Dar Es Salaam / by Cyrus Moussavi

Dar Es Salaam. Warm light, kind people, murky sea, charcoal burning, good chicken, bad fish, palm trees choked in smog, controlled dancing to very loud music. Inspiration from the artists, photographers, and musicians at Nafasi Art Space, and some fine time spent with John Kitime, a musician, collector, historian, radio host and more, who never stops, but who did pause, briefly, to tell us about captured German soldiers and newly unearthed biographies of our favorite guitarists and Tanzanian copyright law. We saw the Dar premiere of Wahenga, a moving film about John and the current state of Muziki Wa Dansi in Tanzania, directed by our friend Rebecca from Nafasi and the Tanzania Heritage Project. The film was projected on a sheet and blasted through a sound system in the famous DDC Kariakoo social club/bar in the middle of Kariakoo Market, which buzzed around us. Drank Konyagi atop the Hong Kong Hotel (directly across from the Rising Sun Hotel), and later, when the hotel closed, ran down ten flights and caught a cab to hear John and his band play their all-night Saturday set by the Indian Ocean, swatting mosquitos and shuffling softly trying to mimic the music lovers (and plain ol’ lovers) on the dance floor. This old music is called Zilipendwa, meaning “Those who were once loved.” In Wahenga, John takes offense to the past tense. The musicians live, and on a few dance floors in Dar Es Salaam last night their music was joyously and actively loved.