Sunsets in Zanzibar presented moments for reflection over what I had experienced during the day; from the new food I'd tried, to the new faces I’d met, to the new photos I'd taken. It really didn't matter whether I was watching the Sun disappear into the Indian Ocean or watching the fading red and orange rays of light bounce off the stone streets of Stone Town, the effects of the dying twilight remained the same.
I welcomed the end to a day with open arms in preparation for the marvels of the Zanzibarian night. I’m talking fresh seafood courtesy of the night-markets and African music blasting through the speakers at my favourite night-spot, The Old Fort. With a few bottles of Kilimanjaro beer, to be drank moderately of course, I soak in the sights and sounds of the night as I wait for my favourite song: Davido - Maga 2 Mugu to play so I can show the locals how it's really done (obviously).
The above represents the majority of my nights on the island. However, as the sun begins to set on my fifth day, I find myself hastily taking my last photographs as we rush to leave the white beaches of Nguwi on the northern tip of the Island. Why? ...So Mangi and I do not miss our hour long bus back to Stone Town.
A few minutes into our power walk, we bump into a beautiful Masai mother carrying her sleeping son. Against Mangi's advice to not take my camera out to capture that moment and risk missing a great chance to catch our bus… I reach for my camera and take a quick rapid burst of photos (dramatic turn of events, I know).
We make the bus, sweaty and desperate for the Fanta(s) in our bag. And as per the now standard ritual I have become accustomed to, I flick through the day’s photos under the intrigued gaze of the young lady sat next to me. I get to the photos of the Masai mother and her son and I am immediately drawn to one of the photos from the rushed rapid burst earlier.
It is a photo of the Masai mother walking past another young boy to her left:
I usually try and add meaning to my favourite photos by thinking of a great caption because it is a well known fact that everyone loves a ‘fire’ caption. I call it: Waxing Poetic!
So at the risk of sounding pretentiously philosophical, I came up with the following 'Wax Poetic' caption:
Some day, her sleeping son will grow to be just like the young man she is walking past, physically at least. Mentally, he will mature to lead a life hopefully governed by the values and principles instilled in him by his loving mother... After all, that is the hope of every loving parent.
As his maturity grows, so will his appreciation for the hard work and love his mother has shown in raising him to become the man he is ultimately on the road to becoming.
Let’s just take a brief moment to appreciate the deepness of that right there.haha^
And now back to the bus…
Halfway into our ride back and with the faint moonlight gently fighting the darkness that's taken hold of the bus, I stare out of the window at a sky now consumed by a plethora of stars (Ooo… Big word!) and my mind shifts back to that photograph and I become aware of the fact that I am on that young boy’s journey, be-it a little further into it.
I think of the person I am… the aspects of my personality worth shouting about and the aspects not worth shouting about (that still require a lot of work)… I think of my little successes and grand failures… I think of the opportunities I’ve had and lost.
Gradually, It becomes clear that the successes I have had on that journey are less about the work I’ve put in, and more about the work, influence and love of those especially close to me.
I take another look at the photo and my mind is instantly drawn to the most beautiful person I know both inside and out. I’m not thinking about Angela Basset or Solange (although that’d be quite the plot-twist - If that were true).
My mind immediately goes to my Mom. I would tell you her full name, but I gotta protect my finances and not publicly post her maiden name... Ya get me!?
I digress… My mom has been my rock from the jump, exhibiting the purest form of love through her actions and sacrifices over the years just so I could enjoy the necessities and luxuries of life, one of which is the ability to travel to ethereal places like Zanzibar.
I know Dad will read this so: I want to let you know that if I had taken a photo of a Masai dad carrying his sleeping son, this would be dedicated to you too. That’s a joke by the way and I love you just as much & appreciate you everyday, even though I don’t say it as much as I should.
To Mom, I see strength in your meekness every single day and appreciate your unconditional love, empathy, patience, balance & indescribable strength - Plus, you are clear evidence that Black truly don't crack!
I hope that someday I can grow into the man you have worked hard to raise and be a reflection of who you are and continue to be.
So I dedicate the effort and product of this whole project primarily to you (...and all those who continue to keep me grounded and build me up with your love and good graces - Dad).