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You are Here: Home › Uganda Culture › Sumbwa Culture


There are many people who are hungry to know about Sumbwa People and their culture Tanzania. If you are among those who are interested to know about culture in Tanzania, you are welcome to this page.

On this page therefore, I will guide you if you want to know about customs, beliefs and religion of Sumbwa tribe in Tanzania.


The Sumbwa are an ethnic and linguistic group based in the MBOGWE and Bukombe District,in GEITA REGION And kahama inCite error: Invalid <ref> tag; refs with no name must have content Shinyanga Region in central Tanzania. In 1987 the Sumbwa population was estimated to number 191,000

Other Tribes and their Culture Sumbwa People Hangaza People›|› Gweno people›|› Ha people ›|› Hadza People ›|› ...Haya people ›|› Kahe people ›|› Kami People ›|› Kaguru People ›|› Kagura people ›|› Kabwa people›|› Jita People ›|› Jiji People ›|› Hehe people ›|› Ikizu people ›|› Iramba People›|› Iraqw people ›|› Ikoma People ›|› Isanzu People ›|›

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Origins of Tanzania Sumbwa People and their culture.

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Their ethno-linguistic group is most commonly said to have its origins in western Cameroon, although how it's possible to be so certain over migrations that date back over four millennia, I really don't know.

What is certain is that, these People certainly came from the region of central Africa, from where they and/or their culture began expanding to other parts of sub-Saharan Africa around 2000 BC.

The cause of these migrations are believed to have been the result of an increasingly settled agricultural lifestyle: although needing little land (far less than herding cattle would), land had to be fertile and well-watered for cultivation to be a viable alternative.

Population pressure in central Africa may therefore have prompted the first migrations.

Several successive waves of migrations over the following millennia followed on the tracks of the first.

They were neither planned nor instantaneous, put took place gradually over hundreds and thousands of years, allowing plenty of time for these people and their culture to spread and be influenced by other cultures it came across, either through assimilation or - more rarely, it seems - conquest.

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Traditional Music of Tanzania Sumbwa People

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Traditionally, music was the most widely practiced art in their community. At any time of the day or night, some music was being made. Music was not made for its own sake.

Music was functional. It was used for ceremonial, religious, political, or incidental purposes.

Music was performed during funerals, to praise the departed, to console the bereaved, to keep people awake at night, to express pain and agony, and was also used during cleansing and chasing away of spirits.

Music was also played during ceremonies like beer parties ,welcoming back the warriors from a war, during a wrestling match ,during courtship, etc.

Work songs also existed. These were performed both during communal work like building, weeding, etc. and individual work like pounding of cereals, or winnowing.

Music was also used for ritual purposes like chasing away evil spirits who visit the village at night, in rain making, and during divinations and healing.

Their music was shaped by the total way of life, lifestyles, and life patterns of individuals of this community.

Because of that, the music had characteristics which distinguished it from the music of other communities.

This can be seen, heard, and felt in their melodies, rhythms, mode of presentation and dancing styles, movements, and formations.

The melodies in their music were lyrical, with a lot of vocal ornamentations. These ornaments came out clearly, especially when the music carried an important message.

Their rhythms were characterized by a lot of syncopation and acrusic beginning. These songs were usually presented in solo-response style, although some were solo performances.

The most common forms of solo performances were chants. These chants were recitatives with irregular rhythms and phrases, which carried serious messages.

Another unique characteristic in their music is the introduction of yet another chant at the middle of a musical performance.

The singing stops, the pitch of the musical instruments go down and the dance becomes less vigorous as an individual takes up the performance is self praise

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Family life and Marriage Customs of Tanzania Sumbwa People.

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Marriage was traditionally considered to be the most significant event in the lives of both men and women.

It was thought inappropriate for anyone to remain unmarried. Large families ensured adequate numbers of workers.

The system of polygamy (multiple wives) guaranteed that all people married.

The significance of bride wealth is increasing, even among educated Africans.

Members of the groom's family initiate a process of negotiation with the bride's family that may unfold over many years.

Negotiations can be intense, and for this reason a "go-between," who is neutral to the interests of each family, is used.

Most Africans believe that divorce cannot occur after bride wealth has been exchanged and children are born.

Even if separation happens, the couple is still ideally considered to be married. Failure to have children, however, is thought to be the fault of the bride and, for this, she will be divorced or replaced by another wife.

Cattle are the primary item given in bride wealth. In determining the value of a prospective bride, her family takes into account her health, appearance, and, nowadays, her level of formal education.

Failure of men to raise a high bride wealth prompts many of them to propose elopement, a practice that is on the rise today.

Young people in East Africa still tend to marry within their own ethnic groups. Tribal elders frequently caution against "intertribal marriages."

The more distant the ethnic group in space and customs from the within, the greater the cautionary warnings.

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Traditional Dressing and Clothing Etiquette of Tanzania Sumbwa People.

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, these people wore minimal clothing. Animal hides were used to cover private parts, but there was no stigma (shame) associated with nudity.

Nowadays, clothing styles are largely Western in origin. They vary according to a person's social class and lifestyle preferences.

It is not uncommon to see people in remote rural areas fashionably dressed according to some of the latest tastes.

People in cities tend to wear clothing that is cosmopolitan by rural standards and similar to the clothing worn in New York or Paris.

