The economies of the townships of Dar es Salaam repeat themselves with routinely sad monotony. Unpaved, unkempt roads lined by a collection of scruffy shops selling food and cheap electronics, photocopying, hair stylists and beauticians, pineapples, mangoes, bananas and coconuts, cellphone charging and accessories, and cooked food: mostly potatoes, samosas, shrimps, and dried fish. The names of these slums define Dar — Tandare, Msasani, Magomeni, Kinondoni, Temeke, Dodoma, among many. Their streets are cross-crossed by boda-boda motorcycle taxis, dala-dala commuters buses, or bajaj tuk-tuks. It’s a marginal existence for many. A single room costs between 40,000-70,000 shillings a month, electricity another 20,000 and water 10,000. A taxi driver will rent his vehicle for 250,000 shillings monthly, and pay for petrol on top of that, eking out an existence in the face of low fares and the omnipresent predations of white-suited traffic officers asking for “help” in the form of, if they ...

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