Tanzanian Tribes

Tanzanians in general are very proud of their tribes and the culture and traditions that have been handed down for generations through these tribes. Here is an outline of the four main tribes that make up part of Tanzania’s rich heritage.

The Maasai Tribe

Known for their colorful jewelry, unique clothing, and their traditional dance, the Maasai are a joyful people who have proudly maintained their traditions down through the years.

One of the most important aspects of Maasai life would have to be their cattle. Often used as currency among the tribe, a man’s wealth is measured in how many cows he possesses, as well as how many children he has. In fact, one of their central religious beliefs states that God gave them rights to all the cattle on Earth.

One of the few people to fiercely resist the growing slave trade throughout East Africa, the Maasai people have always had a reputation as beautifully independent and strong-willed.

A discussion of the Maasai would not be complete without touching on their unique musical skills. They are most well known for their distinct “throat singing,” with a chorus singing the harmony in the background. Such music is frequently accompanied by dancing, which includes both men and women.

A day tour can be arranged to give visitors a glimpse of what makes this people and their culture so unique. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the Maasai people and participate in demonstrations to get a richer, fuller picture of this famous East African tribe.

The Chagga Tribe

The Chagga tribe has existed for centuries and was at one time divided into several clans, each ruled by chiefs, called mangis. Each clan had its own territory known as a chiefdom. These chiefdoms existed up until Tanzanian independence in 1961.

Although most Chagga speak the national language of Swahili, they also speak their tribal language, known as Kichagga. The Chagga people are most well known for their strong work ethic and business skills. While historically they are known as farmers, the economy over the past few decades has motivated many into other fields of business.

The Chagga people are generally a very joyous, merrymaking group, with a love of music and dancing. Traditional instruments include flutes, bells, and drums, but they have also added other instruments to their repertoire throughout the years. Today, many celebrations, including weddings and holidays, are accompanied by singing and dancing.

Many of the traditions of the Chagga people have trickled down through the generations and can still be witnessed today. Visitors who wish to can plan to visit a Chagga village, taste traditional food, and learn about their rich history and cultural heritage — as well as see some of the beautiful, natural landscapes of the area at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Hadzabe & Datoga Tribes

The Hadzabe and Datoga tribes both inhabit the area surrounding Lake Eyasi, in Northern Central Tanzania.

The Hadzabe tribe is one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes who still practice hunting and foraging. They still proudly maintain their culture and language, called Hadzane.

The Datoga tribe inhabits the same area, but are known as farmers, herders, and craftsmen. They can be distinguished by their reddish-brown clothing, brass and beaded jewelry, and sometimes by distinct tattooing around their eyes.

The isolated nature of these tribes has served to preserve much of their culture and traditions to this day.

Enjoy a day learning about what makes these Tanzanian tribes unique. See firsthand the traditions and culture that makes up daily life for these peoples.

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