Tanzania 3981
Photo by: nyiragongo


Official Country Name: United Republic of Tanzania
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 36,232,074
Language(s): Kiswahili of Swahili (official), Kiunguju, English, Arabic, Zanzibar
Literacy rate: 67.8%
Area: 945,087 sq km
GDP: 9,027 (US$ millions)
Number of Television Stations: 3
Number of Television Sets: 103,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 2.8
Number of Radio Stations: 25
Number of Radio Receivers: 8,800,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 242.9
Number of Individuals with Computers: 100,000
Computers per 1,000: 2.8
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 115,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 3.2

Background & General Characteristics

Tanzania is one of few countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the press is predominantly presented in the official and national language of the country (which happens to be Kiswahili—hereafter Swahili) where the readership is fully literate in that language. There are reasons for this that are exclusive to Tanzania, as the country has experienced historical events that have not occurred elsewhere. Swahili is a Bantu language with a very large amount of Arabic loan words, which entered the language due to the influence of traders from Yemen and Oman. An understanding of the forces that have brought about these unique circumstances in Tanzania would shed light not only on the country in question but on much of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, where the press remains very predominantly in the languages of colonial legacy— English, French, or Portuguese.

Social and Historical Circumstances

Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika (the mainland) and Zanzibar (known as Unguja in Swahili), which was established in 1964. Each had earlier received its independence from Britain (Tanganyika in 1961, Zanzibar in 1963). The mainland is very typical of sub-Saharan African countries, composed of several major ethnic groups (Wasukuma, Wanyamwezi, Wahaya, and Wachaga) and many smaller ones such as the Wazaramo around Dar-Es-Salaam (DSM), the capital. The overall literacy rate is nearly 68 percent with only 57 percent of woman considered literate versus over 79 percent of men. The political capital is now Dodoma, but while the legislative assembly meets there, DSM remains the commercial and educational nerve center of the country as well as the main port of entry. Zanzibar, on the other hand remains far more homogeneous linguistically. The islands are made up of exclusively Swahili speaking communities whose ethnic identities are somewhat ambiguous with subtler distinctions. Swahili as a vehicular language has been present in Tanzania for many centuries. Its strongest presence has been along the coast and adjacent islands due to Arab immigration and traders who went very deep into the interior, as far as the Congo (formerly Zaire) and Malawi. On the mainland 45 percent are of Christian faith with 35 percent being Muslim and the remaining 20 percent having indigenous beliefs. However, on Zanzibar the population is very nearly 100 percent Muslim. The coastal as well as island Swahili communities who had been indoctrinated into Islam acted as interlocutors between the Arab traders and the African populations in the interior. Thus Arab incursion into the African interior from the Tanganyika coast was the first engine for the spread of Swahili.

Two events during the period from the late 1800s through the end of the First World War, the period of German colonial occupation of Tanganyika, constituted the second engine for the spread of Swahili. One was the Maji Maji Revolt and the other was the Germans' language policy for Tanganyika. The Maji Maji Revolt was the first African uprising against colonial rule, in this case German, in which Swahili as a language provided a unifying force. The German colonial policy was to adopt Swahili as a vehicular language for inter-ethnic communication, and communication between the African population and German colonial administrators.

The third engine was the union between the islands of Zanzibar and Tanganyika soon after their attainments of independence from Britain, to form what has been known since 1964 as Tanzania. Despite a common name the two have developed somewhat differently, and continue to have different political and economic cultures. In spite of almost perpetual political turmoil in Zanzibar, it has remained economically more affluent, and has guarded its economic well being rather jealously. Its primary and continuing impact on the union has been its promotion of the Swahili language. President Julius Nyerere was not unaware of the significance of this language to the success of the union.

