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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.