Dar es Salaam. Food forms a major part of every culture and every community boasts a certain delicacy that defines them as a people and their heritage.
As for Tanzania and the greater part of East Africa nyama choma (roasted meat) is part of that great tradition that has been passed down from one generation to another.In certain communities festivities are not complete without meat, this probably given to the fact that Tanzania has the second largest population of livestock in Africa.
In Tanzania today it is a celebrated event where thousands of revellers come together on a quarterly basis to sample some of the best barbeques on offer thanks to an idea that was born some six years ago.It is a delicacy that even those who visit Tanzania long for and some actually travel long journeys to come to this festival especially the Dar es Salaam and Arusha edition.
This week the festival will grace Arusha in its third quarter and organisers says they are looking forward to it. Speaking to the Beat Carol Ndosi says it is an event that speaks volumes on Tanzania's choices in terms of food and other social aspects.
"From the 'mishkakis' at Juma's 'kibanda' in our streets to Ugali-Mbuzi Choma to a barbecue house serving ribs or T-bone steak, grilled/barbecue meat is popular in East Africa. The Nyama Choma festival aims to celebrate this entree and its power of bringing people together," says Carol Ndosi the founder of the festival.
According to Carol it is a day when all social barriers are broken and revellers gather around and eat and talk and dance.Initially when held for the first time in June 2011,it was supposed to be an annual event but by popular demand we had to do it on a quarterly basis.
They have grown to a crowd of tens of thousands, with thousands of loyal customers who keep coming back every time the event is around.The Nyama Choma Festival is held thrice in Dar es Salaam, twice in Arusha, Dodoma, Mwanza, and once in Moshi and for some reason it is complimented by other showcases of small businesses in arts, food stuffs, tech, household products because it is a day when customers of all target groups are gather in one place.
Sarah Mushi has been coming to this festival for the past three years, to her, what brings her is the company and the possibility of meeting people that she hardly gets to meet on an ordinary day."This place gives revellers some sort of a one stop center because it is where the best barbeque can be found and in numbers but above all it is not just about the food, here we get to network and also get to enjoy some great entertainment as well," says Sarah.
The ambiance that surrounds the area as families and friends come together is just another aspect makes it unique from other gatherings."This festival says a lot about us as a country and our aspirations.
We are a nation adorned with hospitality! From the servers who will greet you as you enter and usher you to their stall, one feels it is a truly Tanzanian event," says Carol.But even as the founders celebrate the success that they have gained, it has not been an easy sail all the way as shortcomings have drawn them back.
"From its inception, it was meant to be a barbecue festival in the essence of showcasing our barbecue gurus and popular barbecue houses. We aspire to have different grilling skills with different marinades and creativity with meat and food.
It is still a challenge to inspire this creativity we are looking for among participants," she says.But even as customers keep coming back they have to deal with the time limit imposed by the municipal council which requires entertainment joints to close at midnight.
The festival has grown in stature to the extent that some people have copied the brand in neighbouring countries where they host a similar event like in Kampala."The Nyama Choma Festival was for the first time in June 2011 in Dar es Salaam.
By then, to our knowledge, there was no other festival with this concept. Since then we have heard of similar events some even going as far as using the same name and our graphics," says CarolShe adds: There are people who are inspired but lack the diligence of respecting and avoiding infringing on another property's copyrights.
"She, however, remains positive of the prospects that the festival provides as they aspire to be creative to continue meeting their customers' demands that keep changing."We are honored to be amongst the top outdoor events in Tanzania and particularly Dar es Salaam.
In the early days there was a notion that an event like this was not possible because of the logistics and security concerns, but we can proudly say we continue to work hard towards ensuring this," says Carol.