What or Who is Tinga Tinga?

Only few painters in Tanzania are creative enough to develope the Tinga Tinga art further
Tinga Tinga is the name of the art works and handicraft items which are produced in Tinga Tinga Cooperative (TACS) based in Tanzania. The Cooperative was established by relatives of Edward Tingatinga in 1990 . Edward Tingatinga was an artisan born in South Tanzania around 1936 and in 1968 he started to paint colorful paintings which became very popular among expatriates in Tanzania. Edward Tingatinga died in 1972. Today, the popular style has spread even outside the group of Tingatinga´s relatives and tourists may find Tinga Tinga art works and handicraft on many places in East Africa. We start to speak about Tinga Tinga art style. However most of painters copies the original ideas of few artists. It is aim of this website to bring you the best and original art works made by creative artists.



African Map

Tinga Tinga comes from Tanzania

Tinga Tinga´s home is Tanzania. This remarkable country is situated under equator in East Africa and border to Kenya. Tanzania is extremely popular tourist destination because of the vast wildlife - one of last to be found on our planet.

Tanzania is also known for the highest African mountain Kilimanjaro and the legendary island of Zanzibar where Fred Mercury was born. Tanzania is peaceful country with huge cultural diversities - 120 tribe and many religions are found here. Tanzania is also known for the famous Makonde art - sculptures made from ebony tree.

6 Main Features of Tinga Tinga Paintings

1. They come from Tanzania

You will find them just everywhere in Tanzania. And that is reflected in the paintings too. Haven´t you seen paintings depicting the highest mountain of Africa - Kilimanjaro? Or what about the biggest market in East Africa - Kariakoo? Maybe Zanzibar, Mount Meru, never ending savannah or Masai will are more known to you?

2. Tinga Tinga is a name of a person

And that person lives and paints right now. He is called Daudi Tingatinga (also spelled Tinga Tinga) and is son of Edward Tingatinga who started to paint in 1968. In fact most of painters are related to the family of Mr. Tingatinga

3. Using a Special Technique - Enamel Colours

The most important feature of Tinga Tinga art is that the paintings are painted with enamel colours. Without enamel colors - no Tinga Tinga. So what are these enamel colours? The frames of your window are probably painted with enamel colours. And definitely your metal fence in garden. Or metal garage port. The enamel colours have characteristic turpentine odour. Those are industrial colour, not art colours.

4. Highly Decorative Patterns

Whatever the motive, you will find some common features in every Tinga Tinga painting. The "secret" of Tinga Tinga paintings are the dots. You will find them on almost every painting. The most popular of all animals is guinea fowl due to many dots on feathers. The second most popular animal is leopard. You see again the dots. To summarize it - the repetitive pattern is underlying recept for cooking up a good Tinga Tinga painting

5. A Black Border - Not Any More!

Once there was a black border or black wooden board on every Tinga Tinga painting. That is not the case today.

6. What are the Roots of Tinga Tinga Art?

That is a bit of mystery. Why there is so big Tinga Tinga art movement in Tanzania? Sometimes Tinga Tinga art is called a tourist art so the demand from tourists could be explanation to why hundreds of painters frequent streets of Tanzanian cities. But that is only partly true since in Kenya there are more tourists and no Tinga Tinga art. Maybe the roots could be the widespread wall paintings on hut walls in South Tanzania, the home of Tinga Tinga painters. Maybe the many thousand rock paintings are predecessors of Tinga Tinga paintings. After all - the birth place of Edward Tingatinga is crowded with rocks. But in fact - we don´t know anything about the roots to Tinga Tinga art!

Above far left:  Image by Dmitri Markine www.dmitrimarkine.com

Tinga Tinga is more than popular art from Tanzania, East Africa!

By Daniel Augusta

Tinga Tinga is a name for a well-known painting art style from Tanzania, East Africa which was started in 1968 by Edward Saidi Tingatinga. Since then the family of E.S.Tingatinga operates from Tinga Tinga Partnership and later from Tinga Tinga Arts Co-operative Society based in the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. Though the Tinga Tinga refers to art, much of the production is rather handicraft which includes the reproduced paintings and various products aimed for international markets. These products include hand-painted plates, glass, pencils, decorative objects and others.

