Discover multi-ethic peoples, customs and languages
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.
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.
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
nyama ya ng'ombe
nyama ya mbuzi
green bell peppers
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.)
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.
Wanyama wa pori
Hifadhi ya wanyama
Welcome to Tanzania!
Thank you very much
Jina lako ni nani?
What is your name?
Jina langu ni Mana
My name is Mana
I am from England
Mimi ni mwanafunzi
I am a student.
Where are you going to?
I am going on safari
I am very happy!
Naomba bia baridi
Please bring me a cold beer.
Have a good trip.
What is the price?
I want ...
Welcome, let's eat!
Asante sana kwa kunikaribisha
Thank you very much for inviting me.
I like Tanzania.
We will see each other tomorrow.
Mambo mazuri hayana haraka
Good things cannot be rushed.
Mazingira ya Tanzania yanapendeza sana
The Tanzanian environment is very nice
Please let me pass
I am hungry
I am thirsty
Muda unapita kama upepo
Time is flying like the wind
I don't know
I don't understand
Kuna baridi huku
It is cold here
Kuna joto sana huku
It is very hot
It is enough
I am very full
Ninaweza kuzungumza Kiswahili
I can speak Swahili
Siwezi kusema Kiswahili!
I can't speak Swahili!
I don't want any