Know The Chagga Tribe, Native To The Slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro

By ~ Lindo Travel

Know The Chagga Tribe, Native To The Slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro

The Chagga people are found in the northern part of Tanzania, they live around the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The Chagga are also called Chaga, Wachaga (in plural). Their relative wealth comes from not only the favorable climate of the area but also on hard working in the farms through the successful agricultural practices which include extensive irrigation systems and continuous fertilization practiced for thousands of years. They were one of the first tribes in the area to convert to Christianity. This may have given them an economic advantage over other ethnic groups, as they had better access to education and health care.

Origin of the Chagga tribe on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro
Early migration patterns of the Niger-Congo Bantu's led the Chagga to settle in the North Pare Mountains. This is the Home of the ancestral Chagga. The population growth by about eleventh or twelve century led a number of people to begin looking for new land on which to live. They found it on the nearby and, in those days, still heavily forested southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The movement of the early Chagga banana farmers to Kilimanjaro set off a period of the rapid and extensive cultural union.

Traditional Food
Chagga grows banana, potatoes, yams, beans, peas, red millet, and bananas. Traditional food for Chagga is Mtori, kitawa, Machalari, Ng'ande, Kiumbo, Ngararimo, Shiro, Ndafu. The Chagga brew a delicious drink called Mbege, which is made of millet and bananas and left to ferment for 10 days and become an alcoholic brew on various occasions such as local festivals and a drink in the evening after day activities.

Family Life and Marriage Customs
Traditionally, the Chagga marriage ceremony was a long process, starting with betrothal proceedings and continuing long after the couple gets married. Bridal payments were made over the wife's lifetime. Today, Christian couples are married in churches. There are much drinking and feasting throughout the marriage negotiations and celebrations. The groom builds the house where he will live with his wife after marriage. After the birth of the first child, the husband moves into a tenge (hut) where he will live with one bull to show his wealth, and the mother lives with her children. Normally Chagga couples have an average of six children. Great importance is placed on having a son to continue the lineage.

The ruling system of Chagga was divided according to province example Mangi Sina of Kibosho, Mangi Meli of Moshi town, etc. Mangi is great chiefs that govern largely clan-based states. The great Mangis controlled Chagga affairs even during the oppressive and depressing colonial times, even though some ethnic groups did not have such control. It was also during this time that the Chagga held an election in 1952 to elect Mangi Mkuu, (Chief of all Chieftains) to look after their affairs and speak on behalf of the Chagga people.

Cultural Tools
Traditional Chagga instruments include wooden flutes, bells, and drums. Dancing and singing are part of almost every celebration.

Religion and Beliefs
The traditional faith was based around belief in a God called Ruwa. Ruwa was a tolerant deity who, though neither the creator of the universe nor of man, nevertheless set the latter free from some sort of unspecified imprisonment. Ruwa had little to do with mankind following this affair, however, so the Chagga instead worshipped their ancestors, whom they believed could influence events on Earth. Christianity was introduced to the Chagga people in the middle of the nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, both Protestants and Catholics had established missions in the region. With the adoption of Western religions, traditional Chagga beliefs and practices have been reduced or adapted to the new Christian beliefs. Islam was introduced to the Chagga people by early Swahili caravan traders. Islam brought a sense of fellowship not only with the Chagga of different regions but also with Muslims of other ethnic groups.

Craft and Hobbies
Traditionally, Chagga made their own utensils mainly from wood. These items included small bowls, huge beer tubs, spoons, and ladles. Iron items included bells, ornaments, hoes, and spears. The Chagga also made their own weapons and animal traps. Chagga musical instruments include wooden flutes, bells, and drums. Basket weaving was also common. This art is now dying out as more items are bought at local stores.

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