THE lead singer of super group Queen (‘We are the Champions’) was born in Zanzibar of Parsee parents. They baptised him Farrokh Bulsara. Freddie Mercury and fame were still to come.
But – even though for a modest fee you can take the Freddie Mercury tour on Madagascar - the locals have no idea where he really lived.
In fact, the American lady taking breakfast at the table next to me on the deck had no idea where she really was.
“Where are we now?” she asked plaintively. “Zan-zi-bar!” came the irritated response. Clearly not the first time her husband had fielded the question.
Say after me. Yesterday Mom-ba-sa. Tomorrow Mad-a-gas-car. Today Zan-zi-bar.
Accompanied by hefty blasts on its siren to clear the waters ahead of fishing boats, canoes and scores of men swimming around trying to gran octopuses, MS Nautica motored into Malindi Berth 3 in Zanzibar (‘Coast of Blacks’) in the early daylight hours after an overnight passage from Kenya’s ancient trading port of Mombasa.
Although a gun-toting people themselves, the Americans were somewhat overwhelmed by the weaponry on display in Mombasa – for many years a hotspot of crime, corruption and conmanship.
There were complaints of submachine guns being pushed too close to faces. Americans, who can be armed to the teeth at home, must feel quite naked when roaming weaponless on foreign shores.
Another guy complained his cellphone was held to ransom after he handed it to a local to take a photo. I am thinking of offering a Travel 101 course he should enroll for.
On a two-hour, six kilometer ramble around Zanzibar's Stone Town and its markets, pausing only to fight off dozens of would-be guides who told me that, without their wisdom, I would see nothing, I happened upon the Freddie Mercury Tavern which offered nothing stronger than Red Bull to imbibe on.
I was needing something considerably more potent than that after Ingrid was caught out photographing the unloading of military assets (as Australian prime ministers like to call them) from a landing craft cunningly disguised as a small car ferry.
The guards were deeply concerned about the Isuzus being photographed.
Having understood that a Red Bull was as potent as a beverage got in this Islamic state, I made my way back to Nautica and the bar on Deck 9, where sportsmen meet.
With a Becks beer in hand, in my element at last.