The fourth and perhaps most significant event that cemented Swahili as a bona fide national language was the late President Nyerere's edict to establish the language as the official as well as the national language. Swahili replaced English as the language of instruction through the secondary school level with a strong Swahili language department at the University of Dar-Es-Salaam and an equally viable Institute of Kiswahili Research (Taasisi ya Uchunguzi wa Kiswahili, TUKI), now incorporated into the university system. This sudden linguistic change was facilitated by two factors. One was the centuries of slow but steady spread of Swahili throughout the country. Swahili was already a national vehicular language at independence. The other was President Nyerere's and his Party's (Tanzania African National Union, TANU) absolute commitment to an African cum Tanzanian cultural and economic renaissance distinct from the colonized precedent. An African language, Swahili in this case, was essential. President Nyerere's thrust was considered a failure economically but a success socially and linguistically.

The undercurrents of ethnicity were not eliminated but muted. There was no serious intention to eliminate English. It retains a strong presence at all levels of society. Society at large, including the government, would not want to eliminate the skill and benefit of a world language even if imposed by historical accident. This is true for all Anglophone African countries even as they attempt to undergo a renaissance of their own. A modern Tanzanian generally emerges as at least a trilingual in an ethnic language, Swahili, and English. Tanzania's literacy rate is fairly high for the region, and typical Tanzanian is very likely to be literate in both Swahili and English. There is therefore a large readership for both these languages. The number and language of the daily newspapers and periodicals confirm this linguistic dichotomy with a noticeable advantage to Swahili language publications.

The Press

The following titles, places of publication, and circulation numbers where given are taken from Europa Publications 2000, Africa South of the Sahara 2000, 30th Edition, 2001 and The Europa World Year Book 2001 Volume II. The title of the language will indicate whether the publication is in English or Swahili.

Daily Newspapers

  • The African (DSM)
  • Alasiri (The Afternoon) (DSM)
  • Daily News (DSM, Circulation 50,000)
  • The Democrat (DSM, Circulation 15,000)
  • The Guardian (DSM)
  • Kipanga (The Kite) (Zanzibar)
  • Majira (Time) (DSM, Circulation 15,000)
  • Nipashe (Inform me/Information) (DSM)
  • Uhuru (Freedom) (DSM, Circulation 100,000)
  • Mtanzania (The Tanzanian) (DSM)

Weekly Papers

  • Business Times (DSM, Circulation 15,000)
  • The Express (DSM, Circulation 20,000)
  • Government Gazette (Zanzibar, for official announcements)
  • Kasheshe (Showdown) (DSM)
  • Mfanyakazi (The Worker) (DSM, Circulation 100,000)
  • The Family Mirror (DSM)
  • Mzalendo (The Patriot) (DSM, Circulation 115,000)
  • Leta Raha (Bring Comfort) (DSM)
  • Nipashe Jumapili (Sunday Information) (DSM)
  • Sunday News (DSM, Circulation 50,000)
  • Sunday Observer (DSM)
  • Taifa Letu (Our nation) (DSM)
  • Kweupe (Open Space) (Zanzibar, Published by the Information and Broadcasting Services)

Other Periodicals

  • The African Review (DSM, Twice yearly, Circulation 1,000. A journal of African politics, development and international affairs published by the Political Science department at UDSM)
  • Eastern African Law Review (DSM, Twice yearly, Circulation 1,000) Taamuli (Thought) (DSM, Twice yearly, Circulation 1,000. A journal of the Political Science published by the Political Science department at UDSM)
  • Elimu Haina Mwisho (Education has no End/ Perpetual Education) (Mwanza, Monthly, Circulation 45,000)
  • Habari za Washirika (Union News) (DSM, Monthly, Published by the Co-Operative Union of Tanzania, Circulation 40,000)
  • Jenga (Build) (DSM, Journal of the National Development Corporation, Circulation 2,000)
  • Kiongozi (The Leader) (DSM, Fortnightly, Published by the Roman Catholic Church, Circulation 33,500)
  • Mlezi (The Guardian) (Peramiho, Every two months, Circulation 8,000)
  • Mwenge (The Torch) (Peramiho, Monthly, Circulation 10,000)
  • Nchi Yetu (Our Country) (DSM, Monthly, Circulation 50,000)
  • Nuru (The Light) (Zanzibar, Twice monthly, Official publication of the Zanzibari government, Circulation 8,000)
  • Safina (The Ship) (DSM, Circulation 10,000)
  • Sauti ya Jimbo (Voice of the Province) (Dodoma, Quarterly, Published by the Anglican Diocesan)
  • Sikiliza (Listen) (Morogoro, Quarterly, Published by the Seventh day Adventist Church, Circulation 100,000)
  • Tantravel (DSM, Quarterly)
  • Tanzania Trade Currents (DSM, Twice monthly, Circulation 2,000)
  • Uhuru na Amani (Freedom and Peace) (Arusha, Quarterly, Published by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, Circulation 15,000)
  • Ukulima wa Kisasa (Modern farming) (DSM, Twice monthly, Published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Circulation 15,000)

