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It is said that the mainland portion of what is now Tanzania was named by a British civil servant in , from the Swahili words tanga sail and nyika bright arid plain. In , Tanganyika was joined with Zanzibar, an offshore archipelago of islands, to form the present United Republic of Tanzania. Because of a unique combination of historic and cultural factors, Tanzanians share strong feelings of national pride and cohesion. This sense of nationalism has served to keep the country at peace for over two decades, while most of its neighbors have been involved intermittently in catastrophically destructive civil and cross-border wars.
Tanzanians have been able to resolve most internal problems without resorting to violence because of a shared language, the lack of political or economic dominance by any ethnic group, and the strong leadership provided by Julius Nyerere — , the first president of Tanzania.
At the same time, however, repressive, corrupting influences emanating from the colonial, socialist, and capitalist eras have fostered among many Tanzanians an attitude of dependency and fatalistic resignation that helps keep the country one of the poorest in the world. Covering approximately , square miles , square kilometers —an area about one and one-half times the size of Texas, Tanzania lies on the east coast of Africa, just south of the equator.
Tanzania also shares three great lakes—Victoria, Tanganyika, and Malawi—with its neighbors. The country is comprised of a wide variety of agro-ecological zones: The ethnic groups that inhabit Tanzania have adapted to a wide range of geophysical and climatic conditions. The specific habits, customs, and life-views of each group have been influenced by tribal traditions and alliances, European invasions, population movements over the centuries, and introduced and endemic diseases.
In the late s, the central political administration was moved from Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coast to the more centrally located city of Dodoma, which lies in the middle of the central plateau. Because of Dodoma's dry climate, relative lack of economic development, and small size, however, the port of Dar es Salaam remains the urban center of national importance.
The current population in Tanzania is approximately 30 million, comprised of indigenous peoples and Pakistani, Indian, Arab, and European subpopulations. There are heavy population concentrations in the urban centers including Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Tabora, and Mbeya , in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, and along the coast of Lake Malawi.
While each ethnic group speaks its own local language, almost all Tanzanians are also fluent in the national language, Swahili Kiswahili in Swahili , a coastal Bantu language strongly influenced by Arabic. The second official language is English, a vestige of the British colonial period. Most Tanzanians with postsecondary educations speak both official languages fluently in addition to their tribal language.
Nyerere encouraged the adoption of Swahili for all Tanzanians in a concerted and successful effort to enable people from different parts of the country to communicate with one another and to encourage them to identify themselves as one people. The use of a single common language has greatly facilitated Tanzania trade, political debate, nationalism, information dissemination, and conflict resolution.
Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, and the magnificent wild animals including lions, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes, leopards, and cheetahs, to name only a few draw millions of tourists to the country every year. The landscape and animals are valued national treasures, symbolized on coins and as brand names for manufactured products. Severe depredations by poachers from both inside and outside the country, however, continue to threaten the survival of many species.
The torch of freedom uhuru and the figure of a soldier representing the sacrifice of veterans and the war dead are also common symbols throughout the country.
Elegant ebony carvings of both representational and modern design, a specialty of the Makonde people of southeast Tanzania, are prized by collectors around the world.
Tanzania was cradle to some of the earliest hominids on earth, made famous by the discoveries of Louis and Mary Leakey at Olduvai Gorge. Bantu-speaking peoples migrated to eastern Africa at the same time that trade between Arabic-speaking peoples and coastal populations was initiated in the first century B. By the twelfth century, Arab trading posts were well established along the coast and on some islands.
Although Vasco da Gama landed on the East African coast in , it was not until that the Portuguese fully controlled trade on the Indian Ocean. The Arabs had been trading along the coastline for centuries when Sa'id ibn Suttan moved his capital from Oman to Zanzibar in to take advantage of the slave markets. During the early nineteenth century, Arab slave and ivory traders began to penetrate deeper into the interior of what was to become Tanzania.
In , Zanzibar became a British protectorate while the mainland became part of German East Africa. The period of German rule was extremely heavy-handed; when the Africans fought back during the Maji-Maji rebellion of , tens of thousands were killed.
Adhering to a policy of "indirect rule," the British government used indigenous political systems to implement their control, thereby resulting in much less open hostility than occurred during the time of German rule.
Emergence of the Nation. The birth of nationhood may be attributed to the earlier independence of other African nations along with a growing sense of unity and a need to become independent from the British colonial government. Independence was achieved without bloodshed. African officials elected to TANU in and constituted the administration for internal self-government in May On 9 December , Tanganyika was proclaimed an independent nation.
The national identity is influenced by several factors. One of the most important integrating forces is the use of the national lingua franca—Swahili, a language spoken and revered by nearly all Tanzanians.
Swahili is a compulsory subject in schools, and some 83 percent of the population are literate. Equally important, of course, is Tanganyika's independence and subsequent unification with Zanzibar to form the United Republic. Perhaps the most important influence on a sense of national identity was the development of Tanzanian socialism. The creation of Nyerere, Tanzanian socialism was codified in the Arusha Declaration of Both the symbolic and practical cornerstone of Tanzanian socialism was ujamaa , a Swahili word meaning "family" or "familyhood.
It was believed this structure would provide the foundation for socialist production. In practice, the forced resettlement of rural populations into ujamaa villages was met with great local opposition, and Tanzanian socialism has largely proven to be an economic failure. The concept of ujamaa and mutual assistance, however, did infiltrate the national ethos; they are represented, for example, in elaborate ebony carvings of intertwined figures, standing upon or grasping one another in expression of mutual support and social collectivity.
