Tanzania Souvenirs

Buying a souvenir in your visit to Tanzania should be among your priorities.

That way, you’ll have a perfect memento for your Tanzania safari.

With the country blessed with so many artistic talents, you’re going to find a wide range of selections that will eventually allow you to buy the souvenir of your choice.

For example, here are some formidable artists who call Tanzania their home;

George Lilanga, Haji Chilonga, Edward Saidi Tingatinga, Godfrey Semwaiko, Thobias Minzi, Mwandale Mwanyekwa, Sam Joseph Ntiro, David Mzuguno, Max Kamundi, Salum Kambi and Robino Ntila.

Is Tanzania Rich in Cultural Items?

The truth is Tanzania hosts more than 120 tribes, with all these tribes so unique each at its own, I believe you’ll agree with me if I tell you that Tanzania is among the most diverse culture on the planet.

With such amount of different unique tribes, it’s no wonder I am going to bombard you with exclusive Souvenirs to buy in Tanzania.

Tanzania is Among the Few Countries Rich in Both Natural & Cultural Attractions

Although admired for its breathtaking wide range of flora and fauna, Tanzania is among the very few countries in the world where you’ll find both natural and cultural attractions all rich to the fullness!

Nevertheless, don’t forget to peruse these 8 Tanzania Safari Trips to find out the trip ideas, and who knows? You can be the next to visit Tanzania and well, end up buying a souvenir of your choice.

A sneak Preview of Tanzania Cultural Scene

Before I go ahead and advise you on the souvenirs you should consider buying in your Tanzania Safari, I want to give you a sneak preview of the extent of Tanzania culture richness.

Besides, I remember I have mentioned to you earlier that Tanzania has a century of unique tribes, but what to expect from these unique Tanzania tribes?

Well, Tanzania, the show-window of Africa, is renowned for its rich cultural scene encompassing music, writing, poetry, dance craftsmanship and so many more.

The food and drink scene of Tanzania is just as rich which in turn makes it hard, yet exciting to embrace in its aggregate.

You can imagine the way Tanzania is spoilt with so many different culture from over 100 tribes, not to mention the remainings of the past that awaits you in Tanzania.

Souvenirs to Buy in Tanzania

This article brings highlight upon some of the classiest and most peculiar Tanzania born cultural items that you might wish to have back home from a trip to Tanzania.

Whether you’ll prefer to keep these Tanzania souvenirs for yourself or you’re going to gift them to your beloved ones, one thing is clear, you need one or more of the following Tanzania souvenirs;

1: Tinga Tinga paintings

Today, authentic Tinga Tinga African paintings can be bought from the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society which is located along Hailee Salasie Road in Oysterbay or their official website.

The style originated with Edward Tingatinga, who started painting his highly-stylized animals and scenery in Dar es Salaam in the late-1960s. Using inexpensive materials, such as Masonite (a hard-board formed from wood scraps) and bicycle paint, Tingatinga quickly drew attention from tourists, who loved his use of extremely bright colours and his naïve style.

Tingatinga died just a few years later, in 1972, but by then his style had caught on. Followers of his school recreated nearly all of his works (meaning it’s not only rare to find an original Tingatinga these days, it’s often hard to authenticate one), and over the years, expanded and evolved the form.

Today, Tingatinga artwork may hew closely to Edward Tingatinga’s early style and choices of subject matter (he often painted animals), or it may simply use the fundamental elements Tingatinga employed—abstraction, bright colours, and simple, graphic shapes—as a springboard for highly individual works of art.

The Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society (TACS) was registered on 28th July 1990 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The Tinga Tinga community in Tanzania consists of around 700 painters who paint every day on the streets of Dar es Salam, near the beaches of Zanzibar or under the highest African mountain Kilimanjaro.

There are few Tinga Tinga painters in Kenya, South Africa and as far as Europe, Japan and America. They are all linked together by either by family or friendship.

Tingatinga Arts Co-operative Society with almost 100 artists is in the center of the Tinga Tinga movement. It is the best organized Tinga Tinga group, the core Tinga Tinga family from South Tanzania.

It has taught tens of artists who then became recognized such as David Mzuguno, Peter Martin, Damian Msagula, Noel Kapanda (he later painted for George Lilanga).

2: Tanzanite

Nothing can be as magnificent as buying one of the rarest gem – The Tanzanite.

