By Gaure Mdee
Dar es Salaam, the bustling metropolis of Tanzania, is not only known for its stunning coastal views and vibrant markets but also for its captivating streets.
Walking through the city is like embarking on a sensory journey, where the sights, sounds and smells intertwine to create a unique experience.
It's what prompted local artist and animator Ngaira Mandara to create art and designs based on his perspective of his hometown.
His artworks and Streets of Dar clothing line showcases life in Dar es Salaam, a city of over five million people, according to statistics from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics.
Love for city
“When I decided to be a full-time artist, my first goal was to create a series of illustrations with a theme," he told TRT Afrika.
“I’m inspired to draw things that I experience. From the people I meet, places I visit and even personal, funny mishaps that occur.”
One such experience was when he saw a motorcycle taxi overloaded with three pillion passengers. The law allows for just one such passenger.
“I was walking along Makumbusho one day going about my schedule and I came across a bodaboda (motorbike taxi) with four people on it. I was immediately hit with the inspiration to draw it.”
Boda boda, a local term for motorcycle taxis, are popular in the East African country, embodying the people's spirit of convenience, resilience and exploration.
“On another day I saw a group of people getting on a daladala (passenger minibuses) which also inspired me. From then on, the city slowly started to become my muse and it grew to what you now know as The Streets of Dar es Salaam.”
Every city has its unique culture and artists keen on depicting their cities capture everyday adventures in their artwork.
"I chose Dar es Salaam because I was born and raised here. As I kept drawing more and more, the city I grew up in became a great source of inspiration for many of my drawings," he told TRT Afrika.
Creating art that represents a person's city can give them a sense of identity and connection to their community. It can also help visitors connect more deeply with the city and its residents.
As Mandara puts it: "What I draw are things we experience each day. From the people we meet to the places we visit. "
Mandara works alongside Tanzanian fashion designer Ally Remtullah in creating designs for the clothing line. Any person from Dar es Salaam can immediately feel connected to the designs that live out in the attire.
"I have worked on a series of illustrations inspired by my visits to Zanzibar, and as I travel more, I will be capturing my experiences through my art."
In essence, Mandara says The Streets of Dar es Salaam series captures the moments of the city which can be shared with generations to come.