Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Gate to Aden, October 1937

Aden at the western tip of the Jazeerah

The lighthouse at Steamer Point
By the time Siddi got the news from Aji Muhammad that Baba had hitched a ride on a produce truck to Jeddah, Baba and his mates were looking over their shoulders at the islands on the Red Sea as the steamer made its way through the Straits of Bab-al-Mandab, the Gate of Tears.  
Once the cruiser glided over the choppy waters, they would be able to catch a glimpse of the lighthouse at Steamer Point, which beckoned dhows and ships to the port of Aden.  Baba must have been exhilarated by the thought of the first time stepping on foreign soil, away from the watchful eyes of his father and the gentle pleas of his mother to be careful, to always be careful.  His eyes peered at the horizon for famous landmarks on that ancient city - Jebel Shamsan, Crater Pass, the Al-Idrus Mosque, the Ma'alla and Sheikh Usman districts. 
It was just a few months ago when the vessel which his family boarded at Port Swettenham stopped to refuel at this last station on the Arabian Sea.  Accompanied by his brothers, Muhammad and Ishaq, he had confined himself to the vicinity of the harbour.  This time around, he promised himself that he would explore savour every flavour, colour and rythmn of this tenacious settlement which clung to the feet of extinct volcanoes.    

The city of Aden circa 1935-1936,
courtesy of

Modern day Aden

The wide boulevard that led to the colonial buildings
Nadifa Mohamed, Black Mamba Boy

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