STONE TOWN. It is home to the slave trade routes and a prison island. EDGAR R. BATTE explores a bit more about Mji Mkongwe in Zanzibar
The beauty of Stone Town lies in its concrete and natural face which have been preserved through years and centuries, qualifying it as one of East Africa’s historical towns.
Whereas Cape Town sprawls with beautifully designed roads that are a marvel, Zanzibar’s Stone Town has alternative beauties. It is the home to the Slave Trade routes, Spice Island; a prison island and hosts Sauti Za Busara, one of Africa’s biggest arts festivals.
Most definitive though is its colonial look, prominently seen through ancient structures that you can win a bet if you said they have not seen a coat of paint in ages.
Thus, the town is listed on the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organisation (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Centre. The town authority is jealously protecting this status as evidenced by the conditions, call them impossibilities, it will take you through to paint a public building or house.
Vantage points of view
As you walk through Stone Town corridors and on the main street you will be captivated by the full view of the alluring splendour of the imposing Indian Ocean. There are residents and foreign investors who have capped on the million dollar sight the ocean presents.
They have lined its shorelines with restaurants to allow tourists and locals the stunning view as they indulge.
There is something for everyone and if you do not have the dollars to chop in the high-end hangouts, you can fit in the evening when one of the places lining the ocean teems with food vendors and tourists who would like to taste and experience Mji Mkongwe, as Stone Town is known in the local dialect Swahili, at an affordable stipend.
Forodhani, which you will allow me call Stone Town’s unofficial dining table where special pizza is served, chilled sugarcane juice mixed with ginger, seafood and an array of local and international drink brands. Street food is the in-thing there.
Your journey is incomplete without an experience or more at Forodhani, made of concrete and brightened by both lamps and street lights. It faces the Indian Ocean. In the evening hour, there is the cool breeze sweeping onto your body. It makes one wish to stay forever.