Dar es salaam

Dar es salaam proved to be the trickiest cities to photograph or engage in any activity with regards to photography. This was somehow a great challenge that faced me but hey I had to get photographs for that period of time I was to be in the city.

As human beings we are both repelled and inextricably attracted to the unfamiliar, the strange, and the seemingly freakish. Like so many visitors to Tanzania, I too felt drawn to tour the city, knowing full well that the images I captured might perpetuate the stereotypes and devalue the very culture that fascinated me. The story, however, is more complicated than that.

I have been struggling to comprehend the vagaries and challenges of cultural tourism and the commodification of the tribal experience for over a decade. Raised from the humble surroundings of a fishing village just over a century ago, Dar es Salaam has blossomed into one of the most beautiful sea-port capitals.

Many beautiful and new sky scrapers are rising tall in the skies every single time of the day. The development in the city is quite marvelous and to die for. Beaches are within easy reach of Dar Es Salaam, literally translated as “The Heaven of Peace”.

Wandering the streets of Dar es Salaam is nowhere more rewarding than in the Asian business district, along India Street and the intersecting Indira Ghandi Street. Here the flavours and smells are of a little Bombay, and if there’s anything you need to buy, this is where you’ll find it. In this concentrated section of the city, you’ll find some of the best restaurants in East Africa, notably on Jamhuri, Mkunguni, Zanaki and Kisutu Streets.

The city itself is an eclectic mix of Swahili, German, Asian and British architecture, reflecting its colonial past and more recent history. It is a relatively new city – Sultan Majid bin Said, then the sultan of Zanzibar, saw the potential of Dar es Salaam as a deepwater port because of its strategic position at the centre of the East African coast.

In 1866, the Sultan began work on his palace, built of coral blocks hewn on Changuu Island off Zanzibar. But he died before its completion and the palace fell into ruin – but not before he gave the tiny port its name – “Haven of Peace”.

Eleven years later, the German colonialists revived the plan and seized Dar es Salaam from its Arab rulers, fighting off an uprising by the local Bushiri tribe. The order they imposed on the chaotic little port is reflected today in the neatly laid out grid patterns of streets fanning out around the port, and in several grand edifices scattered around the waterfront, most notably the German Hospital, the Lutheran Church and St Joseph’s Cathedral.

The askari monument still stands strong in the city. Its a memorial to the askari soldiers who fought in the British Carrier Corps in the world war one. Its located on the roundabout street of Samora Avenue and Maktaba Street, a place that reportedly also marks the exact center of downtown Dar. It was unveiled in 1927.

Photography :: Joe Lukhovi

Location :: Dar es Salaam city


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