Arts + Culture

City Guide: Vanessa Mdee's Guide to Dar es Salaam

Tanzanian star and all-around boss Vanessa Mdee gives us to keys to Dar es Salaam in this City Guide.

In our series City Guide, we ask our favorite musicians, actors, artists and celebrities what their go-to spots are in their hometown.


In this installment, all-around boss and 'Cash Madame' Vanessa Mdee gives us the keys to Dar es Salaam, showing us the best spots for tunes, romance, food and more.

Make sure to check out Vanessa's addictive pop hits "Niroge," "Hawajui," "Never Ever," and, of course, "Cash Madame."

Best Concert Venue

Vanessa Mdee: The Mlimani City Conference Hall is a pretty dope venue – you can transform it into whatever you envision for your concert, and the acoustics are amazing for live performances. Also, the beaches in Dar es Salaam are extremely aesthetically pleasing and sometimes double as dope concert spots.

Best Night Spot

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VM: A little lounge called Elements Bar and Lounge has the best DJs spinning every weekend. You will always bump into local and international celebs there.

Best Restaurant

VM: Depends on what you're into—The Oriental at the Hyatt for sushi, Akemi for an amazing 360 degree view of the city (it revolves), Samaki Samaki for that youthful Tanzanian vibe, Addis in Dar for Ethiopian cuisine or your local hole-in-the wall a.k.a. 'Mama Ntilie' for your Swahili dish.

Best Date Spot

VM: The Slipway, with a variety of restaurants right beside the ocean the Slipway is easily one of Dar es Salaam's prime locations. Trust me, you will fall in love with the sunset and maybe that hot date. Or, the swanky Cape Town Fish Market located right on the beach as well with some of the most exotic cocktails and a variety of sea food dishes.

Best drink to have while in town

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VM: Konyagi!!! You gotta try our local Tanzanian gin. Be warned, this is NOT FOR THE LIGHTWEIGHT.

Best outdoor activity

VM: Visit our marine reserves Mbudya, Bongoyo or Sinda Island—located 20-30 mins out. These islands are Dar es Salaam's best kept secret (though probably not for long). At almost close to nothing you can swim in the clearest warm waters of the Indian ocean. You can even catch your lunch *wink* BYOB!!!

Best chill spot for working on music

VM: My crib right on the Dar es Salaam peninsula with the best view of the Indian Ocean.

This article is a revisited version of Vanessa Mdee's 2013 City Guide for OkayAfrica.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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