Photos from Left: 1. Omari Amonde, 2. Z.Chimwanda, 3. Daimu Zuberi, 4. Agnes Mpata

Tinga Tinga brand spread throughout Tanzania and East Africa -without any effective tools to protect the name and production of the Tinga Tinga Coopertive. Tourists may find Tinga Tinga paintings and products in Zanzibar, Arusha and even in Kenya. Today, there are estimated 500 painters in East Africa. Most of them copy and imitate the art and handicraft of the family of E.S.Tingatinga. But not only poor Tanzanians infringes the copyrights of Tinga Tinga Cooperative but even rich international companies registered Tinga Tinga as trademark. Often they use the traditional designs of Tinga Tinga art in their own products. Tingatinga family is seldom profiting from its creative ideas.

But during the short art carrier of E.S.Tingatinga, the art and handicraft production was under control.  E.S.Tingatinga accepted only six relatives as his students. These were Ajaba Mtalia, Adeus Mandu, January Linda, Simon Mpata Kasper Tedo and Omari Amonde. Though E.S.Tingatinga was of Mgindo tribe after his father, he was brought up by his mother Agnes Ntembo from Makua tribe.  He was born in 1935 in south Tanzania in the village of Namochelia which does not exist today. The nearest village is Mindu, situated ca 70 Km east of Tunduru town. Many relatives of Tingatinga still lives in south Tanzania.

Photos from left: 1. Jabili, 2. Rubuni, 3. Chiwaya 4. S.Omary

The painting skill of E.S.Tingatinga is possible to trace to his job as a wall painter in his native village. The wall painting tradition is spread in south Tanzania and the young Tingatinga was painting on the walls of the huts animals and stories. He later came to Dar es Salaam where he first worked as gardener for an expatriate Mr. George Pollack, then as a street vendor and then he secured a job at Muhimbili hospital. His creative spirit provoked him to various activities such as music, dance, weaving and painting. It was easier to find colors and materials in the city than in village. He started to experiment with them. While in his village he was limited to soils and ash, he quickly found the industrial enamel colors and the construction wooden sheets sold in Dar es Salaam.

From a purely technical standpoint, Tinga Tinga art can be defined as painting on wooden sheets or canvas using enamel industrial paint which are widely used for painting of windows or metals. The paintings can be as small as 20x20cm, while the biggest reach several meters in diameter. The painting technique is complicated as the painter must wait until each layer of the oil color dries before the next layer is applied. But the result is a stunningly shining painting which was very popular among the foreign expatriates. They paid cash to Tingatinga for the paintings and soon Tingatinga decided to leave his job at hospital. He became a professional artist now.

Photos from Left: 1. Omari Amonde, 2. Z.Chimwanda, 3. Daimu Zuberi, 4. Agnes Mpata

Edward Tingatinga painted single animals on colorful backgrounds. The animals were painted in a simple, symbolical way. Both the colors and shapes do not correspond to the animals in the real world. Black antelope, white and black giraffe, white and black leopard are some of examples. The shape of body parts was further simplified so no details are shown. Decoration in form of plants, birds or landscape was very rare. Instead Tingatinga talked in the language of symbolism which is frequently seen in shamanism. Many of Tingatinga´s paintings dealt with the world of spirits and shamans.

The Tingatinga´s life came to abrupt end in 1972 when he was accidentally shot by a bullet from police who mistakenly regarded him as thieve speeding in the Volkswagen Beetle. Tingatinga left behind his two children who now work at the Tinga Tinga Cooperative in Dar es Salaam – Martina and Daudi Tingatinga. The 6 students were also left without master and teacher and the time was difficult for them. Without a master the group quickly grew up but without any direction. However the group was approached by Mr.Salum Mussa known also as Mzee Lumumba. He proposed to build Tinga Tinga Partnership. It was also decided on a meeting attended by Saidi Chilamboni, Omari Amonde, Hashim Mruta and others that the name Tinga Tinga would be used for paintings and products.

Photos from Left: 1. Paintings in Bagamyo, 2. Tinga Tinga after rainy day, 3. Tinga Tinga at Namanga

The Tinga Tinga Partnership was changed in 1990 to Tinga Tinga Arts Cooperative Society. Today it has 54 members, most of them related to the family of Tingatinga. Each member contributes 15% from his sales to the Cooperative so that the basic expenses are covered. Most of the artists are either illiterate or semi-literate and this has greatly retarded the Cooperative´s development. In 1996 the Cooperative got development aid from HELVETAS, a Swiss NGO to build a construction of an art gallery in Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam.  In 2008 the artists signed a contract with Tiger Aspect in which both the family name and the traditional designs are granted to third parties such as Penguin, BBC or Walt Disney. The artists got minimum benefit.

