Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Chagga social event: Connecting Chaggas to their culture and traditions

Today I take you to the Chagga Social event that took place yesterday at the Kili Botanica Garden in Moshi – Kilimanjaro, the event was organised by Vijana Kilimanjaro in conjunction with and sponsorship of Kili Fm Radio (87.5), Chui international Investment, Mobisol Solar Company, Bumako Insurance Company, and Rafiki supermarket.

Not only was it an event of its kind with learning experience, it was also a social event that provided a platform for the Chaggas to come, connect and socialize with other members of the chagga tribe. It also welcome other tribes, cultures and traditions to come learn about the chagga’s ways of life.

According to traditions, the name wachaga (which refers to the chaggas) finds its origin in the periods of the Arab Merchants, who when crossing from Tanga to the central of the country will always pass by Kilimanjaro. As they passed below the foothills of Africa’s highest peak they would see bunches of smokes rising from the mountain side, in curiosity to know what was happening they will ask their tour, the tour guide always responded by saying those are the wachakas which meant those from the bush. The smoke was actually the results of burning bushes for preparation of settlements and lands for farming.

History tells us that the Chaggas were not the original settlers of the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, about 250, or 400 years ago the land was occupied by aboriginal people known as the Wakonyingo, who were possibly pygmies,  Wangassa, a tribe similar to the Masai, and the Umbo of the Usambara mountains.  With the arrival of the chaggas these groups were either driven out or absorbed by the Chagga.

Since I am just covering the event, if you would like to learn more about the chagga history, below I have attached some links for references and further readings.

1. Chagga People on Wikipedia 
2. Countries and their People: Chagga People 
3. History of the Chagga Clan 
4. Chagga on ecyclopedia 
5. Chagga Experience 
6. Culture heritage: Traditional Chagga
7. The beginning of the Chaggas 

The main purpose of the event was to bring the Chaggas together to learn about their customs and traditions. Many Chaggas have migrated to other places in Tanzania and across other borders leaving their customs and traditions behind as they mingle with other tribes, cultures, and traditions especially those migrating to urban areas where cultures and traditions isn’t a big deal. Lack of culture value promotion, Travelling and living abroad, Colonialism, Western cultures, intermarriage and education has also contributed largely to this, as schools and universities nowadays are flooded with students from different traditions and customs, there is no way for the chagga culture, traditions, and customs to preserve itself, especially for today’s and tomorrow’s generation. Many people have found themselves being called Chaaga without an idea of anything from that tribe. Therefore, with all that in the midst, there is a great need to preserve the chagga customs and traditions, and one way to get that done was via a social event for the chaggas. Without events like this, the chagga’s culture and tradition is not safe from destruction in the nearest future.

The event featured an incredible buffet of traditional chagga foods such as machalari(banana, beef, onions, potatoes and optional vegetables), kiburu, kitawa, mtori, mlaso, ngararimu, kisusio, kimamtine, Cassavas, Majimbi, vibere, and fresh fruits and vegetables, Many of these foods are made according crops farmed and available in the chagga land such as bananas, millet, maize, beans, and cassava. There were also other normal side dishes for those who couldn’t keep up with the chagga food, which included Pilau, Rice, Beef stew, beans sauce, barbecued beef and chickens, roasted chickens, chips, green peans, vegetables, and many other Tanzanian dishes.

For drinks, all I could see was people with chubukus all over, I guess people were more interested in mbege (the chagga brewed banana beer). Mbege plays a very important social role in the lives of the Chagga tribe. You will find people in the villages on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro selling Mbege. It is often part of the traditional dowry before a marriage takes place. It is drunk at weddings, funerals, birthdays and business meetings. The drink is made out of Sorghum/ finger millet and ripe bananas. Some call it banana beer but it has a more wine-like taste to it. Everyone from everywhere whether alone or in groups people were holding a chubuku of menge in their hand.

Being a neighbouring tribe and friend the Masais also got a chance to feature their exquisite and delicious nyama choma alongside a traditional healing medicine known as Kiloriti.

A log that has existed for about 180 years was put on displayed for people to take a selfie with. Couple of Chagga raised goats where also present at the event, grazing around the displayed log.

For those who wanted to learn about chaggas previous lifestyle and housing, a chagga village hut was present with family members around it to show how the family worked together.  Varieties of chagga used tools and instruments were displayed, such as a wooden briefcase, coffee pilling machine, maize and millet grinding stones, wooden flutes, kata, shame, bells, and drums. There was also a tour guide who explained everything about the chagga way of life back in chiefdom period.

For entertainment music was present, local artists such as singer and comedians got the platform to showcase their talents, and traditional we had a chagga dance and band, and a chagga audio documentary. For those who wanted to go swimming, the pool was open for them.

Whether they wanted to go on the swings, Slides, Mary go round, or the seesaw, the playground was open for those who came with kids.

Even though the event was catered with chagga culture and traditions, it was open to all other tribes, cultures, and traditions. This was an opportunity for them to come and learn the chagga ways of life. It was an event of its own kind, and if you are a chagga and would like to learn more about you tribe and its ways of life, I suggest you don’t miss it next time.

If you are planning to live in Moshi or elsewhere around the foothills of Mount Kili, then this is the place to come, connect and learn about the inhabitants of this amazing and beautiful place. You will learn the similarities and differences there are compared to your culture. Many distinguishable Chagga traditions will be present.

Thought it is its first time, after having a conversation with the organisers they assured me that it will be an ongoing event just as Nyama Choma festival is. Well folks, plan not to miss the next one, I will be very happy to see you there. And one more last this, don’t forget to share your experience with us, leave a comment below.

Unitl next time,
Chaow Chaow!

(Wooden Food dishes)

(The chagga buffet) 

(At the chagga traditional food buffet)

(A man waiting for his order)

(Mama serving ngararimo a traditional chagga food)

(Traditional chagga food buffet)

(The Massai traditional medicine)

(Masai nyama Choma)

(A chagga hut with family members around it)

(A Chagga entertainer playing the drum)

(People walking in and out of the hut)

(A chagga village life portrayed) 

(The Mbege being served)
(The looks of Mbege)

(This container is called Mokitoni and has the capacity of 37 buckets, that is 740 liters of mbege)  

(People in subgroups enjoying mbege while conversing)

(The Chagga traditional dancers performing)

(One of the chagga traditional dancer explaining the work of the horn)

(Giving a historical background in the chagga traditional dance)

(Types the chagga dance drums made from trees)

(Chagga traditional dancers dance in a circle)

(People enjoying themselves)

(This was the Mbege corner)

(Listening to the music)

Rumishael Ulomi is a Freelance Christian Consultant, Life Coach, and Motivational Speaker in the areas of Christian Ministry, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Social Sector development residing in Moshi,Tanzania.


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