A history of the Bena to 1908

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study concerns itself with the history of the Bena, a Bantu-speaking people from the earliest times to 1908 what is now Iringa Region. In six chapters of this study, we have examined the main themes of the emergence, development and expansion of the Bena in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania through the following lines of investigation namely, migrations and settlement; the political change which took place from about 1600 to the end of the nineteenth century; the German intervention and its consequences in Ubena. In dealing with the people of Ubena to which incoming peoples, under group or family leadership, from different directions moved in and settled, it suggests possible settlement patterns of the early inhabitants of the area, and discusses what developed out of these settlements. The study demonstrates that, although the region was already a Bantu territory quite early, perhaps as early as the beginning of the second millennium of the Christian era, they had been preceded by pro-Bantu groups of people called the Iringa Southern Cushites. It was through the interaction between the pre-Bantu and early Bantu groups that the Njombe communities were formed. As the population in the settled areas grew, no doubt due to natural increase and immigration, the hitherto little contacts between different groups of the people gradually increased. However, this did not lead to the development of one-centralized state under one leadership. This may have been because of the nature of their migrations and settlement as there had been differences of places of origin of the incoming peoples among other reasons. Members of the different groups of immigrants of the period between the twelfth and the seventeenth centuries settled in different parts of present-day Ubena at different times independent of each other, each recognizing either group or clan leadership. The study concludes by examining how the Bena faired economically in their region and how they responded to foreign intrusion from the east coast when their region was integrated into the international trade during the nineteenth century and the intervention of the Germans at the end of the century
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Bena (Bantu), Iringa, Tanzania (Region), History, 1908
Nyagava, S. I. (1988) A history of the Bena to 1908, PhD dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (