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From Dar es Salaam to Bongoland

Urban Mutations in Tanzania

Bernard Calas

Publication Year: 2010

The name Dar es Salaam comes from the Arabic phrase meaning house of peace. A popular but erroneous translation is ëhaven of peaceí resulting from a mix-up of the Arabic words "dar" (house) and "bandar" (harbour). Named in 1867 by the Sultan of Zanzibar, the town has for a long time benefitted from a reputation of being a place of tranquility. The tropical drowsiness is a comfort to the socialist poverty and under-equipment that causes an unending anxiety to reign over the town. Today, for the Tanzanian, the town has become Bongoland, that is, a place where survival is a matter of cunning and intelligence (bongo means ëbrainí in Kiswahili). Far from being an anecdote, this slide into toponomy records the mutations that affect the links that Tanzanians maintain with their principal city and the manner in which it represents them. This book takes into account the changes by departing from the hypothesis that they reveal a process of territorialisation. What are the processesóenvisaged as spatial investmentsówhich, by producing exclusivity, demarcations and exclusions, fragment the urban space and its social fabric? Do the practices and discussions of the urban dwellers construct limited spaces, appropriated, identified and managed by communities (in other words, territories)? Dar es Salaam is often described as a diversified, relatively homogenous and integrating place. However, is it not more appropriate to describe it as fragmented? As territorialisation can only occur through frequenting, management and localised investment, it is therefore through certain placesófirst shelter and residential area, then the school, daladala station, the fire hydrant and the quaysóthat the town is observed. This led to broach the question in the geographical sense of urban policy carried out since German colonisation to date. At the same time, the analysis of these developments allows for an evaluation of the role of the urban crisis and the responses it brings. In sum, the aim of this approach is to measure the impact of the uniqueness of the place on the current changes. On one hand, this is linked to its long-term insertion in the Swahili civilisation, and on the other, to its colonisation by Germany and later Britain and finally, to the singularity of the post-colonial path. This latter is marked by an alternation of Ujamaa with Structural Adjustment Plans applied since 1987. How does this remarkable political culture take part in the emerging city today? This book is a translation of De Dar es Salaam ‡ Bongoland: Mutations urbaines en Tanzanie, published by Karthala, Paris in 2006.

Published by: African Books Collective

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

Contributors, Dedication

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pp. vii-ix


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Form as a pretext for investigating urban changes

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pp. 3-22

This collection of research articles results from a conjunction between personal concerns stemming from the conclusions of my thesis (Calas, 1998) and the aspirations of Bernard Charlery de La Masselière, the director of IFRA,1 for the French Institute for Research in Africa. The conclusions of my research on Kampala revealed links between Ganda...

I. LAND - HISTORY: The Domestication of the Agglomeration

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The Evolution of Dar es Salaam’s Peri-Urban Space During the Period of German Colonisation (1890-1914)

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pp. 25-97

In his thesis on Douala1, Andreas Eckert emphasizes that studies dealing with land issues in new colonial cities are a relatively rare occurrence. However, the evolution of urban real estate constitutes a privileged point of view for the analysis of society as a whole, as this is where numerous issues are dealt with far beyond mere economic dimensions. Colonial society’s appropriation...

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Public Housing Policies: Decentralization, government policies and the people’s solutions

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pp. 99-123

For the past forty years, accelerating urban growth has been a common phenomenon in all of Africa’s big cities. Nairobi and Dar es Salaam have not escaped this continental tendency and have recorded huge population increases. However, the duration and scope of the phenomenon differ noticeably between these two cities. ...

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Mixity and Territoriality in a Rapidly Expanding City: How Dar es Salaam was shaped by its Suburbs [Image Plates Included]

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pp. 125-212

How is a city formed? How does a multitude of people unite and develop around an initial seat of power, a control centre born of political will; how do they make their mark on the isolated rural periphery and eventually put down urban roots? How does a residential area’s dense tissue spring up, how is it set in motion, how does it grow from what is initially an arbitrated...


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Schools: facilities and places structuring urbanity in Dar es Salaam

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pp. 215-242

When considering schools in urban areas, two complementary points of view can be adopted: firstly, a spatial point of view to observe the distribution and spatial integration of schools within the city; secondly, a social point of view to analyse the population’s access strategies to a public service which is becoming increasingly segregated. The conjunction of these two perspectives enables...

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Urban Transport: following the course of free enterprise

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pp. 243-259

Dar es Salaam’s urban transport sector makes for interesting study on two accounts. It provides a good example of the economic and political difficulties experienced by Africa’s major cities in managing public services and infrastructures within a context of rapidly growing needs and a shortage of public financing. However, in Dar es Salaam especially, an analysis of how...

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Towards a two-tiered city?

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pp. 261-278

Inhabitants of Dar es Salaam rarely seem to travel and when they do, it is with some difficulty. Statistical sources are rare and incomplete but the available information advances a theory of ineffectual and constrained mobility on a daily basis. There is probably fewer than one return trip per person per day on average; mobility is also constrained as 70% of the trips are motivated by work...

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Water Management - Institutional weaknesses and urban answers: towards a new urbanity?

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pp. 279-312

After the Second World War, African cities experienced an unprecedented urban explosion. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s biggest city, did not escape this evolution. Indeed, the city recorded important annual growth rates: rates increased from 6.5% between 1957 and 1967 to more than 10 % between 1970 and 1975, before dropping to around 6 or 7%. This sharp, rapid...


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Harbour Landscapes

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pp. 315-340

Tanzania is exemplary for two reasons: on the one hand, it is exemplary of that African paradox of a continent structured according to extroversion and integration into world trade circulation, although virtually absent from world commerce (2% of trade); and on the other hand, it is exemplary of the erosion of competencies acquired by state machinery after independence, especially...

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Cultural Landscapes: Sedimentation, fusion or mutations?

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pp. 341-353

Styles, references and borrowings express what is different about a society, as well as its horizons, and therefore shed light on the society’s aspirations and its models. The urban, architectural, symbolic, dress and behaviour constitute references, express ideals which are sometimes incarnated by heroes, but which always manifest themselves through constructions, places, monuments...

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Dar es Salaam – Zanzibar: exchanging glances

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pp. 355-367

Zanzibar is separated from Dar es Salaam by only a few kilometres. And yet, when approaching the archipelago from the capital,1 one enters a different cultural universe. This insular society constitutes a melting-pot which combines African, Arab and Indian influences, giving birth to the Swahili culture shared by the Muslim populations along the East African coast. Although Dar ...

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Zanzibari Investments in Kariakoo

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pp. 369-383

On the initiative of the Sultan of Zanzibar, Seyyid Majid bin Said bin Sultan,1 Dar es Salaam was built on Shomvi and Pazi2 clan territory in Zaramo3 country at a time when Zanzibar was the focus of activities involving economic, political and cultural exchanges on an international level. At the time, Zanzibar was the region’s most important warehouse, a commercial depot for manufactured...

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Confusing views: from a wealth of representations to a “polyphonic city”

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pp. 385-393

“Cities are not only made up of that which takes place on its territory, but also the way in which migrants and tourists pass through it… Hence the importance of studying textual descriptions and visualizations of the city1” (Garcia Canclini, 1997, p. 23). As we shall see, this analysis remains incomplete to the extent that it is based on a rather meagre corpus; more particularly, it...


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pp. 395-418

E-ISBN-13: 9789987081288
Print-ISBN-13: 9789987080946

Page Count: 430
Illustrations: B/W
Publication Year: 2010