All for CECAFA: They call me Swaila in Dar

Isaac Swila Dar Chronicles 

My arrival in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to cover this year’s edition of the Cecafa Club Championship was intriguing as much as it was heart-warming.

Look, just hours earlier in Nairobi, I had experienced endless goose-bumps after missing my schedule flight at 3.25pm, only to re-book a late flight leaving the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7.45pm, arriving in Dar shortly after 9pm.

Of course this made yours truly to sulk. But that is not all, when I landed at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar, I was intrigued by the courtesy and orderliness .

A few minutes later, after picking my luggage from the luggage belt, I was intrigued to find a taxi- driver, advanced by Iris Hotel, my residence for the next few days, patiently waiting for me.

He held aloft a banner with my name inscribed on it. But, wait a minute! The name read: “Issac Swaila”.Of course that is not my name and in legal spheres, it could easily land one in trouble!But being the kind that takes no offence in such ‘small matters’ I quickly made my way to him and we shared a hearty laughter.His name, he told me, is Mohamed, but simply known as ‘Mecki’ here.He was a bulging man in his late forties or early fifties, and an avid story teller.

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No, here shops don’t open early, it’s the last Saturday of the month!

Tanzania, under the no-nonsense President Dr John Pombe Magufuli seems to be borrowing a leaf or two from their erstwhile neighbours Rwanda at least in some facets.

Yours truly had trouble finding a shop serving customers in the early hours of Saturday.In fact there was none! I was keen to buy a local sim card and have it registered on my name.Secondly, the compelling need to have the local currencies could not be ignored.However, a rude shock was in store. Everywhere I went I was met with the words: “Samahani kaka. Maduka hayajafunguliwa. Utangoja mpaka saa nne. (Brother, we’re sorry but the shops don’t open until 10am).

Upon inquiring I was informed that just like in Rwanda, Tanzania under His Excellency Magufuli has made it mandatory that the first four hours of every last Saturday of the month be purely dedicated for cleaning purposes, at least in the major urban centres.

Traders, shop-keepers and owners of business enterprises must therefore use these hours to ensure that the surrounding area of their business premises is sparkling clean and the trick seems to work. Can’t the Nairobi Government borrow some lessons here ?

Kariokoo fast becoming a metropolis

Kariokoo, the residential and commercial centre located a few kilometres from the city centre of Dar es Salaam is fast becoming a metropolis.

When I was last here seven years ago, it held a lot of promise with small business enterprises competing for space.Fast forward, the area has quickly morphed into a commercial hub with several skyscrapers jostling for Dar’s aerial view .Not to be left behind are several hotels – three-star in ranking, eateries, supermarkets etc.

Culinary skills of Tanzanian chefs is simply out of this world

The headline above may appear screaming or as the Swahili people say” kupaka mafuta” but it’s the reality here.So far I have just spent just a few hours here but I’m contented as far as stomach matters is concerned.My dinner last night was a deliciously made kuku fry and rice. I must hasten to add that the aura was out of this world while the bite left my tongue asking for me. I can’t wait for the next days and weeks moreso after shedding off some 3kgs in the last couple of months!

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