Daladala Diaries (2016)
Rehema Chachage

Daladala Diaries springs from archival sound recordings that I have collected over the years during travels on our local and, what was for the longest time, most common mode of transportation: daladalas. They are a not exactly systematic public bus system, available all over Tanzania. Daladalas are becoming rarer, due to the introduction of the new and preferred high-speed buses in Dar, and the use of other, more private and convenient modes of transportation. During my time as a resident artist at ZK/U, I spent a lot of time, developed an interest in, and recorded some video and sound footage in Berlin’s trains and stations. I decided to borrow from my daladala archive and use some of these sounds to contrast the two universes. I was interested in the narrative that could be formed when the visuals of a ‘proper’, neat and organized public transport system in Berlin is juxtaposed with the loud and chaotic nature of sounds from the daladalas and the city of Dar es Salaam, as heard from inside the daladalas.

In my work, I have a huge interest in everyday rituals: real or imagined gestures, interactions, repetitive experiences. Traveling long hours in a daladala in the Dar es Salaam traffic, there is always enough time to people watch and observe a lot of these gestures, behaviors, and (non-)interactions. But traveling on the U-Bahn or S-Bahn in Berlin, it hardly takes any time to get to where you are going. I had to make the video very slow, to give that illusion of the prolonged Bahn ride like a daladala stuck in a jam, that gives room for these kinds of observations. When making the video, I was also reminded of an article I read on the All Africa website by Katharina Stein, which explains in detail her struggles and enjoyments with Tanzanian daladalas, while making comparisons with the German transport system.  I thought it interesting to combine my representation and narrative of Berlin’s public train system, which is told (and filmed) from a foreigner’s point of view, with this narrative of a foreigner’s experience in Tanzania with daladalas: a foreigner telling a foreign(er) story. Both are strange and interesting, because… who has the right to tell what story?

Rehema Chachage is a video, sculpture and performance artist, exploring rituals as valuable tools for reading into social norms and tensions, including feminism, gender and subversive identities.


Stills from the short movie DalaDala Diaries