Religions in Tanzania

RELIGION IN TANZANIA

The cohabitation of religions in Tanzania is a fascinating aspect of Tanzania’s culture. The country has many religions and over 50 different tribes.

 

 

 

 

 

Although Christianity is the main religion, followed by Islam, there are followers of many other religions inside Tanzania. Including Buddhism, Hinduism, and African traditional.

In the 14th century, the location of Tanzania on the coast of East Africa was strategic for Arab traders and slave traders. During the 15th century, German Christian missionaries were sent to Tanzania to expand Germany. Upon arrival the Christians were chased away by local Muslims; Christianity came back in the 19th century, and the relation between the two was hostile. Arabic arrived in Tanzania mainly for business in the slavery industry, to which Christians opposed themselves. Later, the slave trade was abolished. From this, the relationship between the two religions groups improved and has not been hostile since then. (1)

This relationship on Tanzania’s mainland is peaceful and civil. However, nowadays Zanzibar Island is composed of 99% of Muslims people (1). When Christian locals are traveling to Zanzibar and are not dressed according to Muslim beliefs, with skin on show, Muslim people speak negatively towards them; not aggressively or violently, but in a way that can make mainland locals feel uncomfortable.

“The government of Tanzania and the semiautonomous government of Zanzibar both recognize religious freedom as a principle and make efforts to protect it.” (3)

Tanzanian society has been shaped by the presence of its different religions. Islam and the Swahili language have been introduced by Arab Muslims. The Indigenous Spirituality people helped in keeping the Tanzanian traditions alive. Christian missionaries provided education and health care to the population, which helped develop the nation as a whole. Every religion is celebrated equally: “religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Eid-el-Fitr, and Prophet Mohammed’s birthday are all given equal emphasis.” (1)

For people living on Tanzania’s mainland, religions are not a big deal. People are believing in the God they want, and everyone is accepting it. Mosques are making a lot of noise, but so do gospel churches. People are respectful of other people’s beliefs: they see each other as human beings and don’t emphasize other religious belonging.

I talked with Ruth Mgalula and Hadija Mohammed, respectively Christian and Muslim. These are some of the stories they told me to help me understand the cohabitation of religions in Tanzania.

Ruth’s quote:

When people are about to fight about religion issues, one of the two clans always stop it; people know it is going to end badly otherwise, and it’s not worth it
“People respect other people’s religion, but when it comes to marriage, sometimes, it’s more difficult. “I remember my friend was Christian, and she wanted to marry a Muslim guy. They didn’t say it to their parents, because they knew they would have a bad reaction. They got married to a government marriage. Soon after the parents find out, both sides were shocked and mad. A lot of fighting appeared, and they had to divorce.” Obviously, it’s not like this in all families. When you introduce your partner to your family, it’s in the first and basics questions, to ask: what is your name? Where are you from? What religion are you from?

The common thing to do when the two aren’t from the same religion is for one to change religion for the other one. The thing is, when you change religion, you change a lot in your beliefs. People will notice that you change, and they may talk to you about it, but no more. People are letting others be.

Hadija’s quote

“All my family is Muslim; we believe in God, and my mom prays five times a day, as well as my sister.” Her other sister changed when she met this Christian man. Everyone was fine with it, except Hadija’s grand-dad. He was really against it. He felt like he was losing one of his grand-kids. When you change religion, it is viewed as if you wanted to reach a higher level of religious perfection. Which discredits your initial religion in your choice to change. Afterward, it went fine. He was against it in words, never in a violent way.

“When someone died, Muslims can go to the church and attend a funeral; same with Christian. Everyone can befriend everyone, no distinction of religion.”