Press Laws

Article 18 of the Constitution guarantees every Tanzanian the right to freedom of opinion and expression. However, the Newspaper Act of 1976 allows authorities within the government—including the president—the power to prohibit publications that might be deemed to not be in the nation's best interest. Additionally, the 1993 Broadcasting Services Act provides that private broadcasters are only allowed to send their signals to 25 percent of the country.


Freedom House has declared that the media in Tanzania is only partly free. Despite the guarantee of free speech in the constitution, there are examples of the government repressing information. Self-censorship is often practiced as a result of the state's intimidation of reporters.

East African papers, including Tanzanian ones, have been reasonably aggressive in their reporting. Exposure of individuals in government is very measured. Generally papers feel safer complaining about inefficiency than misconduct. They feel quite free to complain about bureaucratic inadequacy, and social conditions. They go so far as to discuss democracy in principle. They are more careful in questioning election outcomes. They might express a preference for one government minister over another. They are more concerned about the frequency of these complaints than they are an occasional exposure of a scandal. The government itself is careful in the manner it interferes with the freedom of the press. They attempt to appear to be within legal boundaries. Neither Europa Publications 2000 nor Europa World Year Book 2001 mention Mtanzania (The Tanzanian). It has been one of the more aggressive Swahili papers. From the government's point of view it crossed a so-called understood line. They shut the paper down in the summer of 2001 on the grounds that the publisher was not a Tanzanian national. Such things happen with sufficient frequency to remind those still in print to be wary and sensitive.

State-Press Relations

Despite censorship issues, many papers still attempt to expose and criticize political events and personalities internal to Zanzibar. This is due to the unresolved friction between the mainland, old Tanganyika, and the Zanzibari islands. It is also due to the fact that most papers of any significance are published in DSM. During President Nyerere's tenure, religion was off limits. The country was seemingly secular. Changes in the leadership and increasing participation at the highest levels of government by individuals from Zanzibar have resulted in an increased presence of Swahili Muslims on the mainland as well as an increase in numbers of Muslims native to the mainland. The government and indeed society as a whole remains outwardly secular. The friction between the Christian population and the Muslim communities lies in the deeper structures of Tanzanian dynamics. Neither Tanzanian scholars nor Western academics have yet begun to explore this issue. They must wait to take their cue from internal events. However, in the early twenty-first century, papers have begun to touch the subject. References to the foreign origins of many Muslim clerics have not yet evoked a reaction. Public attempts at conversion to Islam occasionally appear in the papers with a critical bent. Ethnicity is yet another subject papers avoid where possible. President Nyerere's legacy of a unified and uniform nation remains strongly entrenched in the country.

A significant factor pertinent to the press in Tanzania is its readership. The expatriate communities and the educated and westernized elite of the society, and the "Asian" community mostly read English language newspapers and periodicals. "Asian" in the East African

context refers only to those whose heritage emanates from the Indian sub-continent ("Goans" are the exception.). The subjects covered by the English and Swahili language papers also differ to a great extent. The former simply report the major events within Tanzania then cover as extensively as space allows international news. The latter report major international events then allocate the largest portion of their papers to local news. English language papers reporting local events and Swahili language papers reporting international events are rarely subjected to any censorship.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

There is no expressed attitude toward the foreign media. English language papers from Britain and the United States are regularly available in every major town. There is a large Asian constituency in Tanzania. This segment of the population remains strongly bilingual in English and Swahili in addition to their fluency in their various ethnic Indian-Pakistani languages such as Gujarati or Urdu. Their reading preferences remain the local English language papers and the British and American papers and journals.

