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

  • Geisha_Girl's Profile Photo

    That Tanzanian Style

    by Geisha_Girl Written Jul 9, 2005

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    Tanzanian people pay particular attention to their appearance. No matter what the economic situation a person has, they strive to be clean and well-groomed. This was evident everywhere I went and as soon as I stepped off the plane.

    Traveling down the main road, you can see lots of folks on foot carrying heavy gear on their heads or shoulders......children running barefoot.....but all of them well-dressed in either new or recycled clothing.

    Prior to arriving to the country, we were advised on what was expected by the Tanzanian community. Female volunteers were advised to dress professionally when at their placement and it was essential that our skirts and/or dresses have a length past the knees. Local women do not usually wear slacks, and it was usually the "tourists" who were seen wearing the shorts!

    The ladies in professional attire

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  • SanguiniA's Profile Photo

    Tipping

    by SanguiniA Written Jun 28, 2005

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    For Tanzanians, and many other Africans, the white man is incredibly rich - just because he can afford to travel long distances. This and other factors have contributed to the mentality that a tourist is someone to ooze money from - so tips are not only expected, but sometimes demanded!

    In an airport, hotel, near a bus or near a taxi, your luggage will be snatched out of your hand, taken to its destination and a hand extended for a tip.

    Sometimes you hire a taxi or go into a shop, still new to the country with your currency in still in quite large bills, sometimes you will remain without change as the people assume that the change is a tip!

    For a safari it is customary to leave a large tip to the guide and cook - usually $10 per day for the guide and $8 per day for the cook. While this may amount to a considerable sum at the end of the trip, keep in mind that most probably these people will not be earning more than $1 per day for their efforts.

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  • TracyG's Profile Photo

    Always ask permission!

    by TracyG Updated Jun 14, 2005

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    One thing that I have been told, is never under any circumstances try and photograph the Maasai without prior permission, particularly when in rural areas. They can turn very nasty, and it is not worth upsetting them or injuring yourself for the sake of a photo.

    Massai lady

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Stirring up the workers

    by sachara Updated Mar 12, 2005

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    It looked like this drummer did the biggest job at the work site, stirring up the other workers with his drum.

    Also in other parts of Africa people use to support and stimulate workers by singing and clapping hands.

    We did it in Ghana - where I was volunteering for some weeks- especially if there were not enough tools for everybody to do the work.

    drumming at the work-site

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Lamadi, watertower with drums

    by sachara Updated Mar 12, 2005

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    At the Lake Victoria near Lamadi Jan Willem our tourleader built a new lodge with two partners from Denmark.

    At the moment of our visit they were busy with the water tower. The watertower had to be covered with soil. Afterwards it will be planted.

    During the job a drummer was stirring up the hard workers !

    water tower

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    The doors of Zanzibar Town

    by sachara Updated Mar 11, 2005

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    In the 19th century the doors and doorframes became the favoured means of expression the grandeur of one's mansion. The elaborately carved Zanzibar doors in the white-washed walls became the most important feature of the external appearance of the house. Its quality and size were a mark of status and wealth of the owner.

    In Zanzibar are 277 such doors, the largest concentration along the Swahili Coast, allthough they were diminishing, sold to tourists and hotels.

    Some doors plain with only decorated doorframes and lintels. Other doors have also carved centre posts and are studded with dhow nails and reinforced at the back with cross bars of iron and wood.

    The design of the doors with iron or brass studs came from the Indian continent, originally used as defence against war elephants. Allthough there were no war elephants in Stone Town, the studs fitted well in the Arab ideal of defence of their residence.

    Zanzibar doors
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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  • sachara's Profile Photo

    Dhows

    by sachara Updated Mar 11, 2005

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    The traditional dhows became the maritime symbol of East Africa. The art of sailing was allready known for two millenia to the east Africans. The main dhow building centre was at the north coast of Zanzibar Island, where the teak forests were.

