Acquiring the characteristics of Arab, British, Portuguese, Indian, and German culture, the Tanzanian culture has become rich and a melting pot of multicultural diversity. The cultural people of Tanzania are divided into multiple ethnic groups. In each of the groups, the traits of different cultures and customs can be found.
Many cultural sites created by ancient Tanzanians are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. Some of these include rock-art and painting at random places, ruins and remnants of Songo Mnara, and the stone tower of Zanzibar.
Countless languages exist in Tanzania – an approximate data says around 126 languages are spoken in this region. However, most of them do not co-exist with each other and are rarely used nowadays.
In fact, some of the ancient and traditional languages of Tanzania are getting extinct due to the advancement of English and Swahili. Officially, there are 2 languages, but Swahili is a much more dominant language in Tanzania than English.
In rural areas, most ethnic people speak in their own languages but some of them understand a few particular words in English. Nowadays these traits are changing as the new education system has been implemented throughout the country.
Now, children are taught in Swahili at the primary level, but in high school level, everything is taught in English. As a result, some of the children cannot cope with the change and dropout soon before graduating high school.
When it comes to religion, the information is a bit obscure because there is no such exact percentage to find out how many people of different religions exist in Tanzania. However, there is an estimated statistic, which states that around 80% of Tanzanians consists of Muslims and Christians, 15% of them are animist and 5% of them follow other religions.
Tanzanian culture is closely associated with the traditional arts. Most of the art includes painting, cartoons, and sculpture. The locals use canvas to depict animals, flowers, and natural views. Drawing cartoons also has a long history in Tanzania. The trend started in the 1960s in this country. Still, there are well-known international cartoonists in Tanzania. As for the sculpture culture of Tanzania, it was greatly inspired by George Lilanga, who created some remarkable cultural sculptures representing the lifestyle in this region.
The clothing in Tanzania is not much different than other African countries. The most worn traditional cloth of Tanzania is ‘Khanga’, which is worn by women.
Khanga looks like a rectangular piece of clothing with subtle design. It may appear simple at first, but when Tanzanian women wear Khanga in weddings and other cultural events adorned with plenty of ornaments, then the clothing represents true beauty.
The most famous wear of men in Tanzania is called ‘Kanzu’ which is worn with a jacket or coat. ‘Kanzu’ looks like a long, full sleeve robe that is available in many colors, but Tanzanian men usually prefer the white one more than the vibrant colors.
While Khanga and Kanzu are just the wear of cultural people and rural people of Tanzania, the attire of urban people is largely inspired by the European culture. That means in cities and towns, most people wear t-shirts, shirts, pants and head out to their work stations.
Tanzanians always try their best to wear decent clothes because decency is highly respected in Tanzanian culture. Whether they are rich or poor, they will always wear nice and clean clothing regardless of the occasion.
Traditional foods vary in different Tanzanian districts; however, some traditional cuisines co-exist in Tanzania. The most famous one is Ugali, which is made with white maize and served with meat and vegetables.
The second favorite cuisine of Tanzanians is Mshikaki, which is basically some pieces of meat prepared in a slow cooking process. Several traditional spices are also added to the meat to make it more delicious. Some other traditional foods of Tanzania are Mandazi, Mchicha, Mchemsho, Chipsi mayai, Ndizi na nyama, Wali wa nazi, Zanzibar pizza and many more.
When it comes to meeting and family rituals, Tanzanians enjoy them to the fullest but in a decent way. They do not drink alcohol or smoke at parties. In fact, alcohol is not much available in the entire country except the city of Zanzibar. However, when they meet with their family members, they greet each other by shaking hands and saying ‘Jambo’, which means Hello.