Tanzania is an East African country known for its vast wilderness areas. They include the plains of Serengeti National Park, a place of safari pilgrimage. This park is populated by what hunters generally refer to as the “big five” game. These are elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino.
In addition to these, there is a good number of other interesting facts about Tanzania that you would love to know, especially if you have in mind to visit the country. How do some people view being photographed? What is the most definite way to refuse an offer? How do they view sniffing so as to get the aroma of food?
The answers to all these and many more you will get from the following 12 interesting facts about Tanzania. Happy reading!
Currency: Tanzanian shilling
President: John Magufuli
Prime Minister: Kassim Majaliwa
Official languages: Swahili, English
Government: Unitary Presidential Constitutional Republic
Population: 51,820,000 (2014 estimate)
Interesting Facts About Tanzania
1. PAY FOR PICTURES
The Masai people’s dressing is very colourfully interesting. With such colourful clothing, they are tempting targets for any photo-crazy tourist with a camera. However, they expect to be paid for it. So, you should always ask before taking pictures.
2. COMMON GREETING WORDS
Swahili-speakers use ‘shikamoo’ which means, ‘I hold your feet’ when greeting elders or superiors. Add bwana for a male, and mama for a female. In Zanzibar, however, they say ‘chei chei’ which has the same meaning. It is interesting to know that you will get along very well by using these verbal expressions of respect. .
3. PEOPLE ARE EMPATHETIC
Tanzanians are usually uncomfortable if you are working and they are not. So, they will comment if you are doing any work while they are not, with the phrase “pole na kazi”. It literally means “I’m sorry you have to work”. A simple “asante”, or “thanks”, will do as a response.
4. VERY PERSISTENT SELLERS
Tanzanian sellers are very persistent. Ordinarily, simply shaking your head and saying “asante sana”, should settle it. However, as a last resort, a firm “hapana”, meaning “no”, will be needed. It is interesting though that Tanzanians find “hapana” quite rude, so please use it only as a last resort.
5. NO FAKE PROMISES
No matter the situation, never tell someone you will come back to buy from them later unless you plan to do so! It is better to be honest and say ‘no’ than having to avoid someone for days. Unfortunately, they have a funny way of finding you when you promised to visit their stall or shop!
6. HOSPITABLE TOO MUCH
Tanzanians are very hospitable people. And they would continue to press an offer on you with they believe that you’d accept it if the press enough. Therefore, the most polite way to refuse something is to say “sihitaji”, meaning “I don’t need it”. Interesting, not so?
7. ASK BEFORE SNAPPING
Again, watch your use of the camera. When a photo is taken of them, members of certain ethnic groups believe that a piece of their soul has been taken along with it. So, be respectful by asking permission beforehand. Otherwise, just keep a lid on the camera lens.
8. ELDERS WELL RESPECTED
Tanzanian elders receive higher levels of respect and reverence than anyone else. They’re considered more knowledgeable and experienced than the rest of the community, which is probably true. .There’s no rulebook for how this is done. You just need to be on your best behaviour.
9. PDA A TABOO
In other parts of the world, excessive Public Display of Affection is considered nauseating. In Tanzania, it is an absolute taboo. Kissing, hugging, or holding hands with your partner is something you must save for private time.
10. FORGET AROMA; JUST EAT
Don’t smell any food, just eat it. What is interesting about this is that overtly sniffing your food before tucking in is considered rude. It would be like loudly announcing, ‘I am suspicious that this food is out of date or maybe even poisonous’ to the entire table.
11. TAKE SECOND HELPING
When it comes to helpings, take a small amount of food the first time dishes are passed around. Is that not interesting? After all, it is considered that accepting second helpings, a sign of gratitude. So, prepare to show gratitude by leaving a space in your belly to accept second helping.
12. RIGHT HAND DOMINATES
He is one more interesting fact. In Tanzania it will be assumed that your left hand has been used for ‘toilet duties’. You do not need to abide by this assumption. But as a matter of etiquette you should keep your right hand dominant –in greeting, eating, and giving or receiving things.