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Moun Sent Lisi

By Daisy A. St. Rose

Aaron better known as Sultan Zanzibar or The Sultan can usually be seen outside the Massy Supermarket in La Clery where he plies his trade of fixing fans and other electronic items which is how he has been earning his living for some time. My search to find him outside the supermarket earlier this week was in vain but with sheer determination, I persisted for days until I met up with him. According to him, a life of incontinence has left him unable to ply his trade as he used to. Having an artistic ability which he says comes natural to him, Zanzibar has worked in the arts with the likes of  Roderick and Derick Walcott, Arthur Jacobs, Jakes Compton, Pat Brown, Designer Gregory Lorde to name a few. In the past, he choreographed dance pieces to songs like “ I wanna dance with somebody” by Whitney Houston (one of his most memorable choreographed pieces) which he says brings him so much joy. He practices buddhism and attributes his calmer demeaner these days to the the chant of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.  I was happy to have a conversation with this amicable and articulate being, taking the time to ask him 47 questions.

Daisy: Hello Zanzibar. How are you today and I am so happy to finally catch up with you. I notice that we have not been seeing you outside your favourite spot. Would you be willing to speak with us and answer 47 questions?

Zanzibar: (Stops and turns around). Yes, I am willing but I was on my way to hustle so I can try to meet my needs.

Daisy: Okay, I respect that and will make it up to you. Come with me!

Why the name Zanzibar?

When I traced my family genealogy, I found out that it took me all the way back to Tanzania in Africa. It is good for a person to know their real roots, to find out who you were in the beginning which will help you to understand who you are now in all its simplicity. The reality is that we have been misplaced and displaced – For instance “I am from the original person who reproduced with another and had offspring through the ages”. That is where it starts- with our forefathers and we continue to pass on the features and other characteristics, for example, This is why I can look like one of my forefathers with the same face, nose, eyes and so on through the generations. God only made one set of face patterns of people. We have however, gotten socialized by the system, books and education, gotten so distracted that we miss the essence of who we are. It’s not comical or diabolical- it is simple so I went back to my roots which is a Sultan of Zanzibar.    

What is your biggest weakness?

My biggest weakness is feeling sorry for people.

What is your biggest strength?

My biggest strength is finding answers.

What is a cause that is important to you?

There are so many causes that are important to me but one of them is that one day we as a people can emancipate our minds from mental slavery.

When are you the most inspired?

I feel most inspired when I have my guitar.

Sweet or savory?

If I had a choice, I would say sweet. But now it is not practical to have a choice. I love the sweetness but it is not good for me.

What song can you listen to on repeat?

Anita Baker’s “Caught up in the rapture” – the notes just hit you. She has voice control, emotional structure and voice projection. So it does not even matter what she sings about, her delivery hits the spot. It moves me and picks or lifts me up.

What makes you smile the most?

Thinking of people I love (smiling).

What is one thing people don’t know about you?

That I am normal.

What are three things you can’t live without?

Air but that is a given. So I will say my smoke, my food and comics.

Leather or lace?

Leather.

What is the most adventurous thing you have done in your life?

I went on a midnight nude bathing spree at Pointe Seraphine. It was a very freeing moment.

How would you define yourself in 3 words? 

I can’t do that because moods affect everything. But if I had to choose three words it would be serious, focused and artistic (this last one comes naturally).

You indicated that you have written and sung your own music. Can I get one verse of a song that you have created?

What category of song would you like to hear? I can do this mechanically but I prefer to sing one from the heart which depends on my mood and which rules everything. So what do you want to hear (blurts out some song categories and genres).

Can I hear a verse of a love song?

Zanzibar singing

“So you like the time,

so you like the people,

you know what’s going down.

I guess you’re just looking for yourself,

You’re just looking for yourself.

You put your ear down to the floor,

and hear that’s what you shouldn’t take,

and now you’re living in fear

 and how come HIV, it don’t make them smile.

 So you’re asking everybody,

does it make them smile.

Some people say yeah and some people say no.

Some people say yeah, cause they know,

yeah cause they know, yeah cause they know what time it is…”

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Always save water – from my mother. It was the last chore I did for the day.

What is your pet peeve?

The behaviour of ignorant people…nothing to do with education.

What is one thing you wish people understood?

We must put things in perspective. Be mindful and respectful of other people’s space.

