Name ID 262

See also

Hanby, Jeannette & Bygott, David Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Page Number: 11
Extract Date: 0


sometime in last 2000 years the Mbulu people arrive (now called the Iraqw)

Extract ID: 600

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Arusha Integrated Regional Development Plan
Page Number: 6
Extract Date: 1780~

The Iraqw

Paper 1 Land Tenure and Land Use

In Mbulu / Hanang the Iraqw group dominates, speaking a language, classified as Cushitic, very different from the Maasai (Nilo-Hamitic) and the Meru, Sonjo and Mbugwe (Bantu). There are four main divisions of the group:

The Iraqw, mostly on the Mbulu plateau west of the Rift, but spilling over into Hanang around Giting and Endasak,

The Gorava, around Mount Ufiome and Lake Babati,

The Alawa in the northern section of Kondoa (Bereku), and

The Burungi in the south of the same district.

A distant group , the Mbugu, in the Usambara mountains are the only other people in Tanzania of the same language family.

It is uncertain when the Iraqw arrived, perhaps two hundred years ago. They settled in a favourable area Kainam, on the top of the Rift Wall, bounded on the North and South by forest (Marang and Nau) and on the West by dryer country originally inhabited by the pastoral Tatog.

Extract ID: 3225

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Ngorongoro: The Eighth Wonder
Page Number: 023
Extract Date: 1934

Ngorongoro was of course well known to the Germans

Ngorongoro was of course well known to the Germans prior to World War I, and to British officials, farmers and hunters in the early twenties. But the land through which the road runs from the top of the rift to the Crater was then uninhabited. In the mid-twenties German nationals were permitted to return to their previous colony, then a Mandate, but the previously German farms had been sold by the Custodian of Enemy Property, so that the returning Germans had to find somewhere new to live. Who the originator of the idea was will never be known, but a number of these people settled on the lower slopes of Oldeani and started carving out coffee farms for themselves.

One effect of this move was to encourage the Iraqw people to move up from their overcrowded country to the south, first as labourers on the farms, and then as settlers in their own right on the neighbouring uninhabited land. A specially appointed Land Commissioner, Mr Bageshaw, recommended - and the recommendation was accepted - that all the land lying to the south of the boundary of the Northern Highlands Forest Reserve, already demarcated by the German Government, should with the exception of the alienated farms, be developed as an expansion area for the Iraqw tribe. There were however three major deterrents to settlement; firstly the tsetse fly which prevented the keeping of cattle, then the lack of water, and finally the fear of Masai raids from Ngorongoro. But the tribal authorities, with the aid and advice of British officers, organised extensive self-help schemes whereby the empty lands were settled, slowly at first, but with increased impetus in the period following World War II.

When I first travelled along that road in 1934 there was not a sign of habitation from Mto-wa-Mbu to Karatu, whilst the big triangle of superb land lying between the rift and the forest edge, called Mbulumbulu, was entirely empty. With Government aid and encouragement the Iraqw folk were just beginning to trickle north, when World War II broke out. This involved the removal of German settlers to camps, but at the same time increased the need for self-sufficiency. The Oldeani-Karatu-Mbulumbulu area had proved itself particularly suitable for the production of wheat, and attracted the attention of the Custodian of Enemy Property (who was running the vacated farms in the interests of the Government), the non-German farmers in the area, and a specially organised official Wheat Scheme. In addition to encouraging production within the boundaries of the existing farms, the Government of the day permitted all these agencies to clear and plough on the land allocated by the Bageshawe Commission to the Iraqw people, on short term lease, the agreement being that the land should be handed back at the end of the war.

In spite of the pleas of those in occupation to retain the land, the Government honoured its pledge to the Iraqw people and put the land at their disposal. The result was that one had a number of wheat growers, with know-how and machinery at their disposal, but no land and a large number of Iraqw folk with a large area of ready cleared wheat land awaiting cultivation, but lacking machinery and know-how. Common interests brought the two parties together, the wheat growers working the land for the Iraqw and sharing the profits.

Extract ID: 1426

See also

Sadleir, Randal Tanzania, Journey to Republic
Page Number: 199
Extract Date: 1957

The Iraq

With people like these, one can understand why the Northern Province with only four districts - Arusha, Masai, Mbulu and Moshi - possessed a far greater influence than its size and population would suggest.

