Warusha and WaMeru

Name ID 669

1680

Origins

Fosbrooke, Henry Arusha Integrated Regional Development Plan

Page Number: 5

See also

Extract ID: 3223

Paper 1 Land Tenure and Land Use

In Arusha/Arumeru the dominant groups are the Arusha and the Meru. The MERU, a Bantu speaking people came first, about three hundred years ago, arriving from the Usambara area together with the first Macheme Chagga, whose Bantu language is very closely allied to Meru. They settled in the forest on the south eastern slopes of Mount Meru (still their homeland) which was at that time only inhabited by the Koningo, a hunter/gatherer people of small stature. The Meru are skilled agriculturists who have utilized their favourable envirinment over the centuries without depleting its fertility.

The Arusha were the next arrivals. In their original home, Arusha Chine, they were of Pare origin. About 1830 they were encouraged by the Maasai to settle in the Selian area, west of the present Arusha town. They absorbed earlier Maasai speaking people, became Maasai speakers themselves and received a big influx of the Maasai in the 1880's when many lost their cattle in the rinderpest epidemic. The Arusha, like the Meru, have as agriculturists made the most of a favourable environment, but their mode of life is more heavily orientated towards cattle, most understandable considering the Maasai elements in their origins.

1830~

Origins

Fosbrooke, Henry Arusha Integrated Regional Development Plan

Page Number: 5

See also

Extract ID: 3223

Paper 1 Land Tenure and Land Use

In Arusha/Arumeru the dominant groups are the Arusha and the Meru. The MERU, a Bantu speaking people came first, about three hundred years ago, arriving from the Usambara area together with the first Macheme Chagga, whose Bantu language is very closely allied to Meru. They settled in the forest on the south eastern slopes of Mount Meru (still their homeland) which was at that time only inhabited by the Koningo, a hunter/gatherer people of small stature. The Meru are skilled agriculturists who have utilized their favourable envirinment over the centuries without depleting its fertility.

The Arusha were the next arrivals. In their original home, Arusha Chine, they were of Pare origin. About 1830 they were encouraged by the Maasai to settle in the Selian area, west of the present Arusha town. They absorbed earlier Maasai speaking people, became Maasai speakers themselves and received a big influx of the Maasai in the 1880's when many lost their cattle in the rinderpest epidemic. The Arusha, like the Meru, have as agriculturists made the most of a favourable environment, but their mode of life is more heavily orientated towards cattle, most understandable considering the Maasai elements in their origins.

1830s

Meru were well established

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

See also

Extract ID: 1170

Meru were well established on the mountain when the first Arusha settled there in the 1830s. Arusha were Maa-speakers who lost their cattle during the tumultuous wars then being fought among Maasai for control of the pastoral resources on the plains and so were forced to become farmers.

1890s

Clearing Mount Meru

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

See also

Extract ID: 1171

Arusha and Meru had cleared and settled most of the southern slopes of Meru from 4000 to 5300 feet by the 1880s, when a series of disasters swept across northern Tanzania. Bovine pleuropneumonia and Rinderpest devastated the herds of pastoral Maasai, driving them into the mountains to seek refuge; smallpox spread rapidly along the trade routes recently forged up the Pangani Valley; and drought and killing famine blanketed the area, especially during the years 1883-6, 1891-2 and 1897-1900, ...

1896

Missionary murder

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 1896

See also

Extract ID: 1172

Arusha and Meru Wariors sought to arrest the precipitous decline in their natural and social orders by a systematic crusade to restore moral order that culminated in the murder of the first two missionaries to settle on Meru in 1896.

1900~

Brutal German punitive expeditions followed the murder

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 1896

See also

Extract ID: 1173

Brutal German punitive expeditions followed [the murder of the first two missionaries to settle on Meru in 1896], during the course of which large number of Arusha and Meru were killed, their cattle confiscated, banana groves burnt down and Chagga wives repatriated to Kilimanjaro.

Shortly thereafter the Germans granted huge blocks of land on north Meru to a hundred Afrikaner families newly arrived from South Africa, and they subsequently alienated a solid block of land across the southern slopes

1907

bumper harvest

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 1907

See also

Extract ID: 1174

After years of hardship, a bumper harvest in 1907 marked their recovery

1916

When the British troops seized the area in 1916

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 1916-20

See also

Extract ID: 1175

When the British troops seized the area in 1916 and colonial authority collapsed, both Meru and Arusha resumed upward expansion, rapidly clearing and planting up to 5800 feet before the British were able to reimpose a forest zone above that in 1920.

1917

The British expelled the German settlers and confiscated their farms

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 1917

See also

Extract ID: 1176

The British expelled the German settlers and confiscated their farms, but then reallocated them to Greek and British settlers, rather than providing relief to Arusha and Meru. ...

In the end they went much further than the Germans, however, opening up new lands south of the Arusha-Moshi road for Sisal production that increased the amount of alienated land around Meru by 81 per cent.

1920

to solve the shortage of land

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 1920

See also

Extract ID: 1177

In 1920, therefore, [to solve the shortage of land to the Arusha and Meru] they allocated six farms to Arusha and two to Meru to provide greater access to the plains. All were on the lower drier reaches of the mountain, which were unsuitable for banana cultivation.

