Between Us Only!
The African Touch!
A The Island (Mafia aka Chole)
When I was a young boy in this island I grew up in East Africa (Mafia – not the Italian one) but the Arabic one for the place (island) without (she without) – there were a lot of scare and weird stories there. These are not tales that I was told, but had actually experienced myself, family and or by my close friends!
Images – Above – Our Old House and Shop – And The Friday Ijumaa Masjid in Kirongwe Mafia (Family Contributed!)
For example? Like cars cutting off engines whenever they reached one special baobab tree, especially after evening prayers (Maghrib) and for no reason. It never happened when our late father (pbuh) was there! In one incident when it happened, my late father shot in the air – and the truck mysteriously restarted!
There was this beautiful damsel wandering in the night (very tall fair Arab lady). They said she was a ‘Jinn’ (ghost, fairy) trying to trap gullible (and usually drunk) men. It was said she actually walks through walls. If that will not scare you to run (and forget all others ideas you had in your head) what else will? I never met her – but our houseboy did! We heard his screams late at night!
One old Bedouin (Omani) telling my father one day early morning ‘that our grandmother had died in Hail Al-Ghaaf (Quriyaat)’. In those days mails took a month, when the letter was received, it was the exact date (the man had insisted to my disbelieving late father to write down the date!).
It was said this man traveled at night (how – do not ask me! I never asked him, nor did I want to find out!) to and back to Oman. To prove his point, he had fresh ripening dates in his house (guess nobody ate them except himself, who else in his right mind would want to try?) It was always in summer time – I came only to know when I returned to Oman in 1972 was the time of dates!
There were so many stories In this island, of so many stories of people changing into ‘cats and monkeys’ and coming to people’s houses (we used to think our poor dad (pbuh) had lost it, when he used to shout at them in Arabic to go away, and they actually did!).
There is also this one! How my late elder brother (pbuh) beat a cat badly because it ate his food. Next day he was seriously sick, everybody said he was a goner. They had to go to apologise to an old African man who looked like he was just beaten up! Only then my brother recovered.
Images Secondary School, High School and Colleges Respectively! Guess where I am!
B The Painful Hurting Song!
In hindsight now – I guess there were mistakes on both sides – and we need to close the chapters of the past in history and in moving forward now – for at least the future relationships between people and for humanity – and even for history too!
Images Young Me at 15!
But one of the most painful song was hearing this in the islands after the Revolution was this song – And those? Let them return to their country! It was in Swahili but in Taarab music – which anyway was originated from Arabic music! I had asked my late father – as a young boy of 14 – why are they still singing this song to us – after all the things that have happened to us? For some it maybe still difficult to forget and forgive – but there is only bodily and mind harm by keeping all these still boiling inside us now. See next story!
C The Cynical Boss!
He was asking me in which place (hotel) I had stayed in the Islands (main one) – and I told him that it was near the Airport and was called R Hotel. He said sarcastically to me – if it is the near the sea too – those were our farms before! He was very bitter about it. I was amazed by his vehement reactions – until then he was always cool and controlled!
D Poor – but satisfied – and happy!
I have said this so many times in my columns and books too – so is nothing new! In 2007 before Gonnu struck us – I had been to our still remaining family islands in story above A. What a lesson I really learnt was them cooking extra food at home for the lesser privileged and advantaged! They were really amazed and shocked when I asked them why they were doing this – when they themselves were in need and not in that good financial position even! They said to me – what is the big deal? It is just food! Allah has given us – and whatever we have we share with others – so Allah God can give us all more.
In my mind I guess that if I was not initially respected by them – they would have told me to go away. I found this in many other houses I visited – and in many other places. The customs and traditions of being satisfied and happy with whatever you have – or can get – was very revealing and learning – at least to me!
There were some elder people that were planning to go to Hajj that year! One came back to repay me a loan he took from my late Father shop – just amounting to our Omani Rials 3. He was so happy I had been there to receive it. I turned it down – and he wanted me to repeat three times that I had forgiven him on behalf of my late Father. He told me – okay I will cook more food today to share with others – but you must come too! Simple people – satisfied and happy with the little they have!
Of course in each basket there are good and bad eggs (fish, fruit!) – but this trip in 2007 before Gonnu was a great learning experience to me! Incidentally I have many other quotes and examples in my books and in my columns – like all the above. As a band leader of my primary school – marching to the tune of the country just getting its Independence in 1961!
We as Omanis should always be eternal grateful for having such wise far sighted pragmatic leadership and renaissance – and we should all strive to nurture, protect and preserve what we have – Amin Amen
By Majid Al Suleimany
E The Haunted Hotel Room
The hotel Reception offered me this room on the top floor. It was at a reduced rate. The Reception Staff lady said to me – You are Omani. So you will be okay in the room! I refused to take chances – and rightly too – as it emerged that the room was haunted – and there was an evil presence in the room. Next morning the people found themselves on the floor thrown from the bed – in the bath tub – and hearing angry hissing voices – like get out from my master’s bed!
I would have discounted this as just whim. But I met someone later one I knew well who had tried the room – and met exactly the same fate. It seemed the hotel was housed in a large family house belonging to an ex Omani famous family. Some of the family members were massacred in the Revolution – and the rest had all left the place soon afterwards!
Image – Mafia Island Map.
Images – Mafia Island – Tanzania.
See also www.mas-trac.com – Investment in Mafia Island.