The defensive measures of certain tribes in North-Eastern Tanganyika

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This is the last of a series of four articles dealing with the defensive measures taken by certain tribes of north-eastern Tanganyika. In previous articles, it has been shown how the people of North Pare went underground in times of danger, how certain of the Iraqw of Mbulu lived in pit dwellings, how the Chagga of Kilimanjaro built forts and like the Pare supplemented these with dug-outs or bolt holes. In this final article, we deal with the Mbugwe and the Sonjo who, rather than adapting their environments for defensive purposes, chose environments which suited their particular system of defense. MBUGWE The Mbugwe are a small tribe of Bantu agriculturists and herders of stock, living at the base of the Rift Wall in Mbulu District. The 1948 census showed that the tribe totalled only 7,500. Their neighbours in all directions are non- Bantu; the Iraqw to the west, the Barabaig and Gorowa to the south, and the Masai to the east and to the north. Little has been written about this tribe but Sturdy (1936) gave some details of their agricultural practices and Gray (1953). elaborated on one aspect of their social system. These writers and everyone else who has contacted the Mbugwe are unanimous in their surprise that such arid alkaline country should hold any population at all. It is true that one attraction is freedom from tsetse which infests the bush surrounding the Mbugwe flats but the casual observer would think that any reasonable inhabitants would have attempted to ameliorate these conditions by the planting of shade trees, 'he building of wind breaks, or at least the growing of their high standing mtama crops round the houses (like the Rangi's habit of growing castor bushes near the house).
Available in Print form, East Africana Collection, Dr Wilbert Chagula Library, ( EAF FOS F78.D4)
Tribes, North-Eastern Tanganyika, Defensive Measures
Fosbrooke, Henry A. (1955) The defensive measures of certain tribes in North-Eastern Tanganyika