The Sukuma

With an estimated 8.9 million people around the Southeastern African Great Lakes Region, The Sukuma is the largest ethnic group in Tanzania. The greatness of the tribe has really evolved since all the small,independent chiefdom in this region were grouped together and perceived as a unit under the colonial government of Tanzania in 1946. The Sukuma believe in Spirit Possession and have a holistic approach in their beliefs of seeing everything as interconnected; natural and supernatural alike.

This belief that we are all interconnected, by spirit or body, is reflected in the fact that killing is considered very taboo in Sukuma life. There is a Kiswahili proverb, “Mchimba shimo huingia mwenyewe” (He who dig’s a well/ hole/grave gets into himself). That if one plans evil, that evil will destroy the one who plans it.

The Sukuma people also believe that the elderly have the responsibility to protect the young people. Any actions against this will be betrayal of the individual and the entire Sukuma community. Among the Sukuma, children of different ages and from different families come together during playtime. At such times, they sing, tell stories and engage in riddling activities. These activities entertain children besides making them creative.