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My Town // David Tinning Presents Dar Es Salaam

April 4, 2013

“My Town” is a new feature wherein friends and family from around the world give us the lowdown on their home town – favourite bars, restaurants, record shops and more. Forget Time Out – this is the only city guide you need.

Next up, David Tinning explores Dar es Salaam.
David recently moved from Berlin to Dar es Salaam, and now works for Tanzania Heritage Project – an initiative to preserve and promote the country’s rich musical legacy. One focus of the project is to digitize a reel-to-reel archive of unique African music recorded by Radio Tanzania – the nations only station for 25 years after independence.

Tell us where you like to…

Chill out:

Take the ferry from downtown to Kigomboni and head 10km south to Kipepeo –
A beautiful semi-deserted beach with a nice little restaurant and bar. Check the
seafood curry for lunch.


There’s a thriving live music scene in Dar, but you have to go looking for it. Most
expats / visitors don’t venture too far from the sleepy peninsula with its expensive
restaurants and hotels – but dig a little deeper and there’s bands galore, from the
classic sounds of Musiki wa dansi to the raw ghetto vibes of Mchiriku.

There aren’t as many Musiki wa dansi (literally: dance music) bands as in its heyday
in the 70s and 80s, but there’s still plenty to explore. The music is a blend of
Congolese guitars, traditional ngoma drums and blasting horn sections.

Mlimarni Park Orchestra @ Breakpoint. Breakpoint is downtown – a busy and fun
open-air venue where these legends of East African music cut loose every Friday.

Klimanjaro Band – Salander Bridge Club every Saturday night. Arrive late – the band
only really get going around 1am when the floor fills with Tanzanians of all ages and

Triniti Bar – fast gaining a reputation for excellent music in a very cool semi-out door
space – recent guests have included Maya Acuzena, Jagwa, and Bongo flava stars
Mzungu Kichaa and Fid Q. Oh, and I occasionally spin there also.

Hugo’s Bar – Leo Mkanyia plays here every Saturday. Leo and band are carrying the
torch for Swahili blues and afrobeat vibes.

Ask a taxi driver where Jagwa Music are playing – leave your smart phone and fancy
camera at home and check out Dar’s underbelly.

Likewise – Super Maya Baikoko – raw and unfiltered, mainstream Dar is having a
hard time accommodating their highly suggestive dancers and hypnotic grooves.

Eat & Drink :

Forodani at Slipway has excellent mishkaki (BBQed meat) and fish – with a perfect
view of the sunset over the bay.

Where is the best place to buy music?

Explore the streets around the Kariakoo market. Vendors dealing in CDs and tapes
are rife – selling old school musiki wa dansi, bongo flava (the thriving local hip-hop
sound), and modern and traditional taraab- the Arabic-influenced sound of Zanzibar.
Some of the CDs available are bootlegs of material recorded at Radio Tanzania,
home to the vast and unique archive the Tanzania Heritage Project is trying to save.

Digging for vinyl is hard work and takes a lot of patience – but can be worth the

Around Kariakoo young entrepreneurs have started flourishing businesses selling
MP3s from desktops computer set up on the street. For about 20 pence you can
have dozens of tracks added to your phone or iPod – much to the chagrin of the
musicians, copyright society and vendors selling legit copies.

Best places to shop?

Kariakoo is the place to hit. Otherwise wander down Samora Avenue near the port
and check out the back streets.

Your town only experiences?

Hanging out the door of a packed dala dala (public mini bus) while the driver swerves
between traffic blasting mchiriku –the stereo may be the only thing that works
properly on the whole bus.

What’s the local expression/saying?

“Bongo” refers to Dar, and literally means brains or wits. Locals say you’ll need them
to survive here.

A popular greeting with the youth is “Mzuka” – literally meaning ghost or zombie,
but also used to express “wild” or “Alive”.

“Wowowo” is my favourite Swahili slang, referring to the fuller-figured female form
– much revered by Tanzanians.

Sum up your town in three words

Friendly, sleepy, chaotic

What’s the best local delicacy/street food/snack?

Mishkaki and grilled meats of all flavours are hugely popular. Chips and eggs also.
There’s also lots of good Indian food – especially downtown.

Who is the best local talent in your area?

Away from the dance band legends, Jagwa Music are the most interesting new band
I’ve heard so far, fully deserving their increasing exposure in Europe. Rough and
raw, four drummers hammer out breakneck 180bpm rhythms on drums made of old
pipes and trash, while a single distorted Casio keyboard – amped through a crappy
Tannoy system – provides the earsplitting, psychedelic noise element. Throw a
ridiculously charismatic and good-looking singer into the mix, and they are the most
exciting thing happening right now. Their album doesn’t do them justice, but live
they are an afro-punk-rave riot. Also check out Leo Mkanyia and band – incredible
musicians bridging the gap between old and new and who regularly play 4 or 5-hour

10 Tracks Inspired by your town/country . . .

Mbaraka Mwinshehe – Shida

International Orchestra Safari Sound – Majuto

Afro 70 Band – Week End

Cuban Marimba Band – Subi Subi No 2

Jagwa Music -

Super Maya Baikoko

Hukwe Zawose + The Master Musicians Of Tanzania – Nhongolo

Remi Ongala Remmy Ongala & Orchestra Super Matimila ~ Sika Ya Kufa

DDC Mlimani Park – Edita

Leo Mkanyia ‘Jasho Langu’


Check out other My Town features

Lefto Presents Brussels //Mari Presents Tokyo // Edgaro Presents Havana // Hiatus Kaiyote Presents Melbourne // Clea Presents Stockholm //  Sinden Presents Los Angeles // Ahu Presents Istanbul // El G Presents Buenos Aires // Andrew Jervis Presents San Francisco // Bobbito Garcia Presents Harlem