The shit in Zanzibar

The shit oozes down the walls of the toilet stall. Just to my right,
one globule. If I watch it, it stops, but as I turn my attention back
to the ganja in my lap, it resumes its journey. Like a snail, a black
snail of filthy, dysenteric bowelspawn, shat there like his brothers,
his fellows, by some festering, infected human.

The fuckin’ shit is everywhere, to my left, to my right, on the door,
the cistern. There are diarrhea tracks running down the window. I’m
sitting on shit, anything I touch will be covered, suffused in shit.
The guy must have shat like a sawn-off shotgun blast. Probably that
fuck from the East Rand. He was white as a blank page at dinner this
More seafood. Crayfish the size of tennis rackets,
lobster like vacuum cleaners, just about disembowelled, some black
brain fluid still visible in the cranial cavity. I can actually
discern the texture of shellfish flesh in the nugget of faeces that
rests on this toilet roll. Caramelised, swallowed and defecated out,
before the Zanzibari waiters have even had time to clear the table.

I must roll these spliffs quick and careful. The ganja
will absorb the stench. So will I. I will emerge from this filthy
fucking shithole reeking of someone else’s bodge. And I will NEED a
fuckin’ smoke after that.

A smoke of this easy-choefing Zanzibari grunge. Ten rand
a stick. All brown paper wrapping like we used to score at the Bunny
Hut in St Francis when the Chokka Run was just starting. Sticks,

It’s me and Duncan by the palm tree just beyond the
splash of the security light, the guard waiting politely just out of
range. And the mert, the same guy who sold me the stuff, tugging at my
elbow. Blue Face.

“You cheat me. You say hundred rand is ten euro. They
only give me seven. You cheat me. Give me more. I curse you! You hear
me, South Africa? I curse you! I curse your Mandela. I curse
bafanabafana! I curse Big Brodda! Curse Waka Waka!

The weed does taste of shit. Shit and seafood. Seafood
and suntan lotion. Sunblock and insect killer. Spice. Cardamom,
cinnamon, ginger, cloves. Vanilla, saffron, nutmeg, bhangi, all of
which have shared space in my day bag on those trips to Stonetown.
Stonetown. Stonetown! Stoned town! Full of Blue Face’s sticky, evil
cursed weed, honing of someone else’s shit festering down the concrete
alleys, hopping the sewage.

“Nice saris. I give you good price. Come! Zanzaibar football shirt.
How much you give me?”

No bru, I’m just… I’m high as a kite and I’m cursed. And there’s a
mullah in every doorway checking me out. I can’t find the sun. I can’t
find my way. Every alley seems the same. The sea was supposed to be
this way, but it’s not, got it’s so fuckin hot. Daranjani fish market
fuck I could kotch. These flies… In the bogs at Mercury’s a woman
weeps. I heard her through the wall.

The fever’s feeling me too, but the ganja keeps it at bay, even if it
lets the demons in. We’re being led to god knows where by no one knows
who. He says he’s Black Elvis, but that sounds like a pseudonym, not
him, I don’t trust these alleys.

This ready-rolled… I know the ou put a hex on it. I could just… If
these Muslim ous would stop staring, I could just… As long as Black
Elvis isn’t out to fuckin’…

Somewhere here there’s somewhere kief. I been here, somewhere behind
an ancient door of woodworked finery wifh inlaid brass and farsi
prayers, there’s a balcony and a view and a fan and a draught and a
waiter in an off-white fez. What was it called? If I could just… Is
that me that smells of zol? Where’s he taking us? I didn’t mean to
rip-off Blue Face. I didn’t mean to be an outlaw. I thought… How
much is a rand worth anyway? No one knows that shit. If he’s cursed me
and I get stabbed, I’ll be fuckin acid!

Tripping in this fuckin heat. The sweat’s bringing the shit back. I
can smell that oke’s skiets and my own sweat and the devil’s ganja on
the sub-basement of these waves of cinnamon from those baseball-bat
sized sticks as Black Elvis rounds his last corner and kids tell
kitendawili riddles, while shangaa-adorned brides-to-be undergo
unyango ceremonies, new plans are laid for the busara festival,
somewhere west of Nungwe a fisherman adjusts his sail and the ancient
rhythm of the elements ushers him home and I, I am the one out of
place. I am the cursed one. I am the bringer of the curse; the source,
not the subject. Head spinning, mind twisted, self-obsessed, smelling
of shit, my very body rebelling against this place as I rise to the
skin like a bullet to the sternum fit to burst, my week is up it’s
time to bust. I’m not qualified to stay, I only scratch the surface,
my passive aggrression’s only fit for cities not this place of
ancients where we all know our place. I can only impose my schizo flow
for so long before it’s all gone. I know when I see Blue Face’s
cursing face before my face in every alley face it’s time to face up
to facts and fade out of Stonetown but I don’t even know the
wherewithal. This place’s a maze!

Zanzibar will bring me to a pus-faced head and squeeze me out like so
much infected matter, like a foreign object.

And that’s what I am. That scrubby, peppery ganja i scammed off Blue
Face… The paranoid squalour, the sewage lapping our feet as we
stumble through these alleys to our doom or salvation. The dysenteric,
flatulent sheetflow of shit spray-painted up and down the walls of
every tourist toilet on Unguja. From jambiani, where barmen tanned the
tone of teak tap the tonsils of pale new blood fresh off the bus.
None of that is real thing. The arrogant, narcissistic self-centered
ignorance that guides me, the hedonistic filter through which me and
my travel mates view this place, as we get our hair cornrowed on the
beach, 13 serengetis in, ready-rolled blazing in the lady’s eyes,
board shorts soiled with last night’s follow-through. A 12-hour badge
at the bar, A willing market for all that’s tacky in their culture,
the economic incentive for total debasement. Bead bracelets, cow horn
necklaces, kente kaftans, a plywood map of Africa with Kilimanjaro on
it, an ebony club encrusted in glass beads, a leather ankle strap,
tied by a Maasai tribesman at the resort variety show, a set of
elephant-shaped bookends haggled down to forty thousand shillings at
the hotel craft market from a man who knows a man who can get us some
bhang. Cheap. And what Mr Tourist wants, Mr Tourist gets, cheap &
cheerful if a little sarcastic but still.

Ja fuck. I am the shit in Zanzibar.

Writer for television, print and digital, corporate and editorial. Editor and writer of books. Musical performance, spoken word as Inspector Ras. Guitar/vocals for The Near Misses, (Worst Band In JoburgTM). The last whitey at umsebenzi. Latest book 415 Action-Packed Neighbourhood Marketing Tips with Basil O'Hagan, out now. @hagenengler

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