waMeru People

Name ID 1169

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Arusha Integrated Regional Development Plan
Page Number: 5

Origins

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 environment 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.

Extract ID: 3223

See also

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

Meru were well established

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.

Extract ID: 1170

See also

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

Clearing Mount Meru

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, ...

Extract ID: 1171

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1896

Brutal German punitive expeditions followed the murder

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

Extract ID: 1173

See also

Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1960

Grave of German Lutheran Missionaries

At Akeri Lutheran Church as it appeared in 1960.

Martyred by WaMeru ~ Karl Segebrock and Ewald Ovir 1896

Extract ID: 5876

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1896

Missionary murder

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.

Extract ID: 1172

See also

Skinner, Annabel Tanzania & Zanzibar
Page Number: 135b
Extract Date: 1898

the WaArusha

The people of Arusha - the WaArusha - had been long-established as a distinct tribe of Pastoralists and farmers when the colonial powers arrived. Their social structure was influenced by Maasai ancestors, with a central warrior class and status relating to age. Occasionally called upon to support Rindi, the great Chagga warrior chief (see pp.197-8) in his battles with other chiefs around Kilimanjaro, the Arusha were no strangers to fighting by the time the Germans began to get caught up in these altercations - but soon found themselves on the wrong side of both their former ally and the new colonial enemy.

Extract ID: 3541

See also

The starting point for the new face of Arusha
Page Number: 1
Extract Date: 1903

Origins of the Boma

"The road led to a place called Arusha, and as we approached it we came to our astonishment in sight of a truly marvelous building, erected in European style and surrounded by a moat", wrote English adventurer, John Boyes about the beginnings of the town he saw in 1903.

"The Boma was a one-storey building of stone and mortar, with a huge tower in the centre and the whole glistened bright in the sunlight, like an Aladdin’s Palace transported from some fairyland and dropped down in the heart of the tropics. Emblazoned on the front of the tower were the royal arms of Germany, which could be seen nearly a mile off."

"The Boma had been built on a small hill at the base of Mount Meru facing the plains. Below the town were about 30 Indian, Greek and Arab shops selling cloth, trinkets, soap, enameled plates, bowls, beads and copper wire. One shop even had a sewing machine and produced jackets and trousers for the German soldiers and "more progressive natives."

In this 1903 description of early Arusha, Boyes wrote that one approached the Boma along a "fine wide road, equal to a well-kept highway in England" that was "carefully marked off in kilometres.

"Everything about Arusha was equally surprising, the streets being laid out with fine side-walks, separated from the road by a stream of clear water flowing down a cemented gully-way. We had discovered a real oasis in the wilderness.

"The township was spotlessly clean and we saw natives with small baskets picking up any litter lying about, as though the place were the Tiergarten in Berlin and not the wild interior of the Dark Continent."

The German Boma was completed in 1901 and Arusha remained under rigid German military rule until five years later. It had been built as a military fort with a mounted Maxim machine gun. The first commander was First Lieutenant Georg Kuster derogatorily referred to in Swahili as "Bwana Fisi" meaning "Mr. Hyena".

Those "natives", as Boyes called the Waarusha and Wameru, had in fact been made to build the Boma as a punishment. Spears had been turned into digging tools; shields served as crude wheelbarrows. Swords were used to cut down trees, young women and children forced to carry thatching material, older men and women given the task of stamping barefoot on wet mud to join the stones during construction.

Extract ID: 3395

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1907

bumper harvest

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

Extract ID: 1174

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1916-20

When the British troops seized the area in 1916

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.

Extract ID: 1175

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1917

The British expelled the German settlers and confiscated their farms

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.

Extract ID: 1176

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1920

to solve the shortage of land

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.

Extract ID: 1177

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1920's

Eventually coffee became the most lucrative and important cash crop

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

Extract ID: 1178

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 1951

Meru Land Case

... 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.

Extract ID: 1179

See also

Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1955

Central Meru school children

Sports Day

Extract ID: 5871

See also

Nelson, Christopher Photos of Arusha
Extract Date: 1955

Marching Band

Central Meru School children marching band with Union Jack

Extract ID: 5875

See also

Cooke, J One White man in Black Africa
Page Number: 093
Extract Date: 1955

Horace Mason

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.

Extract ID: 586

See also

Spear, Thomas Mountain Farmers, Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru
Extract Date: 17thC

Meru are Chagga-speakers who first migrated to Mount Meru

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

Extract ID: 1169

external link

See also

Millett, Katherine The Meru People
Extract Author: Katherine Millett
Extract Date: 14 June 2001

The Meru People

©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.

Extract ID: 3167

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: J. Urio
Page Number: 2009 02 13
Extract Date: 13-Feb-2009

The Meru People

With reference to the 14th of June 2001 article on The Meru People by Katherine Millett and Thomson Safaris, Inc., especially the following statement:

… “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.”

are the authors talking about the 'Meru People' of Tanzania or about the 'Meru People' of Kenya (I guess the latter but using the context of the former). While the naming of babies is as described in the article, there are no hidden and real names in the 'Meru People' of Tanzania (Varwa). Instead, they are always open and proud of their multiple names (each with its meaning in that society; even new comers to that society are assigned similar names). Also, there are no such names as 'Washuka' or 'Mukami' in that society.

Great website

J.Urio

Extract ID: 5965
www.nTZ.info