While I was setting up a spice tour in Zanzibar, I met a very friendly guy named Samir, who goes by Sami. I told him I had just arrived to the continent of Africa (literally that day), and he invited me to join him and his friends to go to the Sauti za Busara festival that was taking place in the Old Fort in Stone Town later that evening. Sauti za Busara is Swahili for “Sounds of Wisdom.” Check out a couple of my own recordings from the festival here.
The event has become a world renowned festival drawing acts from all over the continent, and visitors from all over the world. The 2013 festival showcased 24 acts, and some of my favorites from it include Khaira Arby from Mali, and Mokoomba from Zimbabwe. I felt extremely fortunate to have stumbled upon this event, and all on the very first day of my trip…what a memorable way to start my East African excursion!
Sami and I decided to make plans my second night as well. He came by my hotel and picked me up on his scooter, then took me to his house in a small town outside of Zanzibar City called Michinzani. We then went on to Gymkama, a local dive bar a ways out of the town, to watch a soccer game. (Sami and his brother both played for the local team, so he was quite
a fan). The bar was setup on an outdoor basketball court, had plastic tables and chairs, a DJ playing some really cool tunes, and a big screen showing the game. I was literally the only foreigner in the place, which is not a common experience for visitors to Zanzibar. Such a treat! The pic on the right is one I grabbed quickly with my iPhone (I don’t take my DSLR on these types of outings for a number of reasons, mostly because that would have been rude to Sami, who was kind enough to take a foreigner into a locals only scene).
This was only the second day, and around midnight, I finally started to yield to the effects of the jet lag and almost started falling asleep in the bar. We left soon after, and I got to see another local secret. That is if you’re on a scooter, it’s acceptable to go the wrong way down a one-way street.
I am forever grateful for people like Sami. He didn’t know me at all, but he was willing to befriend me and show me a bit of the local flavor. I would have gone to the festival myself, but the experience would have been quite different, and I surely wouldn’t have found the local bar called Gymkama. Thanks Sami, and I hope I can return the favor someday!