Utani relationships in Tanzania: Reflections on ethnic creativity
This article looks at ‘joking relationships’—or Utani in Kiswahili—that exists between and among different ethnic groups in Tanzania. Though teasing or joking is abundant in these relationships, Utani serves as a veil around intense and obliging messages. These Utani expressions are widespread in the country. This article uses the Kiswahili term to examine the relationships beyond the joke-like verbal manifestations. Specifically, the article examines the circumstances under which Utani is expressed, the origins of inter-ethnic Utani in Tanzania and the way it is recreated and re-enacted. In conclusion, the article looks at the role Utani plays in Tanzania and lessons for it engenders for the rest of Africa.