Culture of Tanzania


Each tribal or religious group, of which there are many in Tanzania, has its own customs and traditions regarding the consumption of food. In some tribes, women are not allowed to eat chicken eggs or meat. In some tribes, the father-in-law or father-in-law is forbidden to eat at the same table with the daughter-in-law. In other tribes, men are not allowed to enter the kitchen. In Muslim families, men and women eat separately. Hospitality here is one of the foundations of etiquette. The hostess and the head of the family usually meet guests at the doorstep. The whole family usually gathers to say goodbye and they accompany the guest with the whole family right up to the car door. It is customary to say goodbye to the owners of “Asante sana” (“thank you very much for the hospitality”). Accepted small souvenirs to family members. In Islamic families, increased attention to the hostess is not welcome, but in families of African origin, this will be the best compliment to the house. It is also customary to praise the children (but you should not touch them, especially the head, without the permission of the parents), the house and the wealth of the owner. It’s a good idea to find out their social status in a tribe or community before visiting a local family, and build your conversation around that. In Islamic families, women usually gather separately from men, at their own table, but when communicating with foreigners, this tradition can be ignored, but only by agreement with the owner of the house. Greeting etiquette is very important. The type of greeting depends on the status of the person and his age. A common greeting among Swahili tribes among well-known people is “Hujambo, khabari gani” (“How are you?”, “What’s the news?”) or simply “Jumbo!”.

A group of people are greeted with the word “hatujambo”. According to SECURITYPOLOGY, the word “shikamu” is used to greet respected people. Young children are taught to greet their elders by kissing their hands or kneeling before them. Friends who meet after a long separation usually shake hands and kiss each other on both cheeks. In communicating with foreigners, they often use a handshake and the traditional English “hello”. In Tanzania, as in many other regions of Africa, the right hand is considered “clean” and the left hand is considered “dirty”. Therefore, the right hand is used for eating or for exchanging gifts. The polite way to receive a gift is to first touch the gift with the right hand, and then the right hand of the giver. Behavior at the table is also determined by many norms. Usually a traditional meal is held on mats on the floor, food is placed on low tables. But in many continental families, the meal is held in a European way – at the table. You can take food from a common plate with your hands and put it on your own plate, or you can eat from a common dish. The main thing is to ensure that food crumbs do not fall into a common dish and onto other people’s plates. In Zanzibar, it is customary to give guests fresh clove shoots to flavor the mouth before eating.

The sequence of dishes is traditional for East African countries – soup is served first, and then appetizers and hot dishes. Lunch ends with coffee and sweets. Light snacks and greens are usually on the table for the entire lunch. Rice, cassava and other side dishes are eaten with the hands, pinching three fingers of the right hand (hands should be washed before and after eating and dried with a towel that is passed around the table). Meat and fish can also be taken with the hands, but in many homes European cutlery is always on the table, which can be used along with the hands. Bread and flat cakes are usually broken by hand and used as a spoon. The soles of the feet should not be directed in any direction, usually they are tucked under themselves or sit in Turkish. It is not customary to eat while standing or walking. You can not bypass the worshipers in front. Shoes should be removed when entering mosques and houses. The general style of life of Tanzanians can be characterized by two phrases – “hakuna matata” (“no problem”) and “field-field” (“calmly”, “slowly”). These phrases can describe the attitude of Tanzanians to everything around them. Service in a restaurant or travel agency is extremely slow. If a Tanzanian said “one second”, it could mean 15 minutes, and half an hour. At the same time, local residents smile radiantly at all attempts to hurry them up and continue to act at a leisurely pace. It is useless to somehow influence this, you just need to put up with it and try to live in this rhythm yourself. Adult women are often called by the name of their first child, which sometimes introduces some confusion into communication. For example, after the birth of a boy named Juma or a girl named Christina, their mother will be called Mama-Juma or Mama-Kristina. Men take marriage very seriously. After the wedding, the young man will have to behave like some kind of ancestor, chosen by him at the time of marriage as a role model. Ancestors are “consulted” in difficult times, they are honored and never discussed either in the family or with strangers. So don’t be surprised if a completely modern man, when solving some problem, suddenly declares “this is what my ancestors told me” or “I will consult with my ancestors.” For the same reason, a discussion of the genealogy of the family can also be started only with the consent of the owner.


  • January 1 – New Year
  • January 12 – Zanzibar Revolution Day
  • April 26 – Tanganyika and Zanzibar Unification Day
  • April-May – Easter and Easter Monday
  • May 1 – International Labor Day
  • June 7 – Industrial Day
  • August 8 – Day of peasants
  • December 9 – Independence Day
  • December 25 – Christmas
  • December 26 – Christmas time

According to the Muslim lunar calendar, Eid al-Fitr (Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan), Eid al-Adha (Eid al-Hadha, the Feast of the Sacrifice, on the 40th day after Ramadan), Laylat al-Miraj are celebrated at different times (Ascension Day of the Prophet Mohammed), Milad an Nabi (Mowlid, the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed), Muslim New Year (Hijri) and the holy month of Ramadan.

Culture of Tanzania

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