Religion and Superstitions in Tanzania Alana boso


There are two prominent religions practiced in Tanzania

  • 1/3 Muslim
  • 1/3 Christian
  • 1/3 Other (indigenous, or minority religions like Hindism or Buddhism

Islam in Tanzania


  • Began when the first Arab traders settled in Zanzibar
  • Spread throughout Tanzania with the caravan routes, becoming prominent in major trading cities; Ujiji (the oldest town in west Tanzania), and Tabor
  • Today, 35% of Tanzanians are Muslim, while 99% of the population in Zanzibar is Muslim

Beliefs and Practices

  • Monotheistic- only one God, Allah.
  • Muhammad was the final prophet who received the complete message from Allah
  • Five times daily, muezzins (people who proclaim Islam faith), go into the towns and cities to call Muslims to worship, called Salah
  • Traditionally, before Salah, Islams prepare for prayer by washing the hands, mouth, nose, face, arms, ears, neck, and feet. When running water is not available, sand or dirt can be used symbolically.
  • Salah is performed just before sunrise, just after midday, during the afternoon "when shadows have lengthened", just after sunset, and during the hours of darkness


  • The largest celebration in Tanzania
  • Celebrated during the ninth Islamic month from the Islamic calendar- lands on varying days of the year- for 29 to 30 days
  • Fasting- no food, water, or sex during hours of daylight, from sunup to sundown
  • Schools on the mainland of Tanzania do not close during Ramadan because of mixed religion, however, schools on Zanzibar close
  • Those who are strong in the Muslim faith will close their business for Ramadan, if they sell food
  • People on Zanzibar dress more conservatively during Ramadan


  • Celebration recognizing the end of Ramadan
  • Day for "God's people to clean themselves by giving to others in need" -Ustaadh Ali Abdalah (leader and teacher at a mosque in Dar es Salaam)
Ustaadh Ali Abdalah

Other Religious Festivities

  • Eid-ul-Adha- two months after Eid-ul-Fitr
  • Eid-ul-Maulid- three months after Eid-ul-Adha
  • Diwali- Hindu festival of lights


  • Muslims believe that clothing should always be clean and modest
  • Men should not wear anything that is flashy, like gold jewelry
  • Women's clothes should not be too revealing (spectrum depending on the sect, and involvement in Islam)

Christianity in Tanzania


  • Roman Catholic Frenchmen first established a mission on the coastal city, Kilwa from 1505-1513
  • Missionaries then started establishing themselves up and down the coast

Beliefs and Practices

  • Majority of Christians in Tanzania identify with the Catholic denomination
  • On the mainland, all normal Christian holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) are celebrated
  • Dar es Salaam celebrates Christmas with decorating with lights, similar to Western culture



  • There are only 1 in 20,000 albino people worldwide, but there is a very high rate in Tanzania- roughly 1,400 people.
  • ”On the 12th of March (2015), Tanzanian authorities arrested 32 witch doctors, who were banned in January 2015, as part of a campaign against ritual killings of albinos.”
  • Killing, cutting off limbs, and abducting albinos.... WHY???
  • In rural areas, with little to no healthcare education, it is still believed that the body parts of people with albinism can have mystical or magical benefits

Superstitions About Albinos

  • Having albino hair into a net improves the chances of catching fish
  • Albino body parts worn as amulets bring good luck, fortune, and health
  • Albino body parts are a necessary ingredient for witch doctor potions
  • Albinos have magical superpowers and can cure diseases
  • Intercourse with an albino lady will cure human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection
  • Spitting on an albino prevents the condition in one’s family

Thank You


Albinos, Superstitions and Witch Doctors in Tanzania. (2015, June 09). Retrieved March 15, 2017, from

Bandali, S. (n.d.). Holidays, Celebrations and Festivals in Tanzania - The Travel Word. Retrieved from

How Tanzania Celebrates Ramadan. (2014, June 30). Retrieved from

Morris, N., & Cappon, M. (2003). The atlas of Islam. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series.

Oakford, S. (2014, August 27). Fueled by Superstition, People Are Violently Attacking Albinos in Tanzania. Retrieved from

Renard, J. (2015). The handy Islam answer book. Detroit: Visible Ink Press.


Created with images by romanboed - "Mount Meru at Sunset" • 4758892 - "zanzibar girls rain" • chidioc - "kid praying muslim"

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