Aloha from Zanzibar
Photographic documentation of public
performance on Stone Town beach, Zanzibar

When I packed the ill-fitting Elvis suit into my travel bag, I didn't yet understand why I was doing it. It was the night before departing via low-cost airline for the exotic island of Zanzibar. Pre-travel research had led me to another glam rocker, Freddie Mercury, who was born on the spice island in 1946 as Farrokh Bulsara, from Indian parents. Having read that Mercury's family belonged to the Zoroastran (Zarathustran) faith, my free-associational Googling led me to Friedrich Nietszche's book Also Sprach Zarathustra, with just enough time spent on his writing to grasp some of the intensity of his soul-searching. The next link took me to Richard Strauss' symphonic poem of the same name, inspired by Nietszche's book, but I did not dwell on it for too long because it rapidly led me to the year of my birth, 1968, and Stanley Kubrick's epic film, 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Kubrick had picked Strauss's composition as main musical theme for his films soundtrack and popularised it so much that Elvis Presley instructed his showbiz band to open all of his later concerts with a glitzy rendition. The intro song, Also Sprach Zarathustra, was televised as part of Elvis' 1973 show Aloha from Hawaii, which was the first live concert ever broadcast globally via satellite, reaching approximately 1.5 billion viewers. This was the last chapter for the older, overweight Elvis of excess. It was not the young Turk of rock ‘n roll I had heard on the first vinyl record I had ever bought with holiday pocket money as an eight-year-old, en route to the seaside with my family.

The King's last years, with sweaty brow and mumbled lyrics can perhaps only be fathomed when you've also turned 42 (the age Presley died) and as I sat down with my guitar on a soft white beach in East Africa, with my equally soft white mid-riff bulging from my rhine-stone suit, I knew that perhaps soon, I will live to be older than Elvis ever was. On my return home, I discovered (on-line) Dr. Ahmed Gurnah's text as published in a book called The spaces of postmodernity: readings in human geography. He describes our voluntary acceptance of cultural globalisation, illustrated through his own experience as an inquisitive youth listening to rock 'n roll in East Africa in the 1950's. Gurnah's contribution to the book is titled: Elvis in Zanzibar.