Within its boundaries were some of the most advanced and backward people in the territory, ranging from the Chagga and the Meru to the Masai, Wa-arush, Iraq and Sandawe - the latter living entirely from hunting and collecting honey, nuts and berries. Their primitive clicking language was difficult to understand. They lived in the hilly Mbulu district to the south at Babati where a Masai-like pastoral people, the Barabaig, also dwelt.

The main tribe, the Iraq was a handsome race with such slender figures that it was difficult to distinguish between the males and females. They claimed to have trekked south from the Middle East many hundreds of years before and their language was unusual in having totally different stems for singular and plural, for example he (man), but rho (people).

Extract ID: 4379

See also

Huxley, Elspeth Forks and Hope

Bao board in the crater

Mr Fosbrooke showed me ... a rock from whose flat surface had been scooped a double line of shallow depressions, made for the game played all over Africa, played for many centuries and known by many different names. The Swahili word is bao, which simply means board, in which the shallow holes are often made: though they can be just as well marked in the dust under a shady tree. Into these depressions you drop beans or pebbles to a fixed number, and your object is to capture your opponent's counters. The rules are far too complicated for me, at any rate, to grasp. Men will spend hour after hour at bao, like chess players, and indeed it is a kind of African chess.

These depressions in the rock must have been made long before the coming of the Maasai who, according to the latest reckoning, did not enter the crater until about 1850. The earliest inhabitants, peoples called Iraqw and Tatog, have disappeared.

Extract ID: 99

See also

Horrobin, David A Guide to Kenya and Northern Tanzania
Page Number: 181


This interesting historic site in Masailand may be reached by taking a track which leads northwards from the village of Mto wa Mbu which is at the entrance to the Lake Manyara National Park. On a hill side are the reamins of what was evidently at one time a large and stabl;e settlement. The origins of the settlement are unkown but it was certainly not built by the Masai. It is possible but by no means certain that it was established by the Iraqw (Mbulu) people who now live on the plateau between Manyara and Ngorongoro.

Extract ID: 2912

See also

Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania
Extract Date: 1984

linguistic diversity

It [Mto wa Mbu] has long been a trading centre where many different people have settled, notably the Mbugwe, Iraqw, Gorowa, Irangi, Totoga, Chagga and Maasai. The area ... is in fact the most linguistically diverse and complex in Africa. It is the only place in the continent where the four major African language families - Bantu, Khoisan, Cushitic, and Nilotic - occur together.

Extract ID: 3680

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 02c

In the 2nd/lst centuries BC, Cushites - whose present survivors are the Burungi, Gorowa, Iraqw and Mbugu peoples - moved from southern Ethiopia into the Tanzania Highlands.

Further waves of iron-working Bantu people coming from West Africa left traces of an important settlement at Engaruka, north of Lake Manyara with more than 5000 acres of cultivated and irrigated land and Iron Age hand axes and tools were found at Isimila near Iringa and Katuruka west of Bukoba. Some skeletons were unearthed at Naberera.

Extract ID: 3990

See also

Finke, Jens The Rough Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 446 (ed 1)
Extract Date: 2003

The Iraqw

Karatu's main tribes are the cattle-herding Barbaig (see p.262) and the agricultural Iraqw. The history of the 200,000-strong Iraqw, who occupy much of the area between Karatu and Mbulu town in the south, is a fascinating enigma, though the theory that they originally came from Mesopotamia (Iraq, no less) is too simplistic to be likely.

Nonetheless, the Iraqw language is related to the "southern Cushitic" tongues spoken in Ethiopia and northern Kenya, meaning that at some point in their history they migrated southwards along the Rift Valley, something you can also tell by their facial features, which are finer than those of their neighbours and similar to those of Ethiopians.

Exactly when the Iraqw arrived in Tanzania is not known, but a number of clues offered by their agricultural practices - the use of sophisticated terracing to limit soil erosion, complex irrigation techniques, crop rotation and the use of manure from stall-fed cattle - provide uncanny parallels to the ruined irrigation channels, terraces and cattle pens of Engaruka (see p.437), at the foot of the Rift Valley escarpment.

