Tanzania – The Datoga Tribe

The first three days of our trip were a cultural safari in which we visited three different tribes.  The first tribe was the Datoga, who are farmers and herders.  In this particular village, the men worked as blacksmiths, and the women tended the herd, so it was really incredible to see the two vastly different roles that are played by men and women.

Both the men and women were very welcoming to us.  I was nervous about meeting the tribes because I didn’t want to feel like we were somehow exploiting them.  I definitely observed more with the women of this tribe, but after I saw how excited they were to show us their homes and invited us inside, I warmed up and took some pictures!

From a language standpoint, it was difficult to communicate with the Datoga people.  We had our cultural guide, Lema, who spoke English and Swahili, and a translator, Banga, who spoke a little English, Swahili, and the tribal language of the Datoga.  We were able to ask questions through Lema and Banga, but for most interactions, a big smile and hand gestures worked just fine.

We wandered around for a while taking pictures, and then I went inside the home.  There was a woman in there who was demonstrating how they grind their corn into cornmeal using two rocks.  I watched for a minute and then she motioned me over!  I knelt down next to her in front of the rocks and she demonstrated again for me what to do.  I started grinding and she kept throwing corn down, so I figured I was doing a good job!  After I was done with the last batch of corn, she started cheering and clapping and patted me on the back!  She was amazing and I really enjoyed learning from her.  Before we left their village, the women performed a song for us, which was incredible to watch!


Village View, Tanzania, 2018


Matriarch, Tanzania, 2018


Shy, Tanzania, 2018


Datoga Home, Tanzania, 2018


Grinding Corn, Tanzania, 2018


Jail Break, Tanzania, 2018


Dung Beetle, Tanzania, 2018


The blacksmiths that we visited later were also very welcoming and very excited to show us what they do.  Lema and Banga explained that they take scrap metal that they find, melt it down, and make arrowheads and all kinds of jewelry.  They trade the arrowheads with the Hadzabe tribe, who we saw the next day, and they sell the jewelry to visitors (like us!) and other places.  It was really amazing to see them work – they used two goat skin bags as their bellows.  Once the metal was heated, they hammered off pieces, put them in a tin and put them back in the fire.  Once those pieces were molten, they poured it into a mold and let it cool.  They let it set for a few days and then shape and hammer it into whatever they need.  One of the men was making a bracelet when we were there and I actually ended up buying that one!

The men invited Mike to try the bellows and they were very impressed!  They were joking around like they wanted to keep him there!  There were some ladies there selling the bracelets and one of them came over to me and motioned at my hat and at Mike with the camera.  I thought she wanted me to take it off for the picture, but when I took it off, she grabbed it and put it on her head and started laughing.  I started laughing and she gave me a side hug and Mike snapped some pictures.  She was so sweet!


Bellows Demonstration, Tanzania, 2018


Working Together, Tanzania, 2018


Watch, Tanzania, 2018


Metal Shaping, Tanzania, 2018


New Employee, Tanzania, 2018


Melting Metal, Tanzania, 2018


Killer Arrowhead, Tanzania, 2018


Bracelet Display, Tanzania, 2018


New Friend, Tanzania, 2018

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