Yeyo Discovery

Datooga

The Datooga people live in Northern Tanzania.  The most general name for this widely-dispersed ethnic group is Datooga, though it is sometimes spelled Tatooga

The best-known and most numerous  Datooga peoples  reside chiefly in that part of the northern volcanic highlands dominated by Mount Hanang (3,418 metres).  The sacred nature of this mountain makes it an important theme in Datooga myth and song.

The Datooga themselves blend in with their environment, their dress being the color of the reddish brown soil.  Only on closer inspection will they appear colorful with their reddish, patched leather dresses, bead work, and brass bracelets and necklaces.  A prominent decoration is tattooing of circular patterns around the eyes. This people are part of the broad Nilotic migration from the Sudan along the Nile River centuries ago.

They were herders, but have diversified to include agriculture in recent times.  The Datooga are proud people, with a reputation as fierce warriors.  Traditionally, young men had to prove themselves by killing an “enemy of the people,” defined as any human being not a Datooga, or one of the dangerous wild animals, such as elephant, lion or buffalo.

The Datooga keep goats, sheep, donkeys and a few chickens, but cattle are by far the most important domestic animal. The meat, fat, blood, milk, hide, horns, tendons and cow dung of every animal have either practical or ritual purposes.

The ideal family situation is polygamous, with wives ranked in order of marriage. Marriage must be outside the clan.  Funerals are extensive ceremonies, lasting up to a year.  Power centers in a neighborhood council of elders.  Group pressure is the primary social control, but elders can impose fines and curses.  Men drink honey beer as a sacred drink on ritual occasions.

The Datooga are animists who respect and fear their ancestors.  They practice divination, rain-making, witchcraft and sorcery.  They believe in one creator God, whom they call Aseeta.  But they think of him as distant and impersonal.  Spiritual help is found through communication with ancestors.  Women play a big role in religious life, especially in singing and prayer.

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