,mama africa come i tell you something (lots of winking accompanied this).
e) south africa is colonizing other african countries economically, though my south african friends would disagree with this, i actually saw a hungry lion (south african fast food restaurant) in lusaka. this is alongside the nando's, steers. i also saw furn city (south african furniture conglomerate) in lusaka...however despite this, i went to two banks, and two forex bureaus to see about changing rands and they were like, no, we have enough rands for the day, we don't want well as, we don't transact in definitely not zim dollars.
d) highlights of the trip, crossing the zim/zambia border, we crossed this river called kifua river or something like that and it feeds into the zambezi, took lots of pictures, it was amazing.
zambia also has beautiful landscapes as you drive in.

Some Zanzibar History

Found another set of notes from Cherono on her first week in Zanzibar(This is from June, but one can still appreciate the commentary)!

my first morning in zanzibar, i was woken up by a loud radio playing from the neighbours house at about 5.30 in the morning. it didn't matter coz i'm in zanzibar, they can play the radio as early as they like. so took an early walk down the beach to the start of a beautiful morning, on the beach there were all these old men, excersising and going on their morning swims, i was impressed. on my way back back home saw three dolphins.(this is definitely the life)
zanzibar is an interesting place, alot of people seem to just sit around and chat, the other day at about 3 in the afternoon, me and friend went to get coffee and we walked by a baraza. this is like a meetin spot where all the men congregate, play dominoes, discuss issues and hang out together. i don't know if means zanzibaris have alot of time on their hands or the afternoon is just to relax, idid appreciate the sense of community and openess present.
the houses here are beautiful, old very old, i walked by a church that was built around 1865 ( i didn't know christianity had a place in islamic zanzibar). that's another thing that i appreciate, i can walk everywhere, to work, to the beach, to eat, to the shops, i might get a bicycle just to ride up and down these little stone town streets and explore the island abit more. everyone and their father owns a scooter which means walking down alleys is sometimes abit cramped and you could get hit by either a scooter or a bicycle.
seen inside a school: This is an english medium school, do not speak swahili.apparently speaking swahili in official places such as schools/colleges/buisinesses is seen as very country. In school, Tanzanian children learn in the medium of swahili until about 14/15 years. After that they have to start learning in english which if you are in a public school, your teacher barely speaks english so you don't really learn anything, or your teacher might continue to teach you in swahili and you learn alot. However the final year exam is set in english so chances are you would fail. its also interesting how when i meet tanzanians and they know i'm not from around, they will insist on speaking english, while i insist on speaking swahili.
dynamics present in Zanzibar: Zanzibar is a very multi-cultural place or so you would think however underneath there is alot of racial,class,gender conflict. Racial: There is a heavy arabic influence in Zanzibar meaning there are black zanzibari's, mixed zanzibaris and indians. all mixed on different levels, apart from the indians, there's alot of interaction between everyone else. there are no distinct lines but my friend was telling me back in 60s when zanzibar was a british protectorate, arab men could marry black zanzibari women but not vice versa. During the Zanzibar revolution (i think 1963) almost all wealthy arab women were forced to marry black men as a retribution for the above. Therefore some of them fled in the middle of the night, and returned to Oman...Gender: women are seen, haven't heard that much from them
on the nightlife: so i was invited to a fullmoon party the other day and i thot, i'm zanzibar, never been to a fullmoon beach party so why not. it turned out to be quite nice, i thought the dj would play all the usual pop stuff but he was really good. Played fela kuti, manu chao, burning spear. and he even played a kwaito track and i went and represented with the only kwaito move that i know, plus you know how south africans love to appreciate a song verbally, so i threw in an ayeye and ayoyo. interesting to see, maasai in traditional dress getting down on the dance floor to reggae (maasais represent in everything, at the market, on the dance floor...where else have they not been)
found a capoeira group (what else do i need to say about that!!!!). i love the food, been eating pilau (fried rice with cardamon,cloves, cinnamon), biriani (baked rice with some other spices that i don't know) Mandazi (donut with coconut milk,cinamon.)spiced tea.
have access to alot of documentaries and movies from all over the world. watched freestyle: the art of rhyme, (USA), The story of a beautiful country (South Africa). all in all, 1st week in zanzibar has been great, because i'm on email more often will definitely write personal emails so for now, my notes are on hiatus.


