Tanzania

In Tanzania there are 1.2 million unreached people. We go and work with The Digo and Zaramo people.

The Digo are a Muslim tribe living in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. More than 500,000 Digo are concentrated on the northern coastal strip of Tanzania from the town of Tanga to the border of Kenya. They inhabit the fertile plains of the Pangani River, between the Usambara Mountains and the Indian Ocean.

The Digo are a Bantu tribe and are grouped together with eight other tribes who share a common oral history. Together, these tribes make up the Mijikenda, or "nine towns". Tradition tells us that the Mijikenda tribes originated farther north, but were driven south as a result of war. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Digo experienced a great famine. It became common for them to give either themselves or their children as "blood money" to serve as temporary collateral for a loan of food. Sadly, there were many times when the debt could not be redeemed, thus leaving them to live as slaves. Freedom was then granted when a slave converted to Islam.

The Zaramo are a Bantu tribe who live in the coastal plains and low hills surrounding Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's capital. Many Zaramo also speak Swahili, the language of trade and communication for much of East Africa.

Before the eighteenth century, the Zaramo lived farther inland, and have only moved into the area around Dar es Salaam in the last 200 years. They could have become a powerful tribe in the region, but because of internal fighting, they have prevented themselves from gaining any real influence.
During the late nineteenth century, the Zaramo became prominent traders, dealing in ivory, salt, fish, and rhinoceros hides. They were also highly involved in the slave trade and would hunt slaves from other tribes.

 

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