(Photo courtesy of Sameer Dossa. Cheers, Sameer!)
Mama Kosta is nothing if not a business woman. When we asked her if we could film her for a video, she declined. She hates being in front of a camera, for pictures or video.
‘Tell her what it’s for,’ Adam tells Cecilia. ‘Call her back and tell her that millions of people will see it, and she’ll be famous.’
We’re not quite sure what Cecilia says to convince her, but she eventually consents. ‘But,’ Cecilia says, and we stop, ‘She says that we have to buy her a beer.’
Which is how we end up in Mama Kosta’s bar, sharing our favourite Tanzanian brew, Eagle.
Her bar is a collection of crude wooden benches and stools, a couple of metal chairs. But they’re painted a robin’s-egg blue, and she’s arranged them under a tarp with one side open to a banana tree grove. I like it here, and I’m relaxing enjoying this beer.
We talk about business, about life. She likes my necklace. I try to explain what a T token is, but stop eventually. It’s a rather complicated explanation even for Adam, although he mentions that Toronto had a similarly ridiculous public transportation payment system, too.
Later in the conversation, I see Mama Kosta screwing up her face and tilting her head to the side, limbs writhing.
Slightly alarmed, I turn to Cecilia sitting next to her, who’s laughing.
Mama Kosta is still twisting up, and now everyone is looking.
‘She’s trying to cross her legs like yours.’
I look down at my double-crossed legs, my right leg over left, and right ankle crossed again behind left ankle.
I laugh and stand to try to teach her to double cross her legs and arms. I stand in eagle pose, right leg double-crossed over left, left arm double-crossed under right, palms pressed together. I tuck forward into a ball before unwinding.
No matter how she tries, Mama Kosta can’t do it. We both burst out laughing.
We return to sitting beneath the banana grove, more than enough eagles to go around.