Tanzania is a rather large and dynamic country economically as well as politically. It is heavily involved in Eastern, Central, and Southern African affairs. It is an active participant in world affairs. As a result it has a large internationally mobile segment of its population as well as a large presence of expatriates from all parts of the world. In order to sustain its international stature, Tanzania would not interfere with the free flow of foreign media. In any event Internet access would overwhelm any attempt at censorship. There is a "cyber café" on every street in DSM.

The International Impact of Tanzania's Swahili Press

Swahili is as extensively used in Kenya as it is Tanzania. Indeed the "Swahili Coast" is in Kenya between the Lamu Archipelago in the north and Mombasa in the south. A corridor of urban centers from Mombasa to Kisumu a major city on the shores of Lake Victoria has facilitated the unplanned expansion of Swahili in Kenya. But for reasons irrelevant to a discussion of the Tanzanian press, Kenya has not developed a substantive Swahili language press. There is one daily paper, Taifa Leo (The Nation Today), published by the English language publisher of The Daily Nation . It is difficult to find copies of this paper because not enough are printed for fear that they would not sell and because there is a much hungrier population for a Swahili paper than the publishers seem to recognize. As a result, Tanzanian Swahili language dailies are on every street corner newspaper vendor. It is easier to find Nipashe , Mtanzania (when it is allowed to appear), and Majira on Nairobi street corners than Nairobi's own Taifa Leo . They are bought out very quickly even when they are a day or two old by the time they arrive. It is said, mere rumor of course, that until about two decades ago Kenya purposely retarded the expansion and instruction of Swahili in order to prevent President Nyerere's Tanzanian experiment with his socialist ideology (Ujamaa in Swahili) from taking root in "capitalist" Kenya. As naïve and incredible as this rumor sounds, many in the streets of Nairobi entertained it at the time. It is at least a testament to the potential and real force of the Tanzanian Swahili language press.

Broadcast Media

Tanzania—with 20 private radio stations—has a comparatively well-developed television and radio programming system. However, the only radio transmission which is allowed countrywide is the state-controlled Radio Tanzania and Televisheni ya Taifa. As mentioned previously, only 25 percent of the country receives broadcasts from private stations. Swahili is again strongly promoted but not at the expense of English. The promotion or prominence of Swahili is usually at the expense of Tanzania's other indigenous ethnic languages. Swahili is not squeezed in between English language programs. There are Swahili language radio stations alongside English language ones. There is a reasonably wide distribution of television sets and almost everyone has a radio. CNN and BBC World News are commonly available on television and eagerly watched. These are the primary sources of international news for the vast majority of Tanzanians.

Electronic News Media

With only 25,000 Internet users throughout the country (as of a 2000 estimate according to CIA Factbook) and six providers, access to online resources in Tanzania is clearly in its infancy. However, advances to the infrastructure are being made which enable users to make connectivity less problematic.

Education & Training

Although a large percentage of working journalists are either not trained or are only partially trained, the Tanzania School of Journalism offers courses at two universities on the mainland. In 2003, a new journalism school is set to be opened in Zanzibar.


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "Tanzania." World Factbook. Available at http://www.cia.gov .

Europa Publications 2000. Africa South of the Sahara 2001 . London: Taylor and Francis Group, 2001.

Europa Publications 2001. The Europa World Year Book 2001 . Volume II. London: Taylor and Francis Group, 2001.

Freedom House. "Tanzania." Available at http:// www.freedomhouse.org .

International Journalists' Network. "Tanzania: Press Overview." Available at http://www.ijnet.org .

McGarry, Richard G. A Cross-Linguistic Discourse Analysis for Evaluating Interethnic Conflict in the Press .Boone, NC: Parkway Publishers, 1994.

Moyd, Michelle A. Language and Power: Africans, Europeans, and Language Policy in German Colonial Tanganyika . University of Florida Masters Thesis, 1996.

UNESCO. African Community Languages and their Use in Literacy and Education . Dakar: UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Africa, 1985.

