Local traditions and culture in Tanzania

  • A Maasai woman Ngorongoro crater
    A Maasai woman Ngorongoro crater
    by babar_1
  • Maasai herder
    Maasai herder
    by toonsarah
  • A beer with the team
    A beer with the team
    by fishandchips

Most Viewed Local Customs in Tanzania

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    Masaai People

    by babar_1 Written Mar 3, 2013

    Maasai people are basically graziers with unique customs and culture. They live in northern Tanzania and Kenya. Their men always keep spears with them and women wear bright cloths. It was really interesting to see that thay also live very close to the wildlife. They have their villages in Ngorongoro conservation area and also frequently go to ctater with thier livestocks. Do not take their picture with out permission.

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    • National/State Park
    • Arts and Culture

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    Some Swahili Greetings

    by Acirfa Updated Dec 2, 2009

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    In Africa one of the things to practise is good manners when meeting anyone, even if you don't know them and are unlikely to meet them again, if you don't greet them they will feel they have offended you in some way. Also before any conversation can begin it is good manners to greet the person first. So, here are a few words :

    Jambo

    Harbari yako - How are you

    Nzuri - good/fine ( your response to the enquiry)

    When entering someones home you should call out loudly HODI

    You will then be greeted and welcomed into the home

    Harbari za Nyumbani - How is everything at home

    Na zak - and yours

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    Listen to "taarab" music

    by Necla_Bitgen Written May 7, 2009

    We stayed in Stone Town for 4 nights, it was interesting but without our "taarab experience" our stay there wouldn't be so fantastic...
    Just by asking and by some luck we managed to find Huseyin's house. Huseyin is a "ney" player and a room of his house is allocated for the rehearsals with his group, one of the oldest taarab groups in Zanzibar, Ikhwan Safa. We just met him in front of his house and asked if we could listen during the rehearsal, he was so kind to invite us for the evening rehearsal. That was incredible...
    The following night we were at Serena Inn, this time listening the "twinkling stars" at the stage by the sea...
    We found ourselves at Huseyin's house the next night again...

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    Village school

    by toonsarah Written Apr 22, 2009

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    During our drive from Ngorongoro to Tarangire we stopped for petrol in Karatu village, and Reginald suggested that we might like to visit a local primary school. We agreed and so we stopped off at one where he knew the teacher and knew that she would welcome the interruption. Some of the children were naturally shy, but others were keen to try out their English and show us their school books. The teacher asked them to sing us some traditional songs and one of the English ones they had been learning (sadly I forget what that was though I have some recollection that it too was a traditional song).

    We had a few pencils with us which we gave to the teacher for the children to use, but we wished that we had known in advance that we might be able to visit the school as we would have taken more gifts. An English family was there at the same time, and they had planned their visit in advance. The two children had made a scrap-book about their life in England to show the Tanzanian children – a wonderful idea.

    On our return we sent some of our photos to Reginald to be passed on to the school as a little thank you for the time they gave us.

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    dress accordingly

    by karenvanessa Written Dec 7, 2008

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    there is no dress code, but the people are very modest people so the women are mostly covered. there is a % of muslims so they tend to cover their shoulders and arms., no mini skirts or shorts its not forbidden but you are looked down upon for being so scatterly dressed. there are alot of tourists and they tend to wear their shoulders out and shorts and they tend to say its ok for them since they are tourists.....

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  • Visa

    by fabriz09 Written Jun 3, 2008

    Depending on how patient you are. It doesn't take that long. Don't forget some systems that could speed up some procedures have not been fully implemented in some developing countries,some manual operations are still in use which of course are slow.My clients have been severally issued with visa at border entry points [Namanga & Tarakea]from Kenya to Tanzania.So there is no need of alarm you just need some patience and having all the required documents in order.Remember Dar and Kilimanjaro Airports are major entry points in Tanzania so in most cases some human traffic seeking services.

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    THE MONEY TRICK

    by DAO Written Dec 11, 2006

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    PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS FOR BUDGET TRAVELLERS, NOT SOMETHING AGAINST LOCAL PEOPLE. You have to haggle EVERY price in Tanzania, except some restaurants. So, you can play the money trick to make sure you always get a good price. Tanzanian Schillings are weak against the U.S. Dollar, which everyone will take. Make sure you take some single $1 notes for emergencies. You get about 1100 to 1200 Schillings to 1 dollar. Agree a price and take in units of 1’s so it sound like you mean dollars. Some people will even say $1 or 1000 Schillings. They would say 10 meaning 10,000 Schillings. Schillings are cheaper for you. Go to any good exchange in Stone Town have some Schillings with you when you haggle. You agree ‘10’, hand over 10,000 Schillings, not $10. Too late, they know you know and they have just given you a 10-20% discount! I did this with a hotel and agreed ‘30’. I saved $10 over a 3 night stay. It makes your money stretch! You can also agree the price, leave to get Schillings and come back. The deal has already been done. Remember – if you do agree a deal, you have to stick with it.
    ***PLEASE NOTE ** Watch out for anyone trying to agree Kenyan Schillings, they are much more valuable than Tanzanian and only con artists would say this. $1 only gets you about 69 Kenyan Schillings. So 10,000 Kenyan Schillings would be $143!

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    Clothing for Women

    by alminacpants Written Nov 7, 2006

    To feel comfortable as a woman in Tanzania here are some general guidelines for clothes to wear.

    1) Pack skirts. Especially if you will be in any type of professional suitation.

