Tanzania Tribes: Tribes in Tanzania

Tanzania Tribes: Tanzania is the thirteenth largest country in Africa, located in the great lakes region of East Africa. It shares borders with Kenya and Uganda to the north, Burundi, Rwanda, and DR Congo to the east, and Malawi Mozambique, and Zambia to the south. This gorgeous country is home to some of the world’s top safari destinations, a rich cultural legacy, and more than 120 distinct tribes of Tanzania ethnic groups. These Tanzania Tribes can be encountered on your Africa safari tours.

Here are some of Tanzania’s most distinctive, distinct, and indigenous tribes:

Sukuma: Tanzania Tribes

Tanzania’s largest tribal group is the Sukuma, a Bantu group of over 5.5 million people who inhabit the country’s north and along Lake Victoria’s southern beaches. The word “Sukuma” literally means “north,” and it refers to the “people of the north.” While the bulk of the population lives in rural areas, some dwell in cities, particularly Mwanza and Shinyanga, where they have adapted to contemporary life.

Tanzania Tribes

Traditionally, the Sukuma worshiped their ancestors’ spirits, believing that they improved the health of living family members. However, many now follow Christianity. They are mostly a matriarchal society, yet polygamy is still common among many Sukuma. The Sukuma are also known for their usage of plants and animals in herbal medicine, which they believe is more beneficial than Western medicine.

The Sukuma are split into two groups the Kimakia and the Kisomayo, both of whom speak Sukuma as well as Swahili. They are linked to the Nyamwezi, with whom they share geographical proximity and certain cultural similarities. Sukuma culture and celebration include dancing and singing, and their economy is built on raising cattle and farming crops such as cotton, corn, potatoes, and rice.

Hadzabe: Tanzania Tribes

This indigenous ethnic group lives in north-central Tanzania, near Lake Eyasi in the rift valley and the Serengeti’s adjacent plateaus. For many years, the influence of tourism and pastoralist invasion has posed a serious danger to the preservation of their traditional life style.

The Hadzabe tribe’s oral history is separated into four epochs, each occupied by a different culture. The Hadza’s archaeological and genomic history reveals that they are not closely linked to any other tribe, and while their language was originally categorized with Khoisan languages due to clicks, there is little evidence that they are related. The Hadzabe tribe was part of German East Africa before falling under British authority after the end of World War I. Several efforts were made by the British and the Tanzania government to persuade the Hadzabe to settle and adopt farming, but all failed since the Hadzabe people merely settled to take advantage of the food provided, then returned to foraging when the food supply ran out.

Tanzania Tribes

The Hadzabe tribe, descended from Tanzania’s ancestral hunter-gatherer population, divides their labor between foraging and hunting. While Hadzabe men typically forage alone, women are reported to forage with at least one adult male in the group. The Hadzabe women typically carry digging poles, huge skin pouches for carrying belongings such as knives, shoes, clothing, and other objects placed in the pouch around their neck, as well as a grass basket for collecting berries while foraging. Their food is primarily composed of honey, fruits, tubers, and meat. During the dry season, when men generally hunt in pairs, expecting to shoot animals with their bows and poisoned arrows, the availability of meat in their diet increases. They are expert hunters famed for their selective hunting, foraging, and vast knowledge of flora, fruits, tubers, and wild game. The Hadzabes live near Lake Eyasi, which is located just south of the Serengeti. Their grounds are largely covered in baobab fruit trees and other bush trees that provide them with a living. The Hadzabes are semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers who belong to the Khoi (Person) and San (Foragers) groups culturally and linguistically. They share cultural links with the Sandiwe, who have cultural linkages to the Khoekhoe hunter-gatherer cultures of Southern Africa.

Women wear “Hangweda” made from indigenous skin, while Hadzabe males are polygamists with a hierarchical social system.

Datoga tribe: Tanzania Tribes

Datoga people, also known as the Mang’ati in Swahili, are one of the agro-pastoral nomadic Nilotic speaking Tanzania tribes who live in the Manyara and Singida regions of north-central Tanzania near Mt Hanang, Lake Basotu, and Lake Eyasi. With over ten subtribes, its best known as the pastoral Barabaig, who live primarily in the northern volcanic highlands surrounded by Mt Hanang, a sacred mountain to the Barabaig. The Datoga and its neighbors’ migratory history has been partially reconstructed through comparative languages and oral tradition. They are thought to be from the highlands of South Sudan or Western Ethiopia. As their ancestors eventually migrated southward and established villages in the highlands of Kenya and Tanzania, grazing and farming in the fertile highlands by around AD 1500.

Tanzania Tribes

The Datoga tribe considers themselves to be the oldest of Tanzania tribes. They are a tribe of proud people and formidable warriors famed for their stealth ability, and keeping to themselves. They are skilled and well-known for their blacksmithing, beadwork, brass bracelets and necklaces, and arrowhead supply to the Hadzabe tribe.

Cattle are their most significant domestic animals. However they also herd goats, donkeys, lambs, and keep poultry. The Datogas blend in with their surroundings by wearing reddish brown earth clothes, reddish patched leather garments, beadworks, bracelets, and necklaces. Another cultural identity and feature that distinguishes them from other tribes is their ornamental tattooing in circular patterns around their eyes.

