Stone Town

The sea, the majestic sea
Breaks everything, crushes everything
Cleans everything, takes everything from me

– Corinne Bailey Rae, The Sea Lyrics

If I close my eyes long enough I can shut down and be where I want to be. I just need to concentrate….



Long enough and I’m in Stone Town. I’m looking at the slave fortress. And then the local mosque. And the market. I can see the Ankara fabrics with Swahili proverbs on the edges. I’m wearing shorts, short shorts, and a tank top. I throw my kimono on so I look acceptable, and I’m wearing a hat, like a real tourist. Not someone who is trying to… Never mind.


I’m strolling through the Art Market, and everything is so African and beautiful. But I need to buy things that won’t haunt me, seen too many of those in movies. I’m at the beach now. My feet are in the water. The sun always shines here. And it’s just right for me. I love the sun on water. I’m taking pictures for the nights when I don’t want to talk to anyone. I’ll scroll through them and smile and say “so beautiful”. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll find a Starfish. Or maybe I’ll just lay in a hammock and watch the sunset.


That always calms me, seeing the reflection of the sun on water. Maybe because it reminds me how small I am in the grand scheme of things.


When I open my eyes, it’s to the sound of blaring horns and the smell of exhaust. Lagos, my Lagos, you’re both the cure and the disease. I’m still between the first two roundabouts, I’m going to the sixth. The devil must live on this side of town, that’s the only logic behind this traffic. I would like to think he must live somewhere around Jakande, but Ajah people can argue about that. The fuel situation is unpredictable, so no Air Conditioning tonight. My body aches from sitting all day, and I’m tired, even to my lips so every sentence is answered with a different “hmmm”. There’s one for disagreeing, one for agreeing and another for “really?”.


I’m numb, not just tonight, but every day. If you asked me what I was wearing, I wouldn’t be able to tell without looking at myself first. I don’t know today’s date, I only know how many days I am from Friday. Autopilot. I work for 30 minutes and put my head on someone’s shoulder, but I don’t need shoulders. Shoulders are temporary, what I really need is to grow a spine as they say. I already have one, only wish I could brace it so I’ll stop crumbling under every little weight. I listen to Kanye’s “Graduation” and Tye Tribett’s “Greater Than”, they’re the Negro Spirituals to this Slave Ship. Kanye for indignation which is the only thing I feel at the moment, and Tye because Jesus gives me hope.


Swing Low sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home to Kizimkazi, where the sun never stops shinning and I can put my feet in water. Kizimkazi where the fishing boats are white and the water is clear and blue.

Oh the sea….