This is how history and culture may contribute into conservation of wildlife in Tanzania

This is how history and culture may contribute into conservation of wildlife in Tanzania

STANDING  about 5,895 metres from the sea level above East African plains, mount Kilimanjaro is located about 330 kilometers south of Equator and 270 kilometers from the Indian ocean which contributes on its weather through equatorial trade winds from thousands of years ago.

Mount Kilimanjaro is a unique and beautiful mountain, although there are many tales behind the word Kilimanjaro but let us make a clinical analysis behind the history of this tallest mountain in Africa, it being said that before the arrival of the Chagga on the slopes of the mountain the area was occupied by mysterious pigmy people who conquered the whole area after they fought and defeated Maasai warriors.

These were Wakonyingo who used sharp spears powered by a magical thing that accurately directed the weapon to its intended target. Regardless of their height and number in the battle ground the pigmy people used a supernatural power which enabled them defend their land and declare victory against marauding Maasai warriors who defeated every army that tried to stop them from occupying what is today known as Maasai plains today.

About seven hundred years ago, a small group of people led by ancestors of different clans of the Chagga arrived on the slopes of mount Kilimanjaro, their arrival was marked by a heavy fight with these pygmy people who were then defeated and vanished into the tropical forest where they used to come and make attacks on families in Machame, Moshi, Uru, Marangu and Rombo.

With the growing competition for grazing ground between the other communities especially the Maasai, leaders of the Chagga had no other option than to fight and pushed the Wakonyingo tribe into extinction when the last family was killed more than four hundred year ago. From that time the Chagga became a dominant community on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro after assimilating other minor communities such as Ongoma and Wangassa, time passed and they came familiar with the new founded land where they believed God or Ruwa had his palace on top of what is called today as mount Kilimanjaro.

Those days the mountain was surrounded by a thick tropical rainforest that had big waterlogged bodies, scientists say soil may be regarded as waterlogged when it is nearly saturated with water much of the time such that its air phase is restricted and anaerobic conditions prevail.

History shows that throughout the year the bodies were found around Mount Kilimanjaro because of long period rainfall that prevailed around the area, unlike others in different parts of the world those which were in the forest had heavy blanket made by aquatic tropical plants.

Filled with belief and a burning curiosity of knowing the secret behind the snow, some risk taker attempted to penetrate the heavy tropical rainforest, with no map or compass most of them were swallowed by these waterlogged bodies and died leaving shock and fear to their friends and family who cried out by saying Kipo kya ndega, in a simple English they were saying what a bad luck.

Among Chagga of Marangu, Rombo, Machame, Moshi and Uru the word Kipo is an exclamation that express a sudden cry that remarks a strong emotion or pain, phonetically the Chagga language has no P, these led to the rise of the word Kibo when Swahili and Arab people came into the area looking for ivory from elephants which used to dwell in the area. The unsuccessful expeditions to the peak of the mountain by local people led to the rise of the word Klema Kyaro which stands for impossible journey or route.

History shows that, in order to occupy the plains the Maasai had to fight against different communities including Wambulu who were in the area from more than 2,000 years ago and Datogo, Wambugwe who came later about 1,700 years ago but the Maasai people were not ready to change so they used warriors to force out of the plains all other communities about 300 years ago.

Wambugwe or Vambowe is a small but strong community found today in Babati district where they practice mixed farming activities, they are said to have their origin from Irangi where the Warangi of Kondoa are found today, there is a mixed history of this place where cave paintings are found, it is on the Irangi hills in Kondoa district where the main source of Tarangire river is found.

Stretching for more than 88.5 kilometer Tarangire River has another primary source in Babati district where the Wambugwe community is found today, these are believed to be responsible for the name Tarangire which means meandering of something, because of their influence over Wambugwe the Kirangi language cannot be left out in the making of this beautiful name.

Meanwhile, history shows that in 2005, Saadani became the 13th national park from a game reserve which had its roots from different angles including Utemini street of Singida municipality where chief Senge used to reside before his death in 1998. Chief Senge was coroneted to the throne as a traditional leader of Wanyaturu community of Singida in 1940 after the death of his father in 1939, it is being said right from his childhood he had a unique passion conservation of animals in his area.

