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


Stone Town – A shared history

As soon as I set my foot in Zanzibar island, I could just feel the unending joy and passion of what this town had to offer. The fantastic weather and the wonderful people truly charmed my heart.

The main means of transport in Zanzibar. It allows easy movement of commuters in the small streets.

The main means of transport in Zanzibar. It allows easy movement of commuters in the small streets.

It soon came to my notice about the traditional culture that this island holds. The people, mode of transport, food and the white sandy beaches that reflected the magnificent sun that sets each and every day slowly across the western horizon, ushering in a night full of rejuvenated energy and action. This is the Zanzibar International Film Festival in Stone Town.

performance As I later came to understand, this was my very first 16th ZIFF 2013 film festival and as a creative, I was looking forward to documenting the unfolding events at the venue. My camera on my neck and sandals, I kept moving across the town collecting moments that would cover entire stay at the island. I wanted to scream to the world about the joy of the town and the ever traditional culture.

Common means of movement in the island.

Common means of movement in the island.

Despite the trends in modernity that the world has aspired to get to, and the thousands of people that visit the island, there is one thing that stands in Zanzibar, and that is the swahili tradition that the islanders have kept all along. Many people from varying nationalists all over the world visit Zanzibar, but what stands out is the magnificent culture, that the community holds.

A boat sailing back to the port after a day of work.

A boat sailing back to the port after a day of work.

Stone Town, Zanzibar it was then. I have to mention in a few but the craze of writing will keep this text going for a while. The atmosphere was wanting for the Zanzibar Internatonal Film Festival initially known as the Dhow festival. At its 16th year, the festival has indeed remained to be one of the biggest art and film festivals that is dominating the East and Central African region. I must say that am greatly honored having been a part of the ZIFF 2013 as a photographer.


Excitement is in the air with the ongoing Zanzibar International Film Festival, thousands of people around town are visiting locations to view the film screenings, attend workshops and be a part of the total Film and Cultural experience that ZIFF 2013 offers.

an hour and a half. I kept getting a long exposure of the ship that docked at the port.

An hour and a half. I kept getting a long exposure of the ship that docked at the port.

Children naturally grow up wanting to be like their parents, and some actually do. Children of actors becoming actors, children of musicians becoming musicians, and I’m sure there are some children of accountants who become accountants. (Okay, maybe not that last one.) but one thing that normally stands out is the fact that art is the driving force of the society.

This snake charmer amazed the crowd during the ZIFF award ceremony at the amphitheatre.

This snake charmer amazed the crowd during the ZIFF award ceremony at the amphitheatre.

One of the staples of the ZIFF is the festival’s amphitheater screenings which brings together viewers and selected films in the industry to discuss their craft and offer inside insights on what it is like to be a working director, screenwriter, actor, or composer. It was an interesting show with the East Africans and the rest of the world sharing the experience of composing for films while a couple had avoided some of those studio pressures to pave their own way through the industry.

Sunset at the indian ocean in Zanzibar.

Sunset at the indian ocean in Zanzibar.

Most of the actions took place at the old Fort that acted a while back as the main arena for bringing people together and admire art. I made my way further, just across at the Forodhani public space, which is the main food court that residents come to get food. Apart from ZIFF which came to a closure on the 7th, I was able to capture some images that tell the story of Zanzibar from an artist’s impression. I cannot wait to do another visit.

Stone Town, Zanzibar

Photography: Joel Lukhovi

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