Local Tribes in Tanzania - TingaTinga African Art

Local Tribes in Tanzania

The mesmerizing country of Tanzania is not only home to breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife and hospitable people, but also to some of the most fascinating tribes in Africa. There are over 100 distinct ethnic groups and tribes in Tanzania and it is the only African nation whose tribes represent all four ethnolinguistic groups - Bantu, Cushitic, Nilotic, and Khoisan. Here’s a brief rundown of the local tribes you’re likely to come across while on safari in Tanzania:

The Hadzabe Tribe

One of the last tribes to have stayed true to their nature, the Hadzabe are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers located in northern Tanzania around Lake Eyasi. Their men are polygamists and the Hadza women are usually adorned with traditional pieces of skin known locally as “Hangweda”. Linguistically, they speak with many clicks that are characteristics of languages throughout southern Africa and are said to be in relation to the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert.

Gender roles division of labor is split between hunting and foraging. While foraging is primarily done by women and hunting by men, both genders are often active participants in both. Most foraging parties are conducted with at least one male present and it is not uncommon for women to bring back small game once in a while.

The Hadzabe diet consists of honey, fruit, tubers, and meat from a variety of games such as dikers, baboons, and bush pigs. The choice of food varies depending on seasonal abundance and opportunity. They’re also one of the most carbon-negative ethnic groups on the planet, only taking what they need.

The Sukuma Tribe

With an estimated population of 5.5 million and growing, the Sukuma tribe is the largest ethnic group in Tanzania. Their ancestors are said to be part of the extensive migration of people speaking early forms of Bantu speech in the first millennium AD. Their traditional way of life has drastically changed over time with most of them having succumbed to the modern way of living.

Women in rural areas grow cotton, corn, potatoes, and rice or raise livestock. They also gather firewood and provide families with fresh water and daily meals such as Ugali, one of East Africa's popular traditional dishes.

The Sukuma tribe is divided into two groups called Kimakia and Kisomayo and then further into subgroups. Their traditional religions still praise the existence of spirits, especially those of their ancestors. They believe the spirits of their ancestors largely contribute to the health of the living family members.

The Chagga Tribe

The Chagga people live on the Southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and are also called Chaga, Jagga, or Waschagga. In the past, they belonged to different clans traditionally and were ruled by Manjis(Chiefs). The system of chiefdom was abolished all over the country after Tanzania gained its independence in 1961. Kichagga is the main language spoken by the Chagga people and almost all Chagga people speak Kiswahili which is the national language of Tanzania

The traditional Chagga dwelling is cone-shaped with a roof thatched with dried grass. They also built houses with a roof thatched with banana leaves, but today, modern houses are commonly built with cement walls and corrugated metal roofs.

Bananas are used to make beer and it is also a staple of the Chagga people. They also plant a variety of crops including bananas, millet, maize, beans, and cassava.

The Maasai Tribe

The Maasai tribe is one of the most popular indigenous ethnic groups in Africa. These semi-nomadic people are believed to have settled in Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are also among the foremost African ethnic groups and are known internationally due to their distinct traditions, customs, and flowing red dresses. Also, they reside close to the many national game parks across east Africa, so it’s not uncommon for tour operators to organize cultural visits to nearby Maasai settlements.

Maa, a language derived from Nilo-Sahara is the language they speak but they also speak English and Swahili. Their population is now estimated at around 900 000. The Maasai have traditionally relied on readily available indigenous materials to build their traditional houses and was designed for people on the move. Their houses are either circular or loaf-shaped and are usually made by women. The men, in turn, build a circular Enkang (fence) to protect their cattle from wild animals.

Maasai people’s traditional lifestyle concentrates on their cattle which make up for the primary source of food. Among the Maasai are several other African ethnic groups, it is believed that the measure of a man's wealth is in terms of children and cattle, so the more the better.

Want to get a glimpse into the simple yet thriving lifestyles of Tanzania’s local tribes?

You can meet Tanzanian tribes on cultural safaris and tours where you get the chance to visit their villages and experience real tribal life. It promises to be an educational experience as you get to witness and appreciate how people this side of the world live.

Size Guide

Centimeters (CM)

Inches (IN)

50CM x 40CM

19 11/16 in X 15 3/4 in

50CM x 50CM

19 11/16 in X 19 11/16 in

60CM x 60CM

23 5/8 in X 23 5/8 in

70CM x 50CM

27 9/16 in X 19 11/16 in

80CM x 60CM

31 1/2 in X 23 5/8 in

100CM x 80CM

39 3/8 in X 31 1/2 in

140CM x 110CM

55 1/8 in X 43 5/16 in