I’m sitting on the “barasa” outside a house in Ng’ambo, in central Zanzibar Town together with Omar Muhammed Ali. Omar Muhammad Ali has built his house himself in 1958. He is spending his days on the bench in front of the house, as his legs are tired of age.
40 years ago his mother planted a tree in front of the house. The tree is now big, one of the biggest trees in the area. Ng’ambo is planned to become the town center in the new Master Plan of Zanzibar town. I ask Mr Ali if he thinks that trees are important in the city and in his neighbourhood. He sighs and tells me that for a long time he has been in favour of this tree in front of his house, but now he has come to a conclusion that after all, the neighbours are more important than the tree. The roots of the tree are seeking water under the houses of his neighbours and cracking up their foundations. Now he is ready to let the tree go to keep up the good relations to his neighbours.