Tanzania's Sukuma tradition: The Snake dance


Tanzania is a culturally conglomerated and largely homogeneous society that is extremely rich in old-age cultures and traditions. The local population are well known for being friendly and polite to visitors, and there is a strong sense of national pride that reverberates throughout the country. With over 120 ethnic groups and various religious beliefs, it may sometimes be confusing for visitors to know correct from bad manners.

The most famous of the dozens of dances are those using animals, including the Bagulu’s banungule (hyena and porcupine dance) and the Bagika’s bazwilili bayeye (snake dance). Before beginning, the dancers are treated with traditional medicines to protect themselves from injury. The animals, too, are given a spot of something to calm their tempers.

The Sukuma tribe are well known for this dances, by far Tanzania’s largest tribal group with nearly 15% of the country’s population, are renowned nationwide for their pulsating dancing. Dancers are divided into two competing dance societies, the Bagika and the Bagulu, that compete throughout Sukumaland (the Sukuma homeland around Mwanza and southern Lake Victoria). The culmination is the annual Bulabo Dance Festival held at the Sukuma Museum ,

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Cenzo kenya_public@operanewshub.com