The cultural life in the multi-ethnic state has diverse roots. According to itypeusa, the Tanzania mainland is East African, while the islands are Arab-Muslim. Centuries ago, a hybrid of the Swahili culture developed in the coastal regions. The oldest cultural evidence are the rock paintings in Kondoa, which are estimated to be around 1500 years old. Traditional art objects include masks, calabashes, jewelry, and musical instruments. The clay pottery and ebony carving of the Makonde ethnic group, which is still practiced today, also go back to traditional forms.
Modern painting is essentially shaped by Western styles. With the naive Tinga Tinga square painting, however, a popular independent art style developed in the 1970s. The colorful motifs from everyday life or from the ritual world are applied to square pressboard with bicycle paint. In terms of architecture, the old town of Stonetown (Zanzibar) and the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, stand out.
Traditional music forms a unity with dance, religion and ritual. Above all, it has a social function and is primarily used at parties and ceremonies. The drum is their most important instrument. Due to the Arab influence, the Taarab music in Zanzibar created its own direction. Bongo Flava is the most widely played popular music. The combination of traditional elements and rap, sung in Swahili, is also attracting international attention.
In the coastal areas, Swahili literature developed early on, which was initially primarily religious. The main representative of modern Swahili literature was the poet, novelist and essayist Shabaan Robert ( * 1909, † 1962 ). Aniceti Kitereza ( * 1896, † 1981 ) also became internationally known with his family saga “The Children of the Rainmakers” (1981). Abdulrazak Gurnah ( * 1948 ), who emigrated to Great Britain, writes in English. In his novels (»Das verlorene Paradies«, 1994) he prefers to deal with the topic of migration.
The most popular sports include soccer, basketball and volleyball. Netball is also widespread among girls and young women.
World Heritage Sites in Tanzania
World Heritage Sites (K) and World Natural Heritage (N)
- Ngorongoro Nature Reserve (N; 1979)
- Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara (K; 1981)
- Serengeti National Park (N; 1981)
- Selous Game Reserve (N; 1982)
- Kilimanjaro National Park (N; 1987)
- Old town (»stone city«) on Zanzibar (K; 2000)
- Rock paintings in Kondoa (K; 2006)
Stone City on Zanzibar (World Heritage)
“Stone Town” is the center of the city of Zanzibar. Here, Arab, African and European influences merged into a unique, magical cityscape that reflects the eventful history of the island of Zanzibar. The trading base was once ruled by the Omani, Persians and Portuguese, among others.
Stone city in Zanzibar: facts
|Official title:||Stone city on Zanzibar|
|Cultural monument:||Capital of the Tanzanian island of the same name; oriental old town (“stone city”) with stone houses adorned with richly carved front doors and numerous mosques; Former sultan’s palace (19th century, with the “House of Miracles”), today the seat of government, near the southern tip of the island, a mosque built by Persians in 1107|
|Location:||Zanzibar Island on the East African coast|
|Meaning:||Unique testimony to the cultural fusion of Arab and African culture|
Rock paintings in Kondoa (World Heritage)
The rock paintings of Kondoa document the cultural change of the former hunters and gatherers to an agrarian society. Hunting scenes, constellations and patterns are shown. The paintings are believed to be over 1500 years old, and some are still of spiritual importance to the residents today.
Rock paintings in Kondoa: facts
|Official title:||Rock paintings in Kondoa|
|Cultural monument:||Rock overhangs on the edge of the Great African Rift Valley in East Africa west of the Masai steppe with artistic rock paintings; more than 150 rock faces and caves in an area of 2336 km² with at least 2000 years old images; red pictures of animals (mainly elephants, giraffes, antelopes), abstract depictions of humans with long, thin arms and legs as well as drawings of geometric figures from South and Central African hunter-gatherer cultures; in addition, black and white geometric shapes from peasant peoples who settled around 1500 years ago; Rock painting until the recent past; Use for cultic, ritual purposes up to the present day (for evocations of the rain, predictions of the future, healings)|
|Location:||Kondoa, about 100 km north of Dodoma|
|Meaning:||Extraordinary evidence of hunter-gatherer and farmer cultures from over 2000 years; unique documents of the connection between cultic painting and practical forms of life; Sites of ritual significance to this day|