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  • Iraqw
    Language: Iraqw (Cushitic) Hello: Sitaa (sai-i-taa) The Iraqw language is influenced greatly by Hebrew and Arabic as they originally came from an area in Ethiopia near Somalia. Population: 300,000 - 600,000 (Estimated) Location: Manyara and Arusha Regions. Mbulu, Hannan, Karatu and Babati Districts. ﷯Appearance: Traditionally, the Iraqw wore clothing made of skins with elaborate beadwork that told their histories. While some Iraqw still incorporate this dress to some extent, many tend to wear contemporary Swahili clothing and khangas. Similar to the Sukuma, the Iraqw are becoming assimilated into the communities they live near. Traditional Foods: Ugali (cornmeal), wheat, finger millet, uji porridge (maize flour in milk), cow and goat milk, cow and goat meat, cheese, pumpkin, pumpkin leaves, mkande (maize and beans)
  • History
    ﷯The Iraqw are agro-pastoralists who originated thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia, the 'Iraq' of today. Passing through Israel to Egypt, they divided in two groups; some went to Ethiopia and then onward to Kenya (Samburu people of today), others to Somalia. Those in Kenya eventually migrated into Tanzania, from Iringa then Irangi. They were then displaced by the Datoga from the Ngorogoro highlands because of population growth and land need. They were finally driven into the districts of Mbulu, Babati, Hanang and Karatu, leaving traces of their tribe in all places they passed through. ﷯Fears of Maasai cattle-raiding troubled the Iraqw people to such an extent that they often built underground homes to hide themselves and their cattle. They are always prepared to defend their property, with weapons such as spears, bows and arrows, throwing clubs and shields which rest beside the doors of their homes.
  • Culture
    The Iraqw have become much more assimilated than many other tribes present in Tanzania. This is largely a result of having migrated so far from their homeland and encountering so many other cultures along the way. While Iraqw cultural identity is not as distinct as it once was, the Iraqw are interested in cultural revival and preservation. Traditional Iraqw songs are somewhat epic, relaying events of the past and telling stories. They often include oral histories of individuals and the culture as a whole. As is found amongst many tribes, their songs are often improvised or improved upon for specific events or ceremonies. Drumming often accompanies these songs. Iraqw drums are unique—clay pots covered by a goatskin. The Iraqw are largely agriculturalists, though they also raise livestock. Iraqw women work on the farms and are in charge of general household chores and maintenance. Iraqw men harvest the crops and take care of the cows.
  • Religion
    ﷯Before Christianity came to the Iraqw in 1907, the sun was their god. They sacrificed black head sheep in the morning and evenings on a hill or in river streams. Now, 70% of Iraqw are Christians, Lutherans and Catholics. The rest still believe in the sun as a god. Even amongst those Iraqw who have converted, elements of animist religion still influence their beliefs to some extent.
  • Iraqw Today
    ﷯The main problems facing the Iraqw today are similar to many people in Tanzania—access to education, potable water, and healthcare. Cultural preservation efforts are extremely important—because the Iraqw have become so assimilated, they have already lost significant aspects of their culture. Many of the songs they used to sing have not been sung for decades. Similarly, many ceremonies that used to comprise Iraqw culture have not been practiced in a number of years.