Origin of Bantu

Origin of Bantu

  • They are Bantu speaking people who belonged to the Highland and coastal Bantu.
  • They comprise of that group of Central and Northern Tanzania Bantu that continued with their migration from the Congo basin.
  • They are closely related to other Bantu tribes like Gweno, Sukuma and Shamba.
  • They entered Tanzania through the West using the route between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Edward.
  • Their migration took place between 1000 – 1300 AD
  • They settled around Mt. Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanganyika.
  • The Chagga decided to settle around Mt. Kilimanjaro permanently and came to be known as the highland Bantu.

Political organisation

  • The Chagga had a decentralized system of administration with chiefs at the centers of authority.
  • The chiefs were distinguished elders in society with political and religious powers.
  • Chiefs were always encouraged to extend the political frontiers of their chiefdoms.
  • Chiefs were also in charge of administering justice in their chiefdoms.
  • The Chagga had political rivalries with their neighbours especially the Masai over grazing lands.
  • Below the chiefs were other influential leaders called judicial counselors.
  • Judicial counselors were directly appointed by the chiefs.
  • Judicial counselors were also charged with tax collection.
  •  Below the judicial counselors were the clan heads who were prominent and influential.
  • Clan heads were also used in maintenance of law and order in their clans.

Social organisation

  • The Chagga were organized on clan basis.
  • They had several clans with each clan having a clan head.
  • Chiefs also served as chief priests and presided over religious ceremonies.
  • They believed in a god called Ruwa.
  • Ruwa was considered not to have been the creator of the world.
  • Ruwa was believed to have freed mankind and provided him with fruits and plants to feed on.
  • They believed in the powers of ancestors i.e. life after death.
  • Sacrifices were therefore offered to appease the spirits of the ancestors.

Economic organisation

  • Agriculture was the important economic activity among the Chagga.
  • They grew crops such as bananas, millet and coffee.
  • Irrigation was carried out to support agriculture during the dry season.
  • They applied manure in their farms and also carried out crop rotation.
  • They also kept animals like cattle, goats and sheep.
  • They also practiced iron working and made implements like spears, pangas and arrows.
  • They carried out trade with their neighbours and exchanged their surplus goods for salt.
  • They later participated in the long distance trade with the coastal Arabs.

  N.B By the 18th century, they had developed a system of kingship.