Name ID 1562

See also

Map and Guide to Tanzania
Page Number: 09g

The Nyakyusa

The Nyakyusa: found in Mbeya district, they are organised in a society where men and women share work alike. They had a now extinct unique tradition of age-villages: from the age of 13, groups of boys formed new villages which would die at the death of the last survivor of the group. Largely self-sufficient with land rotation agriculture, stock breeding is one of their important activities and they practice an egalitarian form of society to such an extent that wealthy cattle owners must redistribute some of their cattle for fear of being 'officially' subjected to witchcraft. - the Nyamwezi: the 'People of the Moon' number over 400,000.

They were great traders and the most powerful tribe in the interior, successfully challenging the Arabs' commercial power in the 19th century. Trading mostly in ivory, iron goods, salt and slaves, they were also famous throughout East Africa lor long-distance porterage. With an aristocracy and a considerable slave population, their lives were regulated by secret societies with intricate initiation rites and gods and spirits who were worshipped, the mfumi diviner wielding considerable power. They united in a vast empire and various chiefs contributed to the constitution of an extensive commercial territory.

Extract ID: 4045