Mnyampala notes that life for the Wagogo changed significantly with the coming of colonialism. Even naming is significant. Prior to colonialism, the inhabitants of Ugogo still primarily identified by clan; to speak of the Wagogo as a tribe was an artefact of colonial organisation and labelling. Aside from being drawn into European conflict such as World War One, a number of the Wagogo’s societal structures were altered as well.
Posts from the ‘Written by Tamie’ Category
Continuing in our series on Mnyamapala’s The Gogo: History, Traditions and Customs, which was written in 1954 about the region where we now live…
The Wagogo were not an ethnically pure tribe: there were the original Bantu migrants but lots of other people passed through Ugogo region for trade. On one hand, this made the Wagogo very accepting: if you moved into the area, within a generation, you were ‘one of us’, your past forgotten. However, Wagogo were less hospitable to those who were only passing through, sometimes holding them up or making them pay (and earning a reputation for being disagreeable as a result!) Read more
A lady turns up at our gate. She’d seen us at Mama Velo’s wedding near her home. She wasn’t a guest at the wedding and doesn’t know Mama Velo but somehow she’s tracked us down. She asks for money.
Primary education is free in Tanzania, but all children require a uniform which parents supply. She says to us she didn’t have the money for clothes for the children so they can’t go to school. Could we help out? Read more
I mentioned in my brief timeline of the Ugogo region, that Mnyampala’s The Gogo: History, Customs and Traditions was commissioned by the colonialism authorities. The introductory essay explains that the colonists were worried about the rise of nationalism, which could potentially throw them out, and so they commissioned studies like these to emphasise the uniqueness of each tribe in its own right. It seems they hoped that this tribalism would prevent a cohesive nationalist movement. The plan backfired big time. It actually fed nationalist spirit because it helped people to feel proud of who they were. However, there’s an emphasis on tribal unity in the book which may have more to do with the colonial agenda than be an accurate reflection of the Wagogo culture! Read more
As Advent season kicks off, we’ve been watching all the Christmas preparations that are going on in Australia. This is our first Christmas not in transition for 5 years and with Elliot growing up it’s a good opportunity to start thinking some more about our family Christmas traditions.
Living cross-culturally brings another element to our thinking on this. One option is to try to re-create Australian Christmas; another is to try to have an ‘authentic’ Tanzanian Christmas (not that we know what this is yet!). Rather than thinking of one or the other or a hybrid, we’re asking how our conceptions of what Christmas is for might be reshaped. Read more
Ugogo is the region of Tanzania that Dodoma is in – basically, it’s the middle bit. The people of Ugogo are called Wagogo (plural); one person is an mgogo.
Recently I’ve read an English translation of Mathias E Mnyampala’s The Gogo: History, Customs and Traditions written in 1954. While much of the book reads something a bit like Numbers in the Bible – names and clans that don’t mean much to me – many of the place names are familiar, and there’s an extended essay at the beginning which helps to interpret the information. I gained many fascinating insights into what the region we live in was like before and during colonial rule.
To start with, here’s a quick run-down of the history of the region according to what I picked up. Read more