Iraqw oral legend makes no mention of a place called Engaruka, but that's hardly surprising given that Engaruka is a Maasai word. Instead, legends talk of a place called Ma'angwatay, which may have been Engaruka. At the time, the Iraqw lived under a chief called Haymu Tipe. In what is suggestive of a power struggle or civil war, the legend says that Haymu Tipe's only son, Gemakw, was kidnapped by a group of young Iraqw warriors and hidden in the forest. Finally locating him, Haymu Tipe was given a curious ultimatum: unless he brought to the warriors an enemy to fight, his son would be killed. So Haymu Tipe asked the cattle-herding Barbaig, who at the time occupied the Ngorongoro highlands, to come to fight, which they did. Many people were killed, and it seems that the Iraqw lost the battle, as Haymu Tipe, his family and his remaining men fled to a place called Guser-Twalay, where Gemakw - who had been released as agreed - became ill and died. Haymu Tipe and his men continued on to a place called Qawirang in a forest west of Lake Manyara, where they settled. The legend then becomes confusing, but it appears that Qawirang is the same as the most recent Iraqw "homeland", the lrqwar Da'aw valley, 70krn south of Karatu, where the Iraqw settled at least 200 years ago, shortly after Engaruka was abandoned. Subsequently, population pressure in lrqwar Da'aw led to further migrations; the first Iraqw to settle in Karatu arrived in the 1930s.

For more about Iraqw history, see Bjem-Erik Hanssen's "Three stories from the mythology of the Iraqw people" at

But the best place to learn more about the Iraqw is Sandemu Iraqw Art and Culture Promoters Centre at Njia Panda village, 9km west of Karatu (turn left at the junction for Mang'ola and it's 1 km further on). This recently established community based initiative aims to promote and preserve Iraqw culture. The centre is built in the form of a traditionally fortified house, nestling so snugly into the hillside that it only needs a front wall (a construction that is remarkably similar to the former fortified houses of the Rangi; see p.256). Historically, fortification and camouflage was essential to avoid the warlike attention of the Maasai and Barbaig. The centre also contains an underground bunker with escape tunnels, which contain a display of weapons, tools, grinding stones and furniture. The centre supports its work by selling crafts: mats, baskets, traditional clothes and jewellery, clay pots, gourds and calabashes.

Camping should be possible (but enquire beforehand in Karatu), and there's also Doffa Campsite (see p.445), 500m west of the junction to Mang'ola. Given enough time, the centre can arrange performances of traditional music.

Extract ID: 4286

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 09h

Three tribes

Three tribes have a particularly ancient history:

- the Iraqw in the Mbulu region with their distinctive physical features are the only tribe of Cushitic origin in the region as they grew totally isolated from their original Cushitic cluster. They inhabited the Engaruka fields and traces of occupation around Lake Natron, Manyara and Eyasi) go back to the Upper Paleolithic Period.

- the Sandawe and the Hadzapi or Tindiga: the first group lives in central Tanzania and stems from the ancient tribes who occupied the area with the Bushmen with whom they shared the Khoisan click language; nowadays they are fairly assimilated. The second group however is still organised in the simplest form of society based on hunting and subsisting mainly on roots and fruits and animal hunting with bows and arrows during the dry season. They are thought to be the only remnants in the whole of Africa of the ancient Paleolithic Times.

Grouped in clusters or divided into clans, tribes are not always easy to identify or to locate with definite accuracy and to those who search in vain for their presence on the map, I request their indulgence.

Extract ID: 4046

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 09c


Tribal names can be altered by pronunciations or written mistakes (Rangi or Langi, Longo or Kongo) and the proper grammatical use of the language, to non-Swahili speakers, can cause confusion:

the Ha tribe in one instance appears as Muha and several times as Baha,

and the Hehe tribe appears as Wabehe.

Some are an improbable mixture of mistakes such as the Yao tribe, which is also known as Achawa, Adjao, Adsawa, Adsoa, A)awa, Ayo, Hiao, Mudao, Mujano, Mujoa, Myao, Veiao, Wahaiao, Wiayau or Wayao etc.

Others bear various names totally unrelated to phonetic interpretation: Iraqw or Mbulu, Hadzapi or Tindega or Kangeju.

Extract ID: 4041