King Yen and Fish and Chips.

I wrote the little tale of life in Moshi below back in September I think. It came to mind this week for two reasons:

  1. Witnessing a female volunteer rebuff a street seller extremely rudely telling him to go away and leave her alone, she didn’t want to buy his stuff. He had only said hello, how are you.
  2. Preparing to cross the road (taking life in hands) and being stopped by a huge booming and melodic voice calling “hey Gill”.  This was King Yen, he remembers my name from September last year.

Bananas on head

With these two things on my mind I searched for the King Yen tale and decided to share it with you. If you can put aside your reserved, inhibited nature and be friendly to the street sellers they are a great source of help, assistance and fun. They are just trying to get by and in Moshi, they will respect you if you apologise for not being able to buy stuff because you are a volunteer. They will walk with you for the company, show you the way when you are lost and generally be good fun.


Ok yeah King Yen wants my phone number. So what, I just say Oh I’m sorry but I can’t give you that. You are my mate when I’m in town and that will have to do my friend. He guffaws (he really does have a hearty laugh and a booming, deep brown, melodic voice) and gives me a high-five and goes on his way.

My tale from September past:

I’m getting pretty confident in certain low-level conversational Swahili and one of my secret passions is the ad hoc conversations with the mamas on the dala dalas and the street sellers. Yep those guys that hassle you to buy something!

This week found me at the side of the road belly laughing with a complete stranger whose name sounded something like King Yen but I’m sure that is far from correct. Oh and I mean belly laughing in a very public place. I roared.


King Yen had made the usual approach, he is somewhat huge with a mob of Rastafarian type hair and woolly hat, apart from that I didn’t much notice. I responded as always politely and greeting him respectfully with a how are you today? So we continued with the usual repartee and much praise for my Swahili from yet another street seller who can speak excellent English (self-taught I assure you).


The inevitable came and King Yen caught my attention by not assuming I am American as most do. Where are you from? As I said he had my attention a little more now and I even slowed my fast pace as I gave the usual I am from England. Before I could show off and announce But I lived in Spain for fifteen years, King Yen announced in a deep throaty voice “Aaahhh the land of fish and chips.” Well I simply cracked up. It was so unexpected in a scripted conversation and so out of context here in Tanzania!

Yeah I know most of you guys are not old enough to remember when fish and chips was England’s preferred dish but I am!

King Yen I salute you.




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