    2) Pants are good, jeans are growing in popularity in the country. However, it's mostly teenage girls wearing jeans. It's is acceptable for female tourist to wear pants. No one will comment if you wear shorts, but it is frowned apon.

    3) DO NOT WEAR SPAGHETTI STRAP TANK TOPS! These shirts are worn by local prostitues. Although, it is unlikely that you will be confused for one, it will attract loads of attention and not the good kind. Thicks straps will fly.

    4) I packed sunglasses, but ended up wearing a hat a lot more. Most locals don't wear sunglasses.

    Related to:
    • Women's Travel

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    General Rules For P.D.A.

    by alminacpants Updated Nov 7, 2006

    General Rules for Personal Displays of Affection

    Tanzania is very conservative when it comes to affection. Affection between couples on the street is pretty unacceptable. One example is, I saw a white couple kissing good bye at a bus station and it attracted alot of negative attention. Although is seems acceptable to members of the same sex to hold hands, including grown men (although homosexuality is not, infact is punishable by heavy jail time). Holding hands with children (local or your own) is more than alright, especially while walking down the street. Other than holding hands, I strongly suggest that you keep it behind closed doors.

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    GREETINGS - A GUIDE

    by DAO Written Oct 12, 2006

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    Basic Swahili

    As you walk down the road, your conversations will go like this:

    You will hear (shouted at you) – “Jambo!” (Hello)
    You reply – “Jambo!”
    ”Habari?” (what is the news or how are you?)
    ”Nzuri” (I am fine)
    You usually hear “Karibu” (you are welcome here) sometimes the name of the village is said as well. I often heard “Karibu Jmbiani.” OR “Karibu Zanzibar”!
    Always reply “Asante Sana!” (Thank You very much)

    Sometimes after you have spoken to someone a little longer or purchased something from them you will be called “Rafiki” which means friend. This is heart felt and you rarely hear it unless you have become friends – in the village.

    If the word “Rafiki” is shouted at you as a greeting – they are trying to sell you something, usually in large towns.

    A Few Basics Words/Phrases:
    Yes = Ndiyo
    No = Hapana
    Okay = Sawa
    Maybe = Labda
    How are you? = Habari Yako?
    Good = Nzuri
    Thank you = Asante
    Hello = Jambo
    I am fine = Sijambo
    Please = Tafadhali (the dh is pronounced like a th)
    Goodbye = Kwaheri
    What is your name? = Jina lako ni nani?
    My name is ...= Jina langu ni ...
    I don't speak Swahili = Sisemi Kiswahili

    Bia = Beer
    Bia baridi = Cold beer
    Daktari = Doctor
    Duka = Shop
    Hakuna matata No problem
    Karibu welcome

    Rafiki Friend

    A young person to an older one: "Shikamoo!" (originally it meant "I touch your feet" as a sign of respect) and the greeted answers, "Marahabaa!" (I acknowledge your respect!).

    *** Please note that as this is partly a Muslim Country – never greet a woman in conversation outside. You may respond if they greet you first. ***

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    • Backpacking
    • Photography

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    The national language in...

    by DanielF Updated Aug 11, 2006

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    The national language in Tanzania is Kiswahili, but this is only the mother tongue of a part of the population, mainly on Zanzibar and the coastal areas. Each tribe speaks their own language or dialect, and Kiswahili is a kind of lingua franca understood by everybody. Although most of the people you will interact with speak very good English, it is quite easy to learn a few basic things of Kiswahili, whose phonetics are not very different from Spanish and has very simple grammar rules.

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    Maasai culture: Kalabash

    by Pablos_new Written Mar 11, 2006

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    Maasai feed their children with cow milk mixed with cow blood. They keep this coctail in natural jar -"kalabash" (sorry if this word is misspelled). Inspite of insanitariness conditions childred does not look starving or hungry.

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    English is not widely spoken...

    by ngaka Updated Jan 25, 2006

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    English is not widely spoken in Tanzania, especially in rural areas so some useful words and phrases in Kiswahili will not only help you in getting by but will be widely appreciated by the Tanzanian people. There are plenty of Kiswahili guides and phrasebooks available both in and out of Tanzania. Some important phrases are: Habari Yako = How are you?
    Nuzuri sana = Very fine
    Asante = Thankyou

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    Maids

    by Rusket Updated Oct 14, 2005

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    My friend Margaret is not very rich, she did not have any children at the time of my visit and her husband was studying in another country. But she did have a maid. This is a common way for those who have an income of helping their family or neighbours, to pay their daughters to help around the house. It is also quite convenient when you are away working most of the day to have somebody looking after the house and your belongings, since there are poor people around who might get tempted if they see an empty house! The maids are normally treated as family members, at least this one was :-)

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    • Family Travel

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    Education in Tanzania

    by Geisha_Girl Updated Jul 9, 2005

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    Low wages, heavy workloads, disrespect amongst the social strata of Tanzania and HIV/AIDS have helped to diminish what was once a reputable profession.

    There are a large number of interrelated reasons that contribute to the substandard quality of education in Tanzania.

    According to several reports, some of these problems are partly related to the absence of appropriate textbooks and other teaching materials, the limited time spent on task by teachers and students, as well as the level of poverty among parents, which affects the nutritional and general health status of their children.

    Tanzania's Education Minister, Joseph Mungai, had recently announced that more than 140,000 teachers had died of AIDS-related diseases in the past two decades. He said the virus had claimed 121,548 primary school teachers and 18,747 secondary-school teachers in the past 20 years, averaging 7,014 teachers per year.

    Thus, this attrition and absenteeism due to illness has increased workloads on the other teachers.

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