Monday, September 11, 2006

Dar, the Swahili speaking city

One of the interesting aspects of the city is the tea vendor, who moves around with a steel kettle placed on a locally-made stove with a long handle, writes Edgar R. Batte
Namanga is about a 12-hour drive to Dar-es-Salaam, the capital city of Tanzania. From the Namanga border point, the countryside opens up to endless green scenery with a handful of homesteads here and there, most of them grass-thatched.
magnificent: The impressive Sea Cliff Hotel that graces Dar-es-Salaam City. Photos by Edgar R. Batte
COOL: The customer-friendly interior of Sea Cliff Hotel
SMOOTH: A well maintained road in the city
City roads are well maintained and so smooth that the man at the wheel inevitably finds himself speeding, sometimes getting you to the edge of your seats.
Besides the smooth ride, Tanzania has a lot to offer, especially in terms of nature. The hills, valleys, coconut trees and the heads of cattle the Masai herdsmen graze provide a very impressive scenery.
As you ride by, it is common to see some locals chatting by the roadside while others are busy quarrying stones or selling snacks, soft drinks and roasted chicken and foodstuffs along the way. In Dar-es-Salaam, you find a completely different picture. The city buzzes with dynamic businesses and vibrancy. Besides, it has so many beautiful buildings and places.
A myriad of stalls welcome you to Dare-es-Salaam. As you ride around the city , a vendor carrying coconuts, biscuits and a pair of jeans on his shoulders comesby and taps your car window. In a very fast spoken Swahili (probably a hundred words in less than a second) the vendor tries to attract your attention and convice you to buy any of his stock.Interestingly, if you cannot speak Swahili, you only need to smile back at him as way of sending him away. Otherwise, your silence would just encourage the vendor to keep bothering you. Here, anyone who cannot speak Swahili is easily identified as a stranger. Unlike Uganda, where you will find roads and streets named after colonial personalities, in Tanzania patriotism is very much alive.
The city streets or roads have names like Jomo Kenyatta, Zambia, Morocco, Chiluba among the many high profile African personalities and places. However, the public transport in the city is a little uncomfortable. The 14-seater taxis carry as many as 20 passengers. This means that some passengers have to stand in the taxi. Fortunately, the passengers do not seem to mind this.
Given my experience in Uganda, I can comfortably say that Tanzanians are some of the most friendly people that I have met . You would hardly passby a Tanzanian without them saying ‘Mambo Vipi?’ (meaning what’s up).
Dar-es-Salaam is strategically situated. Little wonder, therefore, that travellers have over the years christened it the ‘call on the way’ to more exotic destinations. Dar-es-Salaam is the connecting centre for travellers to the breath-taking tourist attraction places, including Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia Islands.
One of the interesting aspects in Dar-es- Salaam is the a tea vendor, who moves around with a steel kettle placed on a locally-made stove with a long handle. The kettle sits on burning charcoal and the vendor moves with it from one neighbourhood to another calling out for those who would like to have some tea.
“Chai” he calls. He also carries along groundnuts as a possible accompanment for the tea. Talk of killing two birds with one stone. The tea is, however, sold in very small cups.To the north of Dar-es-Salaam is a hidden haven. The Sea Cliff hotel located just after the Coco beach, is a spectacular place. The place depicts the fusion of African creativity and modern construction skills. At every entrance to the hotel, are Masai statues in cultural outfits complete with ivory earrings and rubbers scandals.
The Sea Cliff hotel is a one-stop- centre. It has an area for relaxation
where there are with grass-thatched huts that overlook the beach, swimming pool, a number of bars, Internet cafes, children’s playing centres, shopping centres and open drinking areas. The place is inspiring and quite irresistible for one to spend hours at the water’s edge as they watch dhows lazily sailing.
Other attractions worth visit in Tanzania include the National Museum, Mountain Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Island of Zanzibar.
There is a common saying that no matter where you go, you can fail to find a Ugandan? Well, Dar es Salaam is no exception. Right in the heart of the city, you get attracted by a group of people speaking Luganda. Kibodiya hotel, a few metres away from Scandinavia Bus terminal, offers fairly a cheap service.
For instance, the cost of accommodation in the hotel is relatively affordable. And no matter where you are in the city or what language you speak, all you need to say is ‘Kibodiya’ to a taxi driver and they will ask whether you are Ugandan before they take you there. It is probably the only place in the city where you can find steamed matooke (for those who might crave for it).
With world cup fever on, Ugandans in the city jam the reception lounge and yell out phrases in Luganda as they watch the matches.

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