This jewel is a special gift to possess and is available in Arusha, Dar es Salaam and on the island of Zanzibar. Just ask your safari guide for some time off and help you locate favourable souvenir stores.

Make sure you have done good research on the stone quality or locate a store with a trustworthy and tanzanite retailer.

Tanzanite is a thousand times scarcer than diamonds and can only be found in Tanzania. Named by Tiffany’s in 1967 this unique gemstone is world-famous for it’s vivid blue/violet colour.

No trip to Tanzania is complete without stopping to shop for a tanzanite, a beautiful gemstone that will be treasured forever!

3: Makonde African sculptures

The Makonde sculptures are made up of the African Blackwood tree and are a fantastic souvenir available in Tanzania.

Often, when people think of African art, they are thinking of Makonde sculpture. The Makonde people traditionally lived in southeastern Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

Many Makonde sculptures are carved from a single block of wood, no matter how complex the design! The “Tree of Life” style usually depicts intricately interlocked human figures as a metaphor for unity, community and continuity.

Early Makonde carvings were functional items – hair combs, household necessities. Later the carvings became more expressive and decorative in nature.

Mapiko masks are equally famous. They are sculpted to embody ancestral spirits during men’s initiation ceremonies. These masks are usually kept in a little temple located in a place secluded from the rest of the village.

A mask is worn by a dancer to hide his identity. It embodies the ancestral spirit of a deceased person, called “Lihoka”.

It is thought that these masks can re-establish equality between men and women by turning a man into a supernatural being to scare off women. As a matter of fact, women play a fundamental role in the Makonde society and have more power than men.

Another frequent subject in masks is the head of a woman representing the progenitor. It is worshipped and summoned for protection through journeys, hardships, maternity and death.

Sculptures are also used with the aim to educate: daily life scenes are carved to teach children about the village daily life.

Today, sculptures still keep traditional elements of human history in a tribal context, though many carvers are inevitably influenced by the Western demand in their products.

4: Kitenge

Also called chitenge, Kitenge is an East African, fabric similar to a sarong, often worn by women and wrapped around the chest or waist, over the head as a headscarf, or as a baby sling.

Kitenges are colourful pieces of fabric found all over clothing shops in Dar es Salaam, Arusha and Zanzibar.

The kitenge fabric is flexible and can be sewn into different designs; can be a simple top, a dress, a skirt, pants, romper, jacket, or even a headscarf among other options. You can never go wrong in a kitenge outfit.

Kitenge is called ‘the communicating textile’ because of the various colours, patterns, writings and symbols which represent moods, feelings, cultures, and traditions of native African people. Some of the African countries where kitenge is worn are Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Sudan.

It is an informal and inexpensive fabric with a distinctive border and political slogans.

In Swahili, the plural form is called ‘vitenge’ while in Tonga it is called ‘zitenge’. It forms an important part of East African culture.

5: Maasai Blankets/shuka

You may not be familiar with names Maasai shuka or Maasai blanket but the chances are you have seen them somewhere.

Maasai shuka is similar to kitenge, but more stiff often red with black strips. Its history goes as back as during colonial era where it is understood Scottish missionaries are responsible for bringing the blankets to the nomadic society of Maasai.

Today, Maasai blankets are in various colours and have been widely used in making other kinds of clothes like shirts and even trousers and shorts.

The renowned Maasai blankets can now be found in different countries or even in the online stores like Amazon and eBay.

The fact that they’re currently manufactured in different countries overseas including China, tells it all about this wonderful and very unique cloth.

A list of Tanzania souvenirs shops

Souvenir Shop/StoreLocation
1Curio Industrial ShopArusha
2Blue Zebra Art StudioMoshi
3African Art GalleryMoshi
4Africa Curio GalleryMoshi
5Shanga Gift & WorkshopArusha
6African GalleriaUsangi, Kilimanjaro
7Marera Village GalleryKaratu
8Hakuna Matata Gallery ShopKaratu
9Mama Africa Gift ShopSelous

Conclusion

If travelling to Tanzania is not on your immediate agenda, or you simply can’t afford an extra space in your luggage, fortunately these days you can find some of the Tanzania souvenirs online.

From Maasai blankets to Maasai sandals and Makonde sculptures, you can now get the interesting Tanzania souvenirs for your convenience.

Apart from Kitenge and Maasai Shuka, here is Your Ultimate Guide to What to Wear on Safari

Cheers!