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The Pare (pronounced “Pahray”) people are members of an ethnic group indigenous to the Pare Mountains of northern Tanzania, part of the Kilimanjaro Region. Pareland is also known as Vuasu (Asu the root word and Chasu or Athu, the language). The location lies on one of the northern routes for historic east-African long-distance trade, connecting the hinterland with the coast of the Indian Ocean. The residents of northern Pare recognise two sub-areas based on ethnolinguistic differences: Kigweno-speaking Ugweno to the north and Chasu-speaking Usangi to the south.
The Pare were the main producers of iron for which there was considerable demand by the Chaga and other adjacent populations. Notable Pare blacksmiths include the Shana clan (Shana, meaning blacksmith) who have maintained the tradition to this present day. The Pare were also known as rainmakers, one notable exponent being Mfumwa (Chief) Muhammad Kibacha Singo, a local ruler of Same who died in January 1981, estimated to be aged between 120 and 140 years.
The Ugweno kingdom of northern Pare emerged in the 17th century. The German colonial era lasted until 1963 when the chiefdom was abolished by an independent Tanganyika government. At the start of the 20th century the population of South Pare (now known as Same District) was estimated at 22,000 (Naval Intelligence Division, 1920, p. 28) comprising an ethnic group called Asu or Pare who are speakers of Chasu, a Bantu language. They are patrilineal and were in several areas organized into small chiefdoms.
The Pare Union formed in 1946 was one of Tanzania's first ethnic-based nationalist movements to begin activism against the colonial system. Among many grievances, was the exploitation through the production of export crops particularly Sisal and Coffee. Like many other ethnic-based political groups in Tanganyika, The Pare Union then became part of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA) which later became the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) in 1954. This avoided groups like the Pare Union forming into full political parties that were ethnic in orientation.
Moses Seenarine writes of the contribution of Pare women in the struggle: 'The Pare women's uprising in northwest Shambaai, Tanzania, occurred in early January 1945 and continued with demonstrations into 1946, involving thousands of women. It began in Usangi, one of the chiefdoms, when the district commissioner arrived for discussions with the local chief. A crowd of five hundred women appeared, demanding an explanation of mbiru, a system of graduated taxation. When the commissioner tried to leave without addressing the women, they became enraged and mobbed the assembled officials. Two days later, women surrounded the chief's house singing songs, and ultimately stoned officials and battled police.'
Ms. Damari Namdori Sefue (née Kangalu), was the first Tanganyikan (Now Tanzania Mainland) woman to qualify as a teacher. (For more please see The Development Of the SDA Church in Eastern Africa, Edited by K.B. Elineema, p. 56).
Another important historical event is that of Mbiru, a protest during the colonial period by the Pare people which involved refusal to pay tax. It was led by Paulo Kajiru of Mamba. Professor Kimambo of University of Dar es Salaam has written a book describing this event.
Sheridan (2004) documents on archival sources and oral histories to explain how the altering of post-colonial land management in the North Pare (currently known as Mwanga) Mountains affected environmental conditions. Colonial forest management and water policies were all abandoned, affecting villagers in many aspects including environmental degradation and a drop in management capacity.
The area's chief produce is tea, Coffee, sisal, and cinchona. Rice is grown in the swampy plains. The Parelands are by Tanzanian standards, quite prosperous as its infrastructure of roads, electricity, telephones, and piped water supply attests. An older infrastructure of irrigation furrows, stone-lined terraces, and sacred forests lies alongside these newer technologies and shows that the Pare landscape has been carefully managed for centuries. In 1890, for example, a German geographer praised the area's stone terraces as being. similar to European vineyards and stated that the North Pare irrigation system was a "truly magnificent achievement for a primitive people" (Baumann, 1891:229).
Makande is a typical dish of the Pare tribe, who live in the Pare Mountains, and is popular throughout Tanzania. The dish is a kind of stew of maize, red beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and chicken stock, and it’s normally prepared on Friday and lasts through Sunday evening, which gives people more time to socialize during the weekend without worrying about cooking—the food is kept in a big clay pot on the damp ground so it stays cool. Kishumba is another traditional food,is kind of bananas being cooked together with red beans and being crushed to make something like hard porridge.It is normally prepared for the shamba work. Vughai is another traditional food, is kind of hard porridge being prepared by either banana cassava or maize flour, or a mixture of both. It is saved with either vegetable, beans(or beans family) or meat/fish/chicken stew or both if available. When saved with meat/chicken it is considered a good welcoming dish for guests.
