DAY IN THE LIFE
The eldest in a struggling family of five, Mohamad Ali Mohamad left rural Tanzania for Zanzibar to make a life and a reputation for himself in the hotel industry
Zanzibar hotel operations manager Mohamad Ali Mohamad
At the age of 20, after years of struggle growing up in a poor family in the Dodoma region of Tanzania, I decided that it was time for me to leave home to go make a life for myself elsewhere. At the time my parents had separated from each other and I had to help take care of my younger brother and three sisters. I used to sell things around the village, like food, in order to make some extra money because my family was very poor and as the eldest of five kids I felt it my duty to help out. Eventually I managed to save enough money for a bus that took me from my village to Dar es Salaam, and then got onto a boat to Zanzibar. At the time I knew no one in Zanzibar, but I was committed to fighting for a better life for myself. Once I got there I got a job at a hotel in Kiwengwa, where I worked as a kitchen steward. The hours were long but I persevered. As the years progressed, my bosses noticed my potential and I was promoted to working in the restaurant as a waiter, then promoted again to working as a barman. I really enjoyed my job, especially meeting different people from places I have never been to. That is the best part of working in the hotel industry – you learn so much about the world from other people.
MY OWN HOTEL
At the moment I am operations manager at Zanzibar Hotel, where I hope one day to be promoted to being a manager. But my ultimate dream is to own and run a hotel of my own. I am determined to make my dream come true because I will be able to look after my family. My brother also moved to Stone Town and he is also working in the hotel industry, while my three sisters live in Dar es Salaam. I visit them once a year when I take my annual vacation from work. I am a very simple man. When I am not working, I am always at my place relaxing because I work hard. My working hours are from 8am to 9pm. And although Stone Town is a safe place, I also understand that some people are poor. One night when getting off a dala dala [a public bus] I was pick-pocketed by a group of guys who took some money and my cellphone. Besides a few scratches I was not hurt. I hope to one day have my own family, but right now I am content helping my siblings out where I can. Interview by Neo Maditla