February 16, 2010 – I landed in Zanzibar at midday, the sweat dripping off my back and other orifices.
With no time to chill out or go for a quick dip in the Indian Ocean, the Studio 53 team and I headed straight to Old Fort, Stone Town, where the seventh Sauti Za Busara – sounds of wisdom – music festival was taking place.
A quick change of clothes and an even quicker dab of make-up (yes, ladies, I am rather adept at using a powder puff), we began shooting our first interview, which was with Fresh Jumbe, a Japan-based Tanzanian artist whose forte is traditional Swahili music.
Over the course of the four-day festival, which started with a street parade reminiscent of Rio’s carnival, complete with fabulous, flamboyant costumes, we interviewed a raft of musicians from all over the continent, including Thandiswa (S.A), Malick Pathe Sow (Senegal), Sekou Kouyate of Ba Cissoko (Guinea) and many more.
Every evening, a crowd of music lovers flocked the Old Fort to feast on delicious seafood, drink cocktails and of course, be entertained by sounds from the continent.
Our second brief was a travel piece, which started off with a quick tour of Stone Town; we were lucky enough to be guided around the town’s historical narrow cobbled streets by Amina Karume, daughter of Zanzibar’s President Amani Abeid Karume (but do I say?).
Putting my motorcycle skills to test, I borrowed a two-wheeler from a local gentleman and cruised around the town, letting the cool breeze blow through my, er, head? As the sun set, I joined a group of would-be premier league stars for a quick football game on the beach. Clearly outclassed by the local talent, I cut my losses and headed to the nearest watering hole, where my skills would be more appreciated.
The following morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed (ok and somewhat hungover), we drove an hour out of Stone Town to Kizimkazi for an experience of the underwater kind.
I was more than eager to meet the stars of our next shoot, Zanzibar’s dolphins – dipping in and out of the ocean with ease; these gorgeous streamlined creatures manoeuvre the waves with stunning elegance. Watching a baby dolphin swim underneath its mother, and getting to swim alongside these amazing animals is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives. Time stood still as I played with the dolphins; with each hour blending into the next till it was sunset.
After a final night of partying with the musicians and revellers from the festival – first at the Old Fort and then at local hangout, Livingstone’s – it was time to head back to Nairobi. Zanzibar, as always, had made me sweat; not just from the heat, but from the vibrant energy of its beauty, its spirit and its people.