Cover Image
close this bookDar es Salaam: A Dozen Drives around the City (Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, 1997, 159 p.)
close this folderDRIVE 3 - KARIAKOO


-Map ref: Survey and Mapping Department 1:2500, K14-1.2; K13-3

-Distance: 7.7 km

-Best time: This is a crowded area and there is always a lot of traffic on the main roads. Sunday mornings, and any weekday morning before 1000 are relatively traffic-free. However, you will miss the best of the murals if you go outside shopping hours, when most shop doors are locked shut: about half the shops remain open on Sundays.

-Photography: There are lots of photogenic subjects, but expensive cameras flashed around are likely to be a magnet for thieves. Take care, preferably taking photographs from the car with someone else as driver.

What is now Kariakoo was originally part of Sultan Majid's shamba (plantation), worked on by slaves. In the early days of German rule, part of it was bought by one Herr Schoeller. He rented it to Africans, who cultivated its palms. By 1913, 15,000 of the 24,000 Africans in Dar es Salaam lived on this plantation. German urban policy was to separate the races, and they earmarked Schoeller's shamba, which they bought in 1914, for the African township. The 1914 Bauordnung (town plan) shows Dar es Salaam divided into three zones: Zone I (Government and European Residential), Zone II (Commercial/Residential) and Zone III (African). Between Zone II and Zone III was the open space which became Mnazi Mmoja.66 By 1916 the area east of Msimbazi Street was already planned; the British added the area west of Msimbazi Street in the 1920s. The grid layout is very striking in contrast to the rest of the city. You cannot get seriously lost here, unlike the India Street area with its series of 'five-ways' roundabouts.

The Germans planned the new African settlement around a large market, and people were gradually moving in, when in 1914 war broke out. South African troops under General Smuts reached Dar es Salaam in 1916. The Allied Forces (British, South African and other countries linked to Britain) housed their porters, the Carrier Corps, in a tented camp. This site became called Kariakoo, a Swahili phonetic rendering of their name: in Swahili, 'oo' is pronounced as in door, not as in loot and there is no hard 'c', hence the spelling with a 'k'. At the end of the war, the British erected a monument specifically to these carriers (see last paragraph of this Drive). It is sometimes said that Kariakoo derives from the German 'Karrier Korps', but the German for to carry is not 'karry', nor is a carrier a 'karrier' and the British are unlikely to have erected a monument to their enemy's troops. However, both sides did depend on porters:

'One of the most serious handicaps to both sides was the continual loss in pack animals attributable to trypanosomiasis and other diseases...the army was always forced to rely on porterage by man and mule, and thus came about the most tragic episodes of the war: the paths of the opposing armies were littered with the bodies not only of pack animals but also of porters. In fact, it soon became apparent to those many thousands of men engaged as carriers that the wisest move was desertion when the surrounding countryside was not too inhospitable, the added unpleasantness of battle...being the final incentive.'67

There are several alternative suggestions for the origin of the name Kariakoo. One is that the British regiment in Tanganyika, the King's African Rifles, was commonly called the K.A.R. - hence KAR-iakoo. Another, suggested to the authors by a municipally proud resident of Kariakoo in her early thirties, is that Kariakoo is the shopping centre of Dar es Salaam where people come from all over town to buy things - hence 'Carry And Go', or Kari-a-koo.

In recent years, what was once the central working-class hub of about 170 blocks, with the biggest market and main clubs, has been moving 'up-market'. Multi-storey flats and offices are being built, taking advantage of its central location. But most of the Kariakoo grid still consists of the bungalows which, though described as 'Swahili', are not so much traditional of coastal villages as a twentieth century design. Like the houses of southern Spain or North Africa, the simple facade is all the residents want outsiders to see. This is partly for privacy but it is also undesirable to show one's possessions to those who might want to steal or - as tax man - conclude you are richer than you wish to appear. The municipal authorities laid out the street plan and left the building of each house to individual entrepreneur landlords, called fadhahausi (father of the house) in Swahili slang. Buildings thus vary considerably. Walls may be built of boriti (mangrove poles) and earth, or of stones and plaster; roofs may be of coconut fronds (makuti), petrol tins which have been opened up and flattened (madebe) or corrugated iron (mabati). The height of the walls, width of the rooms and area of the roof are all dependent on the length of the boriti, one of the factors leading to the similarity of the houses.68

