Slowly but surely, the inhabitants of Arusha get ahead with effort, determination and a wide smile.
Right at Mount Meru’s feet, there’s the third biggest city in Tanzania, Arusha, with more than 400,000 inhabitants. The city receives thousands of tourists annually, because of its proximity to natural areas like Ngorongoro or Kilimanjaro.
Arusha looks like any other African city: The centre is small and bustling and counts with some tarmacked streets. However, most of the population hardly ever goes to the centre.
They mostly live in the outskirts, where not many tourists arrive. The outside part of the city is wide, calmed and silent. The houses, irregularly spread out, are sometimes made of mud and branches. Others are made of concrete. Some streets are totally limited by houses in both sides, but it isn’t rare to find a house that’s isolated and completely surrounded by fields.
In this city, life passes by on the streets. While the youngest are in the school, their parents work the fields to sell the products they harvest. In the many fields that there are in Arusha men and women work to get the best fruits and vegetables. Women, on top of working from dusk to dawn, are responsible for the children; it isn’t rare to see mothers working with their youngest on their back, and the rest of their children helping in the vegetable garden.
As mentioned before, Arushans labour activity doesn’t end on the field, it continues with the selling of their products. The trade is mainly centred in Kilombero Market and in the Market of Arusha, where hundreds of people are brought together to sell and buy. Also, some women put up other market stands in front of their houses.
Arusha’s inhabitants usually travel by foot, even when they are loaded with all their products. However, for long distances they can use piki-pikis, taxi-style motorbikes, or dala dalas, small vans which work as minibuses or share taxis.
The activity in Arusha increases at the late afternoon, when children leave school and go back home. At that time, they can be seen helping their mothers with the laundry, lending a hand in the field with the harvest, playing football, or simply, wandering until twilight.
The idea of an African city has nothing to do with the one of occidental culture. However, if someone pays attention to their values, the interpersonal relations and the children’s innocence, one can come to see how we are very much alike.
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