Culture of Tanzania

Culture of Tanzania
Location of Tanzania



A total of 128 languages are spoken in Tanzania, most of them from the Bantu family.[1] After independence, the government recognized that this represented a problem for national unity, and as a result introduced the Swahili language into all primary schools to spread its use. Swahili and English are the official languages, however the former is the national language.[2]

Given the conditions of the period, it was not possible to introduce Swahili in the entire educational system, because the scale of the task of writing or translating textbooks for primary schools was already considerable. As a result, English, the colonial language since the end of World War I, is still the language of high schools and universities. Many students leave school after finishing primary education.

Although the many tribal languages are not actively suppressed, they do not enjoy the same linguistic rights as Swahili, and they face language extinction, with one, Kw’adza, having no known speakers.[3]

Swahili literature

Some writers include:

  • Shaaban Robert
  • Penina Muhando Mlama
  • Amandina Lihamba
  • Edwin Semzaba
  • Euphrase Kezilahabi
  • Shafi Adam Shafi
  • Chachage Seith Chachag
  • Mustafa Robert Alleno
  • Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi


National anthem

The Tanzanian national anthem is Mungu Ibariki Afrika (God Bless Africa), composed by South African composer Enock Sontonga. The song is also the national anthem of South Africa (with another tune), Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Art music

The music industry in Tanzania has seen many changes in the past ten years.With the mix of outside culture and the original feel of rich Tanzanian culture, Tanzanian musicians have become one of the best artists in East Africa.From artists such as Dionys Mbilinyi,Sabinus Komba and many others,to new vibrat artists in R&B, Pop, Zouk, Taarab and Dance Music. Art musicians include: . Mr.Elliot Andy

  • Dionys Mbilinyi - Composer, pianist, church organist and choral conductor
  • John Mgandu - Composer, pianist, church organist and choral conductor
  • Sabinus Komba - Ethnomusicologist, composer and conductor
  • Imani Sanga - Composer, ethnomusicologist, church organist and choral conductor
  • Mutayoba - Composer and choral conductor
  • Amri Hingi - Composer and choral conductor
  • Isaac Nyato - Composer and choral conductor
  • Ng'asi- Pianist
  • Dani Simile - Composer and choral conductor
  • Mwakisinini Felix - Composer and choral conductor



Tanzanian painters include Edward Said Tinga Tinga, Mohammed Raza, Elias Jengo, and Stephen Ndibalema. Tingatinga are the popular African paintings painted with enamel paints on canvas. Usually the motives are animals and flowers in colourful and repetitive design. The style was started by Mr. Edward Saidi Tingatinga born in South Tanzania. Later he moved to Dar Es Salaam. Since his death in 1972 the Tingatinga style expanded both in Tanzania and worldwide. One of the most famous African artists was born in Tanzania - [George Lilanga]. Other recognized Tanzanian abstract artists are David Mzuguno, Haji Chilonga, Salum Kambi, Max Kamundi, [Thobias Minzi], Robino Ntila, John Kilaka, Godfrey Semwaiko, Evarist Chikawe and many others. (see also


Tanzania's cartoons have a history that can be traced back to the work of pioneering artists such as Christian Gregory with his Chakubanga cartoons in Uhuru newspaper in the 1970s and 1980s, and Philip Ndunguru in the early 1980s. Outspokenly political cartoons are of more recent date. In the past decade, the art of cartoons and comics has really taken off in Tanzania. At present there are dozens of cartoonists, some of whom are well known throughout the country. From the 1960s on, a number of artists prepared the way, and their names are cited by today's artists as essential influences some of the known cartoonists in Tanzania are Ally Masoud 'kipanya', Sammi Mwamkinga, Nathan Mpangala 'Kijasti', King kinya, Adam Lutta, Fred Halla, James Gayo, Robert Mwampembwa, Francis Bonda, Popa Matumula, Noah Yongolo, Oscar Makoye, Fadhili Mohamed and others.(also see the excellent history of cartoons in Tanzania at the Worldcomics website

See also


  • Makonde sculpture
  • George Lilanga, who died in 2005, was one of Tanzania's most famous sculptors.


A Ramadan dinner in Tanzania
Tanzania banana beer

Tanzanian cuisine is both unique and widely varied. Along the coastal regions (Dar-es-salaam, Tanga, Bagamoyo, Zanzibar & Pemba), spicy foods are common, and there is also much use of coconut milk. Regions in Tanzania's mainland also have their own unique foods. Some typical mainland Tanzanian foods include rice (Wali), Ugali (maize porridge), Chapati (a kind of bread), Nyama Choma (grilled meat), Mshikaki (marinated beef), fish, Pilau & Biryani, Ndizi-Nyama (plantains with meat). Commonly used vegetables include Bamia (okra), Mchicha (a kind of spinach), Njegere (green peas), Maharage (beans) and Kisamvu (cassava leaves).

Famous Snacks: Maandazi (bread rolls), Visheti, Kashata, Kabab, Samosa (Sambusa), Mkate wa kumimina (Zanzibar rice bread), Vileja, Vitumbua (rice patties), Bagia & many others

Since a large proportion of Khoja Indians had migrated into Tanzania, a considerable proportion of Tanzanian cuisine had been influenced by indian cuisine. Famous chefs such as Mohsin Asharia have revolutionised dishes such as Kashata Korma Tabsi and Voodo Aloo. Many Khoja Indians own restaurants in the heart of Dar-es-salaam and have been welcomed by indiginous Tanzanians.


Many people drink tea (Chai) in Tanzania. Usually tea is drunk in the morning, during breakfast with Chapati and Maandazi, and at times at night during supper. Coffee is second, and is usually taken in the evening when the sun is down, and people are on the front porch, playing cards or Bao. Many drink coffee with Kashata (a very sweet snack made from coconut meat or groundnuts).

There are also local beverages depending on the different tribes and regions. Local Brews: For coastal regions, such as Tanga and Dar-es-salaam, Mnazi/Tembo is widely consumed. Other brews include Wanzuki and Mbege among the Chagga, and Lubisi ,Nkencha and Nkonyagi as well as Mbandule among the Haya found on the shore of Lake Victoria.

See also


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