Today Tinga Tinga is a concept that wide public has been drawn to, but which, over time, has lost its uniqueness. In the past, Tinga Tinga art and products could be sold on its name alone, but increasingly other works are being presented as "Tinga Tinga" as well.

Tingatinga, le nom assez ridicule ... c´est le nom du style de l´art africain( en français... ). Tingatinga, un nome che suona così divertente...si riferisce alle pitture africane. (italiano... ) Tingatinga – ursprünglich "nur" ein Nachname, heute die wohl bedeutendste KunstrichtungTansanias. ( auf Deutch...) Tinga Tinga es un arte específico de pintura, que se caracteriza por su colorido en estilo naif, en donde se representan animales y personas en sus quehaceres diarios.( en español ) 坦桑尼亚汀噶汀噶艺术的小故事(坦桑尼亚汀噶汀噶艺术的小故事....) For more information, please down load the flier (PDF)

Tinga Tinga - Art versus Handicraft

Most tourists will encounter the Tinga Tinga painters on Zanzibar, Moshi (a city under Kilimanjaro mountain), Arusha, Mto wa Mbu (city respective town near Serengeti National Park). The reason is simple - the art is catering to tourists, the painters strive to sell their paintings to the casual foreign visitors. But this website brings you much more! It brings you the paintings which almost never reach the hands of casual traveller but makes it into museums, galleries and auctions houses. You too may decorate your own spaces with this much appreciated art work!

Photo: The son of E.STingatinga repairs grave of his father(in the middle)


Some facts about Tinga Tinga

read more about Tinga Tinga on www.afrum.com.

I am welcoming any feedback in order to revise the facts about Tinga Tinga, write me on daniel.

What did they say about Tinga Tinga?

Benjamin Mkapa

Benjamin Mkapa
The previous president of

Deo Kafwa

Deo Kafwa, Tanart

Yves Goscinny

Yves Goscinny



"Tingatinga paintings have grown to become world famous and a hallmark of indigigenous Tanzanian art of which we are most proud. Unfortunately, very few people abroad have seen original Tingatinga paintings, the market beeing full reproductions and immitations". By Benjamin William Mpaka, The previous President of the United Republic of Tanzania (source: Christine Hatz, Tingatinga, 1996)

"Tinga Tinga art existed for a long time, as can be seen from the ancient rock-drawings in certain regions of Tanzania. Also wall-painting, that is decoration of house-walls with different shades of clay - red, blak and white - has long been practised in the southern and central regions. These pictures show mostly animals and birds, sometimes also human figures" By Deo Kafwa, previous Marketing MAnager of Nyumba ya Sanaa (source: Christine Hatz, Tingatinga, 1996)

"It is artists way of survival. A survival. But what they sell is so much more than the tourists can put into their walls. They sell their souls, they sell their thoughts. They sell their life, their hardship. They sell food, they sell because it is the only way". By Doreen Mandawa, a local expatriot artist

"I have discovered that many of the images are mass-produced, however, those particular would be the ones the artists knew they could sell to all kind of tourists. On the other hand, they also always seem to be working on the other paintings, somehow more personal. For the artists to have enough money to be able to work on the more personalised paintings they need to produce the ones that they "know by heart" so as to make a living." By Pernille Nessje, researcher

"Art very much exists in Tanzania, but has been subdued; with no places to exhibit, the artists have simply gone underground and built around them a survival network that will allow them to reach the better season...." By Yves Goscinny. An art critics from Belgium who lived in Tanzania for more than 10 years

"In Europe, art has been growing very abstract to an extent that some art lovers feel that it has become a monologue- an artist expressions that makes little sense.
When the same art lovers arrive in Africa, they found real honesty; artists telling deep stories that easily depict their lives while at the same time probing the issues of life." By Mwenda wa Micheni, Africa Review

"Probably the best object I brought home from the trip to Kenya was a single painting by a Tanzanian named Sey Rashid Hussein who paints crowded city scenes in a capacious style called Tingatinga, after a self-taught painter in Tanzania of the same name." By Pascal Zachary