1920s

Eventually coffee became the most lucrative and important cash crop

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

See also

Extract ID: 1178

Eventually Coffee became the most lucrative and important cash crop. Planted initially in the 1920ís, overall production and the number of people growing Coffee grew only slowly during the 1930ís and the early 1940s owing to depressed prices, but then picked up substantially in the 1950s and 1960s with rising prices and returns.

1951

Meru Land Case

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 1951

See also

Extract ID: 1179

... that would change by 1951, when the eviction of Meru from North Meru erupted in the Meru Land Case and rang the death knell for colonialism in Tanzania.

1955

Horace Mason

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa

Page Number: 093

Extract Date: 1955

See also

Extract ID: 586

A star of the Social Development department of government was one Horace Mason, and he was called in to advise on extension methods. He had made a name for himself in work amongst the Wameru in Arusha district who had become disaffected (with good reason) by the alienation of part of their land to European farmers by the government, a major faux pas of the Twining era. Mason took a lot of credit for calming the Wameru and re-establishing normal conditions.

17thC

Meru are Chagga-speakers who first migrated to Mount Meru

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru

Extract Date: 17thC

See also

Extract ID: 1169

Meru are Chagga-speakers who first migrated to Mount Meru from Western Kilimanjaro sometime in the seventeenth century.

14 June 2001

The Meru People

Author: Katherine Millett

Millett, Katherine The Meru People

Extract Date: 14 June 2001

external link

See also

Extract ID: 3167

©2001 by Katherine Millett and Thomson Safaris, Inc.

A quiet revolution

In villages on the slopes of Mt. Meru, a quiet revolution is taking place: women are starting cottage industries to make and sell goods; groups of families are buying technology for all to use; children are going to school. The Wameru have forged bonds with the larger world that might surprise the English colonial officer who visited them in 1936 and observed only that they lived on "meat, milk, bananas, maize" and "do not migrate much to the coast."

The Meru people, known as the "Wameru" in Bantu, settled around the base of Mt. Meru in the 17th century. So did the Warusha, for whom East Africa's Arusha District is named. Today, members of these two ethnic groups still live in small villages at the western edge of Arusha National Park. Traditionally, the Wameru have been farmers, and the Warusha, like their Maasai relatives, have herded cattle.

Mama Anna's farm

When Laura Hoenig of Connecticut visited the Wameru in 2001, she spent a day in a small village and sampled cheese and butter made at Mama Anna's farm. ("Mama" is an honorific like "Mrs." and does not necessarily signify motherhood.) The farm serves as headquarters for the Usangi Women's Group. Its members, entrepreneurial women who see their future in education and economic self-help, welcome visitors to their farms and the banks of the Marisha River, where colorful birds and mischievous monkeys play.

"They were very hospitable," Hoenig said. "They took great pride in the farm and the lunch they cooked for us, and they seemed genuinely interested in having visitors." When Hoenig and her group from Thomson Safaris arrived at the farm, they found women grinding coffee beans or grain in large, wooden mortars, using pestles the size of broomsticks. After the Meru women had served a lunch of rice and vegetables, a man who may have been Mama Anna's husband took their guests to see the farm's residential buildings. These were simple brick or wood-frame structures with one or two rooms and tin roofs. Around the houses, cows, goats and chickens lived in barns and pens.

Foreign aid

Many Meru people are taking advantage of foreign aid projects like low-interest loans to help them start businesses. The assistance they receive helps them acquire and care for a cow, or buy flour and yeast to make the first few batches of bread, or get a sewing machine and thread. Assistance is also available for skill training and the marketing and transportation of finished goods.

As a point person for assistance programs, Mama Anna seems to occupy an important place in the community. She teaches other women to make cheese and butter. She participates in the Heifer Project, an international program that gives young cows to farmers with the understanding that they will give the cow's offspring to their neighbors. Some of the women who now milk and breed heifers they received from Mama Anna also congregate at her farm to enjoy each other's company while they separate the milk for cheese, churn butter, gossip and sing.

At one edge of Mamma Anna's farm, Mrs. Hoenig noticed a tank that is used to covert farmyard dung to methane gas. The fermentation process is so easy and inexpensive that biogas tanks are becoming increasingly popular in farming areas around Tanzania. The Wameru use the gas for cooking.

Unusual customs

Unusual customs govern the naming of Meru babies. Writing about her own name, the Meru-American woman Ireri Mukami explained that the first boy born in a Meru family is named for the husband's father, the first girl for his mother. The second boy is named for the mother's father, the second girl for her mother, and so on, moving to the parents' brothers and sisters as sources of names. So Mukami was named Washuka after her grandmother, but she could not be called by her real name. It would be disrespectful, according to custom, to use a living woman's name for her namesake. The younger Washuka, therefore, was given the nickname "Mukami" because it means "one who milks cows," and milking was something her grandmother liked to do.

Like the "real" names of the Wameru, which are kept secret, the traditions of Meru culture may remain hidden from outsiders, beyond the reach of German and then English colonizers, beyond missionaries of the Evangelical Lutheran church, and beyond modern government administrators. The Wameru cheerfully welcome visitors to their homes, nevertheless, to appreciate their way of life and call them by their nicknames.

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