Travels with V

Tanzania, Zanzibar & Pemba

Wait…is that a Norwegian tune?

Zanzibar, Stonetown part two

First, one more thing about the house where Freddie Mercury grew up. The only visible sign of it being the correct spot is a sort of placard in a basement window, where the have nailed up old black-and-white photos of him. And speaking of photos, by accident we find a cute but slightly bizarre little natural museum in Stonetown. They have a few actual items on display, among them a collection of dead and rather moth-eaten birds lying on their backs. But the greater, and more rewarding part for the aesthetical senses is a photo collection of animals and plants on the island. The photographer is a Swede, Dick Persson.


Stonetown’s unique old city is on the UN heritage list, but most houses are in poor condition, on the brink of collapse and in immediate need of repair. We can see that Sweden is contributing to fullfil that need. That’s good!

In the evening we get a chance to listen to some taarab music, a style with both Arabic and African roots, and with Indian influences. We find a place where it’s played, and after removing our shoes we sit on pillows and eat the food served on a plate on the floor. Three musicians play for us, violin, handdrum and a sort of a zither. The songs slither like in oriental tunes but the rhythm is more African.

Suddenly a familiar tune pops up on the repertoire. It’s extremely similar to an old Norwegian folk tune called “Per spelman”. The language of music is truly international!

You can compare the two for yourself. Here’s “Per Spelmann” by a Norwegian childrens choir:

We leave Stonetown for a couple of lazy days by the sea. And find a little paradise!

Leave a comment