TingatingaTinga Tinga, so funny name... is about african paitings, Actually the man who started all this was Mr. Tinga Tinga. It was in 1968, he was born in Tanzania. The paintings are very colorful. Some still say it is a naive art for children. But Tinga Tinga paintings were auctioned at Sotheby´s and it is said that Keith Harring was inspired by Tinga Tinga. Hurry up to see some original paintings at your local library exhibition - before they lock them in British museum. Tinga Tinga shows us how to see the world with our inner child. Funny, happy and colorful. Greetings from your Tinga Tingaist - Daniel Augusta


It started with paintings of a single animal like a hyena, a lion and others in 1968. Today few painters paint in this "old" style. But there are exceptions like Tinga Tinga´s son Daudi Tinga Tinga. Other painters who use to paint only one animal is Abdul Mkura and Amonde Omary. Both of them belong to the first generation of Tinga Tinga painters. Others occasionally taking up this style are Becker Wasia, Saidi Chilamboni, Mwamedi Chiwaya and more. (See down paintings of Saidi and Tinga Tinga)


Single girafe is a new motive but inspired by the old days. It is represented by Shabani Mkarekwa (Photo left down) and Jabili Masoudi. Also down right you see the style of Amonde Omari.

Tingatinga Giraffe

Then the guys (and a few girls too) came with the idea to add some flowers here and some birds there. Nothing for the old men, but the young painters enjoyed. They got almost obsessed and to finish one Tinga Tinga painting could take up weeks! The young masters are Rubuni Rashidi, Saidi Omary, Ibrahim Omary, Zuberi Daimu and others. There is not clear line so occasionally if Mwamedi Chiwaya gets tired of painting the tenth simba (lion) he may do something more complicated also. (Down are paintings of Rubuni and A. Hasani)

Tingaitnga African Painting Hasani

I think the best painters of this complicated style is Mwamedi Chiwaya (Photo down), Iddi, Daimu Zuberi and Saidi Omari.

Tingatinga Chiwaya

Saidi Omary is a young painter but he has already pupils. He keeps always a high quality of paintings. He has always good humor and he is never in a hurry. So his paintings are very good. He tries to be creative also but it is difficult in Tinga Tinga collective. Enjoy paintings of S.Omary!

Tingatinga Tingatinga
Tingatinga Tingatinga
Tingatinga Tingatinga

It feels like the Tinga Tinga is a big mess. But if you look closely, only few animals are depicted. And some painters got specialized in some animals. So Gayo Peter, Mtapwata and even Kolumbo paint butterflies - ok not really animals! But the greatest butterfly master is Kambili. He doesn´t paint anything else, it seems. . Down you can see buterflies of Gayo and Chiwaya.

Mbwana Sudi is known for blue fishes and Rubuni Rashidi surprised me with red fishes.

Mbwana Tingatinga Rubuni Tingatinga

Yuba Mawazo and Salum Zaburi likes to paint birds in different ways. But don´t take it for granted, the painters may switch from day to day, yap. So here you see paintings of Mwamedi Chiwaya and Saidi Omari.

Tingatinga Tingatinga

In "people" subcategory there are villages, political paintings, hospitals etc. Sometimes very serious things...So let´s take it step by step! The traditional village life is represented by Noel Kapanda, Steven Mkumba, Kalembo Fidelis (see down) and others

And here is Mitole Saidi and Steven Mkumba, both well established painters.

Tingatinga Tingatinga

The master of political paintings is Mohamed Charinda and the hospitals are painted best by Maurus Malikita.

Tingatinga Tingatinga

And the city life is represented by Katengo, Kalembo, Anthony Jonas, Mr. Sey (Down Anthony Jonas)

Have you ever heard about shetanis? Shetanis are kind of devils in african mythology. Many people still believe in these Shetanis and painters try to get some protection (it seems) by painting these Shetanis. The master of Shetani paintings was George Lilanga. Lilanga is among ten most famous in the world. His paintings were exhibited at Pompidou in Paris and Metropolitan in New York. It showed up that not all by Lilanga signed paintings were painted by George Lilanga. I have set up a website for that research - www.lilanga.org

George Lilanga

George Lilanga never painted in Tinga Tinga collective, he painted in Cultural House but he had very good friends among Tinga Tinga colective. And he gave permission to Mchisa Thabiti to paint like him. And Mchisa gave permission to Jabili Masoudi, it is how the extended family works. Mchisa still paints in this style and you will find many such paintings in Dar es Salaam.

