Cultural tips

Smile and be friendly!

This is the key to making friendships and fitting in, in Tanzania.

Tanzanian culture is much more polite and friendly than British culture, initial greetings when you meet someone whether for the first time or the one hundredth time are extremely important and much time and emphasis is given over to this – even if you can’t speak the language yet!

Language learning:

You don’t need to be fluent in Swahili but Tanzanians love it when people try. On arrival Festo and Grace can arrange some language learning with you if you would like it. There are some free online resources you can look at before you arrive, especially one called ‘Before you know it’. Swahili is a language that sounds like it spells so even if you don’t know the meaning of a word you can probably pronounce it. It is important to remember that Kenyan Swahili and Tanzania Swahili have many differences for example it is common for a Kenyan to say “jambo?” as a greeting whereas a Tanzanian would say “hujambo?” following the stricter rules of grammar.


Tanzanians take great pride in their appearance and therefore you will need a mixture of smart and casual clothes. At ‘work’ you will be expected to dress smartly unless you are doing a dirty task.

Men: Bring T-shirts and shirts, a couple of ties, light weight trousers both smart and casual. Men don’t wear shorts unless they are playing sport or doing heavy or dirty work (little boys wear shorts). Vest style T-shirts are rarely worn. You will need smart shoes as well as sandals and trainers.

Women: Skirts and dresses are the most appropriate, nothing shorter than mid calf in length. Trousers and cut offs are becoming more acceptable especially in the towns and can be useful in the evenings. Shorts can only be worn in the privacy of your accommodation – hot pants are a definite no no. Thick strapped vest tops can be worn but nothing revealing. Women in Tanzania keep well covered. Shoulders must be covered for any formal activity such as work, church etc. High heels are not practical as most paths are made of soft sand.

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