Fancy ugali? Dar is not the place for you

 Dar Chronicles, by Isaac Swila

It has been quite an exciting few days for me here in Dar es Salaam and my notebook is looking loaded enough so I’ll just unpack the highlights of what’s in it!

Ugali, not a popular delicacy in Dar!

One week later since I landed here for the Cecafa Kagame Cup I have learnt that unlike in Kenya, ugali is not such a popular delicacy in this part of the world.

Every single day it does not form part of the menu at the hotel where I reside. Interestingly, the South Sudanese team, Kator FC, also put up here before they were bundled out of the competition.

Every single day rice, spaghetti and such ‘light delicacies’ are the norm. My two Kenyan colleagues and I have had to put special ugali orders whenever we need one. It left me wonder how the footballers managed to cope, what with the energy-sapping football they played.

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Five-Star treatment for CECAFA teams

Matters accommodation aside, teams participating in this year’s edition of the Cecafa Kagame Cup have so far enjoyed ‘first class’ treatment as far as transportation is concerned.

The teams, twelve in number, – all have team buses assigned to them with drivers and police chase cars. This has been the norm whether in Chamazi or at the National Stadium. The aim is to avoid a scenario where teams get caught in traffic gridlock hence arriving late for matches.

So far the trick has worked but one may be mistaken whenever the sirens blare. No, it’s not the big boss or the VIPs but the footballers being chauffeured around.

In Dar, there is only one Simba!

Ex-Gor Mahia man Meddie Kagere recently intrigued many when he celebrated his debut goal in Simba colours by gyrating and having one of his eyes closed by his palm.Later, in a post-match press briefing with reporters he intimated that the celebration meant that there is only one club he loves – Simba! Granted. And from my observation here in Dar, it seems, the local scribes too love Simba SC the most as whenever the Reds are in action, the number of journalists at the press centre increases ten fold. Kwa hakika Simba ni moja tu!

‘Je, wewe ni Mkenya? The question that haunts me on streets of Dar

Every time I open my mouth either to ask for direction here or seek services at the hotel, the first question that greets my request is whether I am Kenyan.

For others, they think I am Ugandan. My insistence that I’m a local just holidaying in Dar has been a hard-to-sell narrative akin to cutting a Mugumo tree with a blunt razor blade.

But that is not the whole story here, what intrigued me most was when one of the guests here, a young beautiful lady, probably in her mid-twenties told me to my face that I couldn’t pass out for a Tanzanian because “sifahamu Kiswahili vizuri”.Never mind since I came here my mastery of the Swahili language has improved ten-fold.


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