Makunduchi- The Village in Zanzibar that grounded me, and changed my perception on life.
Updated: Jan 16
Perception on life
The biggest gift one can give themselves is something positively life changing that helps put things into perspective and makes them feel grounded. My journey to the honeymoon, fun-filled, beach destination of a paradise called Zanzibar, was a lot more than what media advertise it to be. It was the day I entered the village of Makunduchi that my perspective on life changed and I felt completely grounded. Here is my story…
A few days earlier in Stone Town I booked a tour guide to take me into one of the villages to see what the life of the Zanzibaris was really like. I asked a local about the education system, if they had places to buy clothes, and just what I can take with me. He said , “take anything”. I thought t-shirts would have been a good idea, but buying clothes from Stone Town would have cost a fortune since it’s only really tailored for tourists. I also did not know how many children would be in the village. The guide told me he would go to a wholesale factory and bring back whatever I needed. It just didn’t feel quite right.
Importance of speaking to locals
Speaking to locals had offered me a world of knowledge about Zanzibar. Education was offered freely by the government, but there were a few problems. Schools barely had enough classrooms, and most had no tables or chairs. Children were not provided with stationery nor reading material as part of the system. Only some of the children of Zanzibar would go to school, and they take home with them what sticks to their mind. There’s no literature to remind them of what they were being taught. If it wasn’t enough to be heart-broken by the first part of my trip ( I will share the story one day), I knew this was going to shed a lot of light to my life, so I asked the guide to take me to a stationary shop.
Arriving at Makunduchi Village
I entered the terracotta grounds of Makunduchi in the south of Zanzibar. My quad bike carried candy, pens, pencils, note pads and erasers. Children and adults alike dressed in vibrantly coloured fabrics ran through the trees to meet us at the stopping point in the middle of the village.
Boys and girls of all ages, adults of all ages and a much elderly woman greeted us.
The importance of fearing the head of the village
I opened my quad bike and took out what was a plastic box of candy and was about to reach in to give a little boy a piece. The male guide quickly grabbed my hand and hid it. “NO” he addressed me firmly. “Protect yourself and give it to the older woman. They respect her and are afraid of her. Only she can hand out gifts to them.”
One of the women on the trip did not hear the man and grabbed my plastic box of candy and started to hand them out (of course she had no right to). All I saw was several hands multiplying on top of each other reaching into the box. The woman slowly on the floor being stomped on, until the man grabbed the box of candy out of their hands.
I had never seen anything like this. It was a jaw drop moment for me. I did not understand why they did that, and it was best to just stay cautious.
The Basic living
We walked through the village exploring the red clay houses and seeing how the villagers lived in them. I never imagined there were people living and sleeping directly on soil all year round. Those that had a bed were extremely fortunate. Their toilets were not even holes in the ground. It was the earth. Their kitchens were as basic beyond anything anyone could imagine. Fire was created with rock and wood. There was zero water supply. I wonder how many of us today would be able to live this life. Would we be able to live without the internet, without water in our homes, without electricity?
My heart deeply touched with what my eyes were seeing. To me this was not life I had ever imagined to still exist.
I watched a girl peel and cut bananas. The look in her eyes looking at me as an intruder. She was only a teenager with eyes that had so much mystery in them, they could write books!
The Children of Makunduchi
I found myself lost between the beautiful red clay coloured houses, the tall trees and the children holding my hands. They asked me what my name is repeatedly, only to find myself being drifted off the path from the rest of the group. Soon as there was a distance between the group and myself, the girls would look me in the eye, holding up her fingers to create a money gesture and would say “money, give me money”. I was petrified from the look of a 6 year old! I was in unfamiliar territory, and it didn’t matter if they were 6 or 30-year-old, i quickly rushed to join the rest of the group I came with. The look in the eyes of these children was not reassuring.
There we were a group of foreigners waltzing in on the lives of people who have never left their village except to the sea to bring home water to last them barely a day or two.
Although generally happy people. The Zanzibaris from Makunduchi village had a reaction of snatching not taking when handing something to them. I was very touched to see living standards so different to mine. It was not even comparable.
I Want to be somebody some day
There were very few kids from the village that were in school. I had only brought 28 sets of pens, pencils, and note pads for the children. Those that did go to school fought to get their hands on the books as the ones that didn’t were also trying to get their hands on whatever was being brought into the village. I asked one of the children in school why she is eager to have her book and pens. She said ‘I want to be somebody some day’.
My Thoughts on Makunduchi
Leaving the village of Makunduchi left a sense of heaviness in my heart. There I was driving away from smiling little children, teenagers that showed mystery in their eyes. The so-called bedrooms that had no beds. The kitchen that was the ground with pieces of rocks and twigs from the trees. I didn’t know what I was feeling, couldn’t understand it. I knew I was happy to have experienced the lives of the Makunduchi villagers for a few hours. Learning that I was blessed, that the people that surround me and those that I come across in life, have a lot more to be thankful for than they can possibly imagine.
To think in today’s world we are living in, there are families, within an entire village that don’t have the basic needs as a human in today’s world!
What broke my heart the most, was women had to walk for 3 hours for a bucket of water that would not last a day or two. Makundushi made me promise myself, that one day, I will build a well in a village were water is hard to reach.
If that is not something to ground us and change our perception of life I don’t know what is. I will revisit Makunduchi one day, for everything that made me grow, deserves to be revisited.
For more on Zanzibar, why not check out the other blogs on this heavenly island:
Changuu Island- previously known as Prison Island is a piece of heaven
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