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Notes on the Geography of Tanzania: Post-Colonial Dar Es Salaam

Dar today would come as a shock to the colonial Europeans--it's so much bigger than the city they knew, so much more congested, probably so much dirtier.

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We start again at the waterfront, closed to the public.

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On the verge of Independence, the city built this nearby clocktower in 1961. Its design hints at the utilitarian esthetic that soon became almost mandatory as an expression of socialist solidarity.

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The tower stands at the corner of what had been India and Acacia. The corner became India and Independence, then India and Samora. Names, names! In the German period, Acacia was Unter den Akazien. Sounds like somebody was missing Berlin.

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Fifty years on, socialist austerity is passe and a flashy apartment building nears completion next to what's left of the German botanical garden.

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The contractors' signs.

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Near the harbor, the National Social Security Fund has built Waterfront House.

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Yet another addition, overlooking St. Alban's Anglican Church and with to die for (or from).

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The Germans had planned a gridded residential neighborhood for Africans. It was called Kariakoo and was separated from the European city by a greenbelt, which later came in handy when the authorities needed a cheap right-of-way for Nyerere Road. By the 1940s Kariakoo was built out. So was neighboring Ilala. Now it was time for the British to try their hand with Upanga, intended chiefly for Indians. No grid here: this was to be a garden city. As late as 1957, when the Department of Land and Survey's published its first edition Guide Map of Dar es Salaam, the streets here had no names. Eventually this one was called Lumumba.

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Many if not most of the residents here live in apartment blocks like this one from the 1960s. It bear the telltale initials (and paint color) of the National Housing Corporation.

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Another block has escaped the color if not the stencil.

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Close to town, this new high rise proves the attractiveness of living close to the town center in a metropolis cursed by traffic.

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Some single-family homes survive in Upanga. Here's one, a bit of a puzzle. Clothes hung out to dry in a mansion? Note the electric fencing atop the wall.

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Condos? Nope: another single-family or, more likely, extended-family home. Who's the owner? Let's ask.

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The answer was the owner of "Oil Com," whose tanks are a few miles away on the harbor.

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The British also laid out a new area for Europeans; it was on the city's outskirts north of Msimbazi Creek. Here's the intersection of what the British called Roosevelt and Churchill streets. The names now are Karume and Selassie. (Karume recalls Abeid Karume, 1905-1972, the first president of Zanzibar. He was assassinated but took revenge from the cradle when years later his son succeeded him as president.)

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Some of the houses out here are derelict.

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Most are not.

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Some are very substantial. Note, again, the electric wires running atop the wall.

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This is the part of town where foreigners are most at home.

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Why, there's even a craft market so they can send stuff home as proof of their exotic lives and tastes.



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