Tanzania TV

Okay, I know I said last week that I’d get back to where we left off two weeks ago–taking the bus into the city. But let’s push that narrative back just one more week.  Something else stuck out to me to write about as our Easter break was coming to a close.

Coming back from Zanzibar Island (pictured last week), I had a night to kill in the large, coastal city Dar el Salaam before my long bus ride home the next day. The place I stayed that night had hot water and television! (Not that it was odd to find TV in Dar es Salaam, but it was the first TV I’d get to sit down to watch in three months. And it very well may be the only TV I watch in three more.

Turning it on in my tiny, 5th floor room, I realized there were a lot of channels. And then I realized how diverse these channels were. We’re told America’s the melting pot of the world–but not on the airwaves. TV in the U.S. is all American. TV in China was all Chinese. TV in Dar es Salaam, however, was indicative of the diversity of this meeting place of Arab, Western, Indian, Chinese, and of course, African cultures. Perhaps it’s also indicative of the lack of a significant film industry and TV studios in Tanzania that they need to import so much programming.

Whatever the cause, instead of going to the English-language channels and in lieu of the luxury of such entertainment, I flipped through to absorb the array of content. More than just recognizing the variety, you can get just a taste, a crack, revealing something about other cultures that star in and develop the programming.

What do they wear? What are their music channels like? How steamy can programming get? Do they drive on the left or right side? Is their evening news structured like ours? How do they shoot a scene or add a musical score? Not surprising, there are plenty of similarities and differences. And I’ve never been to a better place to see them all than in my hotel room a few nights ago in Dar es Salaam.

So, thinking of how interesting it was, I set up my camera. Sure, footage of footage is never that pretty. But I’m hoping it’s sharp enough to convey to you this globe-trotting experience on air.

Here are two videos I made:

I got a kick out of the scene at the end.

Here’s another montage which I did a better job recording and features some joyous Hindi dancing:

Finally, here’s a bonus. On the nine hour bus ride to/from Dar es Salaam, the driver and conductor offer riders entertainment in the form of movies and music from the small TV hanging from the ceiling at the front of the bus. I saw a couple American action films; I watched a home video-looking Tanzanian movie.

And then I saw several music videos like these:

I write this post back in my favorite nook at my favorite Internet Cafe in Iringa. Next week I share with you what it’s like here in this mid-sized Tanzanian city.

til then,


What say you?