Tanzania is different from other countries, especially from other African East coast countries. “The first president we had told us: there will be no war in this country.” Julius Nyerere stayed 30 years has Tanzania’s president. He never installed a dictatorial or authoritarian regime. There is over 50 different tribes and many different religions. Everybody can believe in what they want and practice whatever religion they want, as long as it doesn’t break the rules of the government. “When we were seeking independence, Julius Nyerere went to one of the mosques in Bagamoyo, even if he is Christian, and prayed with Muslims all night for the independence of the country. It just shows that we have the same God. He said to us: we are not going to fight for independence, there will be no blood in our hands. We are just going to have a peaceful way of getting independence. Let’s pray to God together.”

Our first president created this strong belief: we are all related. Believe in whatever you want, but don’t break the constitution’s rules, because they are the same as what the Quran and the Bible say: don’t kill, because you will be punished.

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“Every neighborhood is full of different religions, but when something happens, everyone is there for others. Our differences have nothing to do with our religion, or in whom we believe. As human beings, we have weaknesses, and this is our biggest difference, either we like it or not.”

– Hadija

Florence Dupuis

REFERENCES

(1) https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/religious-beliefs-in-tanzania.html

(2) https://www.sahistory.org.za/dated-event/tanzania-gains-independence

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Tanzania

 

A passion for helping the kids in need

Interview with volunteer Rukiye.

All photos are from the day we spent in Snakepark with the kids of Amani orphanage.

Let’s begin with a hard one: Who are you?

I’m Rukiye, 26 years old and I come from Denmark but originally I’m from Turkey. I’m almost done with my studies and soon I can say that I’m a graduated careworker. I already work in nursery schools where my focus is on early childhood development. In addition I have two other jobs and I do volunteer work in Denmark too.

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Rukiye and Alex.♥

Why did you decide to come to volunteer in Tanzania?

I have always wanted to come to Africa because since I was a child I have been dreaming of having my own orphanage in this continent. I was looking around in Internet for a long time and visited many web sites of different organizations. I noticed that AIT was the cheapest option so that played a role in my choice too. Couple months ago I finally decided that February would be a good time to go. After that I wrote to a Facebook group and asked if someone would want to come with me because I was too afraid to go alone. Luckily I got one girl to come with me and now we have spent almost a month here. What comes to the country, I didn’t prefer any but I could not be happier that I chose Tanzania.

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What kind of volunteer work have you been doing here?

Before coming here I arranged a fundraising through Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels. My family and friends helped me to share the message and I was so happy about how much I managed to collect: 2 739 dollars along with the money I put into it. With this money I bought a lot of toys from Denmark and brought them here because I wanted to give them to the schools and nurseries. Playing is learning and it especially improves children’s motor skills. That is why I wanted to bring toys here. It took from 1 to 2 weeks to visit different places, play with the children and give them the toys and games.

After that we have been visiting more schools and orphanages, observing them and asking what kind of things they would need. Then I have been buying more things such as backpacks, pens, books and other school things, toys, diapers, food… I learnt that you need to be careful when doing this because unfortunately some people only want the money and don’t think about the children’s needs. I have, with the help of others, also arranged a day out with the children of Amani Orphanage and we together also cleaned and painted the walls of a school nearby. I have also been talking to the leader of the orphanage about what it takes to open an orphanage here, how she started etc.

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Has something surprised you here?

I really did not expect Africa to be like this. Media gives us only one side of the continent: hunger, poverty, insecurity… Those things exist here but still it is so much more than that. I didn’t expect it to be this green and many places remind me of other countries even in Europe. In addition people, especially children, have surprised me because they get so happy with so little: just by seeing you. I have to say that it feels like home here and I feel safe. Before I came here I was so nervous and scared that something bad would happen to me but here I have not felt fear at all. Despite of that it is important to always be careful.

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What has been the best thing here?

People. I’m shy when I don’t feel safe and before this trip I was scared that I wouldn’t find any friends. But I have got so many new friends and I can talk to anyone here. It feels like I have a new family because normally I get homesick very quickly but here I haven’t felt that almost at all.

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What has not been that great?

