THE WAMWERA TRIBE
Lindi is a coastal city in the South East of Tanzania and it gives the name to the whole region in which there are also the small towns of Ruangwa and Nachingwea. In this towns lives the Wamwera tribe, a matrilinear Bantu speaking group, originally coming from the North.
Their history is quite complicated and it follows the history of Tanzania itself: German colonization first, British protectorate after World War I and then freedom. These passages brought with them aspects of life that continue still today.
The Germans brought Christianity, but the Swahili coast has always been inhabited by the Swahili people, Muslims by tradition. As soon as the Germans were supplanted by the British, the Muslims spread their religion and lifestyle. Nowadays the Wamwera have a mixed composition of Muslims, Christians and, oddly enough, some forms of their traditional religion have resisted the historical and social upheavals.
They are farmers, but also keep some cattle and, living on the coast, they practise fishing.
Their home is thatched heatly. The structure is an elaborate waze of wooden poles that create the framework. On this framework, they put a red wetted clay soil to make the walls. The roof is another crossing of poles covered with grass.
The interior has several rooms: the parents’ room and a separated sleeping room for the children. The sitting room is dedicated to discuss family matters. This is really a feature of most Tanzanian families. Conversation topics range from marriage agreements to neighborhood disputes and how to deal with them. Outside the house, a big veranda is used for socializing.
As in many other Tanzanian tribes, also in the Wamwera tribe group rites of passage into adulthood are practised, both for boys and for girls. During these rites music is played and the Wamwera have a solid and historic musical tradition.
Going up and down Tanzania means meeting people from different groups. They are the heart of this country. The beating heart of it.
Today’s curiosity: how the parts of the house are called in Kiswahili. Bedroom: chumba – sitting room: kukaa – bathroom: choo. Isn’t it fascinating