In rural areas, most people dress according to their work routines.

For example, women wear loose-fitting dresses made of solid or printed cotton fabric while farming or attending market. Wearing sandals or going barefoot are typical while working.

Men wear jeans as work pants while farming. During the rainy season, the roadscan become very muddy; consequently, boots and umbrellas are especially prized by both men and women.

These days, there is a strong market in second-hand clothing, making slacks, dresses, coats, undergarments, sweaters, shoes, handbags, belts, and other items available to even poorer families.

These people enjoy dressing up for funerals and weddings and are considered throughout east Africa to be very fashionable.

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Etiquette of Tanzania Sumbwa People

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Tanzanians are proud of their disciplined upbringing. The ability to keep control of one's temper and emotions in public is highly valued.

Young men and women in rural areas are not supposed to show mutual affection in public in daylight, although this rule is often broken in urban centers. Boys and men, however, are commonly seen in public holding hands as a sign of friendship.

I n many rural areas, women are not supposed to smoke, talk in a raised voice, or cross their legs while sitting or standing.

Traditionally, elders are honored and respected by the rest of the community, although youth are increasingly challenging such customs as arranged marriages.

Although the use of silverware is increasing, traditional customs prescribe eating all foods, including rice and meat sauces, with the right hand.

Children who attempt to eat with their left hands are disciplined appropriately at very early ages.

This custom is related to the perceived symbolic purity of the right hand, compared to the left hand which is often used for cleaning after using the toilet.

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Traditional Food and Cuisines of Tanzania Sumbwa People.

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primary crops are maize (corn), millet, and sorghum. Coffee, tobacco, cotton, and sugarcane are important cash crops. Important animals include sheep, goats, chickens, and cattle, which are used for bride wealth.

Fish from Lakes and their streams are important, especially talapia. Many foods are purchased, including sugar, bread, and butter, which are consumed with tea on a daily basis, a custom known as "tea time" and derived from the British colonial era, which ended in 1963.

The staple food eaten several times a day is ugali. This is made from maize meal stirred in boiling water until it becomes a thick and smooth porridge. Ugali is always eaten with an accompaniment such as meat or stew.

Greens (sukumawiki) are also frequently eaten with ugali. Maize, popular throughout Kenya,Tanzania and Uganda is frequently sold for money.

This has led many families to sell their maize when financially pressed for money. For this reason, there is a periodic famine throughout East Africa that occurs every year during the long, dry season prior to harvest.

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Cultural heritage of Tanzania Sumbwa People.

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These people consider their entire traditional way of life to be an important community resource.

There is a great deal of disagreement over what should be preserved and what should change. Customs centering on marriage and gender relations are hotly debated.

Songs are popular today as in the past. Musicians praise and lament political, generational, economic, and cultural contradictions in contemporary life.

Luo devote much time to listening to music, and regularly purchase records, tapes, and CDs. Christian church music is also a form of entertainment.

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Traditional Employment of Tanzania Sumbwa People.

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The most notable fact about their economy is that women play the primary role in farming. Before the introduction of the modern money economy, the garden was the centerpiece of the women's world of work.

Industrious women could earn considerable wealth by exchanging their garden produce for animals, handicrafts, pots, and baskets.

A young girl is expected to help her mother and her mother's co-wives in farming land owned by her father, brothers, and paternal uncles. Even though a girl may go to school and rise to a prominent position in society, there is often still a strong association with the land and digging.

Men are preoccupied with livestock and spend a great deal of time in "social labor" concerned with placing their cattle in good contexts, such as bride wealth exchanges, trading partnerships, and commercial sales. In the modern economy, cattle and goats have a monetary value as well. Men have control over animals and cash crops.

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Child Rearing and Education with Tanzania Sumbwa People.

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Until the age of five or so for boys, and until adolescence for girls, children have the most contact with their mothers, sisters, and other female relatives.

Both boys and girls attend school if the parents can afford the fees. If there is not sufficient money for both to attend, the boy is usually favored, and the girl remains home to help her mother until she gets married and moves away.

Students are supposed to respect their teachers, and corporal punishment is still practiced in Tanzanian schools although at a less extent.

Among some ethnic groups, puberty ceremonies for boys and girls are practiced. Marking the transition to adulthood, such elaborate ceremonies may involve circumcision of boys and several kinds of genital surgery on girls.

Unsterile surgical procedures performed on girls may have severe health consequences.

Higher Education.

As fees for schooling have risen, families are finding it difficult to send their children to secondary schools.

The wealthy send their older children to boarding schools both within and outside the country, although they worry that the materialistic influences of the modern world and lack of family supervision will negatively influence their children.

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Cultural perception on Death and the Afterlife of Tanzania Sumbwa People.

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Death is a part of daily life for an African. In regions hit hard by the AIDS epidemic, families are often not able to afford the time or resources to follow traditional mourning and burial customs, which differ by religion and ethnic group.

Among many ethnic groups, the "ancestors" assume an extremely important role. Ancestor spirits are remembered through various rituals and are believed to exert me significant influence on daily life.

For example, at drinking occasions, so people pour a small libation of beer onto the ground in respect of the ancestors. In other cases, a small vessel of beer is left in a special location as an offering to the ancestors.

In still other cases, sacrifices of a chicken or goat, for example, are made to the ancestors in ceremonies that vary according to ethnicity.

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