The toilets… Hygiene is obviously not that great here and the dry toilets were not very tempting at first and it took two weeks to get used to them. But that’s just a small thing and you learn to live with everything.

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What have you learnt during this trip and what can you bring with you to Denmark?

When we were arranging the day out with the kids, it was the first time in my life when I had to be the leader and people were asking me about everything. I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone and just do it because it was my own plan. Now I feel that I can be responsible for these kind of events and for so many people. But especially here I think you have to have locals helping you and people who you can rely on. I’m glad that the team leaders helped me in so many ways.

This trip has in many ways been an eye-opening journey. I have learnt that I can’t do anything alone and that loyalty is very important. I have gotten many new contacts which could help me when I begin to work towards my dream: my own orphanage. But the most important thing I got from here is friends.

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Tessa

 

Medical Project at Faraja Dispensary

Art in Tanzania work in partnership with clinics and hospitals in the Dar es salaam area to provide medical projects for volunteers who are either fully qualified doctors/nurses or currently in Med School. Around 2 weeks ago, a nurse from Norway, Katja, arrived in Tanzania and has been volunteering at the Faraja Dispensary – a local clinic in Madale; less than a 10 minute walk from the AIT compound.

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Working together with the nurses in the pharmacy

The Faraja Dispensary is a private clinic that deals with minor surgical procedures and general clinical services such as HIV/AIDS prevention, growth monitoring, child health care services and many others. Malaria diagnosis and treatment was noted as the most common problem dealt with at the clinic. Last week I, along with a fellow media and journalism intern, were able to assist Katja to the clinic to see observe what happens on a typical day. She has mainly been performing injection procedures to treat diseases such as malaria and on Fridays, Katja works alongside nurses assisting with the health care of children in the mother and baby unit of the dispensary.

I got that chance to speak to one of the head doctors in the clinic to learn a little more about the dispensary and some of the issues it deals with. At night the clinic is usually at it’s busiest with doctors and nurses treating injuries resulting from road accidents. With the clinical facilities enabling only the treatment of minor injuries, patients with more serious problems are usually referred to a public hospital obtaining more technical facilities and instruments of a higher quality.  Problems faced with the transfer of patients from the Faraja Dispensary to a hospital of higher standards is the availability of transport.  Ambulances are not an option for patients coming from the Faraja Dispensary therefore public transport seem to be the only viable option. The patient, then, is responsible for covering the cost of the transport. The cost of health care on top of transport fee is one of the issues faced for many local residents. However, compared to larger scale hospitals and clinics, Faraja Dispensary is one of the cheaper health services in the Madale area. They offer many free vaccinations and the cost of medicine is somewhat affordable for the local residents.

Art in Tanzania offer numerous projects involving medical and health care. As well as working with many hospitals and clinics, volunteers are able to provided community care and health teaching & training to schools and villages in the Dar es Salaam area. They are able to help and assist staff in the clinics as many of them are understaffed; as well as gaining valuable medical experience in an environment different from the norm. One of the largest ongoing projects is the HIV/AIDS awareness seminars in which volunteers are able to raise awareness of these issues to the local community. If you would like to read more about some of the medical projects offered with Art in Tanzania, please do not hesitate to visit our website!

Asante sana,

Lily

 

Interview with an Intern: Tomoki

Art in Tanzania receives many different interns and volunteers from different parts of the world, all year round. As an intern myself, it is interesting to meet and live among such a diverse group of people, learn about their home countries and what they are doing with Art in Tanzania. So I decided to interview one intern originally from Japan; Tomoki…

Q: What is your name and where are you from?

A: My name is Tomoki Noguchi and originally I am from Japan but I go to university in New York in the US.

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Tomoki hard at work in the office

Q: How long have you been in Tanzania?

A: So far I have been here for 15 days and I am staying for 1 month. So I’m about half way through. It is also my first time in Africa.

Q: Where did you hear about Art in Tanzania?

A: I heard about Art in Tanzania through my university on the internship website. AIT was posted on the webpage. Also, one of my friends came here last year so he told me all about it.

