Maybe it is the jetlag or the new environment. Maybe it is just me old self. Or maybe I just need time to readjust. Three days in Dar es Salaam already and I feel like I’m at home. There is a welcoming and peaceful atmosphere in this city as its name in Arabic suggests. The attitudes of its inhabitants are just as welcoming. What is most impressive about this city is its diversity and tolerance towards different peoples and their faith. Equally impressive is the diversity of the people here: Arabs, Maasai, Swahili people, other African migrants, South Asians (largely from Pakistan), East Asians (dominated by the Chinese). The most common bond between all these people is either religion or commerce.
Islam is the most practiced religion here (all along the coast for that matter) and one can see the influence of Islam very quickly throughout the city. Likewise, commerce is a strong part of this city, often dominated by non-indigenous immigrants like South/East Asians and Somalis. I’m not sure I would classify the Arab population (locally known as ‘mwarabu’ – the bantuitized word for Arab) here as ‘non-indigenous’ people since they have been here since at least the 13th century. A large population of mixed people also exist here. What I’m surprised not to see here is the European population that colonized Tanzania. However, in the interior of the country I suspect there are still a remnants of colonial descendants – mostly the large estate owners.
Perhaps everything I’ve written here is b.s. but I’m not claiming my observation to be based on academia anyway.