Tanzanian Capital Dodoma

Tanzanian Capital Dodoma and Tanzanian-Ukrainian Wedding

Tanzania is known to tourists due to Zanzibar, safari, and enormous Dar-es-Salaam city at the ocean. Few people know that the capital of Tanzania is not Dar, but calm and quiet Dodoma situated closer to the center of the country, away from the ocean.

We arrived in Dodoma fro Dar-es-Sallam by ABC bus the best (if not the only descent) bus company we’ve seen in Africa (departure 7.00 from Ubungo Station, arrival 15.30, the ticket price 22000 Tanzanian shillings). Before the trip we also heard that Scandinavian express had good buses, but we could not find their office and figured out only in Dodoma that the company had been closed.
In Dodoma we stayed with a wonderful Ukrainian-Tanzanian couple of couchsurfers, Nastya and Lu. Lu picked us up at the bus station; we understood it was him as soon as we saw the car with traditional Ukrainian ornaments.

Lu had studied in Ukraine to become a doctor and met Nastya there. After graduating, they decided to move to Tanzania and held the most unusual wedding we’ve ever seen (on the photos, of course). Nastya, Lu, and their parents were wearing dresses and shirts with Ukrainian embroidery and ornaments. Nastya was also wearing a headwreath, while bridesmaids had sunflowers as accessories. Nastya and Lu kindly let us publish several photos here:




The wedding was huge, about 450 people. It is of course hard to organize such a big event and to find money for it too. There is a very smart tradition in Tanzania, helping a young couple with these issues. For each wedding, a committee of relatives and family friends is organized (40-50 people) to cope with pre-wedding bustle and collect money from the guests: the money presents are given in advance. For the wedding per se, guests usually bring memory gifts: textiles, dishes, or small appliances. The committee consists of volunteers, based on the principle “we help you today, and you will help our children tomorrow”.
With Nastya, Lu, and their Rhodesian ridgebacks Hector and Luna (Luna=Lu+Nastya, so romantic!), we walked to a Simba Hill (simba is “a lion”) opening an excellent view of Dodoma. We did not get to the very top of it, however, scared away by the starting rain.




Also, we learned a lot about ridgebacks, a dog breed we encountered for the first time. It developed in South Africa by crossing the dogs of the first colonizers with the semi-domesticated, ridged hunting dogs of the Khoikhoi tribe. Ridgebacks were used for hunting a lot, especially the lion hunting, mostly keeping the predator till the human comes. They received their name due to the ridge of hair running along their back in the opposite direction from the rest of coat. Ridgebacks are very sociable dogs pining without constant attention of their masters.
Photo:Ridge“. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.
The Internet and Lonely Planet urge against visiting Simba hill on your own due to the danger of robbers. Whether because we were there with Lu, Nastya, and their dogs (who may defeat even a lion if necessary), or because the danger is exaggerated, we felt safe.
IMG_0735 копия

Then at the 7th street we ate some street food – urojo – a traditional Zanzibar soup also widespread in continental Tanzania. GPS:-6.1783023, 35.745407 


Lu is a doctor, and he helped us with malaria prophylaxis. We bought Malafin in Dodoma pharmacy; it is to be taken every ten days. Ten days is an incubation period of malaria, so even in case the infected mosquito bites you, you will not get sick. By the way, Malafin is not sold in Zanzibar: anti-malaria pills are more expensive there, as the medicines containing certain elements like Malafin are prohibited. The prophylaxis of malaria cost about 3 dollars for a month for each of us (1500 Tanzanian shillings every 10 days). To compare: the same month with the pills prescribed by Estonian doctors would have cost around 120 euros per person. As a rule, in Europe they prescribe a more expensive Malarone with no side effects, or a cheaper Lariam, sometimes causing hallucinations. In the country where malaria is an everyday problem, the medicines are much cheaper, more varied and accessible (no need for prescription).

Next morning we walked on our own. The city has few sights, and, as a result, even fewer tourists, which always makes us happy!
First of all we visited the Masai market at the bus station. Masai is, perhaps, the most famous tribe in East Africa, we’ve written a bit about. Every larger city has a market where they sell handicrafts and folk medicines for different diseases or other troubles.

We read that Masai do not like to be photographed, but these particular people eagerly agreed to be on the photo and even did not ask to pay for it!

In the center of the city, close to each other there is an Anglican and a Lutheran churches.



Across the road, in front of another mosque, most likely the students of art settled down.

Dodoma Central Square is also called Nyerere Square, as it has a statue of Julius K. Nyerere, Father of the Nation (“Baba wa Taifa”). Tanzanians say he united fighting tribes into a powerful and peaceful country. At the square, we could even watch the opposition meeting.


And in front of the square there is an internet café with quite fast internet.

We rambled around the market and streets:


And realized that Christmas was on its way! (we were in Dodoma in December, 18)
As yesterday’s urojo food stall was closed we had food at the market. GPS:-6.179067, 35.745614


Nastya and Lu mentioned that there is a lot more to see around Dodoma, for instance a winery and railway road and station built by German colonizers in 1900s, but still operating. We had very little time though, and having stayed in Dodoma for less than 24 hours we departed for Singida to watch flamingos and visit the tribes and sights of Singida region.

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