Q: What is your job as an intern with Art in Tanzania?

A: I am working on sanitation projects. So currently I am analysing the efficiency of composting/dry toilets. In the future Art in Tanzania are hoping to put dry toilet systems in schools all across Tanzania and I am helping to do the research for this.

Q: Is living in Tanzania very different to living in your home country?

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Boxing Day at the beach with Glory of Africa Orphanage

A: Yeah, of course, no place is the same. The roads here are rubbish, I hate shaking. I get stomachache and headache, the government should fix that; there should be pavement. I don’t understand, that should be top priority – I was shocked.

Q: What are you enjoying most about Tanzania?

A: I enjoy making new friends from all over the world. Some of the food I enjoy but some I don’t really like. I haven’t tried much traditional food but I really like cassava. I’m used to eating things like chapatis and cassava so it’s good.

Q: What do you miss most about your home?

A: I don’t really miss America that much. I’ve been missing many things from Japan. For example sanitation and traditional Japanese food, of course. Tokyo city overall. But what i’ve been missing is the culture in more developed countries. When I went to the hospital I didn’t feel like they were professional or had the responsibility of doctors.

Q: Do you think you will come back and visit?

A: I would definitely like to come back and visit Moshi to see Kilimajaro and may be even climb it. I would also like to see a national park.

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Tomoki with one of the house dogs; JJ

 

“I’m really enjoying my time in Tanzania because of the people here, everyone is so friendly and welcoming, especially JJ!”

Asante sana,

Lily

 

 

Evening English Class: Interview with Zabron

‘TIA: This Is Africa’ 

Used to explain the laid back, relaxed, African way of living: ‘This is Africa‘ is a common phrase heard around the volunteer compound and Dar es Salaam in general. Despite working on bongo time (african timing), having TIA permanently carved into my brain, and adjusting to a less structured way of living; 5pm on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday—without fail—is the time scheduled for the evening English class. Putting spelling and grammar aside, last Mondays lesson was a little bit different. I decided to interview one of the students that regularly attends the class; Zabron. You see, I may know that Zabron can identify the subject, verb and object in a sentence, and I know that he can explain the difference between and adjective and an adverb; but I don’t know much about him. So I introduce, to you, Zabron Anthony…

  Q: What is your name and where do you live?

Screen Shot 2018-01-05 at 10.36.15 A: My name is Zabron Anthony. I live at Bagamoyo in Kiharaka Village and have been living in that place for 9 years.

 Q: And where did you grow up?

A: I was born in Shinyanga and from here that is about 1,000km. My parents were living in poverty so they could not afford to send me to school. I have been faced with a lot of challenges but I am really thankful for and enjoy the English classes.

  Q: What is your everyday job?

A: My job is that I am a security guard in Mbweni. This job helps me to pay school fees and I have only been working there since 2014 because of school. I plan to leave this job when I start school again. From my home to Mbweni is 2 hours because I walk but other days I use public transport. I don’t enjoy this job very much because of low wages.

  Q: Do you get a chance to practice what you learn at the English classes in your job?

A: A lot of people at my job only speak Swahili and that is a challenge I have because they don’t like to learn things that help you to advance. But at the moment I like to learn from my phone away from the English classes. I like looking at the lyrics of songs. When I have a chance I watch the BBC and when I do not have chance to watch TV I just watch my phone. If I am busy at work I listen to the radio so that I can learn the pronunciation and my aim is to learn English and speak it like you.

  Q: And how long have you been coming to the English classes?

A: I have been coming to these classes for a long time. I started with Art in Tanzania in 2014 for 4 months but left because of school. I finished school last year so this year I come to AIT as to improve my language because I like to know English.

  Q: Is your school/college English speaking?

A: There is English speaking at the college and there is also French but they favour English when they want people to join the college.

Q: And finally, what do you hope to do with English in the near future? 