From the beginning of of his reign, chief collected different animals from Arusha, Manyara and Kilimanjaro which enabled them to establish the first zoo in the central part of Tanganyika which was getting effects of the  second world war as more than 100,000 people were taken to fight on the side of the allied forces.

In his zoo, chief Senge had different animals including eland, lion, leopard, wildebeest, zebra, baboon, ostrich and a female cheetah which he managed to make cross breeding with a male dog to get a unique cub which was taken to a zoo in Europe by one colonial officer.

One my wonder how was it possible for chief Senge to perform that biological exercise which requires a lot of knowledge and sometime laboratory equipment because the two animals are carnivore and belong to two different biological groups, a cheetah is a feline while a domestic dog originates from canines or wolf family.

Chief Senge’s self made skills enabled him to train strong male lions to play with people by obeying different commands from him and other people in his zoo, he also trained an eland to pull a two wheal carriage which was used to take people from his residency to Kindai dam.

History shows that in 1893 captain Horace Hayes tried to domesticate a zebra but after several attempts he declared the animal is not ready to be tamed but in central part of Tanganyika, chief Senge without any training managed to tame a good number of these animals.

He could be the only person on the Earth to do that because of his extraordinary ability which enabled him to train the zebras to pull a carriage after putting into control their dangerous ability of kicking so these animals were used by his servants to pull a plough to till several acres of his large farm in Singida.

In his zoo he kept many animals but it’s being said that he loved the giraffe and used all his effort to protect the tallest land animal which humbly serves as the symbol of the our nation.

One may wonder what was the reason and origins of chief Senge’s passion for wildlife, history shows that he belonged to Mghenyi family which before conquering the Wanyaturi community it had its roots from the Datogo people of Basuto plains in modern Manyara region.

His grandmother was heroine who fought against the colonialists from German, queen Liti used a special spear to lead her people against aggression from Europeans by combining magic power which used a huge swam of African honey bee to sting to death several well trained solders.

She was feared by her own people because she was able to seat or stand on a sharp edge of her magical spear, it is believed that queen Liti was born by a powerful witchdoctor who controlled direction and amount of rain in the land of Wanyaturu and Dotogo who are also known as Wabarabaig.

At certain time the rainmaker stop rain the land of Wanyaturu for two years and caused a severe drought which killed several people and many livestock, this made people to assemble around his house and forced him to do something to change the situation. The old man was also blind made a powerful thunder which killed him and brought rain into the land but people forced the witchdoctor’s family out of their community to avoid problems in the future.

His wife fled to a new land between Wanyaturu and Dotogo communities, it said with two little girls in her hands, the woman run from attacks the army which wanted to get rid with the family and the problem in their land.

By using magic power inherited from her father, one of the girl who later became to be known as Liti threw water from a small jar on her hands, it is said these drops turned into thorn bushes which stopped the army and termite mound which protected them against sharp arrows from their enemies.

After reaching into a safe area at Itigi, Liti walked around the whole area and its surroundings where she selected a special point in a basin and used her mother’s walking stick with magical to pull underground water to make Kindai dam which one of important source of water for people in Singida today.

The above short history pushed chief Senge to fall in love with conservation of different animals in his residency at Utemini street, in the middle of 1970s the population of animals in his zoo grew bigger forcing him to look for an alternative plan.

He contacted a local chief of Saadani village who helped him to take some of his animals to what was known as Saadani game reserve which was located between three villages of Saadani, Uvinje and Porokanya.

Before his death in 1998, chief Senge contributed his entire stock to the game reserve and today some leopards, lions, zebras, elands, hyenas, cheetahs and others which are found in national park today have their origin on the backyard of his house. With his history made up by two community, Tanzania National Parks Authority could set one day in the calendar year to remember and honor chief Senge’s contribution to growth of Saadani National  Park, this could be done by inviting people from Wakwere, Wanyaturu and Wabarabaig communities for a unique day for traditional activities.

These may include traditional food, fishing and farming activities but with Barabaig community may use this day for a spectacular ritual called Bunged which is used to beautify their fallen heroes and forefathers including chief Senge.

Protect history and nature!   





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