Tag Archives: music

The sequel [2016]

“DJ are you ready? DJ are you ready? DJ are you ready?” [Crowds cheer. Repeat.]

Saturday evening, Kampala. A good test of acceptance: the booming shouting drumming from across the road cannot be fought, just absorbed.

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Semi-surprised to be back in Uganda so soon after last time; not quite believing it until I landed, again, into the open green lakeside calm of Entebbe and was driven, again, alongside the still-under-construction highway to Kampala.

The familiarity makes much of it easy: knowing who to call for airport lifts (Godfrey), which part of the city to stay in (Kololo), how to get phone and internet credit (MTN shop in Acacia Mall). Even where to find a yoga class (just up the road, though watch out for the mosquitoes). It makes much of it less lonely, knowing there are a few people in this city who are more than contacts, maybe friends now. Continue reading

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Return

In the Pearl of Africa

In the Pearl of Africa

Back to Kampala: to the hills, the trees, the rust-red earth and the steady flow of motorcycle taxis that keep this city moving. It’s good to be back, and reassuring to find the same sense of ease as two years ago. It’s urban Africa for beginners – unthreatening, unoppressive, walkable. Or #laidbackinthepearlofafrica, as one of the mobile providers puts in in their latest ad campaign.

Reassuring in a way, too, to be semi-prepared for the usual mild irritations: the Rihanna songs blaring from the building next door, the way too large ants in my kitchen, the reliably unreliable electrics and phone connections.

Some stuff has changed. Continue reading

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Preaching prejudice

Prayer mountainSundays in Kazo start noisily.

Angry yelling pastor and his clapping wailing fainting congregation start before 6am and they don’t let up till late morning – or maybe it’s later; by 11am I’ve usually hit my limit and gone to find somewhere quieter in central Kampala.

There are other distractions: rain battering our corrugated iron roof, the radio fizzling in and out of reception, someone’s phone playing crackly music, kids chanting over and over at the school opposite: LETTA A, LETTA B! TODAY IS TUESDAY! WE ARE FINE THANK YOU TEACHER MAURINE! SCHOOL FEES, SCHOOL FEES! But none of it, not even Dad’s occasional late-night liquor-induced grumbling, drives me to curse the way the shouting born-agains do. Continue reading

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A bad name

“I strip Dar es Salaam of the ‘haven of peace’ title!!!”, commented a Dar resident on Facebook. The discussion was about the rise in violent crime here – more on that topic another day – but it could just as easily refer to the current religious tension in the city.

Tanzania is home to 120+ tribes. Mosques and churches and temples sit next to one another without a bother, as do their followers. At a training session for grassroots leaders we organised a few months ago, I was impressed by the mix of faces I saw. At the end of the day, a group of Catholic sisters asked the Muslim participants if they could end by singing a blessing. The latter agreed, and we all listened patiently as the song filled the room.

But it’s not always so civil. The latest story – after the somewhat more predictable reactions following the Innocence of Muslims – sounds almost too ridiculous to be true. A 14-year old boy peed on a Koran, following a dare from his Muslim friend. Continue reading

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The creative spaces

Not just there for the free wifi

I’d had the same idea, but someone else got to it first – writing about Dar es Salaam’s emerging tech/innovation sector.

“With Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah’ booming to the north, and money being ploughed into Rwanda’s ICT dreamland to the west, Tanzania seems to have been left in the dust”, writes the journalist.  That’s starting to change though, thanks to Dar’s two new tech/innovation hubs. I’ve been to one of them a few times: TANZICT hosts unusual, and actually quite useful networking/learning meet-ups, in a free, open public space with wireless internet and electricity – not to be sniffed at in this city. Their ‘Girls’ Night Out’ series of events – women-only sessions for learning, practising or sharing new tools and technologies – are a brilliant idea.

Dar is still a long way off Nairobi though.  “If there is one truthful stereotype of Tanzania, it is that the country can be painstakingly slow”, continues the article. Continue reading

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The good, the bad, and the ugly list-making habit

In Mama Dar, a book of short stories about Dar es Salaam, one writer recalls her first few weeks here as being not positive, not negative – just experiencing a numbness as she tries to figure out how things work. Another friend who’s just arrived says the same: trying to answer the question of whether she likes it here or not just doesn’t work.

I had the same feeling – I still do. Living here is still just a mish-mash of the wonderful and intriguing, the infuriating and depressing. My answer ends up involving listing a few examples of the good and bad stuff. Maybe for wherever one lives, whatever one does, it’s like that. But being somewhere new, I guess, makes you a bit more receptive to the everyday experience. The unfamiliarity makes for deeper impressions.

So – now that I’ve accepted that I’m never going to break my list-making habit – here it is, in no particular order. Now stop asking us if we like it here. Continue reading

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Festival-weary

I sneaked past immigration and made it onto Zanzibar on Friday. Seemingly a lot of sneaking was being done into the festival grounds, too – there’s a big difference in the resident price and the tourist price, but it seems a bit sad that the festival organisers lose out on those extra funds. It wasn’t the most polished event – the bars ran out of most alcohol pretty early on – or is that again simply a reflection on us terrible expats and our expat habits? After all, the mzungus probably outnumbered Tanzanians, to the dismay of one of my festival-friends, who’d expected a more African affair. In other senses though, it really did live up to the tagline – the music was truly African and the skies, lit up by the moon rising above the walls of the Old Omani-built Fort, wonderful.

True to form, our hotel had given our room away by the time we arrived; both Stone Town and the ferry there were full of the same faces I see around Dar all the time; and being pummeled around the sweaty dancefloor of the post-festival party by drunken mzungus /slightly aggressive local men was wearying. Continue reading

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What we’re listening to

This is the theme song at the moment in every bar and nightclub here. Irritatingly catchy, and the mzungus love it.

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