A: In the Near future this English will help me to join the college next year, I am trying to learn good things that will help me in the future. I would like to visit England but I haven’t the support. If I get the support it would be good because I can meet more people who will help me learn. If it will happen even for only one month it will be really good.

 “When I learn English I have the opportunity to do a lot because it is an international language”

IMG_2841 (1) Art in Tanzania volunteers and interns are working to help support and to benefit
people within the local community. Providing English classes like these give locals a chance to improve their understanding and competence within the language; overall
giving them more opportunities. To read more about some of the education programmes offered by Art in Tanzania you can visit our website .

Asante sana,

Lily

 

 

Boxing Day at Bahari Beach with Glory of Africa Orphanage

Swapping winter coats for t-shirts & shorts, wellies for flip-flops, and roast dinners for barbecues it’s safe to say Christmas 2017 has been unlike any other for me and spending Boxing Day at the beach with children from the Glory of Africa Orphanage has definitely been a highlight!

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The idea of a day trip to the beach stemmed from one of our dutch volunteers, Michel, who during his stay at AIT has been teaching English to the children at the orphanage. With donations from himself, Art in Tanzania and some of the other volunteers this idea was made into a reality. On December 26th at 11:30 am we arrived at the Glory of Africa to find the children packed and ready for a blue sea and white sand filled boxing day. After piling into a mini bus we were on our way to Bahari Beach, the local beach which is around a 25 minute drive from the orphanage. Within seconds of arriving the children had already found a spot to put their things and were running around and playing in the sea.

From the budget that was created for the day trip, we were able to buy lunch and drinks for the children which consisted of freshly made rice, beans, vegetables and bananas! Whether they were playing football on the sand or splashing in the sea I could see smiles for miles as they enjoyed their boxing day in the sun, sand and sea.

Without the donations from everyone involved in organising, this day would have not been possible so i’d like to say Asanta sana to Michiel and Art in Tanzania for playing a big part in this trip going ahead!

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+30 degree heat and sand on my feet is far from the norm of a typical Boxing Day in England but I wouldn’t have it any other way. With Art in Tanzania I have been able to have fantastic new experiences, become accustomed to african culture and live in proper Tanzanian style. Volunteers and interns are always coming up with ideas to help or even simply to treat members of the local community and with Art in Tanzania we can make these ideas a reality! If you’d like to be involved or learn more about Art in Tanzania and our mission please visit our website for details!

Asante sana,

Lily 

Football with the Local Children

As well as their own projects, Art in Tanzania interns and volunteers can participate in different projects and activities throughout their stay. Nette, a student from Finland who is here conducting research for her thesis, is a big fan of football; luckily enough so are the local children! Barely even a 5 minute walk from the Dar es Salaam AIT compound is a big open space that acts a pitch where she was able to have a kick-a-bout with a few of the kids, and soon enough more and more came to join in!

These types of activities are available to all interns and volunteers; whether it be an evening hobby or taking part in one of our Sports Placements. There are many different roles to play when undergoing a Sports Placement and one of the most popular choices among volunteers/interns is the Sports Coaching projects:

Sports Coaching with Art in Tanzania 

Each sports coaching placement is specifically tailored to the individual who is participating in the project. Although football is a much loved sport in Tanzania and the most popular among the sports programs, new games and sport activities are welcomed to be introduced. In the past, we have had volunteers introducing the likes of gymnastics, and capoeira – an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. Sports classes in the communities are introduced as part of the children’s curriculum as well as our new popular approach involving community sport mornings whereby local people are bought together on Saturday mornings for health training. With the native language being Swahili, the in-country staff are always happy to assist as a translator where needed; brushing up on a few phrases can never hurt!

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Although the ages of the children that get involved can vary; the high level of enthusiasm  in every child is the same! They really get involved and seem to love every minute of the activities. To read more about what we do within sport in local communities and our different projects don’t hesitate to visit our website!

Asante sana,

Lily