The Solitude Within

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As in the previous post, this is a Christmas photo, but one taken long ago when we were visiting Lamu off the Kenya coast. I’ve posted it before, but make no excuse for showing it again. It is one of my favourite photos, and one caught in a split second with my Olympus Trip. I think the gods of photography were smiling on me.

The gentleman so absorbed is Mzee Lali, the owner of the sailing dhow. He spoke no English, nor said a word to us that I recall on our day trip out to the reef. The conversation was dominated by his nephew, Athman, who, as a speaker of English, Kenya’s official language, could hold a captain’s licence, and so take tourists out on sailing trips.

He told us that Lali was born on Pate, one of the more remote large islands in the Lamu archipelago. He knew everything there was to know about sailing, Athman said. But because he spoke no English he could not take the necessary two and half year captain’s course, and so obtain a licence.

Somehow this photo echoes the dilemma of island elders. They belong to another world in another time.

copyright 2017 Tish Farrell


Weekly Photo Challenge:Solitude

45 thoughts on “The Solitude Within

  1. I’d have no problem re-running photos like that…I often do, though they’re not quite ‘that.’ Cheers Tish!

  2. the gods were smiling on you and angels were singing…
    and Pythagorus was there too and he said – make sure he gets a good angle of those triangular sails….

  3. Such rich colors in this photo. It’s a pity that the elders are unable to become captains because of the language requirement. They are probably more competent sailors.

  4. THe colors within this photo are truly beautiful, Tish. It’s really a shame that so much knowledge and experience aren’t being utilized because of the “English only” rule.

    1. Yes, it’s a quick way to lose expertise, especially if there’s no one keen to learn from their elders. There has been a bit of a resuscitation of ancient trades and crafts on Lamu in recent times, with a few of the older craftsmen who are left running courses dhow building. But then the younger generation would overall prefer fibre glass speed boats.

  5. A mzuri sana picha, Memsahib. And a story that shows bureucracy (i.e. stupidity) knows no frontiers. He can’t get a Captain’s license? What rubbish.
    My wife just finished reading 1984. She ranted at me for giving her a “terrible” book. 🙂 I told her: “It is an excellent book. Non-fiction actually.”
    Take care Tish.

    1. This is one of my best photos from Africa days. As to 1984 – Nonfiction indeed. We have opened Pandora’s box and let the bankers, CEOs and newspaper owners run amok, and most of us haven’t even noticed how much power we have given them. So much for civilization.

      1. Very great photo indeed. As for the rest… when I see the rising violence in Europe I wonder whether war might mankind’s ultimate destiny. Looks like no matter what, war is always around the corner. Mbaya sana.

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