Map of Zanaki language area (pending updates)

Population:  100,000 

Altitude: 1500 metres (4925 feet)

Published Scripture: Luke, Ruth, Jonah

Alternate names:  Kizanaki, Ekizanaki

> Browse our Zanaki project stories

The Zanaki: The first president of Tanzania post-independence was Julius Nyerere, a Zanaki man. He was seen as the father of the country and is still called “Teacher” today. He was a devout Catholic and was a huge proponent of the Swahili language as a unifying language for the country. He translated a number of works, including books of the Bible, into Swahili. Because of the great influence Nyerere had on the country, this is a great source of pride for Zanaki people. One of the nicest roads in the entire Mara Region is the one leading the way to the Nyerere Museum in the Zanaki village of Butiama, Nyerere’s home village. 

The book of Matthew and a songbook were published in the Zanaki language by missionaries in the mid-1900s. Matthew was difficult for people to read, and there weren’t literacy classes, but people embraced them. Both books are now out of print, but books can still be found in homes, and the Zanaki songs are still sung from time to time.

Location within Country: The Zanaki language area lies in the middle of Mara Region, in the northwest corner of the country. It is near, but not adjacent to, the eastern shore of Lake Victoria.

Religion: There are many Christians, but it is also quite common for traditional beliefs to be practiced by Christians and non-Christians alike. There are many superstitions, and witch doctors are often consulted for various problems. Muslims are also present, but they constitute a minority.

> Browse our Zanaki project stories