Haig Der-Houssikian

Also read article about Tanzania from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

Ndeta John
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Feb 7, 2007 @ 5:05 am
What an insightful piece.
Pliz, can I get your assistance inmy research to establish the place of Swahili language in the Kenyan Media/
Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.
Juventus Juvenary
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Feb 18, 2007 @ 7:07 am

tina sam
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Apr 18, 2007 @ 9:09 am
I am so thankful to the people who devoted thir time in preparing this very helpful piece of work , really it has been very useful and helpful to me especially because i am going to make use of it as i am going to attempt my assingment. Thank you so much.

Tina Sam a.k.a Christina Mwakalindile, LLB student at Tumaini University Iringa.
Stanslaus Ishengoma LLB-Mzumbe university
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May 10, 2007 @ 11:11 am
Peter Ngassa
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Apr 8, 2008 @ 4:04 am
Thanks very much for all who did this wonderful job, is very useful for me because it helps a lot on my job as a Media Planner.
remigi hhayuma
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Jun 23, 2008 @ 3:03 am
Remigius Hhayuma, Water resources institute

its good! now we can see that our government is doing all it can that the information reaches people at a right time and at a time of need by having many radio stations, many tv stations, and all other facilities for comunications, big up to all who are concerned.
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Sep 25, 2008 @ 7:19 pm
Need Advice:

I was treated with racial segregated by a teacher in a well known university in Dar es salaam. I went as far as lodging a complaint in a written form, and went all the way to the vice chancellors office to report it. But not knowing the teacher who abused me and racially discriminated me is a family member of the dean of that university. So I am stuck as to where my voice can be heard. I thought of reporting this matter in the media and flash the story so it can be known, but also i am scared to being hurt or worst banned from university.

Any comments.
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Oct 4, 2008 @ 3:03 am
so exciting,i was tried my disertation this artical have helped me alot togather current statistics,i dare for more.
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Jan 28, 2011 @ 10:22 pm
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Mar 7, 2011 @ 3:03 am
The article is o.k but if you can include some part of the Tanzania press history. It will be of great importance to me and every one reading this article.
Sama-G Senior
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Sep 12, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
keep on informing the mass about media status and its importance to be known.
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Oct 1, 2012 @ 8:08 am
I really appreciate your informations concern with Tanzania press media of radio and television but in need to know where did television media in Tanzania come from and why do you say there are no televisions in tanzania
Geoffrey Isabu
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Nov 10, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
The Article looks nice but very short, my only question is, what were the first newspapers in Tanganyika (mainland)? who were the publishers, and how did they helped in a fast spread of Swahili? also it'd be better to provide more information and enough references, we can use this as the case study. lastly I have a suggestion, you guys better visit here and update this site.
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Jan 23, 2013 @ 9:09 am
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Nov 21, 2013 @ 4:04 am
I am happy to this work done in simple way , it is a very nice idea. I am looking for some news about the information of the catholic radio in country and it's background.

thank you
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Sep 13, 2014 @ 6:06 am
I need some Tanzanian Sur Name list, Plz help me I request you,I am not soure how Tanzanin sur name so please i need help you
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Dec 1, 2014 @ 2:14 pm
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Mar 6, 2015 @ 3:15 pm
I am a kenyan but interested very much working at Tanzania in the media industry can somebody give me details i.e addresses of Media houses there so that i can aply?
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Mar 14, 2015 @ 7:07 am
This is great...I would like to work with one of the media houses in Tanzania.How will I get in touch with the media houses?
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Mar 22, 2015 @ 11:23 pm
What is the negativity aspects of media laws in Tanzania?
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Jun 22, 2016 @ 12:12 pm
Very insightful. many thanks for that. I would like to bring a broadband network to Tanzania. Please advise the most effective medium to use to capture our target audience which is the elite,corporate institutions, hospitality,etc. eg.radio,billboards,etc. Also their contacts, rates, language they broadcast and as to whether they have a nationwide coverage. Please help me out. Thank you.
Mrema MF
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Jan 7, 2020 @ 11:23 pm
What are the significances of news media in Tanzania ?

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