Tanzania: Four ways to zen and fit in

In order to offer transparency into how our stories are produced and to teach our readers about the importance of media literacy online, the editorial team provides a quick self-rating of the integrity of the articles and the facts presented against the following IQ metrics.

  • Published on August 12, 2022
  • Last Updated March 10, 2023

Justa Lugwangana, founder of Curious on Tanzania, gives some tips for fitting in while in the country.

To shift your mindset on your next trip, why not give in to the transformative powers of travel and the sage counsel from experiential-travel planner Justa Lujwangana? Her Curious on Tanzania business customizes immersive visits in her native land, Tanzania. But you can practice these principles anywhere.

1. Cultivate a deeper level of communication with elders. “Our culture is centered around respect for elders,” Lujwangana said. “This is from history being told orally [in the east African country]. We always relied on our elders to guide us and be able to tell us stories of how we should live our lives.”.

Tanzania tips_Author
Travel planner Justa Lujwangana (standing) pictured with local elders. Courtesy of Justa Lujwangana

When greeting an elder using Swahili or Arabic, the younger person says, “I respect you.” The elder replies: “I see you.” One-third of Tanzania’s population follows the Muslim faith, and Lujwangana said this is a higher form of saying good morning.

“From the time you meet the person until you leave them, you have established that respect,” she said.

2. Forgo sun-seeking (in particular) in Zanzibar, which is 98% Muslim. “When you go to Rome, you have to be like a Roman,” Lujwangana said. “So it’s the same thing. You are coming into their home. Take into regard, ‘I need to do something to make them feel comfortable so they will share their culture with me.’ And, you could be able to get the information or the knowledge or the experience that you want to get because both parties will feel comfortable.”

Besides, Tanzania’s afternoon temperatures can climb to 86 F/30 C. It’s wise to wear breezy, open clothes, like a maxi dress or other loosely hanging fabric, she advised.

3. Learn the local symbols, like the ones on the flag. The green triangle on the hoist side of the flag represents the natural vegetation you will see, while the blue triangle on the lower opposite side stands for rivers, lakes and the Indian Ocean. Two diagonal strips of yellow signal the mineral abundance, including gold, copper and cobalt. The corner-to-corner diagonal black swath symbolizes Swahili culture.

Tanzania tips flag
Colors of the Tanzanian flag mirror tones of the local nature. Courtesy of Justa Lujwangana

4. Fill your tank—or, at least your cup. Formerly, a U.S.-based clinical dietitian, Lujwangana advises nourishing your mind to also fortify your body.

“There was never enough time to zen and to come down (from my routine),” she said. “I was always on the go, go, go. It was always demand, demand, demand. It was a rolling ball. But now, I create my own schedule with different experiences. When my tank is filled, I can pour over to other people. With time off, you want to pour back into yourself and you’ll be able to share that with everybody.”

Nita Wiggins is the Paris-based author of Civil Rights Baby: My Story of Race, Sports, and Breaking Barriers in American Journalism. She teaches journalism at CELSA Sorbonne University.

This story was created by Detour, a journalism brand focused on the best stories in Black travel, in partnership with McClatchy’s The Charlotte Observer and Miami Herald. Detour’s approach to travel and storytelling seeks to tell previously under-reported or ignored narratives by shifting away from the customary routes framed in Eurocentrism. The detour team is made up of an A-list of award-winning journalists, writers, historians, photographers, illustrators and filmmakers.