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    culture

    Discover multi-ethic peoples, customs and languages

    People 

    Tanzania is a tapestry of over 100 ethic groups, from the iconic Maasai tribes that have grazed their cattle on the central plains for centuries, to the ancient Swahili people on the east coast, to the Arab cultures dominating Zanzibar. From the ancient rock paintings around Kolo village to the indigenous fishing villages around Lake Victoria, Tanzania is a cultural potpourri – yet all Tanzanian people share a special openness, politeness and warmth.  

    Religion 

    Though predominately Christian today, Islam was practiced on the Tanzanian coast as early as the eighth or ninth century. When Zanzibar City became the Islam capital of Oman, it was soon transformed into the centre of the massive Arab-Swahili slave trade. 

    Music

    Traditional Tanzanian music is created with drums and the taarab, an indigenous string instrument, with famous players including Abbasi Mzee and Culture Musical Club. A distinct regional hip-hop style has emerged in recent years known as bongo flava. 

    Swahili: The Language of Tanzania

    Tanzania is made up of an estimated 120 linguistic groups, none of which constitutes more than ten percent of the total population. The largest linguistic group is the Sukuma that live in the Lake Victoria area. Other large groups are the Hehe of Iringa, the Gogo of Dodoma, the Chagga of Kilimanjaro and the Nyamwezi of Tabora.

    Swahili, the language spoken by the vast majority of Tanzanians, is the most widely understood language in Africa after Arabic. Swahili is spoken not only in Tanzania but also Kenya, Uganda, eastern Zaire, Northern Mozambique and Malawi, and Rwanda. Swahili originated along the east African coast of Southern Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Northern Mozambique and on the islands of Lamu, Zanzibar and Pemba. Swahili speakers can most often speak another language or more. Although the first language of most Tanzanians is that of their ethnic group, all Tanzanians are taught Swahili in primary school. Julius Nyerere, Tanzania's first president, implemented this policy early in his rule in order to unite Tanzanians and enable them to communicate with each other.

    Swahili is the national language of Tanzania, while English is also the official language.

    Start learning some Swahili

    Food

    chakula

    food

    bia

    beer

    kinywaji

    drink

    nyama ya ng'ombe

    beef 

    nyama ya mbuzi

    goat meat 

    nyama choma

    BBQ meat 

    kuku

    chicken 

    mayai

    eggs 

    biscuti

    cookies 

    wali

    rice 

    mboga

    vegetables 

    matunda

    fruit 

    nanasi

    pineapple 

    embe

    mango 

    chungwa

    orange 

    ndizi

    bananas 

    papai

    papaya 

    mkate

    bread 

    ugali

    maize porridge 

    nyanya

    tomato 

    cabeji

    cabbage 

    mahindi

    maize 

    tango

    cucumber 

    bamia

    okra 

    pilipili jojo

    green bell peppers 

    pilipili

    pepper (hot) 

    vitunguu

    onions 

    vitunguu saumu

    garlic 

    viazi

    potatoes 

    viazi vitamu

    sweet potatoes

    Interesting Sayings

    Penzi la mama ni tamu. 

    A mother's love is sweet.

    Tunakutakia ndoa yenye furaha. 

    We wish you a happy marriage.

    Nani kama mama. 

    Who is like mother? (Meaning: There is no one comparable to one's mother.)

    Mtaji wa maskini ni nguvu zake mwenyewe. 

    A poor man's capital is his own labor. (Meaning: S/he must use his/her energy to do any work.)

    Ndondondo si chururu. 

    Drops are not the flowing water. (Meaning: Small things are not like the complete thing.)

    Chuki binafi haifai. 

    Hatred is not an appropriate thing.

    Usione vinaelea vimeundwa. 

    If you see it floating on the sea it means it has been made. (Meaning: Whatever you see was made by someone.)

    Kutoa ni moyo si utajiri. 

    Giving originates from the heart and not because one is rich (Meaning: When someone give another person something, it is not because s/he is rich.)

    Uzuri wa mwanamke siyo urembe ni tabia. 

