Bad judgment, good outcome

I intended to stop for a quick bite of goat at Woodland on Friday night, but I ran into Fredrik, a Danish guy I met there a few weeks ago. We were joined by an African guy named Jeremy who told us about his dream to become a motivational speaker.

The guy spoke good English, and so does Fredrik, so we had a wide-ranging talk about global politics before Fredrik started trying to convince us to go out to listen to music at a place downtown called Malindi, where he said he’d received death threats on two different occasions.

It was not a convincing argument, and it was getting toward bedtime anyway, so I said I’d go another time. He kept pushing, saying “Brett! Brett! We’re gonna go!” and finally I gave in, since I’ve been wanting to hear some live music while I’m here.

We called a cab and went to my house to see if Alfred wanted to come along, but he was in bed.

The cover charge was 3000 shillings, less than two bucks. The place was packed with Africans and a small group of Mzungus clogging up the dance floor at the foot of the stage, bros in tank tops shaking it white-guy style.

The lead singer was a dapper old guy, probably about 60, dressed in a red shirt and black pants and sliding his feet and gesturing with his hands to the rhythm as he sang. The band included guitar, bass, keyboards, a drum set, congas, and a horn section of trumpet, sax, and trombone.

The band was great, and so were the songs. Everyone was happy. I ate sambusas, which is what they call samosas here. They’re always good, even when you buy them off a guy’s head when you’re leaning out a bus window.

As I was standing on the side of the stage, a guy came up and started translating and telling me about the musicians and the songs. Some of them were from Congo, others from Kenya. The old guy was from near Muheza, where I’d changed buses on my trip to the coast. My translator was also from Muheza, where he worked as a magistrate. He’s in Moshi to study at the law school.

The old guy and horn players stepped aside and a younger guy with dreadlocks got up and sang Bob Marley songs — “By the Rivers of Babylon” and “Waiting in Vain.” Everyone sang along, even me. I even moved my feet a little, although I didn’t want to scare anyone by actually dancing.

Later a woman sang some songs, and then two younger guys who traded vocals, and then the old guy came up again to finish the night, singing with the two others and then by himself. My friend introduced me to him as he left the stage, and he asked me about myself in good English.

Since the music was over, I was ready to go, but Fredrik wanted to stay, and there was no sign of Jeremy, so I caught a cab by myself.

Once again, a bad decision turned into a memorable experience.


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