Date: Tue, 16 Nov 1999 06:56:36 PST
From: Claude Marthaler

Subject: "ZANZIBAR"

Dear Redfishes!
Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, km 9825O

"My friend, if you stick to what you believe and be passionate The "Wolofs" said you'll find what you're looking for because in life, if you're not passionate you'll never win" Youss ou N'dour."

An island beginning, with a Z must certainly contain a vast alphabet of cultures. If you would close your eyes and ears and inhale, you could be in the port of Cochin, a South Indian spice hub. (the olfactory sense being THE sense of memory). Opening your ears to the numerous tape recorders of the shopkeepers would make you soon hesitate between India and the Arabian peninsula. Opening all your senses would only make you feel more lost or "traveling" without moving, like in a dream.

Indeed, to Zanzibar came Sumerians, Assyrians, Hindus, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Portuguese, Arabs, Chinese and Malays. Today, its East coast is said to serve like an efficient laundry machine for the Italian mafia. Beside the historical "Stonecity", typical of a Muslim or a Hindu city, another more contemporary influence had been added in the sixties by the East Germans, at a time when Tanzania was experiencing "African Socialism" : grey oblong six-stored buildings. While every year of my journey is deeply linked with a particular climate or season, a smell, a type of music, or human features, Zanzibar ejected me back into the concentrate -- the Planet revolution.

The Zanzibaris still call it "The Indian Ocean", though the Indians themselves on the other shore, ironically, but perhaps more realistically (having been invaded always from the West) call it "The Arabian Sea". The trade and Islamic beliefs remain strong with Oman, which over centuries controlled Zanzibar and eventually transformed it into the capital of the Sultanat itself.

A stop-over between Europe and India, close enough to Africa to serve as an ideal base for the spice and slavery market and 2O miles far enough to have to give nothing back to Africa. The historical background of Zanzibar drives nowadays people from all over the world. The island keeps with its international destiny, and the starting of the "fruit-rain" (short rainy season) gives a more faded mystery to its walls. "We Blacks married the Arabs, that's the way we finally got the island" said a local guide. In fact, he was not so far from the truth.

Eily Ruete, born Sayyida Salme around 181O, princess of Zanzibar and Oman, daughter of the Sultan, could see from her window the rooftop of a German merchant, fell in love and got married. Although it almost created a war between the Sultanat of Oman and the British Empire, passion prevailed over all. but unlike the ideologies or the visible walls (and despite the Tropics), the story has never faded.

The YAK_



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