Yes Sir/Ndio Mzee - making promises

Did you ever come across "Ndio Mzee" by the Tanzanian bongo/hip hop MC(s) Professor Jay and Juma Nature from early 2000? Here the – in the Tanzanian popular culture scene - legendary Professor Jay takes the role of a politician making all kinds of promises to secure votes before an election: the implementation of new roads and infrastructural investments, the end of poverty, and a bold promise to all the students of physics to do their practice on the moon (following a scandal where it was revealed that the universities didn't provide the relevant tools for the students of the same subjects to realize their practice). 
In the refrain the citizens respond in one voice “ndio mzee”, i.e. "yes sir" to everything he promise. After the release of the song all kinds of different remixes followed on the same theme, most famous the disobedient version "No Sir".

The sense of irony in "Ndio Mzee", keeping a distance to political (and other) promises might be the most prominent position people tak in relation to Tanzania's contemporary planning in Dar es Salaam. Like the current construction of Kigamboni bridge (in Temeke Municipal) that none really believed existed, though it was almost finished and very much "out there" in the material world, the attitude encountered is often “yeah, yeah, but wait until I've seen it with my own eyes, you know you shouldn't have a baby-shower before the baby is born – it’s bad luck”. At the same time there is this great beliefe in what these new infrastructural investments in the city potentially could do - elsewhere, as if it was more important what the bridge, or city project, communicated; that things are coming about, that Dar is out there in the world, having stakes in things - rather than what the bridge could be utilised for in practical terms. And for the Kigamboni New City project, it seemed more important that it was there, and the actual habitation was quite secondary. Some 90% of the inhabitants of Dar would probably never be able to buy or rent property in the new city, though many people aren't very negative about the project/plans as such - except for some serious rumors going around that the triad Obama/Bush/Cameron had bought the land on speculation after a visit to Dar and wouldn't allow Africans living there - none seemed to express the opinion that this new city project was wrong in other ways than for the undemocratic/unlawful planning procedure.

The very plans for the city perform on a stage away, but still within reach for the city. Though it seems unlikely that Tanzania's new city plans will be successfully implemented, the plans does something, something more.


/Notes from Dar es Salaam






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