Sukuma people

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The Sukuma is the largest ethnic group in Tanzania, with an estimated 5.5 million members representing about 16 percent of the country's total population. Sukuma means "north" and refers to "people of the north". The Sukuma refer to themselves as Basukuma (plural) and Nsukuma (singular).

The Sukuma live in northwestern Tanzania on or near the southern shores of Lake Victoria, and the territory has been divided into nine administrative districts of the Mwanza and Shinyanga Region. The northern area of their residence is in the famous Serengeti Plain. Sukuma families have migrated southward, into the Rukwa area, encroaching on the territory of the Pimbwe. These Sukuma have settled outside Pimbwe villages.

The Sukuma area is mostly a flat scrubless savannah plain between 3000 and 4000 ft. elevation. Twenty to forty inches of rain fall from November to March. High temperatures range from 79 to 90 while lows at night seldom drop below the upper 50's. Population is very spread out among small farm plots and sparse vegetation.


As with the Nyamwezi, all members of the five groups in 'Greater Unyamwezi' identified themselves as Wanjamwezi to those outside of the 'greater' area, but among themselves used, Sukuma, Kongogo, etc. The Wasukuma call themselves, Sukuma, (Northerners) when speaking to Nyamwezi, but use Nyamwezi when speaking to anyone else. It can be called the Nyamwezi-Sukuma complex, for while never united, they were very closely related in...
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