Lamu ‘Roof-light’ And A Room With Many Views

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It’s back to the old Africa album for some rooftop views of Shela village on the East African island of Lamu. The photos are accruing vintage status, taken with a non-digital camera (Olympus trip) many Christmases ago when home for us meant Nairobi.

Many of you will have seen them before. We were staying in the grandly named ‘penthouse suite’ of the long gone Island Hotel, four floors up in the palm thatched rafters. The ‘penthouse’ status meant much empty space, basic cold water shower and loo, a too-narrow-for-two Lamu bed, a couple of locally made chairs, and best of all, windows on three walls. I have never had so many good views all at once. There was a breeze too off the nearby Manda Strait – always a blessing in the sticky hot season.

And of course this open-to-the-elements facility also came with a soundtrack – radios, family chatter, clattering saucepans, babies crying, cockerels crowing, cats yowling and donkeys hee-hawing. And if at night sleep happened at all, then all too soon there came the dawn call to prayer, the sonorous tones of Allahu Akbar  –  all of village life welling in our roof space like sea-sounds in a shell. It was utterly mesmerising. Perhaps we dreamt it.

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Taking a Lamu dhow into Stone Town. Another kind of window.

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Related posts:

A brief introduction to the Swahili culture of the East African seaboard The Swahili

The original post about our long-ago Christmas trip Lamu Dreaming

copyright 2020 Tish Farrell

Lens-Artists: Window with a view

January Light #14

Back To The Old Africa Album ~ All Manner Of Waiting In All Sorts Of Places

Hwange National Park - elephant crossing our path

It’s always best to wait when an elephant decides to cross your path. This particular elephant crossing episode happened in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. The photo was taken in July, southern Africa’s winter. The bush country was tinder dry and the skies overcast, and the nights chilly. We were living in Zambia at the time and had driven down for a couple of weeks meandering. Zimbabwe is a very fine country for a spot of meandering.

Harare night guards waiting to go on duty

This photo was a piece of pure happenstance. I’d just walked out of the post office somewhere in down-town Harare. These security guards were waiting to start the 6 o’ clock night shift. I was invited to take their picture. A treasured shot.

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Lusaka agricultural show - Dog Show

We’re in Lusaka, Zambia for this dotty photo. One of the institutions that the colonial British left behind in the African territories they invaded is the annual agricultural show. These days it is a big family day out for Zambians and but oddly also includes (mostly for members of the European and Asian communities) a dog show. Here we see entrants in the terrier class waiting for the all important judging moment. I seem to remember it was the Manchester terrier (far right) that got the first prize rosette.

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Lusaka agricultural show - kids

Kids doing what kids do everywhere – hanging out in hopes something interesting might happen.

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Lusaka agricultural show - African cow

A patient zebu bull waiting for his moment in the judging ring.

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Woodside shopping centre, Lusaka. Parking boys waiting for their guarding fee from the car owner. All over the continent, where millions of young people are unemployed, this is how some lads make a living.

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Kamwala roadside furniture market

Waiting to make a sale: Kamwala furniture market, Lusaka. We bought most of our big household items, beds, chairs etc,  from roadside craftsmen. They made good stuff, a lot of it from recycled shipping crates, or by simply repurposing reeds and timber from the highway verges. I miss this way of life. It’s how we should be living: local produce, locally sold by the people who made it, and no need to drive to the out-of-town shopping mall; and none of it shrink-wrapped in sheaves of plastic.

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We’re in Nairobi now, at the Ngong Racecourse. These are members of the Kenya Police Anti-Stock Theft Unit who operate in the arid northern district. This was supposed to be a race, but the camels couldn’t summon the enthusiasm – either to start or to finish. So here we are waiting for them to pass the finish post.

The Ngong Races are another hangover from  colonial times, wherein the institution of ‘Race Week’ was laid on over the Christmas period to provide white settlers with the excuse to come to town, get totally blotto and so escape the lonely toil on their isolated farms. These days the races are popular with Nairobians from all walks of life, though a glimpse of the members’ enclosure and of the memsahibs in their big hats might make you think you’d landed at an English county race meeting.

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Waiting for the next race.

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Race Day is also very much a family event, so there is lots to keep the children amused: face painting, donkey rides, ice creams and Mr. Magik doing tricks.

races_0004 - Copy (3)This little boy does not seem too impressed: waiting for magic to happen perhaps.

Lens-Artists: Waiting Amy set this week’s challenge. Go and see how she has interpreted ‘waiting’.

Remembering December Colours In East Africa ~ Thursday’s Special

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December is usually the time of the short rains in Kenya. I say usually because these days the tropics are especially affected by climate change so nothing is certain when it comes to weather. It is also the hottest time of the year, and in the upcountry regions, the season for planting. Here on Lamu Island (above) it is also tourist time, although the year we spent Christmas there it was scarcely crowded. This  photo was taken on Christmas Eve as the sun was setting. There were about six other people on the beach. Earlier that day we had arrived in a sudden squall which made the dhow crossing to Lamu from the air field on Manda Island a touch exciting. We visitors all huddled under the awning while the stalwart captain kept us on course across a choppy, foggy strait.

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Most of our Christmases were spent on Tiwi beach south of Mombasa. Not a busy place either. Here’s the sunrise over the lagoon at Maweni one Christmas morning long ago.

sunrise on the reef

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And some ageing views of the lagoon in head-on sunshine:

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Thursday’s Special ~ please visit Paula to see her colour prompts. As you might conclude, they include aquamarine, cyan and golden.