Just a few days a year

On these rare days, there is hardly any traffic at all. No business is being called out, nor do ladies with bananas on their heads come knocking at the gate. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

It is unbelievable how quiet it can get in this city, despite the multi-million population.

Usually this type of silence lasts just a few days a year, around Christmas and Easter holidays — and infrequently in the event of Sunday elections.

Normally all types of heavy four wheel drive vehicles and old trucks loaded with garbage or building materials speed along the road near our house.

On these rare days, there is hardly any traffic at all. No business is being called out, nor do ladies with bananas on their heads come knocking the gate.

Even those going from door to door advertising their dawa service (fumigation) give it a miss.

There are few people around and the usual shouting of greetings across the road is not heard.

No engines or music in overdrive as most neighbours are away visiting relatives or enjoying the beach.

Walking around is a pleasure as no dust is being circulated by the traffic, nor is one pushed into the gutters by large vehicles.

There are usually no generators rumbling on as Tanesco seems to avoid any maintenance activity during those times; perhaps electricity emergencies occur less because most of the big spenders are out of town.

Those living in the huge apartment blocks fully equipped with A/C and electrical appliances in every room are not around during national holidays.

Even the larger businesses are closed as well.

Of course the hens make themselves heard as any day of the year, even some parrots and other exotic birds kept in aviaries in the neighbourhood.

The mosque continues its calls for prayer without fail along with the ice cream men playing their various music tapes as they cycle around late in the afternoon to try and get extra business in the slow holiday season.

On these rare quiet days one can still understand the original meaning of Dar Es Salaam: Abode of Peace.

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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.