Zanzibar Xmas – Sex and Violence

25 Dec

I’m staying in a male brothel this Christmas. I didn’t know this until recently.

At first I thought the young and sociable guys who work here were happy go lucky manslags, shacking up with the Western women who come by regardless of Jerry Springer style age gaps. I didn’t think much of it all at all beyond occasionally choking on my morning coffee when I see who’s done who. Then I started seeing money being handed over, sometimes little amounts to buy chicken and chipsi, sometimes more in really terrible secret handshakes. I started getting an inkling. Then when Josephine said in the bar last night, complaining that she was very fragile really and ‘I just don’t like it when Odi asks for money right before orgasm!’, that’s when I knew I was on to something.

It’s a neat place though. I’ll stick around for Christmas.

Nungwi, on the north coast, is 1 part upmarket beachfront destination and 5 parts Muslim village. There aren’t any roads. The paths of deep puddles and coral reef rock are assault courses at night, challenging even to the slightly tipsy. My own walk home involves either a 20ft balance test along the top of a low wall through bush (gigantic African snail country) or a stroll over a smouldering rubbish tip.

In the late afternoon the beach boys play football on the beach, where I tore up my shin sliding over shingles. This is some of the roughest football I’ve ever played. Fouling football without the laughs. It’s always around 20 vs. 20 with the same miniscule knee high 2ft wide goals. This means the only way to score is with ice-hockey style rushes, which from a distance (as in, from where I’m stood) looks less like a scoring opportunity and more like a gang kicking somebody’s head in.*

Traditional beliefs in dark magic are still strong in an unfashionable, muted kind of way. There’s a local legend on a neighbouring island of a bat man. We’ve got one of those in the West, yeah, but this one’s a gay rapist. And he can fly. He rapes a man in the night and then tells the victim that if he keeps it secret from the village, he’ll get another raping the next night.

It’s a lovely place really though. It is. The community here is a happy mix of rastas, devoted football fans, immersed expats, big families, Masai pool players who pepper the beach working as security, carrying long daggers and heavy topped sticks, and everyone shouts greetings as you go.

I’ve taught english in an alleyway with a blackboard in the morning, been practical (had a nap) in the day, and drank beer (Tusker) and sugar cane spirit (Konyagi) with ginger beer (Tangawizi) in the various bars in the evenings.

On Christmas day (today) 4 of us have bought some gifts to take to an orphanage in Zanzibar town during the day. Sounds great in theory but it went completely tits up, more on that to follow.

Merry Christmas everyone from a slightly unhinged piece of paradise!

*Update: Equalised in a 1-1 draw yesterday, a storming finish from 2 yards out.

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3 Responses to “Zanzibar Xmas – Sex and Violence”

  1. Louise December 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Merry Christmas Jack, have a great time and stay safe. Lou Paul and Jake x

  2. Burgess December 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    Sounds good place mate looks as if it is a good trip up to now keep on pedalling mate enjoy not met you yet mate but heard loads about you mate from your little sister take care. Lees mum and dad, Dave and Jackie

  3. Annemarie December 25, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    Merry Christmas Jack! Ur a brave lad doing what your doing! Bet Africa is not a dangerous is people made it out to be. Im sure ur having ‘up and down’ experiences but that is the beauty of travelling, let alone travelling in Africa. Ur gonna be such as expert in Africa and will have endless amounts of stories to tell when ur back. Shame u missed out on Ethio and Ghana though, but then again there is so much more to see anyway. Good luck with everything! England gonna seem really boring when u get bk although perhaps being with your family at this time of year would have been nice. Take care darling! xx

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