Sonjo: Tanzania Tribes

The Sonjo are a Bantu people whose major means of subsistence are herding and agriculture. They are known to farm using traditional irrigation techniques. The Sonjo people are reported to have lived for millennia in northern Tanzania, tucked away within Maasai territory. They are thought to have migrated to East Africa from Central Africa 400 years ago. The Sonjo tribe is noted for their agricultural way of life, which was thought to be the primary reason for their slow migration over thousands of years in pursuit of rich and well-watered territory to plant their crops.

The Sonjo tribe is located in northern part of Tanzania, in the Ngorongoro area, approximately 30-40 kilometers west of Lakes Natron. Music is extremely important in Sonjo culture. Music influences their entire way of living and is a widely practiced art form throughout the community. It is utilized in a variety of rituals, including rainmaking ceremonies, healing ceremonies, weddings, and other joyful and social events

Maasai: Tanzania Tribes

The Maasai are a semi-nomadic indigenous people who settled in northern Tanzania and Kenya. The Maasai tribe is well-known around the world and is one of the most popular ethnic groups due to its distinct traditions, dress, and proximity to East Africa’s many national parks. According to oral tradition, they originated in the lower Nile valley north of Lake Turkana (northwest of Kenya). They began migrating south in the 15th century, arriving near the Tanzania-Kenya boundary, spanning the Great Rift Valley and neighboring territories from Dodoma to Mt Marsabit.

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The Maasai tribe is recognized for its brilliantly colorful costumes and traditional lifestyle that is focused on cattle, which is their primary source of food. A man’s wealth is evaluated in terms of children and livestock, but he is also deemed poor if he has a large number of animals but no children. They were feared for their ability to expertly throw the rungu (club) from up to 70 paces(100meters), despite the fact that they used spears and shields. The Maasai people live in the lower Nile river and northern Tanzania, north of Lake Turkana (northwest Kenya).

Most serious disagreements and concerns are occasionally resolved by retired elders and elder Maasai men, who are strongly patriarchal in nature. They are monolithic in character and worship Enkai or Engai as their god. Maasai music is usually composed of rhythms delivered by a chorus of harmonies performed by vocalists, while the melody is sung by the olaranyani (song leader).

Chagga: Tanzania Tribes

The Chagga are a Bantu-speaking indigenous community from Tanzania. The Chagga tribe was separated into fully autonomous chiefdoms that were originally controlled by Mangis and belonged to distinct clans (chiefs). The chiefdom system was used until Tanzania gained independence in 1961, when it was abolished throughout the country.

The Chagga people are recognized for their entrepreneurial spirit, politics, and strong work ethics. They run tiny enterprises, whereas the youthful people work as clerks, teachers, and administrators. The Chagga people live on the southern slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro, which has two peaks: Kibo and Mawenzi. Chagga culture places a high value on greetings. Traditionally, their marriage ceremonies were lengthy, beginning with betrothed formalities and continuing long after the couple was married.

Today, Christian couples marry in churches, with a strong emphasis on having a son to carry on the lineage. A rite called Kisusa is done for every child at the age of 12 to reduce hooliganism, and after a month, a purification ceremony is performed, and a goat is killed.

Iraqw: Tanzania Tribes

The Iraqw are a Cushitic-speaking tribe group who inhabit Tanzania’s Arusha and Manyara areas, just south of the famous Ngorongoro Crater. There are approximately 350,000 thought to live in the country, and they are known for their finely defined features. While many African safaris pass through Iraqw region, the residents there are often shy and only sell their animals and crops when absolutely required. Male Iraqis are known for their blacksmithing skills, while many women are talented at ceramics. They are supposed to be descended from the Neolithic Afro-Asian people who were the first to introduce domesticated animals and plants to the Great Lakes Region. The Iraqw speak the Iraqw language, which is not endangered but is becoming less commonly spoken and written as Swahili becomes more important as Tanzania’s primary language.


During the great Bantu migration, the Haya people landed in Tanzania’s Kagera region. They communicate in the Haya language, a Bantu dialect. They were very adept in metalwork and were organized in a feudal structure. The modern Haya are primarily cultivators who have absorbed Christianity and Islam in addition to traditional religious rituals.

Nyamwezi: Tanzania Tribes

The Nyamwezi ethnic group, Tanzania’s second biggest, has approximately 1.5 million people. The Nyamwezi people arrived in Tanzania as part of the Bantu migration from Central Africa’s Great Lakes region. They live in the regions of Tabora and Shinyanga, together known as the Unyamwezi region, and speak Kinyamwezi. The ethnic group is divided into four main groupings, and their culture is dynamic, affected by their African neighbors and westernization.

Other Indigenous Tanzania Tribes

Tanzania features a diverse range of indigenous ethnic groups. Makonde, Alagwa, Hadzabe, Hehe, Ikoma, Gweno, Ha, Mande, Kamba, Akiek, , Gorowa, Digo, , Balouch, , Zaramo, Dhaiso, Kutu, Bembe, Kisi, Luo, Kwavi, Luguru, Magoa, Bende,Yao, , Zinza, Ware, Zyoba, Zigula, Kwaya. These are some of the smaller Tanzania Tribes.

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