We also got to groove with Osibisa at the ZIFF festival! Thats us on stage on the far left--well at least you can see Cherono. Here are a few pics of that fun, crazy nite! Also some great notes below from my younger sister Cherono on the Zanzibar experience!

today is my last day in zanzibar, film festival finished, packed up everything and now i'm moving on. On the whole my Zanzibar experience has been amazing; met interesting people, lived on a beautiful island for one month, ate lots of good food. so i'll definitely miss it.
about the festival: although called the Zanzibar international film festival, ZIFF has abit of everything, film,art exhibitions,music,dance... I think one of the really great things about ZIFF is the location, you are a walk away from the sea, so after watching movies.. one can chill on the beach. Another positive element is one of the screenings is done at an 18th century fortress built by Omani arabs, it contains an open air amphitheatre. I don't know what could be better than watching a movie big screen under the stars close to the sea.
the beautiful indian ocean, old skool reggae nites..beach parties..full breakfasts for two people for 5 rand (almost a dollar),passion juice,food in general.
it was great to meet muslim women that were redefinining islam for themselves in ways that i as an outsider am not aware of. Well this highlight needs a background for understanding. One of the things that frustrated me about zanzibar was the verbal aggression from the men. Walking anywhere would always be accompanied by comments,questions,suggestions from various men. This means hi, where you from,where are you going,do you have a fiance,what do you speak,what do you do, are you married, come i have something to tell you. The last one was the worst because if you refuse to walk over then the person would either let you be or angrily insult you for ignoring him. At first me and my sister thought that this was only directed at tourists and visitors on the island but we met a woman who confirmed that it happens to most women, regardless of what you are wearing, buibui (long black dress and headscarf) or tshirt and trousers. anyway this woman confirmed it but she also challenged it..we were all standing waiting for the bus and some men came to stand with us, immediately the questions started...and straight away she told them activities shouldn't/dont concern you. this is the condensed english version. they were shocked.we were happy.
i discovered i have a future in back up singing and dancing, last week when a ghanaian highlife/afrobeat band was performing, me and my sister got so into it that we were called on stage to dance. therefore if anyone hears of the Osibisalets touring with the band Osibisa, celebrate my new found career and fame. Also got to see Apex; a jazz band from the states and strings and sounds; this duet from south africa who play north african tunes on an oud (some kind of guitar) and middle eastern drumming (i think..i'm not sure)
anyway another interesting thing that happened, on the way to the airport to drop my sister...we met a huge entourage of big black cars...and it turned out that mrs. bush was just arriving in Zanzibar, the airport was swarmed with secret service people.(i never thought i would ever say such a phrase, 'swarmed with secret service') i felt like i was in a movie or something......the question is; what do the Bush's want with/in Zanzibar?
there is definitely sense of community and sharing still present in Zanzibar that is not present in other parts of the world. children walk around on their own, everyone stays outside late,chatting,playing dominoes,having the morning while taking a mini bus, there were young kids going to school, aged 4-5. they got on on their own...what shocked me even more was the people who were on the minibus took care of the kids. they would sit with them on their laps (to create more space) well as the guy who collects money got of the minibus wiht them and helped them cross the road till they were safely on the other side. none of these people know each other, it was just done..
ways to understand places and people. i've found one of the most interesting and effective ways to get to know the people of a place is in their public transportation system. There is where the most interesting conversations take place, social formalities are enacted as well as you get to see the non tourist places. If i had time/or next time i would like to take the different mini buses up and down Zanzibar, there's alot to be learnt in these spaces.

This year I had the opportunity to go the Zanizbar International Film Festival. It was amazing! My younger sister was there too, so it made the experience even better! I shall be posting her Zanzibar notes soon, as well as her Capetown to Tanzania notes. I'm planning to do a trans Africa trip too! Anyway, here are some of the digital pictures we have (taken on a borrowed camera, since all we had were our regular, manual cameras)I'm sure you can see for yourself how beautiful it is over there!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Afro-Brazilian Dance

This is me dancing in an Afro-Brazilian dance company, at the Brazilian Independence Day Festival in Boston, Mass (can't remember what year!)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


I've been thinking about doing this for quite a long time...well, now its finally done. I think I have to get used to this idea of a 'public' journal. This will be quite an experiment!=)