Art, Oral storytelling traditions and tribal dancing are an important part of the cultural life of the country’s population.
Compared to the mainland, Zanzibar often seems like a different country and that’s largely because up until the unification in 1964, it was. The archipelago and its people have their own unique history and culture which is strongly influenced by the Portugese, Omani and English traders and invaders over the centuries.
Unlike mainland Tanzania, Zanzibar doesn’t have tribes. Instead local traditions are a fusion of different ethnic groups that settled on the islands, resulting in events like Pemba bull fights from the Portuguese and Mwaka Kogwa, the celebration of the Persian New Year. On the mainland, Tanzania Tingatinga Art Traditionally, people painted on walls, or leather or on stones. Paintings reflect scenes of village or town lives and stylized animals, birds or reflections of superstitious beliefs. More recently, Tanzanians have developed indigenous form of art mainly very colorful images of life in the community, nature, evil spirits, etc.
Watch Justa as she visits a art gallery shop in Stone Town, Zanzibar
MEET THE FOUNDER OF TINGA TINGA ART
Edward Said Tinga Tinga from the "makua" tribe of southern Tanzania . He was a talented artist with little education but succeeded in making very original paintings in a style not seen anywhere else in the world. This style of colourful paintings about nature and daily aspects of life in Tanzania is now well known abroad as indigenous Tanzanian art and has been named Tingatinga Art in honour of the pioneer artist who died in 1972 at the age of 35 years. Other famous tingatinga artists are Simon George Mpata 1942-1984, Jaffari Aussi, George Lilanga and Mikidadi Bush Bohary.
MOST VISITED LOCAL MARKET IN DAR ES SALAAM
Mwenge Woodcarvers Market: Filled with artisans hard at work creating beautiful and unique items. Wooden masks are particularly popular, but you’ll also find treasures in craft shops selling a whole range of goods from fabrics to sandals, beaded necklaces, and more. Located in the heart of Dar es Salaam is Mwenge Woodcarvers Market. This market is said to hosts a giant co-op of over 200 carvers, who specialize in Makonde carvings. You can also find other arts and crafts there, such as the beautiful and often quite adorable Tinga Tinga paintings.
Unlike some tourist markets around the world, the sellers here tend not to hassle customers. They’ll encourage you to come into their store, but you won’t be pestered to buy anything.
TIP: Don’t forget to bargain and shop around at the market, as prices are negotiable and you may find a similar item for half the price at another stall.