Interspersed with the private houses are numerous dukas, often situated at street comers, selling rice, flour, sugar and other basic needs. Usually the duka consists of one room of a Swahili house. Shoppers do not enter the duka, but buy from the street. Meat is sold at separate butchers' shops. Vegetables, fruit and fish are mostly obtained from street-sellers and at the markets.

There are many mosques and churches in Kariakoo for the various communities, each being the centre of an informal village within the 'village' of Kariakoo, which once housed all those from a particular area of Tanzania who came to the capital looking for work, or all those of a particular religious sect. ‘It was a place of sand and puddles, of verandahs by day and pressure-lamps by night, of smells and prayers and rumours.’ 69

-0 km- Start from the Starlight Hotel car park on Bibi Titi Mohamed Street, which has plenty of space and an outside bar where you can have drinks and snacks under umbrella awnings. Turn left out of the hotel and get into the right-hand lane by Mnazi Mmoja,a the central green belt whose name, curiously, means 'One Coconut Tree'. Mnazi Mmoja is the first place everyone thinks of to organise large public meetings and cultural activities, including dancing and amusements on national holidays. It is also a centre for political rallies, and it is no accident that the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) offices border the park (see below). As you drive down you will see on your right the Arnautoglu Community Centre, presented to the city by the Greek philanthropist. Sir George Arnautoglu (see also Drive 6). The Centre housed various bodies, including the Tanganyika Council of Women, a group formed before Independence to bring together women of all races.70 Arnautoglu created his own sisal empire and became a director of the Usagara Company, formed in 1925 as successor to the German East African Company (DOAG). By the 1950s he was among Tanganyika's wealthiest men.71 His family were originally part of the Greek community of Smyrna in modern Turkey,72 which presumably explains why they gave their surname a Turkish-sounding ending.

a See Annex B: the Mnazi Mmoja Grounds are one of the conservation areas

Next is the Amtulabhai Clinic and Mnazi Mmoja Dispensary. At the traffic lights (0.3 km), turn right onto Uhuru Street which crosses Mnazi Mmoja. On your right is the Mnazi Mmoja Fountain. Opposite it, on your left, is the Uhuru Torch (Uhuru=Freedom). In an interview with Drum in March 1959, Julius Nyerere offered his vision of a future independent Tanganyika, which would hold out a welcoming beacon like the American Statue of Liberty, only with a difference:

'Tanganyika will be the first, most truly multiracial democratic country in Africa. When we get our freedom, [a] light...will be put high upon the top of the highest mountain, on Kilimanjaro, for all to see, particularly South Africa and America. Tanganyika will offer the people of those countries free entry, without passports, to come and see real democracy at work.'

Such a beacon was indeed placed on top of Kilimanjaro, as the Uhuru Torch monument reminds us. The beacon itself is now in the National Museum. In the 1960s and early 1970s Dar es Salaam did become a haven - of solidarity and support rather than peace - for nationalist revolutionaries from all over the world.73 These included activists from anti-colonial organisations like FRELIMO from Mozambique; MPLA from Angola; SWAPO from Namibia; members of the ANC and Pan African Congress in exile from South Africa; and Black Power leaders from the United States and the Caribbean, whose existence was less threatened, but who welcomed the fraternal atmosphere and political support. The Organisation for African Unity set up its Liberation Committee in Dar es Salaam.74 There were also refugees from independent African states like Banda's Malawi; 'Chip' Chipembere was one of 10,000 Malawians in Tanzania at this period. The idea of Black Power was tied up with the Afro-Americans' urge to rediscover their roots (cf Alex Hailey), which strictly speaking were in West Africa since it was from there that slaves went to the Americas. But Tanzania under Nyerere in the early days of African Socialism offered a more sympathetic berth: for example the Tanganyika Broadcasting Service was used for campaigning during the 1962 Zambian elections; and the port was used as a gateway for arms shipments from abroad. Angola's Dr Agostinho Neto lived in Kurasini. Angela Davis stayed at the New Africa Hotel, as did Langston Hughes, the celebrated Black American poet. Stokeley Carmichael stayed at the Palm Beach, Malcolm X at the Twiga Hotel. Others included Huey Newton, the Black Panther, and Che Guevara (see also Drives 2 & 5).

