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Shanty town blues!

6th February 2012
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Jambo, and greetings as I return  from a six months absence to the once pleasant Dar es Salaam, now being destroyed by corruption, thuggish policies, and inept local and central government leadership.   Ills existing in the so called developed countries also, but consequences here can have a cruder more catastrophic impact.

Well I’ve lazily re-used the same above introduction today as I did when coming back in May last year.   But it’s just as valid as yet more of the old structures that gave Dar its unique character have been demolished along with the rich cultural history they represented.

Demolition is a lucrative business  worldwide…......so perhaps bureaucratic big wigs with vested interests who’ve effectively blocked regulation of the passenger transport sector for years  have  locally diversified into this trade!

 

With multiple road  projects here etc. requiring mass building removal, there’s endless scope,  not forgetting that at the stroke of a powerful pen, buildings on conservation lists can be ‘de-conserved’ for the wreckers ball, and the predatory  so called ‘developers’.  

 

The resultant ‘Bongoland building boom’, are huge out of scale and context high rise tower blocks, environmentally backward, and scattered indiscriminately without cohesive infrastructure.    A newly emerging ‘modern’ shanty town mess, set in a relentlessly unchanging third world background.  

 

Well built old colonial low rise bungalows, that so perfectly defined the once beautiful parts of Dar, have all but disappeared, replaced by the worst type of American style real estate, devoid of architectural merit.    

 

This fourth phase government should be remembered for allowing on its watch, more haphazard and often substandard construction than any previous ones. Although past governments since independence, have achieved little in the way of urban re-generation, a term not rated highly in Tanzania. 

It appears officialdom, in the relevant sectors or outside them, either never visit inner Dar and surrounding areas like Kariakoo and Oyster Bay for example, or if they do, and fail to see what’s happening, they’re massively lacking in the most basic visual sensibilities…….and do they all sleep as their Pajeros speed towards the Bunge sessions passing through large wastelands of neglect?.......J.K. honey, please stay alert next time you go!

..….just remembered he flies there, never mind he can keep a look out for illegal logging and de-forestation instead!

 

Time spent travelling isn’t always well utilised,  and in terms of development, the privileged local elite who traverse the globe funded by the public purse, seem to learn little of benefit to their country from such trips.   

Perhaps the governments promotion and liking for high cost western style commercial developments here, are the results of too much time spent in glitzy shopping malls and luxury venues when off  duty  abroad!.  

Anyway, as more old buildings are bulldozed, I can see a little cartoon in my head, of all the biggest ‘big-wigs’, visiting cities famed for their stupendous historical architecture, like Italy’s Florence, Rome and Venice for example, and commenting how odd it is that authorities haven’t got round to demolishing any of it!

.....as did an immigration man on Zanzibar, who told me when referring to the Stone Town, “just you see mama, we’ll pull down all these mbovu buildings”.

 

……..well I feel better after that, what’s next?

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Returning here to piles of newspapers as always, kindly collected to inform me what’s been happening in my absence, I’m still reading my way through August 2011, and have just picked up a story from This Day publication, headed “Govt buys 2 billion/- mansion in New York.”

Described as palatial, the five bedroom, one storey property doesn’t seem overly attractive, but with four bathrooms, one of which appears ugly but ostentatious, it might appeal to a third rate film star!

For a wealthy nation this might be a relatively modest senior diplomatic home, but not for one of the worlds poorest.   So however illustrious their function and postings, shouldn’t we expect Tanzanian envoys and their parent ministry, to be mindful of the daily conditions for the over 80% of their countrymen they represent?  If so, then the vulgarity of this house price is reflected in the mindsets that choose it……which at l.26 million dollars are firmly in glitzy shopping mall mode for sure!

…….what did one time Finance Minister Basil Mramba say when challenged on the presidential plane purchase…..something along the lines of….”should the president be expected to travel on a donkey?”.

 

It seems there’s no alternatives in between…. just a beast of burden or a Gulf Stream jet.    Perhaps criticism of the house acquisition elicited a similar response like…..”Can this important U.N diplomat live in a stable”!  …….aluta continua Tanzania!    

…..or in homage to the countries funniest satirical critic Adam Lusekelo who died last year, let’s make that ‘a loot a’… as he always wrote!

 

……not strictly appropriate for this story as there’s no looting (that we know of) involved….. but we should  keep the government on their toes, they’re bound to be wasting the odd billion sh. or more… somewhere! 

………have a peaceful week……be with me next Monday!


 

 

 

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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