The traditional Makachu sport in Forodhani Gardens attracts hundreds of onlookers every day. I managed to talk to one of the brave people who deal with it.
Batman from Zanzibar, like the movie’s Bruce Wayne, comes to the meeting trying not to be noticed. No one around suspects that the exploits of the 22-year-old from Fumba were only recently covered by the largest media in the world. He wears his comic book superhero costume, brought by his uncle who works in Dubai, only on special occasions.
Makachu shows in the capital of Zanzibar
The restaurant I choose to meet an extraordinary guest exists only on a map. Despite the obstacles, after a while we manage to find a table at a roadside meat fryer in Nungwi. Aladdin came here from Stone Town, where yesterday I had the opportunity to see his show for the first time in my life. While walking in the Forodhani Gardens near the port, I noticed a group of young men jumping into the shallow water just beyond the breakwater wall. The crowd gathered around clearly suggested that I had to move out of the run-up area or I would be rammed. “Is it safe?” – I asked in shock one of the local boys and, as it turned out, also a popular Tanzanian ski jumper and influencer. “For someone random, definitely. We know how to do it,” replied Muhdir, who also uses the pseudonym Aladdin.
No one knows where Makachu came from, but they say it is a sport as old as Zanzibar itself. “Diving has been around for as long as I can remember. I started training at the age of 17. We started recording videos only in 2020, when this sport also became a trend among the younger generation on the Internet,” says Aladdin. That’s when the idea of putting on superhero capes for TikTok videos was born. Muhdir has several. There’s Batman, Black Panther and Superman. All purchased by a family member working in the Middle East. This is the most common direction of emigration among the local population. Everyone agrees that they see no need to go to other East African countries for money. Despite visible poverty, their life in tourist Zanzibar is incomparably better.
Aladdin’s jumps were noticed by the world’s media
The technique seems simple: jump without hurting yourself. Using the force of momentum and jumping at the right angle, Makachu jumpers glide horizontally, hitting the water surface with their chests. If the wave goes out while they are jumping, they may unexpectedly find themselves on the sand. “Normally, such jumps into shallow water do not cause pain. However, if I jump crookedly, I feel discomfort,” explains Aladdin. He has never had an accident, although on the Internet you can easily find examples of people who were not so lucky. Someone broke their spinal cord, another accidentally hit a rock. It turns out that the worse or more dangerous the jump, the easier it is to gain Internet popularity.
Aladdin’s mother lives in Funba, and his father lives with his new family in another part of the island. Muhdir does not have one home to which he returns. He often travels around the island, staying with friends. “My mother doesn’t support my passion. He’s afraid and wants me to find something else to do,” says Aladdin. Luckily for her, Muhdir’s two younger brothers hadn’t tried diving yet. There is no specific time from which you can start growing Makachu. Aladdin shows me many videos of various participants jumping. The youngest of them is not even ten years old. The oldest one is already over sixty. Girls are also eager to take part in sports, although there are not many of them and each of them causes quite a sensation.
Aladdin seems a little lost and unsure about his future. He doesn’t know who he would like to become if Makachu’s jumping doesn’t bring him fame and a decent life. He admits that the most joyful moment of his life was when his legendary performance in the port of Zanzibar was shared by Snoop Dogg himself, and then by ESPN. “It was amazing. I remember friends and acquaintances writing to me that a famous rapper had added a video with me on Instagram, and I didn’t want to believe it,” he recalls.
This situation allowed him to dream that one day he would be like the great extreme athletes from Europe, supported by Red Bull. However, the reality in Zanzibar is different. As he says, sometimes he manages to make money from his shows. However, he does not provide details. Compared to the jumpers from Bosnian Mostar known on the Old Continent, those from Tanzania do not approach tourists in order to “raise funds” for the jump. Tourists looking for excitement can watch their performances every day in the old part of the capital of Zanzibar completely free of charge.