Drawings and Creative Writing Inspired by the Cultural and Architectural Heritage of Dar es Salaam
by Sarah Markes
Street Level was selected as 2012 Honor Book for Older Readers by the Children's Africana Book Award program, affiliated with the African Studies Association.
The introduction to this extraordinarily beautifully illustrated book gives a fascinating overview of the history and architectural heritage of Dar es Salaam, and an insight into the efforts of those seeking to preserve it. The book captures 'fragments of the atmosphere, the sun bleached charm and the dynamic energy' of Dar es Salaam. Generic class and concrete skyscrapers are replacing human sized old Dar, and the frenzy to modernise shows little sign of abating. The city's cultural and historic memory is being erased by property development and its profits for the few. Through her drawings, the artist has recorded the vanishing city centre. She gives portraits of its colourful and dynamic people: living, going about their business, worshipping and gathering in its age old restaurants and tea rooms to spend time as generations have done so before. An important part of the book is short pieces of prose and poetry by some of the best creative writers in Dar today. They are snapshots of Dar and its people: the privileged, the poor, those who walk the streets going to places or aimlessly ambling, those in love and those who passed through Dar and left a record of their sojourn.
View some of the illustrations online here.
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“If Street Level were no more than a homage to the architecture of Dar it would have been a very significant achievement in its own right. But it is much more than that…This is a book to treasure for its fine illustrations and its sympathetic portrayal of Dar es Salaam in its many aspects.”
""a unique and exceptional resource for middle and high school students. The creative prose and appropriate illustrations will be helpful in teaching about urban life in East Africa."