The old dusty bus clattered along the familiar countryside of Tanzania at surprising speed and I started to drift off…
I dreamt of him, and of what would await me at his home, his boma, where he lived with his entire family. Nerve-wracking enough to visit your boyfriend’s home for the first time, never mind meeting his parents, grandmother, brothers, sisters, cousins and whoever else lived at the place.
I had met him on Mafia Island. A magical place. Paradise. A haven of peace, blue seas and the most amazing diving. Mafia to me was Zanzibar’s little sister. Just as beautiful and cultured but more herself. Less altered by the hordes of tourists that befall Zanzibar so frequently.
The day I set foot on Mafia was the day I met Sokoine.
I was with a group of volunteers, exploring the village of Utende, when we bumped into some Maasai. I was enthralled at first sight. He was taller and bigger than the others, but what drew me in were his eyes. Dark and fiery, yet infinitely kind and patient.
I tried to keep him there, on the dusty road in the midst of the village, with my year’s worth of Swahili I had picked up working in Ifakara, close to the Selous Game Reserve in the south of Tanzania. I did not want this moment to end. Another one of those moments that made me feel so intensely at one with the dust under my feet and the sun caressing my skin; at one with the country I had come to love, with the Swahili flowing freely off my tongue, with the immensely beautiful and fascinatingly exotic people standing in front of me.
He worked as security for one of the hotels by the beach and everyday, when we walked past, I tried to make myself as noticeable as possible, pushing our dive cart, laughing, talking; and should I glimpse him watching me, my heart would quiver with joy.
Five weeks passed and I became more and more attached to Mafia, its people and Sokoine. I knew I would not go back to Germany.
And when my friend Michael, whose shop down by the beach was right next to Sokoine’s, told me one day that Sokoine liked me, it seemed I had even more of a reason to stay.
That this beautiful, proud, mysterious human being that comes from a world I cannot even begin to envision, should like me, this ordinary white chick, was too much for me to comprehend. But it was true and we got together and spent the most amazing three weeks under the sun and the stars of Mafia Island…
…And now he is my husband, and I am still here with him, his parents, his grandmother and more recently with our son. We are all still here in the Maasai Steppe of Tanzania.