    A lady's beauty is not the physical appearance but the character.

    Polepole ndiyo mwendo. 

    Slowly is the journey. (Meaning: It doesn't matter how slowly you are getting along, because eventually you get to where you want to go.)

    Haraka haraka haina baraka. 

    Hurrying has no blessing.

    Fimbo ya mnyonge hulipa Mungu. 

    A poor man's weapon is God. (Meaning: God punishes those who treat the poor unjustly.)

    Uongo si mwema, uchague la kusema. 

    Telling lies isn't good, choose what to say.

    Asiyefunzwa na mamaye hufunzwa na ulimwengu. 

    If one hasn't been taught by his/her mother the world will teach him/her.

    Furaha ya ndoa ni kupendana. 

    A happy marriage is to love each other.

    Kikulach ki nguoni mwako. 

    What hurts you is within your clothes. (Meaning: The one who does a bad thing to you is person close to you.)

    Jogoo wa shamba hawiki mjini. 

    A rooster from the land will not crow in town. (Meaning: A person from the bush doesn't know what is taking place in the town.)

    Asiyesikia la mkuu huvunjika guu. 

    If one doesn't heed what the chiefs, or elders tell him/her s/he will get hurt.

    Usitukane wakunga na uzazi ungalipo. 

    Don't insult the midwife while you are still going to have babies, next time they will not help you. (Meaning: Don't kick the ladder before coming down.)

    Aliye juu mngoje chini. 

    Wait for the one on top to come down. (Meaning: Don't be proud if you are rich and wealthy, because one day the ones you despised will laugh at you when things turn upside down.)

     

    Common Words

    Kilimanjaro

    It is though the name of Tanzania's snow-covered peaks comes from the word Kilemakyaro, from the Chagga dialect, and means "impossible journey". The early (German) settlers in the area were unable to pronounce the word correctly, hence Kilimanjaro.

    Duma

    cheetah 

    Wanyama wa pori

    Wildlife 

    Hifadhi ya wanyama

    National Park 

    Useful Phrases

    Jambo!

    Hello!

    Karibu Tanzania!

    Welcome to Tanzania! 

    Hakuna matata!

    No problem

    Asante Sana

    Thank you very much 

    Jina lako ni nani?

    What is your name? 

    Jina langu ni Mana

    My name is Mana
    Ninatoka Uingereza

    I am from England

    Mimi ni mwanafunzi

    I am a student. 

    Unakwenda wapi?

    Where are you going to? 

    Naenda safari

    I am going on safari

    Nimefurahi sana!

    I am very happy! 

    Naomba bia baridi

    Please bring me a cold beer. 

    Safari njema

    Have a good trip.

    Fika salama

    Arrive safely. 

    Bei gani?

    What is the price? 

    Ninataka ...

    I want ... 

    Karibu tule

    Welcome, let's eat! 

    Asante sana kwa kunikaribisha

    Thank you very much for inviting me. 

    Ninapenda Tanzania

    I like Tanzania. 

    Lala salama

    Sleep well. 

    Tutaonana kesho

    We will see each other tomorrow. 

    Mpaka baadaye

    Until later 

    Kwaheri!

    Goodbye! 

    Mambo mazuri hayana haraka

    Good things cannot be rushed. 

    Twende!

    Let's go! 

    Pole sana

    Very sorry

    Mazingira ya Tanzania yanapendeza sana

    The Tanzanian environment is very nice

    Naomba kupita

    Please let me pass 

    Nasikia njaa

    I am hungry

    Nasikia kiu

    I am thirsty

    Muda unapita kama upepo

    Time is flying like the wind

    Sijui

    I don't know

    Sielewi

    I don't understand 

    Kuna baridi huku

    It is cold here

    Kuna joto sana huku

    It is very hot

    Imetosha

    It is enough

    Nimeshiba sana

    I am very full

    Ninaweza kuzungumza Kiswahili

    I can speak Swahili

    Siwezi kusema Kiswahili!

    I can't speak Swahili!

    Sitaki

    I don't want any