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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Little Known Facts About Tanzania Ancestral Homelands

Little Known Facts About Tanzania Ancestral Homelands

Mara Region of Tanzania
Mara region, where there are more than twelve ethnic groups with aggressive cultures and customs, cattle rustling is a common destructive practice that occurs regularly. The practice is often fatal, destructive and distributes poverty to victimized families.

Little Known Facts About Tanzania Ancestral Homelands

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Nyamwirimira kubhibhi, risambu bhandogera, A person who does not cultivate well his or her farm always says that it has been bewitched - Kwaya people of Mara Region Tanzania -The Kwaya people of Tanzania

Mara region was born shortly after Independence. It was created along with Mwanza and Kagera from what was then Lake Province, so named in honour of Lake Victoria. Mara region is the northern most region of Tanzania along with Kagera with which region Mara shares a common border. The Mara region in this geographical position has the added distinction of being the only Tanzania region to border to Kenya and Uganda.Mara Region is occupied by various different tribal groups, including the Ikizu, Ikoma, Isenye, Jita, Kabwa, Kiroba, Kuria, Kwaya, Luo, Nata, Ngoreme, Ruri, Simbiti, Sizaki, Sukuma,Taturu and Zanaki.

When European colonialists met in Berlin in 1884 to apportion Africa they did not know the trauma they were inflicting on the people of Mara region. Mara suffered and is still suffering from ethnic division. Numerous Jaluos in Tanzania were cutoff from their fellow Jaluos and relatives in a neighbouring country. Similarly numerous Kuryas were forcefully separated from fellow Kuryas. The region suffered the lot of such border regions in Africa. The coming together of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in the East African Community is a healing process from which these people of Mara region will benefit culturally among other things.

The dominant ethnic groups of the region are the Wakurya, Wajaluo and Wajita. The Wakurya are dominant in Tarime and Serengeti districts while in Musoma and Bunda the Wajita dominants. The Wajaluo are dominant in Tarime along with the Kurya. The region’s ethnic picture is also characterised by many very small tribes such as the Wazanaki, Wasuba, Waikizu, Waisenye, Waikoma, Wangoreme, Wakwaya, Waluli, Washashi etc. which are virtually indistinguishable languagewise from one another.

History shows that the first areas to be settled in the region were those along the shoreline of Lake Victoria where life was easier and safer. The sandy soils on the shores of the lake were easy to work given the punity of hand tools to work the soils. Further inland soils were heavier and hence not so easy to work.

The closeness to the lake means easy access to fishing to supplement diets. The lake waters also provided easy transport over long distances. Inland areas were also unsafe due to the profusion of wild animals especially predators like lions and leopards.  Wild animals still dominate same 4,350 miles of the region which are given over to the Serengeti National Park and to some extent the Grumeti and Ikorongo Game Reserves.

The region owns some 2.6 million acres of freshwater area with six districts; Serengeti, Tarime, Bunda, Musoma, Butiama and Rorya. In terms of land area Serengeti district dominates with 55.9 percent of the regional land area. However, to a large part, this area is taken up by the Serengeti National Park. Musoma has the smaller land area at 10 percent of regional. Mara is one of the 30 regions of Tanzania; Musoma serves as the Region's capital.

In Mara region agriculture and livestock keeping are the major occupations. Likewise many people especially young adults living along the lake shores in Bunda, Musoma and Tarime districts engage themselves in fishing. Crop production ranks first followed by livestock keeping and thirdly by fishing. About 90 percent of residents of the region depend on crop production, livestock and fishing. Food crops grown in the region include; cassava, maize, sorghum, finger millet, paddy, sweet potatoes and beans.

It is estimated that 51 percent of total agricultural households in Mara region keep cattle. Livestock reared in all districts include cattle, goats, sheep and donkeys. Cattle are kept for the provision of milk, meat and dowry. Livestock and livestock products are also sold to meet household needs such as school uniforms and medical care.

Cash crops in the agricultural sector of the Mara region’s economy is dependent principally on one crop, cotton. Cotton is principally grown in Bunda, Musoma and Serengeti districts. Coffee is mainly grown in Tarime district. Sunflower, tobacco and groundnuts are minor crops grown in some districts. Named after the River Mara. Mara Region of Tanzania has a land area of 7.5 million acres an area roughly the size of Massachusetts with an estimated 1.74 million in population.

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