Collection Description

Brief Culture Description

Culture Name


Culture Description

The Chagga are a Bantu-speaking people living on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. In the nineteenth century, the Chagga were cultivators and cattle keepers. They underwent significant changes in the colonial and postcolonial periods with expanding coffee production, land shortage and the inflow of wages and salaries from migrants and employees. In traditional Chagga society, localized patrilineages formed the subunits within a district, and several districts formed autonomous chiefdoms. The chiefs often warred with each other for revenge, plunder and conquest. After Tanzania won its independence in 1961, the system of chiefdoms was abolished.


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Africa --Eastern Africa



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Collection Information

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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.

In addition to this culture summary, the Chagga (FN04) collection consists of documents in English (including two translations from the German, and one from Swahili), covering cultural, economic and historical information circa 1880 to early 2003. The most comprehensive works are by a missionary who lived with the Chagga for more than two decades in the first quarter of the twentieth century (Gutman 1926, no. 1; Gutman 1932, no. 3). Together, these books provide the first systematic attempts to understand pre-colonial Chagga culture and society with particular reference to customary law, religious life, social organization, and status of elders. The collection also includes two works which provide a general description of Chagga society and various customs by a British government official (Dundas 1924, no. 4) and a former native chief (Marealle 1963, no. 6).

The remaining works are ethnographic accounts by professional anthropologists. Specific themes covered include socialization and child-rearing practices (Raum 1940, no. 2), change and continuity in customary laws (Moore 1986, no. 7) and aspects of divination (Myhre 2006, no. 8).

For more detailed information on the context of the individual works in the file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Teferi Adem

Collection Indexing Notes

Kaa –homestead– Use HOUSEHOLD ( 592) with SETTLEMENT PATTERNS ( 361)

Kihamba –permanently held cultivated plot, usually planted in bananas– Use REAL PROPERTY ( 423) with INHERITANCE ( 428)

Mangi –Chief– Use STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE ( 554)

Mchili –head of district – Use COUNCILS ( 623) with DISTRICTS ( 634)

Mganga –diviner, medicine man– Use REVELATION AND DIVINATION ( 787) with MEDICAL THERAPY ( 757)

Mila –custom– Use LEGAL NORMS ( 671)

Mtaa –district, parish– Use DISTRICTS ( 634) with COMMUNITY STRUCTURE ( 621)

Shamba –farmstead, planted in annual crops– Use REAL PROPERTY ( 423) with LAND USE ( 311)

Ukoo –Patrilineal lineage or clan– Use LINEAGES ( 613) with CLANS ( 618)

Indexing Notes by

Teferi Adem

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