Lilanga Mchisa Lilanga Mchisa

Sayuki Matindiko found his own style though inspired by George Lilanga. Not wonder - Sayuki Matindiko and Lilanga are from the same tribe.

Sayuki Tingatinga Sayuki Tingatinga

They are several hundred Tinga Tinga painters in Tanzania now. Maybe one hundred of them are really good. But the point here is that they are not the same. All have a distinctive style, a personal touch. And some are very different. It is case of David Mzuguno.

Mzuguno Tingatinga Mzuguno Tingatinga

Some painters broke away from the traditional Tinga Tinga stream. Some of them are John Kilaka and Damian Msagula. But John Kilaka si not only a painter, he is a story teller and an illustrator. See his own website - www.kilaka.com

John Kilaka John Kilaka

Now if some artists break, don´t they create a new Tinga Tinga school? The answer is yes. One of most prominent is the Makumbusho branch. Look at Nangida Masawe and Emanuel Jeremiah!

But mostly these branches don´t have a strong leader so they experiment, like Ally Omary, Job Luandala, Lewis Steven. They are strong personalities but don´t work together. They may paint under same cealing in Oysterbay but they paint extremly differently. Here you see Lewis


Lastly let me show you something personal. It is a Tinga Tinga painting of Peter Martin. Peter Martin lived with Beatrice and three children in Mikocheni, part of Dar es Salaam. First after 14 years they married. Unfortunately, one year after the marriage Peter Martin passed away. But he knew he would die. So before it happened he painted a Tinga Tinga painting as a testament for future. It tells us that Tinga Tinga paintings are deeply connected with the lives of painters. It tells us that we should look deeper beyond the colors, birds and flowers to find true story about Africa, its artists and ....us.




Tingatinga Peter Martin

The painting paid his own burial. When I found the widow Beatrice Peter I found that she had a newborn child - Steven. I hope that when Steven grows up, the whole world will know about Tinga Tinga.

Tinga Tinga Story

It all started in 1968, almost by an accident. Edward Saidi Tinga Tinga just painted the first painting and it sold. So he painted another one etc. Then other relatives joined. Today, after 40 years we have several hundred artists in Tanzania, Kenya and other countries. The "original" family is still here and it is very big. Maybe 100 painters, maybe 200 painter, maybe more. They are all Makua tribe, speaking Makua, having Makua traditions. (by the way the previous president of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa is also a Makua). The Makua are related to Makonde, which are already known for the Makonde carvings. So, will the Makua be known for Tinga Tinga? Interestingly, nobody has yet linked the Tinga Tinga to Makua as we did with the carvings!


This big stone is ca 15 km far from the villages of Tinga Tinga painters

The Tinga Tinga painters come from four villages in South Tanzania. Nakapanya village is the biggest one. Many painters were born there. They still go frequently back to visit there families, so you will always meet a Tinga Tinga friend there! But they don´t paint there.

This is Nakapanya village painted in Celtel colours - the mobil service provider.

This is me (Daniel Augusta) on the Tinga Tinga motorcycle

Be aware that there is a lot of Tinga Tinga scrap, rubish (takataka in Kiswahili). It is just because anybody can be a Tinga Tinga painter providing you find some spot in town with many tourists. But the "real", "original" Tinga Tinga painters are found in Oysterbay in Morogoro Stores in Dar es Salaam (It has nothing to do with Morogoro city). They call themselves The Tinga Tinga Arts Cooperative Society (TACS). In fact they have branches in Slipway, Zanzibar and other places.

Good (left) and less good (right) Tinga Tinga paintings

In the Tinga Tinga Cooperative you can meet Tinga Tinga´s son, you can meet Saidi Chilamboni, Mohamed Charinda, Hasani and others who have all started this big big art movement. There you can meet artists who became recognized internationally. It is hard to become a member here. It helps if you are Makua.

Me and Tinga Tinga´s son Daudi Tinga Tinga in the Tinga Tinga Cooperative

Tinga Tinga Cooperative is a big extended family, a big group of relatives. They found the art style which they live on until now. This group has been working and functioning without much interference from NGO´s, sponsors and other development institutions. It is true that Swiss HELVETAS built the house and helped much but Tinga Tinga Cooperative lives its own life. It will survive us and all global economic crises.

The development through business seems a best model as these Moshi guys demonstrates on the picture. Actually, they just bought the car and their first trip was to Morogoro Stores to buy Tinga Tinga paintings.