National resources also contribute to a sense of national identity. For example, at 19, feet 5, meters , Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest point on the African continent.
This beautiful, now quiet volcano is located near Arusha, the major tourist city in the nation. Wildlife safaris to the Serengeti Plain and the world's largest caldera, Ngorongoro Crater, are initiated from this city.
Few Tanzanians, however, are wealthy enough to afford such luxuries, and many never see the wildlife Westerners associate so closely with Africa. Finally, Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world and source of the Nile, is an important symbolic and natural resource—although it is shared with Uganda and Kenya. Within the borders of Tanzania co-exist approximately ethnic groups speaking languages representing all four major African language groups.
These include Khoisan, or "click"speaking hunter-gatherers, Nilotic-speaking pastoralists such as the Maasai , Cushitic speakers, and Bantu speakers; the latter predominate in terms of population size.
The largest ethnic groups include the Sukuma over three million , and the Chagga, Haya, and Nyamwezi over one million each. Despite the tremendous cultural and linguistic diversity among Tanzanians, ethnic groups are united by the use of a common language—Swahili—and a sense of national identity. The growing number of refugees from neighboring Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda in particular do not appear to have caused serious ethnic tensions, but they have become a serious strain on the economy and the local environment.
The architecture of urban coastal centers reflects the long, rich history of Tanzania. Ruins of Arab mosques, cemeteries, and house structures can be found at sites such as Kaole, just south of Bagamoyo. Tombs embedded with Chinese ceramics dating to the twelfth century reflect the trade between distant civilizations.
Nineteenth-century stone houses on narrow streets characterize Bagamoyo, which was one of the main endpoints of the East African slave trade. Founded in the s by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam, which most likely means "house of peace or salvation," is the main commercial center. Looking out over the Indian Ocean, the sails of dhow fishing vessels are dwarfed by transoceanic cargo ships gliding into the port. Architectural styles reflect Arab, German, and British influence and occupation.
Major buildings include elaborate mosques and churches, such as the German-style Lutheran Church. One of the largest public gathering locations in all Tanzanian cities and towns is the marketplace, where meat, produce, housewares, and a variety of miscellaneous items are sold. In addition, football soccer stadiums are important areas where people convene in Dar es Salaam and in all large urban areas. One of the most visible monuments in the center of Dar es Salaam is the Askari , or "soldier," which was unveiled in and commemorates the loss of African troops during World War I.
The most significant monument is the Uhuru , or "freedom," torch commemorating Tanganyika's independence from Great Britain in Suburban dwellings, most of which are built along a grid pattern, include the swahili house, a rectangular structure made of either stone with a corrugated roof or earth on a wooden frame with a thatch roof. This type of house is found all along the coast. About 90 percent of Tanzania's people live in rural settings. Each ethnic group has a unique traditional house structure, ranging from the round, Only about 10 percent of Tanzania's people live in urban areas.
Each ethnic group's traditional house structure has a corresponding cultural logic that determines the use of space.
For example, the Haya traditional house is surrounded by a banana plantation; an area in front of the house used for relaxation and food drying is kept free of debris by daily sweeping. The interior of the house is divided into separate use areas, some reserved for men; some for women, children, and cooking; some for animals; and one for honoring ancestors.
Traditional houses are being replaced increasingly by rectangular, "European"-style houses made from a variety of materials, including brick, wood, earth, and thatch. Unlike in traditional houses, cooking areas have been moved outside.
Food in Daily Life. For most Tanzanians, including those who live in urban areas, no meal is complete without a preferred staple carbohydrate—corn, rice, cassava, sorghum, or plantains, for example. Plantains are preferred in the northwest, ugali a thick mash of corn or sorghum in the central and southwestern regions, and rice in the south and along the coast.
The staple is accompanied by a fish, beef, goat, chicken, or mutton stew or fried pieces of meat, along with several types of vegetables or condiments, commonly including beans, leafy greens resembling spinach, manioc leaves, chunks of pumpkin, or sweet potatoes. Indian food such as chapatis , a flat bread; samosas , vegetable or meat-filled pastries; and masala ,a spiced rice dish , is widely available in all urban areas.
Breakfast preferences depend on income levels and local tradition: Finger foods sold on the streets include fried plantains and sweet potatoes, charcoal-roasted corn on the cob with no butter or salt , small bags of peanuts and popcorn, pieces of dried or fried fish, samosas , bread, fruit, dates, hard candy, gum, and mishikaki , or shish kebabs of beef or goat grilled over a charcoal fire. In local bars selling homemade brews or bottled spirits and pop, it is common to eat roasted meat—beef or goat; often the meat will be flavored with hot peppers, salt, and fresh lime juice.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Without exception, all ceremonial occasions demand the preparation of enormous platters of food, such as pilau , a spiced rice, potato, and meat dish that caters to local tastes and culinary traditions. It is considered very shameful for guests to leave hungry from a ceremonial meal or dinner party.
Except among religions that forbid it, alcohol is also an integral—and sometimes highly symbolic—part of ceremonies. Local beers and spirits derived from bananas, corn, rice, honey, or sorghum are served alone or alongside manufactured alcoholic beverages. Konyagi, a ginlike spirit, is brewed commercially in Tanzania as are a variety of beers and soft drinks.
Certain beers produced in neighboring countries—Primus, from Burundi, for example—are also popular. Agriculture provides the mainstay of the Tanzanian economy, still employing close to four-fifths of the economically active population. Farmers grow food for subsistence and for sale.
Minerals, precious metals, fish, timber, and meat are also important products.
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