Week 4 - Sound Of The Suburbs
We walked past the daladala station and into a residential part of Zanzibar Town and called in on his cousin. The house was single storey, brick built with a wooden door and corrugated tin roof. There were no internal doors – just curtains across each doorway. In the small lounge there were two velour armchairs facing a TV, 2 VHS video players and a radio cassette "hifi". There were various remote controls and a mobile phone on an occasional table. Lighting was by fluorescent tube. The windows had a fine mesh, and bars, but no glass. A pleasant breeze was blowing in along with the sounds of the township – music, kids shouting, mosque "wailing" and the occasional pikipiki (moped) picking it’s way along the narrow sandy paths between the houses.
I was served meat and rice that I’m sure Mohammed paid for but he wanted me to understand that it was in the Swahili culture to prepare and serve food for unexpected guests.
We caught the daladala out to Magomeni. I think the locals quite enjoyed having a foreigner on their "bus" – where was I going? And did I live there? And had I got a wife? (a recurring question in most conversations), and had I paid my "dollar"? (fare is normally TS150).
I was tired from a day’s work and wanted to converse and know what’s happening.
Annoyingly Mohammed kept talking to me in Swahili (it was a lesson after all).
I thought any moment he’s going to say something of great significance and a
nod or smile or "whatever" from me is not going to be appropriate. We walked
past the tree that his infant son had fallen from a few years ago – breaking
both arms and dying shortly after – "these things happen – you can bring a child
into this world but you can’t carry it forever."
"Pole sana" was all I could reply.
We called on some more relatives to pay our respects to a new addition. It’s customary, especially with the first born for the mother and baby to spend their first month together at the home of the maternal grandparents. I was shown into a room where three generations were sat on the bed – and told that we should only speak Swahili; Mohammed went off to pray. Apparently the husband is a police officer and they hadn’t heard from him since the morning before – probably out wetting the baby’s head or whatever the Muslim equivalent is.
We moved on and eventually reached Mohammed’s home. Not very much different in design and features from the other two we’d been to already that evening. His wife and various daughters were sat around watching TV. One daughter, about 14 years old, was arranging small strips of material into bundles – I guess for making rag rugs? After a while I was brought more food. I protested but Mohammed said what I had eaten before was "lunch" and now this was "dinner" – he was eating too so I joined in. Mohammed’s wife made a good effort at asking me questions in Swahili. Slowly but surely I felt I was making progress.
Week 4 - Sound Of The Suburbs