#56DaysofAfrica- Tanzania

"the home of ujamaa"

On today's edition of #56DaysofAfrica, we will be highlighting Tanzania.


During the fourteenth century, Tanzania's location on the East African coast made it easily accessible to Arab traders and slave traders, who operated in the region. While French interest in Tanzania peaked towards the mid-eighteenth century due to the economic possibilities of the region, German missionaries from the German Church Missionary Society preceded French interaction. East Africa was seen as an opportunity for German colonial expansion and by the late nineteenth century, Burundi, Rwanda including Tanzania had become known as German East Africa. German methods of colonial administration were met with fierce local resistance, but control was briefly re-established until the outbreak of World War One.


Following Germany's defeat, Britain administered the region which was renamed as the 'Tanganyika' region which is said that the mainland portion was named by a British civil servant in 1920, from the Swahili words tanga (sail) and nyika (bright arid plain), thus what was known formerly as German East Africa became Tanganyika Territory. Following the Second World War, the Tanganyika region was placed under United Nations (UN) trusteeship, which mandated Britain with the development of the region. Various independent movements emerged around this time, including the Tanganyika Africa National Union (TANU), headed by Julius Nyerere. Support for TANU grew, and by 1960, the first elections were planned for Tanganyika.


On 9th December 1961, Tanganyika became an independent republic as Nyerere was elected prime minister then and president in 1962 under the country’s new republican constitution. In 1962, it became a one-party state under Julius Nyerere, following Nyerere's ideologically-driven policy of socialism.

Zanzibar gained its independence in December 1963 as a result of the Zanzibar Revolution. On 29 October 1964, the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania. Julius “Teacher” Nyerere became the first President of the United Republic of Tanzania with Sheikh Abeid Karume as Vice President.


The concept of Ujamaa

The Arusha Declaration of 1967 held at the TANU National Conference in 1967, Nyerere declared that ‘total African liberation and total African unity are basic objectives of our Party and our Government…we shall never be really free and secure while some parts of our continent are still enslaved.’ outlined TANU’s principles regarding domestic and foreign policy. The document is very relevant to Tanzania’s involvement in the liberation struggle, as it obligated the government to cooperate with political liberation movements and to work with other states in achieving African Unity. This declaration is important within Tanzanian history as it demonstrates Nyerere’s commitment to socialist principles, which formed part of his concept of Ujamaa. Meaning ‘family hood’ in Swahili, Ujamaa was Nyerere’s model of African socialism, placing emphasis on political stability via a one-party system, rural regeneration through the creation of collective farms, and economic growth through nationalisation of key industries. The effects of this can still be seen in present-day Tanzania, however, efforts have recently been made to stimulate the economy. 9th December has become known as Tanzania Day and is celebrated annually.


For the Culture

Founded in the 1860s by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, which means "house of peace or salvation," was the main commercial centre and Tanzania’s first capital city. However, Dodoma was declared as the capital of Tanzania in 1974 because of its central location in Tanzania but despite the declaration, Dar es Salaam remains the central administrative and most prominent city in Tanzania.

There exist more than 120 ethnic groups in Tanzania with Nyamwezi and Sukuma being among the largest group of which each ethnic group speaks its own local language, almost all Tanzanians are also fluent in the national language, Kiswahili (Swahili). The second official language is English, a vestige of the British colonial period.

Makonde carvers from southern Tanzania are renowned for their abstract ebony carvings, and Zanzibar is famous for its elaborately carved doors and Arab chests. Basket weaving, pottery, and musical instrument making are prevalent in many rural areas. Individual tribes are characterized in part by distinctive theatrical performances, dances, and music—for example, the Snake Dance performed by the Sukuma people in the north-central part of the country, of which some of these groups are invited to Dar es Salaam to honour the president, ministers, or foreign dignitaries.


Tanzanian cuisine

The Tanzanian diet is largely based on starches such as millet, sorghum, beans, pilaf, and cornmeal. A meal that could be considered the country's national dish is ugali, a stiff dough made of cassava flour, cornmeal (maize), millet, or sorghum, and usually served with a sauce containing either meat, fish, beans, or cooked vegetables.

Wali (rice) and various samaki (fish) cooked in coconut are the preferred staples for those living in coastal communities. The introduction of various spices by the Arabs is highly evident in a popular coastal dish, pilau which consists of rice spiced with curry, cinnamon, cumin, hot peppers, and cloves. Ndizi Kaanga (fried bananas or plantains) is a local dish that is very popular with Tanzanians and tourists alike. Chai (tea), the most widely consumed beverage, is typically consumed throughout the day, often while socializing and visiting with friends and family.

Sweet fried breads called vitumbua (small rice cakes) are commonly eaten with chai in the mornings, or between meals as a snack. Chapatti also served with tea, is a popular snack among children. Adults enjoy a special banana beer called mbege made in the Kilimanjaro region (northeast Tanzania). Aside from the common serving of fresh fruits or pudding, desserts such as mandazi (deep-fried doughnut-like cakes) are sold by vendors.


Notable Landmarks

Tanzania is one of the countries that is naturally endowed with not only many natural bodies attracting tourism in their country but also are among the highest as there are 2365 named mountains in Tanzania. The highest and the most prominent mountain is Kilimanjaro - Uhuru Peak. Tanzania packs a curious mix of natural landmarks and human-made monuments including ancient rock paintings at KondoaIrangi, natural monuments and lakes like Mount Meru, Kalambo Falls, OlDoinyoLengai and Ngorongoro crater.

Ngorongoro Crater is located on a conservation area covering the rich volcanic landscape. With abundant wildlife, its lake and a high concentration of predators, it forms a self-contained safari destination all of its own. The crater’s huge bowl is 20km wide, and the deepest point is 600 meters. This makes it the biggest caldera in the world. At the bottom of the bowl, is a curious mix of ecological environments including rainforests, swamps, and a soda lake. The Kalambo falls straddles the Zambian Tanzania border and drop some 240 meters and ranks as the tallest waterfall in Africa. Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania often referred to as “The Cradle of Mankind” because fossils found there are thought to be over 2 million years old. The Laetoli footprints in the area are thought to be as old as 3.6 million years.


With its historical richness, the home of ujamaa is a sight to see and to learn from. We cannot wait to continue to share more information about Tanzania with you all.

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"We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For"

Afrika Matters Initiative NPC 2018/033657/08