Monday, 9 March 2009

"Queen's" Zanzibar ...???

Dear Mr Postman - what an interesting title .. I can't wait to read another of your fun positive stories ..

A surprising connection .. but yes! - Freddie Mercury of the band 'Queen' was born in Zanzibar .. one of the Spice Islands. Mercury was born in the old quarter of Stone Town (now a World Heritage Site), part of the capital of Zanzibar City. There's more information here in Zanzibar unveiled.

The Zanzibar Archipelago is 15 - 30 miles off Tanzania, near the eastern coast of Africa, just north of the equator. It's got a wonderful heritage and I've always wanted to visit (my mother will be interested in the new information).. some friends have just come back & I skyped them in Cape Town! My life to be .. six months here in the summer & six months in Africa & travelling the world ....?!

Spices .. ties in with yesterday's post on saffron .. the islands became part of the historical record of the wider world when Arab traders discovered them and used them as a base for voyages between Arabia, India and Africa ... one of the things that fascinated me as a child was the dhow plying its trade up the coast to the Arabian Peninsula - idyllic looking .. deep blue and carmine sails, turquoise seas, sunny skies and yellow sands .. what more could a girl dream of?

Stone Town was a safe haven from which to trade with the East African coastal towns - before the Portuguese, during the Age of Exploration, took control; in 1698 Zanzibar fell under the Sultanate of Oman - developing plantations to grow spices .. hence the moniker of the Spice Islands. Again as a child I seem to remember reading that you could smell the spices (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and pepper) on the breeze and as you approached the island .. I'd still love to visit - wouldn't you?

The history makes interesting reading .. & I felt enlightened me on the complexities of that part of the world .. and is perhaps worth a read - it is a shortish piece on Zanzibar in Wikipedia.

A totally inconsequential piece of information supplied .. which amazed me .. is that apparently Zanzibar was the first region in Africa to introduce colour television in 1973 .. while mainland Tanzania did not introduce television at all until the early 1990s!

.. another snippet I found interesting is that the Red Colobus (old World Monkeys) and the Zanzibar Leopard, amongst other animal species, travelled across from the mainland during the last ice age.

Oh Mr Postman .. you do make life interesting for us .. we all enjoy your positive stories ..


Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary

I love Freddie Mercury and I never knew where he came from. How interesting!
Thank you,
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gio .. thanks for that .. I'd forgotten too .. but he is so iconic and I too love his music ..

Thanks for commenting - Hilary: Be Positive Be Happy