The Nyamwezi Ethnic Group History Essay

Totaling about one and a half million, the Nyamwezi are the second-largest of the cultural groups which comprise the state of Tanzania in East Africa. Most of the Nyamwezi live in their autochthonal fatherland in west cardinal Tanzania, South of Lake Victoria. The Nyamwezi were given their name, intending “ people of the Moon ” , in the 19th century by the Kiswahili-speaking peoples of coastal Tanzania. Their linguistic communication, referred to as Kinyamwezi, is a distinguishable idiom of the wider Bantu linguistic communication household spoken widely across Sub-Saharan Africa.

By 500 c.e. , the cardinal part of Tanzania was populated with Bantu agriculturists who migrated from the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa. After 1000 c.e. , the peoples of cardinal Tanzania divided into several different groups, one of which was the ascendants of the Nyamwezi. The earliest political formation of the Nyamwezi and other groups in the country was mostly determined by the topography and environment of the part. Central Tanzania is largely a dry tableland with few rivers. The deficiency of H2O, combined with hapless dirt conditions, prevented the accretion of big, centralised populations. As a consequence, the Nyamwezi were organized into little, independent small towns headed by a familial head known as an ntemi. In the centuries following 1000 c.e. , the Ntemi chieftainships of the Nyamwezi continued to distribute and distinguish across the part. When one chieftainship became excessively thickly settled for its local nutrient supply, a new ntemi would breakaway with his followings and set up a new chieftainship. No cardinal or incorporate authorization existed over the Nyamwezi prior to the 19th century.

Two historical developments in the early 19th century had a dramatic impact on the Nyamwezi, in both instances taking toward greater political centralisation. The first was the Ngoni invasions of the 1830s. The Ngoni were flying due norths from Zulu enlargement in southern Africa. Bringing new arms and advanced contending methods, the Ngoni forced their manner into cardinal Tanzania and caused great break among the Ntemi chieftainships. By 1850, the Ngoni were busting and looting Nyamwezi district. Many small towns were destroyed or forced into the ranks of the Ngoni. Crop cultivation declined and pandemonium dominated the part. In response to the menace, many of the Ntemi chieftainships, including the Nyamwezi, adopted the contending methods of the Ngoni and sought safety in larger, more unafraid political formations, such as king-ships.

The 2nd development in the 19th century which led to greater centralisation was the coming of the tusk and slave trade. Get downing in the late 18th century and increasing over the class of the nineteenth, trade trains led by Swahili or Arab bargainers journeyed from the seashore along two different paths into the inside. The southern trade path ran from the southern subdivision of the seashore to Lake Malawi. The cardinal path ran from the seashore opposite Zanzibar to both terminals of Lake Tanganyika and the western side of Lake Victoria, go throughing straight thru Nyamwezi district. In 1852 Arab merchandisers established the present town of Tabora as a trading base in the of import Nyamwezi chiefdom of Unyanembe.

From the start, the Nyamwezi were involved in the trade, enforcing tolls on go throughing merchandisers and often attach toing slave trains and moving as porters transporting tusk ivories to the seashore for export. By the mid-nineteenth century, the Nyamwezi were the most active trade group in the interior South of Lake Victoria. In add-on, the adversities and uncertainness created by the Ngoni, the slave trade, and the debut of pieces into the part caused many people, including the Nyamwezi, to follow leaders who could offer protection and security. At the same clip, engagement in the train trade allowed ambitious heads to derive entree to greater wealth and pieces, supplying the agencies to spread out their power and construct greater lands out of the once scattered chieftainships.

The best known and most powerful of these heads was Mirambo. As a immature adult male, Mirambo was captured by an Ngoni force and learned much about their combat methods. By the 1860s, holding survived Ngoni gaining control, Mirambo ruled his male parent ‘s chieftainship at Ugowe and used the lessons he learned from his capturers to spread out his ain power. Mirambo often raided adjacent peoples and by 1880, he controlled the cardinal trade paths that ran thru Tanzania. In 1876, his capital at Urambo was 2nd merely to Tabora as a trade market and he was the most powerful figure in the inside. Mirambo ‘s power was such that he able to coerce the Arab merchandisers to pay him for protection. At one point when the Arabs refused, he closed the trade paths until his footings were met. He besides established good dealingss with the Europeans who were traveling into the part, even leting the London Missionary Society to raise a mission station in his imperium. Mirambo was non really effectual nevertheless at organisation and disposal. When he died in 1884, his replacement, Mpandasho, was unable to keep the imperium and it rapidly collapsed.

Not long after his decease, in the 1890s, the Germans were trying to occupy German East Africa, subsequently Tanzania. Many peoples of the inside resisted Germany ‘s business and the Nyamwezi were no exclusion. In 1892, a Nyamwezi leader known as Isike defeated the first German force sent against him and he closed the trade paths. In January, 1893, his capital at Ipuli was overrun by a larger German force and Isike killed himself and his household in an detonation instead than be captured.

Following its effectual business of the inside, Germany introduced hut revenue enhancements and hard currency harvests to do its settlement profitable. Many Nyamwezi work forces became migratory workers on colonist farms to pay the hut revenue enhancement. In the Nyamwezi fatherland, Indian potatos were the hard currency harvest of pick and many Nyamwezi benefitted economically from their sale.

When German regulation ended in 1919, the British took over the settlement. In the decennaries that followed, ethnically-based political associations began which finally contributed towards the independency motion of the late fiftiess. In 1936, the New Wnyamwezi Association formed, which sought to better the public assistance of Nyamwezi but which besides raised consciousness about the possibility of larger political motions. By 1958, the Tanganyika African National Union, which led Tanzania to independence in 1961, was deriving members among the Nyamwezi. They have every bit good remained a important population group in post-independence Tanzania.

Phillip Cantrell