Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises

Dar es Salaam

The House of Peace

Dar es Salaam is the largest city in Tanzania. It is one of East Africa's most important economic centers. It is also one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Dar es Salaam is the largest Swahili-speaking city in the world. It is the main base of Tanzania's finance, media, and arts industries. The city is nicknamed Bongo, meaning "brain" in Swahili, by locals. This refers to the fact that you should use your mind to succeed in the city.

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The city was given the name Dar es Salaam by Sultan Majid bin Said, who ruled the nearby island of Zanzibar. The name means "House of Peace" in Arabic. It was probably chosen to try and get more merchants and traders to use its marketplaces.

A Brief History of Dar es Salaam

  • Dar es Salaam was built near the coastal town of Mzizima. Mzizima was just a minor fishing village on the Indian Ocean coast in the middle of the 19th century.

    In 1865, the powerful ruler of the neighboring island of Zanzibar, Sultan Majid bin Said, ordered a new city to be built on a site close to Mzizima. He named this new city Dar es Salaam.
  • Due to the support of the Sultan, the city became an important trading center. However, the city lost much of this importance after the Sultan's unexpected death in 1870.

    By 1887 Dar es Salaam was once again a key center for trade in the region. It became one of the main bases for the German East Africa Company. This powerful trading group operated across East Africa and the Indian Ocean.
  • By the early 1900s, Dar es Salaam was connected to inland cities such as Dodoma. This was achieved by the building of the Central Railway Line across German East Africa.

    The city was fought over during the First World War between 1914 and 1918. Eventually, the city passed from German rule to British rule. The colony of German East Africa was then renamed Tanganyika.

    During this period, large numbers of people migrated to Dar es Salaam from India. At that time, India was also part of the British Empire. This helped to give the city distinctive new identity.
  • In 1961, Tanganyika gained independence from the British Empire. Dar es Salaam was selected as the first capital city of the new country. It would stay as the capital until 1973, when the decision was made to move the capital of the country to Dodoma.

    Rather than being on the coast, Dodoma was more centrally located. In 1964, Tanganyika was renamed Tanzania. Dar es Salaam remains Tanzania's largest and richest city. This is despite the relocation of the government offices.

    Dar es Salaam's central business district is now home to some of East Africa's tallest buildings. These include the famous 35-floor PSPF Tower, which was opened in 2015.

National Museum of Tanzania

This museum preserves (looks after and keeps safe) and exhibits (shows to the world) objects which are important to the history of Tanzania. It was first opened in 1934 by the governor of Tanganyika, Harold MacMichael.

The museum was first built in honor of King George V of Great Britain. In 1963, the museum was expanded, adding a new second building. In recent years, the museum has become one of Tanzania's most popular visitor attractions.

Its collection contains a number of objects from the early twentieth century. These help visitors understand what life was life when the Germans and the British ruled over the city.

The museum also houses many examples of Chinese pottery. Some of these items are over 500 years old. These show how items from as far away as the Far East were brought to Dar es Salaam to trade.

Just outside the city is the newest part of the National Museum of Tanzania, known as the Village Museum. This outdoor exhibit includes traditional huts from 16 different Tanzanian tribes.

Here visitors can learn more about the traditional music, customs, and lifestyles of Tanzania's native peoples.

Askari Monument

This impressive monument is dedicated to the Askari soldiers. This group of East African fighters fought for the British army during the First World War.

The monument was built in 1927. It is located at the center of a large roundabout between Samora Avenue and Maktaba Street. This spot is almost the exact center of the city.

It is a large bronze statue of an African soldier who is pointing his gun towards the ocean. The statue was designed by the British sculptor James Alexander Stevenson.

This monument is one of three monuments to the Askari which were built in the same year. The other two matching monuments stand in the Kenyan cities of Mombasa and Nairobi.

Bongoyo Island

Bongoyo Island is located approximately 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) north of Dar es Salaam. Bongoyo is one of nine islands which make up the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve.

This reserve provides protection for many species of plants and animals. You can reach the island easily by taking a 30-minute boat trip from the city. It is extremely popular with day trippers.

They enjoy sunbathing and snorkeling. This requires diving under the surface of the ocean with a short pipe in your mouth, which allows you to keep breathing while your head remains underwater.

