Capital: Dar-es-salaam
Currency: Shillings
Population: 34 millions
Official Language: : Swahili language
Country Size 365 square miles including inland water and Zanzibar mainland
Climate/Weather: http://www.tanzaniaodyssey.com/
Official Government Website: http://www.tanzania.go.tz/
World Heritage Sites: http://www.utalii.com


For older people one places a right hand on the forehead of the elder and say “shikamoo!” meaning am under your knees from Arabic language. For younger people we just shake hands, we do not hug or kiss although this tendency is becoming wide spread across the country. Men and women shake hand with each other although a man may wait for a woman to extend her hand before offering his.


There is a restriction but not an official one for women not to wear short dresses. As for the official dress, we do not have a national dress or costume like in many countries in Africa. Despite of not having a national dress, khanga is becoming popular in Tanzania. It is used as a medium of communication at social, economic and political levels. For example, at political level, khanga is used in campaign rallies to solicit votes for the electorate. Message such as “Ari mpya, Kasi mpya, Nguvu mpya” literally meaning “New zeal, new speed and new energy” may mostly be used, while at the social level it can be used to communicate message of affection between lovers such as “nakupenda daima”, funeral occasions, as well as in wedding ceremony.


Alcohol production and consumption depends on the availability of crops available in a particular area. In Tanzania, type of alcohol varies from one region to another. Drinking is not restricted, except to strong hard spirits such as “gongo” a local brew known for its high percentage of alcohol.


Food is usually eaten with the right hand, and even when utensils are used, a bowl or basin of water is offered for washing hands before each meal. The left hand may be used when handling difficult foods, such as meat with bones, but not for taking food from a communal bowl or for putting food in the mouth. Eating from a communal dish is common, especially when eating ugali or rice. Some families along the Indian Ocean coast, as well as those in villages and towns along the three lakes-Lake Malawi, Tanganyika, and Victoria-sit on woven mats on the floor to eat meals. Muslims tend to sit cross-legged on these mats. Among Muslims, as well as some non-Muslims in rural areas, it is common for men and women to eat separately. When guests are invited, time is reserved for socializing both before and after dinner. It is therefore impolite to leave a home immediately after a meal. Food restriction varies with tribes and religion; Muslims don't eat pork and other restricted animals and birds. For Christians, food is rarely restricted. Most families/tribes consider talking while eating impolite. Children are not allowed to talk while eating; only the older people can talk. Most tribes use hands while eating, though the usage of forks, spoon and knives is also common.


This will depend on the people conversing and the nature of the conversation. It is impolite to speak at the same time an older person is speaking as it is considered a sign of disrespect.


Most Tanzanians enjoy making jokes although they are serious when dealing with serious issues, making jokes is a traditional thing; most tribes make jokes to other tribes and vis-ΰ-vis. Most of us are used to jokes even bad taste jokes, although one must be careful with the temper of the other person.


Most Tanzanians can dance and enjoy dancing as part of their traditions; People dance in many occasions and are taught traditional dances from early age and are therefore comfortable to dance in public, although this has personal setbacks.


It is a must to respect the law and authority. Respect for older people is observed closely, for example one leaves the seat in a bus for an older person to sit. It is also common to greet every old person in the street. Women are also respected as mothers in the same respect.


In most African cultures and Swahili culture (mixture of other culture) it is impolite to display affection in public. It is even improper for younger people of different sex to sit together hug or kiss in the public. However, in some cases due to infusion of westernized culture, one may find couples displaying their affection in public places


Most Tanzanians are laid back regarding personal time configuration, but very strict in observing official time


Religion plays a major role in the daily lives of Tanzanians. Many people in Tanzania are religious and get mad when being criticized of their religion. Most Tanzanians are members of different tribes; hence some cultural norms relating to religion are still observed as part of their routine lives.


The concept of sexuality is clear in Tanzanian society. Homosexuality is not entertained by the indigenous. Relationships are strictly private, and proper ones get the approval of both parents. However, there are cases where bide and groom to be may decide to get married without the approval of their parents where issues of religion beliefs, tribalism and other issues are at stake.





© 2007 Ship for World Youth Alumni Association