No place like home
This group used to be organized in family groups known as clans. Bloodlines were the glue holding Chagga together, but they started to fade away. Some clans were reduced to one man, and eventually disappeared. All this intermingling has led to the one of the greatest blessings Chagga civilization was bestowed upon: A common language. Once you hear the same, familiar words from other people’s mouth, you are more likely to greet them with a smile on your face, not a weapon in your hand.
A banana beer, maybe?
Traditional Chagga culture has strong roots, but it is more visible in smaller towns. Ancient ways of life are preserved, although eroded by the desolation of the western culture. The first white man that went to see Kilimanjaro had to be sprinkled with goat blood and wait four days for an audience with the tribal chief. Today, climbers can go about their business without such “formalities”. Much has changed indeed, and missionary work has made many rituals and beliefs obsolete.
Witchcraft used to grow strong in this area, and rainmakers and rain-preventers were some of the most important people around. Medicine men would remove curses. Dreams were believed to be oracles of the future, and a God called Ruwa reigned supreme. Today, however, you are more likely to encounter a Christian Chagga than a rainmaker. Yet, subtle reminders of the past are uncovered everywhere for those who know where to look.
The old and the new mix and merge together. The fertile soil of Kilamanjaro provided food for the Chagga, and western education made them ready for the challenges of the modern world. Thus, certain members of the Chagga people became some of the richest and most powerful in the country. But, Tanzania is full of such surprises. Kupatana is one of those online local services many would expect to find in the most developed countries, and communication sector is the fastest growing in the country. The future may be bright, but at the end of the day each Chagga has a mountain to look up to.