For some the name Dar es Salaam conjures up images of the Orient, Asia or the Middle East, and sure enough it was an Arab sultan – Majid bin Said of Zanzibar – who began the development of what was once just a fishing village into the city it is today. But this is Africa. Not rural or bushveld but a bustling metropolis. High-rise buildings in the central business district, Dar es Salaam accommodation of various sorts and an urban sprawl that includes parks and markets as well as beaches and the wonders of the waterways that surround the biggest city in Tanzania and one of the busiest ports in East Africa.
Dar es Salaam accommodation is an aspect of the city that reflects a blend of various people and their cultures. Until 1961 Tanzania was under British rule, when it used to be called Tanganyika. The Brits, in turn, were preceded by the Germans who occupied what was once referred to as German East Africa until it was taken over by the British in World War I. And it was before then, before 1887 when the German East Africa Company set about reviving the economy of the place and later built a railway line etcetera, that Sultan Majid and then his brother ruled the area in the mid-19th century.
The name Tanzania is derived from the names Tanganyika and Zanzibar, which were independent of each other until 1964. Of the country’s population numbering around 40-million people, most are Swahili. Over 3-million people live in Dar es Salaam, which is also where the minorities of Asians (mostly Indian and Chinese), Arabs and Europeans are concentrated. Dar es Salaam accommodation varies from straight-forward to places that reflect cultures past and present – including Dar es Salaam accommodation that is of a standard expected by international travellers.
Take, for example, the Southern Sun Dar es Salaam. Inside you’ll find African carvings decorating some of the rooms and walkways, wicker chairs, large clay pots with ferns spreading from them. Here and there one might be confused as to whether the design is African or from somewhere across the Indian Ocean. There are staff wearing uniforms reminiscent of the Colonial era, and in the restaurant of this Dar es Salaam accommodation establishment the menu comprises a fusion of Swahili and Continental cuisine.
The name of the Southern Sun restaurant is Kivulini, distinguishing it from the Baraza Grill Caf© and Bar elsewhere in the hotel, but the table settings are fairly western and one of the features include a display of the international wine selection on offer. “A tantalising exotic experience,” is how the management puts it.