Avaes Mohammad

Zanzibar: SKETCHES OF ZANZIBAR 2-4 (200509)

In Uncategorized on June 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm


Day 1

Papasi 1: Mambo! Mambo Raffiqui! Raffiqui!…Hey Raffiqui!!…Raffiqui!…Friend!…Hey Friend Mambo! Mambo Vipi!! How are you my friend? How are you?

Avaes: Poa.

Papasi 1: Cool…Poa! Nice!! Yeah man…that’s cool…you enjoy Zanzibar yeah? Cool…cool…hey Raffiqui, you want spice tour, stone town tour, cultural tour, island tour, prison island tour, slave tour, dolphin tour…

Avaes: Don’t want a tour.

Papasi 1: No tour? Not interested? What’s your interest Raffiqui, huh? What’s your interest?

[I shake my head slowly, avoiding eye contact as I walk.]

Papasi 1: Hash? Weed? Coke? [Beat] Heroin?

Avaes: Liquorice! Got any?

Papasi 1: … Acid?

Day 2

Papasi 2: Hey Mambo Raffiqui! Vipi man? Mambo Vipi man? Poa?

Avaes: Poa.

Papasi 2: Poa! Yeah man yeah man…listen Raffiqui…listen…I’ve got malaria friend…malaria man! Feel weak you know…see! See my hair’s falling out…can you see? Help me please brother…some help please Raffiqui…for the medicine…

Day 3

Papasi 1: Hey Raffiqui…Mambo Vipi man?

Avaes: Poa

Papasi 1: Kamaa Deezee?

Avaes: Kamaa Deezee!

Papasi 1: Cheezee!…hey Raffiqui…so what’s about today man? You wanna go spice tour, dolphin tour, prison island tour, cultural tour…

Avaes: Raffiqui…Listen! I ain’t here for none of that…I’ve had a stone town tour and that’s it for me…so look… next time you see me walking down here yeah, there’s no point asking me…I’m only sayin’ so you know right…so you don’t waste your own time or mine.

Papasi 1: Yeah…poa…[Beat]….Hakuna Matata!


Avaes: What was that?

Papasi 1: What? Hakuna matata man!

Avaes: Don’t say it to me like that… be straight… if you’ve got a problem then say it but don’t be telling me there’s no problem when there’s blatantly a problem in your voice…I’m straight with you right?…I ain’t gonna buy anything from you, I ain’t goin on no tours and I ain’t gonna give you money…you know that now…it’s just better we know, yeah?

Papasi 1: Yeah. Poa man.

Avaes: Poa!

Day 4

Papasi 1: Raffiqui!… hey,Vipi?

Avaes: Poa.

Papasi 1: Brother listen…my mother…she’s dyin’ man…she’s on her deathbed I promise…in that hospital over there…she’s on her deathbed…can you give me some help?


Stone Town, Zanzibar. A labyrinthe of Arab, Indian, Portugese and African architecture: wonderfully winding, narrow, jagged alleys, large open squares, tunnels. A pleasure to find yourself lost in, to weave through and be left with the feeling of having danced through time. A pleasure to steal glances through beautifully ornate balconies and windows, maybe to find your own Scheherzade, able to cure your ills with a thousand and one stories.

On the edge of Stone Town: The Night Market, all seafood imaginable freshly barbequed.

On the edge of the Night Market: Rocks, where my Alaskan fisherman friend Brad and I would spend most evenings together with chai.

In front of us: the night ocean. Dark, viscous and wild as it crashes like a crazed lover beneath our feet.

Above us…stars. So many stars: The North Star, The Great Bear, The Plough, The Scorpion, a whole band of stars so dense and plentiful, as though heavens’ chest has been torn open: her treasures laid bare for all to see.

[Prolonged Silence.

Brad sits up a little straighter.

I sit up a little straighter.

Prolonged Silence.

I look down.


I look up.


I look out.

Prolonged Silence.]

Avaes: This is fuckin awesome man.


Brad: It’s incredible!


[spoken through a laugh just about to erupt.]

This is fuckin incredible dude!

[Like madmen, we simultaneously break out into hysterical laughter, echoing the oceans’ own crazed tones.]


[A smart young schoolboy, no more than 10 years old, walking back to school after lunch in a well pressed, clean uniform. He charms me.]

Avaes: Jambo!

Schoolboy: Jambo!

[The boy fixes both his smile and his gaze in my direction]

Give me money!

Avaes: What?!

Schoolboy: Give me money!


Avaes: No!

[He follows me down the footpath. I walk off the footpath and onto the grass. He still follows.]

Avaes: Oi…kid! What d’you think yer doin’?

Schoolboy: Give me money!

Avaes: No. I’m not going to give you money. Now go to school!

[He walks away.]


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