Monday, January 7, 2013

Understand My Culture

Tanzanians have an interesting story to tell about their origin. The instability in the earth crust during primeval times did form the great Rift valley that runs from south ofYemen through Eastern African countries including Tanzania down to Lake  Nyansa and branching westward between Tanzania and D.R. Congo northward to Uganda . One of the sites with most favourable conditions in the valley, turned out to be the cradle of humankind. This is an early ape like creature whose footprints and skull were discovered by the Leakeys in 1959 and 1979. These evidences, which are products of archaeological discovery about the earliest ancestor were, obtained from the Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli. These areas were some of the habitats of the homo habilis and homo sapiens the old Tanzanians who could think and make stone tools. Important artifacts and the bones of the origin of the human species which were left behind have been estimated to be 1.75 million years old.
Moreover, similar landmarks have been made through excavation of historical sites at Isimila in the Southern Highlands where old stone age tools, commonly referred to as hand-axes can be seen today. The Kondoa-Irangi cave paintings by such ancestors and the Engaruka traces of both blacksmithery and irrigation works are further evidences of early human presence in Tanzania during the distant past.
It is better to be optimistic and assume that from here, some descendants dispersed worldover and later came back to Tanzania to join their sisters and brothers who had remained on this land. Now these came back as either warriors, farmers, pastoralists, settlers, invaders, refugees, colonisers, traders, explorers missionaries or as slave masters. Most of these people form the present population of Tanzania including over 120 mega-ethnic groupings (99%) excluding minority groups from Europe and Asia (1%)
With constant instability and civil strife in neighbouring lands now as well as has been historically, Tanzania is a safe haven of peace for immigrants. Refugees from both the Niger-Benue confluence in West Africa, Bahr el Ghazal in the Sudan and Shungwaya disperal areas in Kenya found homes in Tanzania between the 3rd and 13th centuries. Todate, she is still receiving and caring for thousands of refugees from Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo. This phenomenon has a significant impact on the size of the country's population, resources and environment. The number of these refugees ranges between 500,000 and 1,000,000. The refugees have caused incalculable damage to this country. Due to the need for food; water and fuel, almost all water sources and all natural vegetation within and around the refugee camps have been destroyed. As a result most of these sites have been virtually turned in to bare land of semi desertic conditions.
Killings, thefts and other ills have been committed by some refugees thus causing social disorders and flight of peace from among Tanzania citizens. The government of Tanzania; the Organization of Africa Unit (OAU), the UNHCR and UNICEF are doing their best to acclimatize these refugees so that when ideal time comes, they are repatriated to their countries.
To the global community, the refugee problem is yet another area which calls for more support to Tanzania to enable these refugees line like other human beings as well as bringing peace in their home countries so that they are livable places.

Tanzanian's Social fabric charm is the prime attraction for cultural and eco-tourism. The folklore, the traditional "ngomas" and the dancing styles vary from one tribe to another. When dancing, the Makonde vibrate their bottoms in "Sindimba" frenzy and the "Zaramo" bounce the undulating "Mdundiko" procession. The Maasai in their leaping dance going simultaneously with rhythmic chant of their deep voices which can scare even a he lion! The use of live snakes by the "Sukuma" such as embracing huge pythons and struggling with during the "Bugobogobo" dance turn such occasions into unforgettable scenes to a visitor. Each of the 120 tribes has its ngoma and dancing all of which styles are quite fascinating and sometimes sexy.
Various dressing styles are also rare attractions to a visitor. The Masai men put a light toga-like drape inadequately covering their lithe bodies while carrying traditional weapons such as spears, clubs and large knives. The Maasai women, on the other way, heavily load their necks, arms, legs and ears with jewelry ranging from beads to metal ornaments. Usual men smear their bodies with ochre mixed with animal fat and plait their hairs.

Again, the Makonde people indulge in filing their teeth and tattooing their faces and bodies a combination of which appear tantalizing! Makonde are the masters in their carvings which depict human struggles, conflicts, love, passion, good, evil and cooperation all of which are very attractive and mind provoking indeed!
For the coastal and island dwellers, it is the painting of hands, feet lips and nails with henna according to occasion, which look very luring. Of the unique ethic groups, are the almost extinct people of entral Tanzania. These are Sandawe (ethiopian cushitic related) whose neighbours are the Iraqw gorowa and burungi, and the Hadzapi also alternatively refer to as Tindiga Kindiga and Kangeju are Hottentot - Khoisan related people who speak click languages. The Ndorobo are also click speakers but they are more adaptive to external culture. These Tanzanians are nomads, gatherers, hunters, collectors; and fishers who live in the area surrounding lake Eyasi just a few Kilometres from the famous Ngorongoro crater. Today it is claimed that the number of these people is hardly 5,000 when it was over 30,000 in 1965. The challenge here is to help the government of Tanzania to save these people from the verge of extinction. In these respect, the areas around Lake Eyasi are ideal indeed for one to do scientific and anthropo-genealogic related researches for the future record. Implicitly then, one should reckon that an immediate touch is ideal now or never when those people will have become extinct.

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