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Sukuma
  • Sukuma
    Language: Sukuma (Bantu) Hello: Mlimhola Population: 5,000,000 - 6,000,000 (Estimated) Location: Mwanza, Shinyanga, Tabora Regions ﷯Appearance: Traditional Sukuma dress was originally skins. However, colorful khangas are now worn by the vast majority of Sukuma women. Sukuma's fashion is influenced by Christianity and Islam. Many Sukuma men dress in “Swahili” clothing. Many Sukuma have assimilated and it is difficult to distinguish a Sukuma based on their appearance alone. Traditional food: Ugali (cornmeal), mlendav (vegetable of the cucumber family, crushed to a fine liquid consistency), porridge, fermented milk or yogurt, cow and goat meat, fish.
  • History
    ﷯The word Sukuma means "people from the north" and "Inye Sukumalaha" (staying for a while). They originated in the Congo and were forced to move into Burundi, Rwanda, the kingdom of Bunyoro and onto the western shores of Lake Victoria, around Geita; areas collectively known as Sukumaland. The Sukuma are now the largest tribe in Tanzania.
  • Culture
    ﷯The Sukuma are generally agriculturists, though they are also known as cattle herders. The main crops they plant are cassava, corn, potatoes and rice. Some also grow cotton. Sukuma families work together on their farms. Sukuma men in rural areas generally farm or seek wage-paying jobs in larger towns. Sukuma women have full time work maintaining the family and household, however, many of the women also have full-time jobs, especially in larger villages and cities. A typical Sukuma woman’s day starts with a search for firewood, drawing water, cooking ugali, going to the market, the mill, etc. Sukuma children help their mothers with the daily chores. ﷯Aspects of more traditional Sukuma culture are diminishing in practice; although, there is a museum in Mwanza dedicated to the preservation of their culture. Dancing still plays an important role in the Sukuma culture, with dance competitions taking place from May to September in villages all over Sukumaland. These dances and songs are reflections on their lives and also life as an ancestor after death. The Sukuma believe that the chief of each clan and other select healers have been given the power of telling the future, such as when the rains will come. They are also believed to have the ability to communicate with their ancestors in dreams. Those who have this power have ritual cuts on their arms given to them by elders who had this power before them.
  • Religion
    ﷯In the religion that the Sukuma originally practiced, the creator god they worshipped had many attributes of the sun, such as shining over the earth and providing a life-giving force. Connection to and communication with ancestors is also a crucial element of the Sukuma belief system. Today, while many Sukuma have converted to either Christianity or Islam, there are still a large number that hold these earlier animist beliefs. Often times, their religion is a hybrid of animist beliefs and that of Christianity or Islam.
  • Sukuma Today
    ﷯The main issues facing the Sukuma today are access to education, the flight of their youth to cities, cultural preservation, healthcare, and HIV/AIDS.