What is your biggest regret?

Not doing crime…I could have been a millionaire today. I don’t like shortcuts, that’s not my thing. But when I look around and see persons who have achieved their success through crime, I recognize that it was an option.

How do you start your day?

Some days it never starts because yesterday never ends. The next day is just a continuation of the day before.

What is the one thing you wish you knew at age 19?

How to do the things that I can do now.

What is the one talent you wish you had?

Reading anyone’s mind.

What is something you still want to be doing in 10 years?

Playing music.

What is the best thing that happened for you this year?

It has not happened as yet.

What is one thing you had to learn the hard way?

Not trusting people.

Coffee or tea?

Coffee

What is one thing you are tired of?

The life I am living.

What is a trend you would like to see disappear forever?

The ‘belehlesh’ trend.

What is the biggest learning experience you have had?

Meeting someone in Martinique who taught me so much about life in all its forms and the monotony of it all. The way everyone runs to work, runs out to lunch and rushes back home at the end of the day. The way we all do things each day…life teaches you. People love routine, so if I pass somewhere and I fall for example, I may keep passing in that same spot each day and continue falling just because by taking that route, I am able to pick two mangoes from the tree that is along that route.  

What are you most excited about these days?

(Excitedly gushes out)) Good news

Diamonds or pearls?

Diamonds

What makes you feel accomplished?

My connection with God.

Favorite food?

Pasta in all its forms since I am not a fan of ground provisions.

Favourite snack?

Local ice lollies. I enjoy the flavors.

What is a super power you wish you had?

Flying.

What is your favourite color?

Red.

What is something you would like to see happen in our society?

I would like to see people start to look out for one another.

What is the most important thing your mom taught you?

Always save water, water is life.

How would you describe your upbringing?

Strict on the one hand and loving on the other. My mom encouraged me to do things and if she was the only one who had raised me, you would not have found me here to speak with me. I  would have been in a different state of mind and society. You see, sometimes we are forced into things, for example selecting certain paths- careers and so on based on status which mean nothing to us personally. When we concede to other people’s demands, we allow them to force us to do what they want us to do  even though we do not enjoy doing it. However when you have ‘bacca’ or encouragement to reach for your own goals, you soar.

Who is your role model?

I don’t have one.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Noise.

What do you want to be remembered for?

My love (smiles).

You read a lot. What is one book you would recomnend that everyone reads?

Dale Carnegie’s “How to win friends and influence people.”  

Who is your favourite author?

Any Danielle Steel. It is the best for me.

What is your biggest fear?

Not finding someone waiting there (breaks into song ‘Jah will be waiting there’ from Bob Marleys’s single ‘I Know’

Any last words for your audience?

Well, I would say that what life has taught me is that it is not what you want to do in life or what you have to do or need to do, but rather what you enjoy doing in life. Anything you do, whether it is working, speaking, fighting, whatever it is, if there is no joy in front of it don’t’ bother do it. Even when you are doing something negative, if there is no joy in it, don’t do it. The joy makes the brain tick and the heart flutter. It is what frees the brain, the mind, the spirit, the soul. When you are free you are open to experiencing and absorbing a lot more. For instance a child in school who does not have to think of where his next meal is coming from will have the liberty of letting his mind absorb as much as possible, will have a yearning to learn and try to develop himself holistically. That is where the rich kids are on top of the poor kids…They have the freedom and liberty to open their minds to learning. When a man has developed the art of projecting his words, gesticulating where needed, be phonetically equipped in the flow of language, to win and capture people, who will listen to you.

If you want to have anything ‘upstairs’ you must know how to read, you learn words, you know how to pronounce these words and how to use them…you gain knowledge. You cannot reach great heights just by just having money or possessions. When you open your mouth, and utter your first words, it will either put you ‘under the ground’ or in high esteem in another’s eyes. Knowing when to speak and when to listen is key. Once you open your mouth, story done.

How do you feel now that we are done?

Well, we could go on and on and I am happy to speak with you again. I enjoy speaking and making a genuine contribution to the discussion.

2 Comment

    • Maria Stclair -

    • October 25, 2021 at 00:10 am

    Very nice

    • Natasha -

    • October 25, 2021 at 07:12 am

    I live in La clery and I must admit that we have always known Aaron to be and intelligent and talented individual. Very good interview.

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