”[W]ould it be too much to ask for people to look at the African city and see more than just poverty?”. Nanjala Nyabola makes a valid point in her article ‘The African city in European eyes’ accessible here on the Pambazuka website (which is by the way a great resource of opinion pieces and articles from and about Africa). She makes reference to the almost excessive amount of research Europeans are doing on East Africa’s largest slum, Kibera in Nairobi, contrasting it to the elite circles found in this East African business and technology hub, while ignoring much of the space and people that make up the contemporary city.
One could argue that Dar es Salaam is not treated much differently. Large parts of the city, which has grown uncontrollably and unplanned for the past years to a population of over 4 million (according to some estimates), has large portions of housing and settlements that could be entitled ‘slums’. Yes, the city as a whole isn’t particularly clean, with garbage lying around on the streets, metal scraps lining some busy shopping streets, waste water pouring over the poorly irrigated ditches during rainy season, unreliable or missing electricity and running water services, makeshift houses etc. etc. We’ve all heard this before. But Dar es Salaam is so much more. It’s got a modern face, a small but slowly more visible middle class and of course the ultra-rich who have either worked hard for their money or are just well-connected in politics.
Be as it may, I want to show you the other side of Dar, the one that also took me somewhat by surprise. Here I present to thee, the sunny/rainy, light/dark, suburb/centre, Dar es Salaam!