Waziri (fictional tribe)

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Waziri is the name of a fictional African tribe created by Edgar Rice Burroughs in his Tarzan books.

In The Return of Tarzan Tarzan returns from civilization to his beloved jungle. But he has changed: when he meets a black warrior, instead of killing him he saves him from Numa, the lion.[1] The warrior is a member of the Waziri tribe. Tarzan discovers they are cultured and despise cannibals like the tribe he had intermittently warred against in his youth. Tarzan is accepted a member of tribe after teaching them a new practical way of hunting elephants. These two hunts are the only recorded instances of his killing "Tantor", the elephant.[2]

When Arabic ivory traders and their cannibal slaves attack the Waziri village, causing the death of the old chief (also named Waziri) and many others, Tarzan takes the lead, preventing the burning of the village and defeating the Arabs with effective guerrilla-tactics by killing them one at the time. Tarzan then becomes the new chief of the tribe and from then on these noble black warriors share his fate. The Waziri take him to their secret treasure-trove, lost city of Opar.

According to map to Africa, that shows Africa as Burroughs imagined it, the Waziri village was somewhere in Angola. However, they moved with Tarzan to his estate located east of Lake Victoria in British East Africa (now known as Kenya).

By the time of Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar the organization of the Waziri has changed from tribal to a more feudal system. They live with Tarzan and Jane in their plantation, with members taking care of cooking and cleaning, and even Jane's rose garden.[3] They no longer call Tarzan "King of Waziri," but rather "Big Bwana," while he calls them his "children": "...and were the heart of the Big Bwana not filled with love for his black children".[4]

As Burroughs many times writes, the Waziri are the greatest warriors in Africa, though small in numbers. They are feared by Arabic ivory and slave traders as well as cannibal tribes, and known from western to eastern Africa.

In the later novels, beginning with Tarzan and the Lost Empire, Muviro is sub-chief of the Waziri under Tarzan.[5]

Origin of name[edit]

According to David Arthur Adams, Burroughs may have coined the name "Waziri" on the basis of two historical African groups: "The infamous slaver, Tippu-Tib, who accompanied Henry Morton Stanley upon part of his journey, employed the Wangwana (the name of the inhabitants of Uganda) and Wanyamwizi (from Tanzania) to help round up slaves. The name Waziri could very likely be one of ERB's name juxtapositions, and, again, the reversal of alliances would be a normal practice in his writing."[6] Burroughs was frequently using Stanley's writings as a source for his early Tarzan novels.


  1. ^ The Return of Tarzan chapter 14.
  2. ^ Tarzan Alive page 89.
  3. ^ Gone primitive page 57.
  4. ^ Burroughs, Edgar Rice. Tarzan and the Golden Lion, chapter 5
  5. ^ Burroughs, Edgar Rice. Tarzan and the Lost Empire, chapter 1: "'Something is coming, Bwana,' said Muviro, sub-chief of the Waziri."
  6. ^ Adams, David Arthur. "Some Thoughts About The Return of Tarzan" in ERBzine Magazine #0666

See also[edit]