Get To Know The Yao Tribe Of East Africa

The Yao (also Yawo) are a Bantu tribe that originated in Mozambique and today can be found in Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania. 

Historically, the tribe became one of power and influence as they grew rich through coastal trade with the Arabs who arrived at Africa‘s Southeastern coast.

A small tribe of about 2 million people, the Yao speak a language known as Chiyao. 

They are a farming and fishing tribe whose economic development depends heavily on agriculture. The Yao cultivate cassava, rice, corn, bananas, nuts, wheat, and various other crops.

According to Mfaume Saidi Mkwekwele, a Yao tour guide in Tanzania, these crops are staples in Yao meals.

“We also eat a lot of ugali, which is a type of stiff porridge, and natural vegetables without any oils. We can eat this from morning to evening, including it in each of our three meals. 

We eat together all from one large plate, washing our hands before and after dipping in a bowl.”

Yao are predominantly Muslim, with many incorporating their original tribal beliefs into their practice of Islam.

“We don’t fear for our health or from danger. We trust in Allah and are very passionate in our belief,” said Mfaume.

The Yao live in small villages of less than 100 people that have been set up alongside roads or paths. Most houses are thatched while mosques have an iron roof & a variety of architectural ornaments.

to read more on the Yawo people, head over to travel noire!