Photographs for Africa: Tanzania

Poa kichizi kama ndizi!

To a visitor the daily life presents itself colorful, lively and mixed up. As a visitor you first have to get used to it. But soon everything will appear in a much sharper focus. In between the many people, you will recognize different persons doing their jobs.

arrival in morogoro

It feels more like a lifetime. A world away from here. Everyday I think about my experiences in Tanzania with longing and wonder. Did it really happen to me? Did I swim in the Indian Ocean, fly over the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, get to know great people from around the region? Did I really walk on the rooftop of Africa? Did I meet and fall in love with some of the greatest kids I’ll ever know, did Moshi, Arusha, Dodoma, Morogoro and Dar really feel like home?

morogoro mountains


Did I truly discover some of the harsh realities people face? Will the lessons stay with me forever or will Tanzania slowly fade away? If I’m being honest, how much does that scare me? What will happen next and how can I build on what I know now? How can I reflect my memories, the lessons and truths learned, in my life back home? Well…I am still working on it. Here is what I know now.

the hills across

People say that this is an experience of a lifetime. And it is, I do not wish to take one moment I had in Tanzania for granted. But for me I feel like that phrase falls flat. They don’t describe what I have felt or seen, they do not encompass all of the quirks, joys, fears, and beauties that have existed for me. I know that I can not sum up Tanzania in four words or less, I guess that is why I have written this much.

bus station


You have heard about it, experienced it, and seen it along with me. Perhaps you have felt some of my happiness, sorrows, and excitement. And maybe you now have the desire to seek the unknown or help where you have never thought you could. It was my hope and reason for documenting my days across the neighbouring nation.

taxi stop

I encourage everyone to leave behind what they know, to experience a new world and reality. It will open you up to all kinds of possibilities you never imagined, for instance interacting with all the new communities i got to meet in search of a life with my camera. Yet I know that these trips are not possible for everyone. And for those of you whose lives are going down different paths than my own, there are still many ways to discover the world, because we can all make a difference no matter where we are.

masai warriors

But more than just the struggles and hardships, I have seen the importance of putting people and relationships before money and possessions, a love for nature and the outdoors, and the need to appreciate the little things. Living in another culture lets you absorb all of the good things it has to offer. I am so grateful for the opportunity to see both the good and the bad.

dar in the morning

The most common way to get around in Tz, is to use dala dala. Buses of various sizes and brands. All of them have one thing in common: they are always overcrowded. It’s fascinating to see the variety of baggage and freight: from living chickens to 50 kg sacks of rice on the roof or anywhere else. Passengers must be masters of self-control: sitting closely together, skin to skin even at high temperatures, tolerating all with peace and serenity. It’s an adventure to get out from such a vehicle at rush hour.

crowded daladala

A more pleasant way is to drive with bajaja. Particularly in Dar es Salaam it is the preferred mode of commuting, these three-wheel motorcycles, where the guests are sitting in the rear passenger compartment, almost as the British royal couple in person. So elegantly chauffeured around, most destinations will be reached faster than with cars which tend to be stuck in traffic jams. The skilled drivers know a lot of short ways. However, it may happen that you are bound to lend a hand to cross an obstacle at a construction site.


Tanzania is a liberal country when it comes to the acceptance of different religious opinions. Believers of the great world religions live peacefully side by side. The belief in ancestors and other convictions are also tolerated.

bus terminas

For many people music is the purpose of life, at least it belongs inseparably to the way of life. Regardless that some cars are almost wrecks, they will surely have good music equipment.  Sometimes you get the impression that the car windows bend outside due to the massive sounds from the radio. Tanzanian music is melodious and swinging.

sunset in arusha

At the coastal region you will hear the typical TAARABA sound. Mzee Yusuf is one of the famous interpreters of this music style. It’s a style that is full of life.

Photography & Text:: Joel Lukhovi

Arusha, Moshi, Dodoma, Morogoro, Dar es Salaam


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