Before the introduction of western medicine there were certain symptoms which were being cured using traditional medicine. Children used to suffer Wintu (mouth sore) was a fungal ailment thought to come from the mother’s breast. It was treated by giving the child sheep’s milk instead of the breast. Kirumu, kirutu, and kinyoka (eye infection of the newborn). This may be neonatal conjunctivitis. The juice of leaves from a plant called mwore was used as a cure. Mtoro (diarrhea), made ‘the child as thin as firewood.’ Ash of the root of wild banana was administered orally as medicine. Mwana equhiwe ntembo was believed to be caused by a witch who had been able to take a piece of the placenta. The child died with difficulty in breathing after a short time for no apparent reason, as if it had been buried alive.
Beliefs. The most prominent and notable belief in Pare people was that,when a baby is born and milk teeth starting to grow from the upper jaw,it is believed to be a curse to the society and thus will be killed by being pushed on the edge of a large rock with the steep slope facing down the mountain,this belief has now been faded away due to the civilization brought by the literate among the early scholars of the society.
Places of interest
1. Usangi is a small, spread-out town 3 hours from Moshi, located in some kind of crater surrounded by a bunch of peaks that is the Northern Pare Mountains.
2. Ugweno is located in the North Pare Mountains about 80 km from the capital of Kilimanjaro, Moshi.
3. Suji, Kilimanjaro is located approximately 20 km from Makanya, a town on the main Dar es Salaam - Moshi road.
4. Shengena Natural Forest is part of Eastern Arch Mountain.In this forest there are some ponds whose water is milky in colour and some have black colour and the soil has some different colours from place to place some is goldish,some is pinky.
5. Ndungu irrigation scheme, supplying rice to Kilimanjaro and Tanga region.
6. Kihurio, adjacent to Ndungu, is also notable for rice cultivation.
7. Mamba Giti is where the S.D.A Church was founded in East Africa.
8. Mbaga where there is also Ibwe (stone) la vana or mkumba vana used to kill innocent children due to wrong beliefs.
9. Gonja where there is a water falls known as NDURUMO of about 400 mts along Hingilili river
10. There is a rock with a shape like a human nose in Mshihwi, known as Ikamba la fua (Nose Rock).
11. There is a rock in Southern Usangi on the slopes of the Hills as you go down to kwakoa village this rock is known as "Ibwe lavyana"; it is this rock where the innocent children were killed.
- Cleopa Msuya, former prime minister
- Asha-Rose Migiro United Nations 3rd deputy secretary general
- Halima Mdee A Member of Tanzanian Parliament
- Ahadi Kakore Sports Journalist (Editor, New Habari 2007 ltd)
- Anne Kilango Malecela A Member of Tanzanian Parliament
- DR. Mathayo David Mathayo A Member of Tanzanian Parliament
- Prof: Jumanne Maghembe A Member of Tanzanian Parliament
- Elineema, K. B. (1995). The Development of the SDA Church in Eastern Africa. Tanzania: Dar Es Salaam University Press.
- Hakansson, N. T. (1998). Rulers and Rainmakers in Pre-colonial South Pare, Tanzania: Exchange and Ritual Experts in Political Centralization. Ethnology SUM, 1998, V37.
- Hakansson, N. T. (1998). Pagan Practices and the Death of Children: German Colonial Missionaries and Child Health Care in South Pare, Tanzania. Uppsala University, Sweden.
- Sheridan, Michael (2004). The environmental consequences of independence and socialism in North Pare, Tanzania, 1961-1988. (Working papers in African studies).
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- Mpangala, G. P. (1999). Peace, Conflicts, ad Democratization Process in the Great Lakes Region: The Experience of Tanzania. Institute Of Development Studies, University Of Dar Es Salaam.
- Kimambo, I. and Temu, A. (eds) (1969). A History of Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam.
- Kasuka, B. (ed) (2013). African Writers. New Africa Press.