Dust specialists

street sweeper clean city

A terrible job, they usually wear a scarf  around the face for some protection against all the dust they’re exposed to. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

I grew up in a country where for centuries the biggest challenge has been how to keep our feet dry and the water out of our land.

As a result, these days we’re considered specialists in water management.

Living in Dar I found there are other priorities: most notably, dust.

When I first came to Dar, I remember wondering what these sweeping sounds were early every morning.

Now I know, it’s ladies sweeping the yard around their house.

Later during the day one can see ladies sweeping sand around busy junctions or alongside roads.

A terrible job, they usually wear a scarf around the face for some protection against all the dust they’re exposed to.

Not even mentioning working in the middle of highly polluted air between non-stop heavy traffic.

As for the sweeping around the house, at least it reduces dust around for a while.

People also believe sprinkling water in the yard or on the road in front of the house is useful, supposedly it settles the dust.

It does for a while, however with the Dar sun the moisture will hardly last half an hour.

Most of the dust where I live is generated by heavy lorries (of taka taka or building sites) passing with speed and whirling up the sand which has been deposited on the road.

Interestingly, the sand which is starting to completely cover up a formerly reasonable tarred road is never being swept.

These days one can see that the President’s call for sweeping one’s home area every Saturday morning is being observed.

People with small business along a dirt road will neatly sweep the sandy parts around their shop entrance or street stall.

When I was growing up, I was never too concerned about dust and usually I didn’t see much of it, I just knew one has to hoover regularly for hygiene reasons.

But here it’s a different story: even with mopping floors daily throughout the house and slippers always on, the feet are black every evening!

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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.