Mwenge wa Uhuru

The road now crosses Lumumba Street and you are in Kariakoo. Look out for Top Varieties Ltd and TBH General Stores on the next right-hand corner. Turn right just before them into Livingstone Street. (0.6 km). On your right is a glass- and tile-fronted modem building housing the Azam Ice Cream Parlour, which draws customers from all over town. Cross six streets (Aggrey Street, Mchikichini Street, Mahiwa Street, Narung'ombe Street, Tandamuti Street and Pemba Street).a You are in a scruffy world of dazzling colour and deafening clamour. Craftsmen and traders compete on all sides. Knife-sharpeners work with bicycle wheel power, furniture makers sweat in crude workshops. Car tyres are piled up everywhere. They recycle waste in countless guises - tyres as sandals, tin cans as lamps.

a This part of Aggrey Street has just been renamed Max Mbwana Street; Mahiwa is now Mbaraka Mavemba Street; and Pemba is now Sakina Al Arab Street. We have retained the older names as, for the moment, they are better known.

At the next crossroads, turn left (Mkunguni Street), with the Zarara Hair Cutting Saloon on the corner (1.1 km). Pass the road that leads to the right, go over the first crossroads (Sikukuu Street) and slowly approach the next crossroads (Swahili Street), where you will see the main market coming up on your left. Park before you reach Swahili Street, ready to turn right (1.3 km). The market is the focal point of Kariakoo and all roads seem to lead to it, as to a cathedral in a European town. This similarity is reinforced by the exactly central position in Kariakoo which it occupies, its cathedral-like height in contrast to the surroundings and the vaulted roof. The original German building, an open steel-frame market hall, was brought out in sections from Germany in 1914 for their planned colonial exhibition 75 Because of the war the market was not opened until 1923, by the British governor.76 This huge new structure, opened in 1974, was designed by the architect Beda Amuli. On the exterior wall facing you is a long mural by Sam Ntiro. Ahead of you on the right is the fish market. If you want to go into the market, it is an undeniably intense experience but by no means inhospitable. This is the best place to buy cotton kangas, for example. Just watch for pickpockets. Find someone to guard your car, erring on the side of generosity in your tip. Choose someone young and fit-looking, and if you like offer half in advance and the other half on your return the first time you go. Thereafter try to choose the same askari on each visit.

On the streets surrounding the main market, there has grown up an informal vegetable market, where people lay out their vegetables in neat piles on what would otherwise be quite broad streets, making it difficult for traffic. Be wary of driving into a street without being able to get out! The writer M K Vassanji describes the scene:

'bustling with activity, uproarious with catcalls and jeers and bargains being struck, festooned with brightly coloured cloth and lit up in the night with the yellow light of kerosene lamps....As you came up this alley, missing potholes, avoiding banana and orange peels and other rubbish, giving right of way to carts of fruit and other wares pulled by men with impatient voices and straining backs, a brilliant and unsettling display of furniture suddenly came into sight. Folding chairs, sofas and tables, all functional - simple, roughly finished, varnished cheap red or gleaming yellow - lay exposed to the world and weather. In front of this display, alongside the road and the open gutter ran a line of fruit and peanut sellers. Behind the furniture in small makeshift stalls and spread out on racks, crates, and on the ground were the other articles on sale: new and used clothes, shoes, glass beads, mirrors and plastic jewellery; Japanese perfumes with exotic-sounding Arabic names, in bottles that cracked if exposed to the sun; toys, and even used appliances. Many a common thief had been chased through these grounds. Music bands sometimes used the ready audience here to begin their rounds of the streets in the evenings.'77

