By Mutabazi Sam Stewart


What’s your preference? Would you prefer to live in Nairobi, Kampala or Dar es Salaam? These are the three largest cities of East Africa and they both attract expatriates and tourists each in  its own way. Although Nairobi takes a larger share of expatriates, there are those who prefer the other two cities. Nairobi city is more cosmopolitan with a lot of foreign nationals working there. The city can be as cold as some cities in Europe though but it also offers a variety of luxurious living. Nairobi has a fast life almost similar to some western cities. It’s also very noisy and can be a bit filthy with its black soils. The city has enough sky scrapers and has lately been investing heavily in its road infrastructure to reduce on congestion and promote modernity.  The city is notorious for it’s insecurity with both petty thieves and hardcore criminals.

Visitors to Nairobi city are encouraged to be on guard as they are more susceptible to being mugged and their property stolen by criminal gangs. Nairobi has been funnily christened “Nairobery” by some tourists. The criminals can easily distinguish between the natives and the visitors and can thus tight mark them with the intention if ribbing them. Stories have been told that in certain instances, the criminals place a mark at the back of their target and they keep following him. The mark also helps fellow gangsters to keep track of the person such that every member of their gang who sees the mark will know that such a person is a potential robbery person.

Dar es Salaam the commercial capital of Tanzania on the other hand is a   coastal city famous for its hot weather. The city has the best public transport in East Africa with mass transit systems and modern buses.  It’s true that Dar Is the largest population both by size and by population but it’s always overshadowed by Nairobi. Dar is a very old city and has some old Arab architecture that is attractive to tourists but somehow, the city has never quite cone up as one of the best tourist destinations in Africa. Something is always amiss with this city. Not many people talk pleasantly about it. Could it be die to its hot weather or is it the type of lifestyle of Tanzanian people?

Tanzanian people are a laid back type. They enjoy speaking Swahili language and they are not so interested in speaking English. Dar has of late been experiencing some levels of crime but it’s not yet anywhere to the levels of Nairobi. Dar has been considered to be one of the fastest growing urban areas in the world. In fact, within the nest fifty years it will be one of the foremost mega cities in the world. Currently, it’s the seventh largest cities in Africa.

Kampala city is the commercial, administrative and capital city of Uganda. It controls 60%of the country’s GDP. Though the smallest, compared to Nairobi and Da es salaam, Kampala city remains the most compact and densely populated. Measuring approximately 189Km2,the city remains of the most congested in Africa reporting more than 4 million day time population. Kampala is not an international city but people who cone to visit it fall in love with it. In its congestion, many visitors and expatriates love its way of life. It’s no wonder that many expatriates who cone to work in the city choose to make it their permanent hone after their tour of duty. One of the key attributes of the city is that it is quite lively. The city has variously been referred to as East Africa’s entertainment Capital. It’s a city that never goes to sleep. Many Kenyans, Rwandese and people from South Sudan flock Kampala for entertainment. Weekends are the highlight with music festivals and other fun-filled events.

Kampala is a much disorganized city with very poor transport system and dirty streets. Almost everything in the city is done informally. Possibly this could be one of the reasons why European tourists find the city interesting. Down Town Kampala is a maze of activity. Nakivubo area and Kukuubo, the city’s business hubs are as congested as bee hives. The city’s crime rates are not yet as high but there is a lot of puck pocketing possibly due to high poverty levels. Kampala offers cheap living among all the three cities l. The food prices specifically are the lowest and with a great variety at that. Housing costs are still very low compared to other cities. There has been a housing boom in and around Kampala with better housing facilitated recently constructed which gives someone a variety to choose from.

Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania were the original members of the East African Community (EAC) before the admission of Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and of recent Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Their capitals of Kampala, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, though located within the same region are completely diverse. Each has its own characteristic. And the ACH is loved differently by visitors and tourists. If you are to choose between the three East African capitals, you would be guided by your level of income, your personal preferences when it comes to what you look for in a city as well as your biases. What you would have heard about a city before you set foot in it has a bearing on how you will perceive it when you arrive. Sone biases ate positive while others are negative. You may need to visit all the three cities in order to make up your mind on which one is the best for you.

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