Tall and rangy, he dominates Rama’s restaurant most mornings around ten and usually at lunchtime too.. Dressed in a garish shirts, shorts and winklepickers, he stands out. Four fingers are weighed down with heavy gold rings. Two long heavy gold chains pull on his neck. They’d make good exchange for a plot of land in Dar es Salaam. A well cultivated moustache is his signature flourish. Driving a Green Landcruiser VX, he’s unmistakable on the road too.
One day we see him holding forth at an outside table, joking with some visiting businessmen, one of them from Congo and staying in my guesthouse. I ask a colleague based in the town who he is. “Ah, him”, he smiles, “he’s the Commercial Affairs Officer for the District Council.”
Rama’s is not the only place to eat in town, but it is certainly the best. If you are employed in the town –government or NGO – or visiting and have a per diem burning a hole in your pocket, it is the place to be. Officials from the Regional Government offices will be brought there for lunch. Businessmen chasing tenders will take tea and a bun. I know – friend who is also a highly successful businessman in Dar made a surprise appearance on my first morning. Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau officials also take their meals there – though I noticed that it was not unusual for patrons at other tables to pick up their tab.
But what is most memorable about Rama’s is their tomato salsa, the best I’ve tasted in Tanzania. And if you’ve ever had a tomato salsa in Tanzania, you know that is high praise indeed.