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Makonde People of Tanzania

Makonde People of Tanzania are a group of people that live in South Eastern Tanzania, some parts of Kenya and Northern Mozambique. According to the last census, the Makonde people are believed to be about 1.1million and about 230,000 in Mozambique.

The Makonde groups of people in Tanzania are called the Makonde while those in Mozambique are called Maconde and they are separated by the Ruvuma River. The two groups share the same tribal practices but have different language dialects.


The language used by these people is the Chimakonde which is a Bantu language that is similar to that of the Yao people. They also speak English and Kiswahili. The ones in Mozambique speak Portuguese.


These groups are predominantly farmers. They are known for stump cultivation which has techniques of soil erosion control. The Makonde are also blacksmiths and make tools for both agriculture and many other things. They have a lot of art that visitors here come and explore. They mainly grow Cashews and sisal.


The Makonde are Matrilineal. They trace family through relatives on the mothers’ side. Men move and stay in the villages where the wife comes from. The group is divided into several clans and clans into many extended families. The clans are headed by a chief whose successor is chosen by the current chief.

Passage of rites

The Male children are initiated into adulthood. Some of the events to this function include circumcision. The events include men teaching the young boys how to hunt, sex and farming. They are also taught other community virtues like respecting elders and other morals.

He function to initiate girls is abit less formal as it is conducted within the houses and it’s for a few people. The function is abit private as it involves moments of seclusion of mothers with their children. There is a lot of education on this function.


This being a matrilineal society, most land is owned by women. A man will marry and go live in the village where the wife come from. Men move from village to village if they are polygamous.

Makonde art

This is the best attributes that most people know about this group of people. The art of these people has been evolving over time due to the influence of the many people that have come here the biggest influence being the Portuguese.

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