The Tribes

Datoga Tribe

The Datoga consider themselves the oldest tribe in Tanzania (the Maasai and Bushmen also claim this fame). The Datoga are first and foremost warrior’s, known for their stealth ability to eliminate their enemy. Little is know or archived about the Datoga. It is known that they migrated some 3000 years ago from the Highlands of Ethiopia. Datoga’s are farmers specializing in onion plantations, but share similarities to Maasai in some traditions. They are characteristically known for keeping to themselves. Datoga consider anyone other than Datogan an enemy. They refused to engage themselves in colonization and vehemently resent the government, making them an enemy of the state. However, their current situation has placed them in a pivotal challenge of continuing their traditional existence. An ongoing challenge has been Datoga’s poor attention to health and education but has been slowly changing. Until recently only 5% of Datoga spoke the national language Swahili. The current challenges facing Datoga are the intrusion of other tribes for tourism and investment purposes, cutting of trees for making coal, Maasai stealing their cows, and the government selling land and moving the Datoga to drier pastures. Datoga’s resistance to peace partnering with other tribes has made it difficult to create empathy for their cause.

The Hazdabe Tribe (Bushmen)

The Bushmen are said to be more than 10,000 years old and the second oldest people on earth. The Bushmen or “the forgotten people”, have been in this area hunting/gathering and living their traditional lifestyle. There are approximately 200 families in existence with an unknown population,  numbers range from 180 people to no more than 2000. Their mortality rate is around 78% and have rejected modern medicine and live literally under bushes.

The government, in an effort to streamline all the tribes, has declared that the Bushmen attend school. To date the Bushmen do not read or write and less than 1% speak the national language of Swahili. They speak a click click dialect that only a few know and understand. Their innate hunting abilities and fierce survival skills have little documentation. These living treasures are being pushed further and further away from the land that they know, to drier pastures.

Due to the small population and the lack of willingness to acclimate to the government demands, the Bushmen have little power. They believe that their traditional lifestyle is coming to an end and their usefulness is finished.

The Maasai Tribe

The Maasai Tribe, the most universally recognized tribe who also claim to be the oldest, are noted as fierce warriors, animal whisperers and are known for their herding ability. They have faced many challenges. These challenges have consisted of broken promises by the government, exploitation of their culture by other tribes for tourism purposes, and an abuse of their traditional belief that their word is truth. The Maasai have acclimated to waging their cultural value for political power but has received little more than some attention in the media. The Maasai which have been the keepers of Ngorongoro Crater for thousands of years are facing yet another setback. The government is continuing to sell “their” land to private investors for development. As the Maasai have been pushed further and further away from their original homes, they have now become farmers, something they are unhappy with as they pride themselves on being herders and gauge their wealth accordingly. Like any culture being globalized, they are facing the younger generation rejecting tradition, influences of western religions and the understanding of money. The Maasai women however are adjusting to this rapid change by trying to preserve the oral history of their culture and tradition, the selling of their handmade bead wear in local markets and regulated tourism.

The Maasai have the largest population of approximately 300,000 between Tanzania and Kenya. They are perhaps the best educated, both formally and traditionally, unlike Datoga and the Bushmen. Yet with having had some political experience, they are facing the same challenges of cultural eradication.

Video From the Field

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