Tinga Tinga Arts Cooperative Society

Oyster Bay in Dar es Salaam is the home of Tinga Tinga. This unique style of painting was developed in the second half of the twentieth century. It is named after its founder, Edward Said Tingatinga, who was born in 1932.

These paintings are distinctive for their use of bright primary colors. Tinga Tinga painting usually focuses on creating pictures of the "Big Five".

These are the five most famous wild animals living in Tanzania: the lion; the leopard; the rhinoceros; the elephant; and the buffalo.

Six of Edward Said Tingatinga's followers set up the Tinga Tinga Arts Cooperative Society after his death in 1972. It shows its artworks across Dar es Salaam at a range of different public exhibitions and galleries.

An Authentic Dar es Salaam Dish

Street food is an essential part of life in Dar es Salaam. One of the most popular dishes served across the city is muhogo. This tasty hot snack is made from deep-fried cassava, a starchy root vegetable a little like a potato. The cassava is coated in chili powder, salt, and lemon. It is then fried in oil.

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "essential" mean?
    1. something broken or in pieces
    2. something distracting
    3. something that is needed or required

  2. What does "merchants" mean?
    1. people who trade goods
    2. people who grow crops
    3. people who put out fires

  3. What does "minor" mean?
    1. smaller or less important
    2. religious or sacred
    3. closed or secret

  4. What does "approximately" mean?
    1. an amount that remains after taxes are paid
    2. roughly, near or close to something
    3. a guess or to take a chance

  5. What does "starchy" mean?
    1. light and fluffy
    2. substantial and filling
    3. sweet and unhealthy

Collocation Questions

  1. Locals sometimes ___________ Dar es Salaam by the nickname Bongo, which means "brain" in Swahili, because you need to use your head to succeed in the city.
    1. contact
    2. ring
    3. call

  2. Sultan Majid bin Said was ___________ for the construction of the city in 1865.
    1. guilty
    2. responsible
    3. accountable

  3. The German East Africa Company ___________ Dar es Salaam one of their key bases in 1887.
    1. made
    2. created
    3. formed

  4. The opening of the Central Railway Line in the early 1900s made traveling between Dodoma and Dar es Salaam ___________ easier.
    1. remote
    2. distant
    3. far

  1. Dar es Salaam's harbor is one of the city's main centers of economic ___________.
    1. activity
    2. exertion
    3. action

  1. The National Museum of Tanzania first opened its ___________ in 1934.
    1. gates
    2. doors
    3. entrances

  1. Tanganyika ___________ its name to Tanzania in 1964.
    1. altered
    2. converted
    3. changed

  2. The Askari Monument was designed ___________ a British artist named James Alexander Stevenson
    1. of
    2. by
    3. for

  3. Bongoyo Island is easily ___________ by boat from the city.
    1. accessible
    2. manageable
    3. handy

  4. Muhogo is ___________ available at a number of different street food stalls across the city.
    1. broadly
    2. thickly
    3. widely

Wh Questions

  1. Which animal isn't part of the "Big Five"?
    1. lion
    2. tiger
    3. leopard

  2. Why do most visitors travel to Bongoyo Island?
    1. to see the white buffalo that live there
    2. to snorkel and sunbathe
    3. to attend the annual music festival

  3. Where did the majority of new immigrants to Dar es Salaam come from during the period of British rule?
    1. India
    2. Indonesia
    3. Ireland

  4. How many floors does the PSPF Tower have?
    1. 25
    2. 35
    3. 45

  1. When did Dodoma replace Dar es Salaam as the capital of Tanzania?
    1. in a war for independence
    2. in the Great War of Italy
    3. in a conquest by Napoleon

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. Muhogo is usually prepared with chili powder, sugar, and coconut milk.
    2. Muhogo is usually prepared with chili powder, salt, and lemon.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. Edward Said Tingatinga was the founder of the Tinga Tinga style of painting.
    2. Edward Askari was the founder of the Tinga Tinga style of painting.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "There are nineteen islands within the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "French soldiers invaded Dar es Salaam during the First World War."
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. C | 2. A | 3. A | 4. B | 5. B | 6. C | 7. B | 8. A | 9. C | 10. A | 11. B | 12. C | 13. B | 14. A | 15. C | 16. B | 17. B | 18. A | 19. B | 20. A | 21. B | 22. B | 23. B | 24. B

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