Friday, December 30, 2005


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.


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