In Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanganyika, we visited coconut plantations, a coir factory, and spice traders. We sniffed anaesthesia-inducing clove flowers, and I stuck my finger into a cocoa pod that I found on the side of the road. It didn’t taste or smell like chocolate at all. Travelling around in a rickshaw, we visited small Arab shops in alleyways too narrow for cars. The local tour guide explained Zanzibar’s historical connection to the Sultanate of Oman. He told us that many ancient treasures were still to be found in these Zanzibari Arab shops – at bargain prices. He said that the shops were mostly owned by Omani traders who still travelled up and down the coast between the Arabian Peninsula and islands like Zanzibar, Lamu and Pemba. They travelled on small wooden ships called dhows, taking advantage of the trade winds. My father said that our ‘smarmy and over talkative’ guide would be paid by the shop owners if we bought something from them. That was the reason for him being so helpful with the historical background that I found fascinating. Grown-ups could be so insensitive to the reality of things sometimes.
Allan Taylor, author Luanshya musings