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Tanzania -- Religion

Approximately one third of Tanzanians identify themselves as Christian, another third as Muslim. The remaining third practice one of the country's numerous indigenous religions. Along with Christianity and Islam, the Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist faiths are practiced by members of the Asian minorities on the mainland and the islands. The National Spiritual Assembly, an organization for the Baha'i religion, also has numerous local affiliations throughout the country [1] .

Indeginous Beliefs
Most indigenous beliefs profess the idea of a high god, similar to Christianity and Islam. Many Tanzanians will give their children a name from a grandparent or great grandparent in addition to a Christian or Islamic name. This name reflects a relationship with the ancestral spirit world. Furthermore, many Tanzanians seek the help of diviners and traditional healers for help in case of sickness and misfortune.

Christianity was introduced into Tanzania when Roman Catholic Franciscans established a mission at the coastal city of Kilwa during the Portuguese occupation between 1505-1513. By the late 1840s Catholic and Protestant missions were to be found up and down the coast. During the colonial era, the most active missionary societies included the Africa Inland Mission, the

Augustana Lutheran Mission, the Capuchin Fathers, the Church Missionary Society, the Father of Holy Ghost, the Italian Fathers of the Consolation, the Leipzig Mission, the London Missionary Society, the Moravian Mission, the Neukirchen Mission, the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Universities, the Mission to Central Africa, and the White Fathers.

Since independence, most Christian denominations have operated under the aegis of an umbrella organization, the Christian Council of Tanzania, which was founded in 1934. Much of Tanzania's Christian clergy is today of African origin.

Islam first appeared in Tanzania during the late medieval period when Arab traders established commercial stations in Zanzibar and along the mainland coast. Arab slave traders subsequently helped spread Islam to the country's interior. Although Muslims did not establish missionary societies, Islam gradually spread throughout Tanzania. Today most Muslims inhabit Zanzibar and Pemba, or live in or near Dar es Salaam, Kigoma, Tabora, Tanga, Kondoa, and

Singida. A large Muslim population also lives in towns along the Ruvuma River. Tanzania's Muslim affairs are supervised by two organizations. The National Muslim Council of Tanzania, founded in 1969, oversees the mainland, while the Supreme Muslim Council, formed in 1991, administers the Muslim affairs in the islands.

[1] Ofcansky, Thomas P. & Rodger Yeager (eds,) 1997. Historical Dictionary of Tanzania Second Edition, Scarecrow Press, Inc.: London

For Further Reading;
Pauwels, Randall. 1987. Horn and Crescent: Cultural Change and Traditional Islam on the African Coast, 800-1910. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rasmussen, Lissi. 1993. Christian and Muslim Relations: The Cases of Northern Nigeria and Tanzania. London. I.B. Tauris.

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