Now turn right on the crossroads at the corner of the market, Swahili Street. Turn first left onto Mafia Street (1.4 km), with Aden Butchery on the left-hand corner. Cross Nyamwezi Street and turn left at the junction with the main road, Msimbazi Street (1.6 km). Drive down to the roundabout at the crossing with Uhuru Street. Notice the Rupia Building (1959) on the right-hand comer. John Rupia was a founding member of the Tanganyika African Association, vice-president of TANU and a major contributor to party funds. He was not amused to wake up one morning and find his building had been nationalised overnight; it was handed back to him in the afternoon. His son, Paul Rupia, was Chief Secretary under President Mwinyi.

Go right round the roundabout (2.2 km) and return on the same road, Msimbazi Street. Take the second turning left onto Masasi Street (2.3 km), a non-tarmac road, with Daya Mansion (1953) on the corner .You are now entering 'Mission Quarters', named because the area between Msimbazi, Uhuru, Muheza and Tandamuti Streets was partly owned by various Christian missions and therefore became predominantly Christian. On your right you pass the Kanisa la Kilutheri (Lutheran church) and another church just beyond it. However, these days the population is very mixed and many of the congregation come to churches here from outside this nominally Christian area.

Cross two streets and turn right at the T-junction with Seleman Rubama Street.a Pass Magila Street on your right and take the next turning right (Muhonda Street) (2.8 km). On your left is a small Catholic church. Cross John Rupia Street.b You pass 'The Home of Costimetics and Fantastic Music' on your right and a barber's on your left, as well as several other small shops selling a variety of wares, all beautifully illustrated by wall paintings. One of the chief pleasures of a drive round Kariakoo is the variety of these murals. Both sides of the shop door fronts are decorated, but the inside door is usually the most elaborate: the emphasis is on attracting customers to the duka when it is open, rather than advertising its wares to passers by once it is closed. The paintings are usually executed in minute detail; one feels the painters are wasted on these and should be at work on art as art, not advertisement. The artists are of course the latest in a long tradition of mural painting, dating back as much as 3000 years, in the area between Lake Eyasi, Babati and Kondoa.78

Cross Likoma Street and wait at the junction with Msimbazi Street to turn left (3.1 km). Opposite on the left is the Tanzania Postal Bank, a beige concrete ziggurat rehabilitated by Patropa Ndanshau of Plan Associates. To your right you can see the dark red building of the Simba Sports Club c (1936). Their great rival, the Young East African Sports Club (1935), is in the northwest comer of Kariakoo, near the Kaunda Stadium. Those with secondary school education tended to join Simba. The poor dispossessed joined the Young Africans, as the Young East Africans are now universally called; this has been further contracted to Yanga. Their symbol is a 'kandambili' or thong sandal; when raizon ('rise-on') or platform shoes became fashionable among young men about town, it was suggested that Simba should in turn adopt these as their symbol, but the idea did not catch on. Football is a good game to play informally in the community: it is cheaper than cricket, say, as the only equipment needed is the ball. There are many small football clubs in Kariakoo. The club buildings themselves are usually just social meeting places; clubs who do not have easy access to a football pitch would play in Mnazi Mmoja.

