The largest ethnic community in Tanzania : Sukuma people

Young Sukuma Dancers

Sukuma people are Bantu group of people inhabiting the south-eastern African Great Lakes region. They are the largest ethnic group in Tanzania, with an estimated 8.9 million members or 16 percent of the country’s total population. Sukuma means “north” and refers to “people of the north”
Their language is Kisukuma, people are called Basukuma or Wasukuma, one person is referred to as Nsukuma, Musukuma

They occupy the areas of south of Lake Victoria between Mwanza Gulf and the Serengeti plains. Their culture and linguistics are very similar to those of Nyamwezi who are south of them.
The Sukuma people were in good relationship with the Tatoga people, unlike the Maasai whom Sukuma regarded them as their enemies.

The Sukuma people practise mixed economy of subsistence agriculture and others also kept cattle.

Their succession is patrilineal, however, the office of the chief passes to one of the former chief’s sister’s son, while the children of a woman married without bride price inherit from her family instead of from their father’s.

The Sukuma have been organised into independent chiefdoms for more than 200 years. The ntemi(“chief”) was advised by a group of hereditary councillors and ruled through hereditary village headmen.


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