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Marriage and Family
President Julius Nyerere’s form of self-help socialism was based on ujamaa, or “family hood”. Tanzania’s extended families have been encouraged to act as economic units as well as family units. Families are traditionally large, usually including a mother and a father, their children, and their unmarried younger brothers and sisters. Urban families are usually smaller and less cohesive than those in rural areas.
Traditionally, marriages have been arranged, often within the extended family. Today it has become more common, especially in cities, for individuals to choose whom they marry.
Traditionally, the groom’s family gives a dowry to the bride’s family to thank them for raising the woman who will soon join their family, and to compensate them for the loss of a productive member of the family. This custom continues to be especially important in rural areas where extended families share work responsibilities.
The Law of Marriage Act covers marriage in Mainland Tanzania. The Act recognizes marriages contracted under civil form in accordance with the rites of religion (Christian, Hindu or Islamic) as well as marriages under customary law. The Act provides, with few exceptions for Islamic and customary marriages, for a uniform regulatory regime and contains many provisions that seek to protect women's rights. However, it also maintains certain gender discriminatory practices such as polygamy for men and different marriages ages for men and women. Divorce and custody are also covered by the Marriage Act and are therefore placed under a uniform regime.