a Formerly Muheza Street

b Formerly Ndanda Street

c Formerly called the Sunderland Sports Club

Drive up to Morogoro Road, where you turn left at traffic lights by the BP service station (4.1 km). Get into the right-hand lane. Look at the fire station on your right, which has an attractive 'Saracen's helmet' balcony window (like Zaytun's Restaurant - see Drive 2). Turn right at the crossroads into UN Road (4.4 km), where you drive past the Jangwani Girls School, opened in 1956. Notice the Islamic horseshoe arches of the main building and, if you take this drive between December and April, the rows and rows of acacia trees with their yellow blossom. Take the first turning right into Fire Station Road (4.6 km). In the field between you and the fire station, you may see a game of football. Or a woman carrying unga wa mahindi (cornmeal) in a plastic bag on her head, thus cleverly ensuring that the cornmeal moulds itself to the shape of her head and stays put. Continue until you reach Mazengo Road (4.9 km), where you turn right. On your right are the Akooz Fast Food and the Exotica Chicken Inn; on the left is the New Charming Hair Saloon and, at the comer with Morogoro Road, a shop selling milk and yoghurt.

Now turn left at the T-junction with Morogoro Road (5 km), keeping in the middle/right lane. On the left you pass the Tanzania Legion and Club, built from coral blocks. Easily recognised from its irregular turquoise patches on a white background, like a surreal giraffe, this is not to be confused with the Legion in Upanga, predominantly a social club. A bit further along is Umoja wa Vijana, the youth wing of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). The Scandinavians donated the building for the use of the young people of Tanzania. At that time, Tanzania was a one-party state and the decision to use it for the youth wing of the ruling party seemed entirely logical.

Turn right at the traffic lights into Lumumba Street, which is dual carriageway (5.3 km). [You are now going to drive down Lumumba Street, bearing left over the crossing with Pugu Road, where it becomes Nkrumah Street]. On your right is the Oriental Restaurant. Next door is the Dar es Salaam building whose oldest section was built for TANU in 1960 and now houses the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) (5.5 km). Pull off the road on the left and park for a moment to take in the scene. The area immediately round you is where the political history of modern Tanzania was made. The forerunner of the CCM was the Tanganyika African Association (TAA), formed in 1929. The aims of this body were to enable members to know one another and help one another in times of need. The TAA began by campaigning for basic labour rights like pensions and sickness benefits, slowly growing as an organisation as the demand grew. The founder members were Cecil Matola (first President), Rawson Watts, Kleist Sykes Plantan (Secretary), Mdachi Shariff, Matano Ali, Salim Juma, Nassor Kiruka, Thomas Chisunga, Mack B. Mackeja, Jumbe Rajabu Sulemani and Sheikh Hussein Juma. Inevitably the association took on political as well as welfare aims. For example, in 1930 it was proposed to merge the three East African territories. The Association opposed this because it feared an extension of the powers of the Kenya settlers into Tanganyika. The Association made good progress financially, receiving much of its aid from wealthy Europeans, which they used to construct their headquarters on Lumumba Street.a In 1936 Mzee Sudi became President, Joseph Kimalando Vice-president and Nassoro Kiruka Secretary.

a Lumumba Street was then called New Street

The Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) was founded in July 1954 by seventeen men. They included Rawson Watts (who worked in the Secretariat), Cecil Matola (senior teacher in the government school), Abdulwahid, Ally and Abbas Sykes (sons of Kleist Sykes, one of the founders of TAA) and, of course, Julius Nyerere.79 TANU was the dominant party up to Independence. Under the leadership of Julius Nyerere it became the only party in the country, first in practice and then, in 1966, by law. It was noted, however, for the internal competition it provided at election time. Its unique brand of socialist ideology was laid out in the 1967 Arusha Declaration. This declaration set out the assumptions underlying Tanzania's version of African Socialism. It emphasized the dignity and equality of people, the primacy of rural production, self-reliance, the importance of hard work, and the role of the party.80 In 1977, ten years to the day of the Arusha Declaration, TANU merged with the Afro-Shirazi party of Zanzibar to form the CCM.

