The rise and fall of Bwana Ndizi

fruit-vendor-topAround the corner we’ve had a fruit stall for years.

First it was set up close to the beach, but later as traffic flows changed it was moved a few hundred meters to a strategic junctions of five roads.

Being at a busy junction came at a cost as during the long dry months dust is rife, so Bwana Ndizi will wear a dust mask.

We named him because of his original Ndizi Malindi.

The stall is just a simple handcart and an old shop umbrella.

Daily all is removed and re-emerges for business the next morning.

After he’s been to the market and he’ll arrive by bajaj with his bags and baskets of fruits.

There have been times when instead of the usual wide variety of tropical fruits of the season, only tikiti and nanasi remain — mostly sold to passersby per slice.

A fruit vendor in Mikocheni on Friday, August 21. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

By misfortune, during the same hard time, a big drainage project was started — closing roads around for many weeks. No more cars passing, few pedestrians and less fruit on the stall for Bwana Ndizi. 

These financial hard times usually arrive at Christmas and when there are school requirements for his young kids; no money to buy, so no wares to sell.

By misfortune, during the same hard time, a big drainage project was started — closing roads around for many weeks.

No more cars passing, few pedestrians and less fruit on the stall for Bwana Ndizi.

Until he just disappeared one day.

Many months later we saw the businessman walking in the area, looking frail and with sunken eyes.

He confirmed there had been sickness in the family and times were tough.

Imagine my surprise when one day I saw the stall set up again, with a modest selection of hardy stuff like ndizi, tango and tikiti.

I went over for a chat and to buy and since then all seems to have gotten better.

Roads are open again, cars passing from all sides as well as people walking to work or going to the beach.

The variety is amazing especially in the current season and at least twice a week I pass by for ndizi of course but also parachichi, chenza, chungwa, embe, a tango or papay.

There’s always a friendly chat with Bwana Ndizi and a gift of a few oranges or slices of tikiti to eat at home.

Report a typo: highlight the text in question and press Ctrl+Enter to report.

About the Author

Josie van den Hoek

Josie first visited Dar es Salaam in 2000 and is still here. She writes about encounters on her daily walks and Tanzanian life.