At Double Tree Hotel, Dar Es Salaam
  By Mitterand OKORIE

 I landed Julius Nyerere International Airport Dar es Salaam via Addis Ababa. There was no tube channel to walk from aircraft into terminal, so we disembarked into a scorching sun. The atmosphere was as humid as hell itself, but there was nothing strange about this at all. Certainly not for me. If anything, it reminded me of the many times I landed at the Ercan Airport in North Cyprus as an undergraduate student. 

I was just happy to have finally reached my destination, after what had been a long and tortuous journey. In Abuja where it all began, I had been nearly harassed like a common thief. All airport authorities seemed to cast incredulous gazes at me. I couldn’t tell why the sight of a young, well-dressed Nigerian heading to Tanzania for a two week holiday attracted so much interest. My bag had been ransacked to check for any trace of hard drugs, and just before I made my way to the waiting lounge, some officers of the NDLEA (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency) checked me into a room where those suspected for trafficking drugs are x-rayed.

“Are you going for an official journey?” one asked.

It was, to me, a very stupid question and I did not border to respond.

“Why are you going to Tanzania?” he rephrased.

“Holiday, sir.”

“What do you do?”

“I’m a businessman. I work in my dad’s company as his Personal Assistant. We import used trucks from Europe and sell in Nigeria.”

 In Dar es Salaam, the cab man skids off the asphalt over to the dusty pedestrian path. The car bounces against the potholes as he tries to manoeuvre against the traffic.
“I’m sorry about that” he said, “Dar has a very terrible traffic and we would not arrive early if I don’t do this.”

It was obvious he had mistaken my shock for censure whereas it was only a moment of discovery. They break traffic rules everywhere in Africa! I found it interesting how traffic wardens were stationed beneath dysfunctional traffic lights. Pray, what is the cost of simply repairing them? Just like in Nigeria, I saw in Addis Ababa, and now here, that these wardens, despite their best efforts are often undone by an army of unruly and impatient motorists.

As we drove on, the cab man who had now introduced himself as John takes time to point out the important buildings or places he thinks I should know in Dar city centre. With the state of the roads, the hawkers in the streets, the rickety tricycles, a picture of the political situation in the country was already beginning to form in my mind. But since John looked pretty excited for a conversation, I asked him what he thought about the political leaders in his country.

“Thieves. They are all thieves!”

“I often thought corruption was only rife in my country, and that most other African countries where better off…” I said, goading him to say more.

“No!!! Here… I think here is the worst.”

As we arrived the hotel, a cosy bungalow apartment with a serene beer garden, John hands me his card. When I flip to the other side, I see he’s also a Real Estate agent. I smile. Everyone in Abuja is a property agent too – from penthouse office bosses down to the roadside vulcanizers. I pay him 45,000 Tanzanian Shillings; 5,000 more than the agreed price for being excellent company.

My friend Mr. Kay arrives in the evening to take me out and give me a proper welcome to the city. When I had told him a week before my arrival of where I found a budget hotel with a gym and swimming pool—a place called Manzese, he screamed in horror.

“You can’t stay there, Mitt!” “I don’t think it’s very safe. Street gangs are rife over there. Please, I’d recommend somewhere else for you, tell me exactly what your budget is.”

Mr. Kay is one of the managers at the Double Tree Hilton Dar es Salaam and generally well versed in his country’s tourism and hospitality sector. When I arrived Msasani village and moved around, I understood exactly why Mr. Kay had recommended it. Coco Beach was less than 10 minutes away, my own hotel had been just overlooking the Hilton. This was Oyster Bay zone, which featured exotic streets and an array of foreign high commissions.

The Double Tree Hilton was magnificent, especially at night – when the outdoor dinner tables were lit with candle lights as they overlooked the shore of the Indian Ocean.