In front of you in Mnazi Mmoja, opposite the CCM office, is the monument designed and executed by Elias Jengo and Sam Ntiro to celebrate the tenth anniversary (29 January 1977) of the Arusha Declaration. On a spiral concrete sculpture it depicts people tilling the soil. On the right-hand side is Mafia Street. If you look down the street, you can see a mosque (msikiti) on the right-hand side, the Msikiti wa Manyema, which has ornate carved doors. This was always the street of the Manyema, who originally come from Zaire. They arrived in Dar es Salaam via Kigoma and Tabora. Next is Mkunguni Street, one of the two streets which crosses Mnazi Mmoja. You pass Pemba Street on your right. Opposite the next street, Tandamuti, look left into Mnazi Mmoja . Here you can see the monument where national leaders lay wreaths every year to commemorate National Heroes Day, when they sing the National Anthem. This is sung to the same tune as the South African national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel'i-Afrika, God Bless Africa,81 which Zambia and Zimbabwe have also adapted as their national anthem.

Now drive on, past the Co-operative Building on the right (which houses CTN), to the southern end of Mnazi Mmoja. Here you will see the stage for speakers at political rallies. Before this was put up in the early 1980s they used to build temporary platforms each time. On your right is the Mnazi Mmoja bus terminal for upcountry buses. Cross over into Nkrumah Street (6.4 km) towards the Canton Restaurant. On the right is Home Butchery (Kulsum Mansion). On the left is the 1950s Chox Cinema and the Hotel Continental & Hollywood Casino.

Next on the right is Sham Niwas (1936) with porthole windows. Stop the car, if traffic permits, just the other side of Lindi Street on the left. Look back into Lindi Street, which has several attractive old buildings with balconies. On your right is the Press and Publicity Centre, housed in an old building with a turret.

You now come to the Clock Tower (6.9 km), which was erected to celebrate Dar es Salaam's city status, granted on 11 December 1961 at the time of independence. It was paid for by the citizens of the new city. As you continue on what is now Samora Avenue, you cross Aggrey Street on your left, which leads into Algeria Street on your right. At the next comer, with Mosque Street on your left, is an old building which housed the German East African Lines, a subsidised shipping firm partly owned by the German East African Company. From 1899 onwards goods were shipped directly from Europe to Tanganyika and her imports no longer relied on the countries of the Indian Ocean which the dhow trade had previously brought to Tanganyika's shores.82

Next is the Askari Monument* a (7.7 km), which occupies such a central point in the city that, even though our drives attempt not to cross the same point more than once, we cannot avoid visiting it on several occasions. This was first the site of the 1911 statue6 of Herman von Wissmann, the 1895-96 Governor of German East Africa. According to one well-known guidebook, this monument was erected after the war by the head of the German army, General von Lettow, in grateful thanks to his askaris. But a moment's thought shows that this cannot be so. As the defeated side in the war, the German army was not in a position to erect monuments in Dar es Salaam after the war, when the British had control. Also, it is unlikely (to say the least) that the Germans would have removed the memorial to Governor Wissmann in order to erect the statue of an askari, however indebted they may have felt. Perhaps the confusion derives from the fact that the Wissmann memorial included the figure of an askari, gazing in awed admiration up at him?

What in fact happened is that, after the British takeover of Dar es Salaam in 1916, Wissmann's statue was removed, but the rugged base of the stone pedestal survived until 1927 when the Askari Monument was erected in its place. The artist was James Alexander Stevenson (1881-1937), who signed himself 'Myrander'. This bronze statue is dedicated on one side:

'To the memory of the native African troops who fought; to the carriers who were the feet and hands of the army; and to all other men who served and died for their king and country in eastern Africa in the Great War 1914-1918.'

The words are those of Rudyard Kipling, composed by him at the request of the Imperial War Graves Commission,c who commissioned the monument. On the opposite side are translations in Swahili and Arabic. The two remaining sides have bas-relief friezes of soldiers and carriers in action. The askari is facing the sea, bayonet ready to defend Tanzania against any marine invader.

Askari Monument

a See Annex B: the Monument roundabout is one of the conservation areas

b See Dar es Salaam: City, Port & Region, TNR # 71 (1970), Plate 60)

c The forerunner of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission