It didn’t make sense to be in Dar and not to make the crossing to Zanzibar, one of my favourite places in Africa. After the intensive travelling of the last few weeks, I felt like actually going on holidays. This time round, I arrived late at the ferry and was told “no more economy tickets” ($30), only V.I.P. ($50). I said I don’t believe it (rumours have it they try to sell V.I.P. tickets to foreigners), and stubborn as I can be I kept waiting by the counter. After some 20 minutes the lady offered me business class, and I agreed to pay the slightly more expensive $35 for the crossing. Once there, I ran into a taxi driver I knew, and Idri recognized me immediately. He proved to be very helpful. I hadn’t booked anything, which can be a bit tricky in high season, but my familiar Rumaisa hotel proved to be a good choice again. I got a discount (despite high season), and even my old room. Later that night, Adam, the barkeeper of the Livingstone, would come to me immediately, saying “Welcome back”… It’s amazing, I’m travelling now as if Africa were my backyard.
I finally made it! After a number of years during which I considered going, now Zanzibar was just around the corner – relatively speaking. It’s three-and-a-half hours flight to Dar es-Salaam, then two hours ferry, plus the odd transfer to airports and so on. Still, it was my big opportunity, and quite in line with the past few months during which music had been a dominating theme: Sauti za Busara, “Sounds of Wisdom” – African music under African skies!
And whatever effort it took, it was well worth it. Sauti za Busara is perhaps the best festival on this continent (“African music under African skies!”). It certainly beats Lake of Stars (Malawi) in its choice of more traditional music, or music which makes more use of traditional elements. And it focuses on East Africa. Or as one website puts it, Sauti celebrates Africa’s DNA. Let me illustrate this.
Here’s the ground I’ve covered over the past four months (straight lines = flights) – and so much space left untouched! Roughly: 1 month Uganda, around 2 weeks each in Rwanda, Tanzania & Zanzibar, and Malawi, 1 month in Zambia … and already 2 weeks in South Africa 😉
Everywhere I have travelled in Sub-Saharan Africa, the picture is the same: women busy themselves, day in, day out, to do most of the work, chores and otherwise. I may exaggerate, though honestly, I don’t think I do when I say that Africa is run by women, especially in those fields that are run efficiently. This, obviously, excludes politics and a lot of admin. There you have it, I’m happy to stand accused of exaggeration and over-generalization, because I want to make a point. I do not care much for explanations that include the word “culturally”, I just share observations. Cultural practice, in my view, is a choice, and no explanation or excuse for anything.
When I realized that entering Tanzania overland from Rwanda was going to be difficult, amongst other things because visas are not issued at the border, and also considering the size of the country and costs involved in entering the Serengeti or Ngorongoro, I decided to deviate from my plan, took a flight to Dar es-Salaam and cut my stay short. After all, I wanted to attend a festival in Malawi in early November, and it felt like I’m running out of time. Seriously? Anyway, my plans changed, I planned on two weeks only in Tanzania. Air Rwanda was as impressive as Rwanda itself, and the flight was truly pleasant. On that note, I’ve come to love the airport announcement tinched in heavy Bantu r/l-mixups that wish you a “prresent frright” instead of a “pleasant flight”, that’s what it sounds like anyway.