The Wagogo, a fairly large tribe with an estimated population of nearly one and a half million people, are a Bantu group from the Dodoma region and their land is called Ugogo.
Originally shepherds, they later moved to urban areas and converted to agriculture.
They may be descended from the Hehe and Nyamwesi tribes who invaded their lands in the 19th century and, in all likelihood, intermingled with mixed marriages.
Their land was right on the routes of the caravans that passed with loads coming from and going to the coast. Caravans of European and Arab traffic. These caravans and their loads crossed Ugogo back and forth, greatly annoying the tribe. Initially they tried to disturb, then, probably annoyed by the bustle, they put a tax on the transit for anyone who wanted to cross their land.
Henry Stanley, the journalist-explorer who found Livingstone when he was believed dead by all, crossed the Ugogo which he described as a sparsely populated land and expressed unedifying judgments about its inhabitants.
In fact, the location of the Wagogo region is an arid land, subject to drought, therefore a harsh place, difficult to inhabit.
The Wagogos were born as cattle ranchers, but later converted to agriculture, mainly cultivating wheat.
Social relationships were complex, as in almost all Tanzanian tribes. The values of good neighborliness, solidarity and hospitality were the basis of coexistence.
The family also played a very important role: just think that the bond that united a brother and a sister was deeper than that between husband and wife. Women left their family of origin when they got married, but they maintained a very close relationship with it.
Divorce was rare, but contemplated. Since the future bridegroom had to donate livestock to the bride’s family at the time of marriage, in the event of divorce these livestock had to be returned and the protection of the children was entrusted to the father.
Polygamy was accepted, but not widely practiced.
To manage the affairs of the tribe there were two leaders: a political one, the ‘sultan’, and a religious one.
The religious leader was very influential in the life of the community. He possessed wealth in terms of livestock and made decisions concerning the private and economic sphere: on weddings, initiation rites, the timing of sowing and harvesting and had the power to judge certain crimes such as murder and witchcraft. In short, a real backbone of the community, highly respected and also very feared.
Men followed an age-related subdivision. Those who were of the right age to become warriors defended the tribe from raids by other groups, such as the Wahehe, and raided other people’s livestock.
In short, a very singular group that inhabited a singular land. It must not have been easy to live with a harsh territory and with quarrelsome and conquering neighbors, but life was not easy for anyone in those days.
Currently the Wagogos continue, for the most part, to live in the Dodoma region.
The area has remained unchanged in its climatic and territorial characteristics and it is enchanting from a landscape point of view.
Today’s curiosity: Doctor Maguo is from Dodoma and is a Gogo.😊