    In Zanzibar town you can book an one-day cruise at a dhow, visitng a sandbank, a reef and two islands. Also common are the 8 M long mashua dhows, that shuttle between Zanzibar and the mainland. I didn't sail with a dhow myself, but enjoyed to see them sailing at the ocean.

    dhows
    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating

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  • ycnan's Profile Photo

    Learn some words

    by ycnan Updated Nov 30, 2004

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    The people of Tanzania are the warmest, most friendly people you will ever meet. I thought at first that it was an act for tourists, but they really are wonderful. They truly love to teach you words in Swahili and appreciate your using them.

    Do not take photos of individuals without asking first. This has caused problems in the past. They may want a small gift or a small amount of money to have their photo taken. Sometimes this is not a good thing--some feel that taking photos of children teaches them to beg. They've been known to skip school to follow the tourists. It's ok to take photos of large groups.

    Commuter on the way to work

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  • tompt's Profile Photo

    Learn some Swahili words

    by tompt Written Nov 7, 2004

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    Learn some Swahili words so you can at least say hello or thank you to the people. Most people working in tourism speak very good english, so it is not necessary but it is polite and will earn you some smiles.

    Some basic words:
    hello - jambo
    thank you - asante
    welcome - karibu

    our driver in the Ngorongoro spoke perfect english

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  • tompt's Profile Photo

    Masai boys in black

    by tompt Written Nov 7, 2004

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    The Masai are very traditional people. A young boy already knows what is life is going to look like. First at a young age of about 4-5 years old he gets responsibility of the young cattle, the lambs and calves. Then at about 8 he becomes responsible for the older animals, getting them to water and good grazing lands. Between 13 and 16 he gets a circumcision and wears balck clothes for 3 months. During this period he lives with his fellow young men away from the village and paints his face with white patrons of chalk. After this three months he is a warrior and wear the traditional red clothes.

    Masai boys in black

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Ugali

    by MalenaN Updated Feb 27, 2004

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    Ugali is made of maize meal cooked up into a thick porrige until it sets hard. Everyone is eating from the same plate. When I was eating there was a green sauce and yoghurt to dip the ugali in. I have also eaten ugali made of sorghum, but maize is more common.

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  • lauren6's Profile Photo

    Taking pictures

    by lauren6 Written Feb 4, 2004

    As you have probably heard, people do not like their picture taken or they request money (especially children) for you to take it. I am not one to support that, I would rather give money to people than encourage activities that pester tourists. What did work for me is smiling. MANY people approached me and asked me to take their picture. Below is an example, this man stopped me on the beach in Zanzibar and said he wanted me to take his picture, he posed - I shot, and then off he went. Don't impose yourself, be respectful, and you never know what opportunity may come your way,

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Crops

    by MalenaN Updated Jun 15, 2003

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    Mayor food crops in the Kondoa area (where I stayed for some time) are maize, bullrush millet and sorghum. Other crops are cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, cowpeas, pigeon peas, groundnuts and sunfowers.

    Many of the fields are far from the house of the farmer. From the field the harvest is mainly carried on the head in kihares (bowles made of pumpkins), untongas (baskets made of sticks) or in bags. Some people use donkeys, their own or hired ones. A few farmers even uses a bike. The bike though, seems to be only for the men.

    In the sorghum field

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Stoves

    by MalenaN Updated Jun 14, 2003

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    In Tanzania many people in the villages are using three stones as a stove. Between the stones they put the firewood and then the saucepan on top. This is of course consuming a lot of energy. The women often spends many hours every week to find the firewood and can carry home big loads weighting 25 - 30 kg on their head. In the beginning of the dry season more firewood is collected to be stored outside the house. Later on during the dry season, when water becomes more scarse, more time has to be spent on collecting water.

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Drying crops

    by MalenaN Updated Jun 14, 2003

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    After the harvest the crops are put on the roof or on a "table" to dry. Hopefully they are out of the way for the rats.

    The grains are then stored in bags or Kelindos. Kelindos are big wooden boxes made of the bark from trees with a wide diameter. The lid of the kelindo can be covered with earth to make it tight and more difficult for insects to enter. Insects are a problem and many farmers put drugs with the stored graines. Not all farmers can afford to buy drugs. An alternative is to mix the graines with ashes from sisal.

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