“We have always been middlemen – between the land and the sea, the producers and the buyers, the African and the Arabian,” says historian Professor Abdul Sheriff. “That is not a concern; it is our strength.”
“If I didn’t try to sell a carpet to everyone who says they do not want one, I would never sell a carpet,” as one salesman says.
We run aground in narrow channels, then skirt the edges of deep ponds, keeping a wary eye out as a pod of hippos bellow their anger at us.
They are full of fun, egging each other on to flirt with me, then hiding shyly behind their hands if I respond. It is a place of laughter.
I WAKE in the night, clammy with sweat, itchy with insect repellent. A branch cracks suddenly, falling to the forest floor near my tent. Monkeys howl. I gulp warm water, wonder if my bladder will hold until daylight, and pull my damp sarong about me as I toss and turn. This is the sideContinue reading “Sierra Leone: Lion Awakes”
ZANZIBAR is one of those names – such as Casablanca or Marrakesh – that conjures up a romantic image of adventure and travel. We’ve all heard of it, though most of us might be hard-put to find it on a map. The Spice Island, to give it one of its titles, is actually two smallContinue reading “Zanzibar: Ancient ways”
SO I AM sitting on a verandah, finishing off the best crème brûlée I’ve ever tasted, watching the warm African sun set slowly over the scenic expanses of beautiful, rolling vineyards and asking myself: ‘Why do I live in London, exactly?’ Another few glasses of South Africa’s finest wines and I’ve not only forgotten theContinue reading “Cape Town: Outpost of style”
MY FIRST reaction is: ‘Why have a I never heard of this place?’ Axum, in the extreme north of Ethiopia, is the country’s oldest city and was its ancient capital. In the heart of Tigray province, the roots of modern Ethiopia lie in the Axumite Empire that was once one of the world’s four greatestContinue reading “Ethiopia: Land of legend”
IT’S BARELY DAWN and I’m cold, tired and hungry. Last night it seemed like a good idea to get up at 5am to see a Sunday service in one of Ethiopia’s famed rock churches, here in Lalibela. This morning, despite the inevitable grumbles, it feels like an even better one. Not that very much isContinue reading “Ethiopia: Rock of ages”