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Dec 6, 2005

About the Alagwa

Written by Administrator

alagwamap.jpgLocation within country: Dodoma Region, Kondoa District

Geography and Climate: The region of the Alagwa is characterized by large rocky hills that reach over 1800 meters (6000 ft) in elevation and lower lands at about 1200 meters (4000 ft) elevation. On the hills there are trees that supply the area with firewood and some wild game. The soil is hard and rocky. The Bubu River runs through the middle of the Alagwa area supplying the lowlands with a consistent and clean water source. The soil in this area is much more fertile. The higher regions suffer greatly from the lack of water, and the people often must walk miles each day to simply collect enough water for their families to survive. There is one rainy season between the months of December and May. The annual rainfall averages between 50 and 80 cm. (20-30 in.).

Altitude: 1200-1800 m (4000-6000 feet)

Population: 30,000

Cultural Information: The Alagwa are farmers. Their principal crops are maize and millet. Their cultivated fields are large and relatively close to their homes or villages. The farming season corresponds with the rains which generally start in December and continue through May depending on the year. The Alagwa also keep livestock: cattle, goats and chickens.

Alagwa homes are made from fired bricks and each village has at least one communal brick firing oven. There is a large high-ceilinged room in the middle of the house where the door to the outside is the entrance. This room is used for cooking, sitting and welcoming guests. There are smaller rooms on either side of the main room, presumably for sleeping. The roof is made of either tin (‘bati’) or grass. The grass roofs are very distinctive in that they peak high above the house. The homes are often surrounded by high and sturdy fences made of grass, reeds or sticks. The area around their homes is swept clean of any debris, and each home has a neat and well-tended appearance.

There are clinics in some areas, and the people claim to use them. However, there is also a traditional doctor in each village who is respected. The Tanzanian government has put schools within access to villages, and the community has responded by sending their children as well as keeping the school grounds well groomed.

Diet: Maize and millet.

Economic Status: $150 per year in a year with good harvest.

Alternate language names: Alagwasa, Alagwase, Alawa, Chasi, Asi, Wasi, Kialagwa

baobobA Baobab tree. (Tanzania)
Language Group Information: There are approximately 15 villages that are occupied by Alagwa speakers. In their language the Alagwa people call themselves Alagwa and their language Alagwase. They are known throughout the country, however, by their Kiswahili name of Wasi and their language Chasi. When speaking Kiswahili, they also refer to themselves as Wasi, and call their language Chasi.

Together with the Iraqw, Gorowa and Burunge, the Alagwa represent the Southern Cushitic language familily in Tanzania. Alagwa is closely related to the Burunge. Originally the Alagwa and the Burunge used to be one people and occupied the land together. When the Rangi arrived they made themselves a wedge, dividing the group into two parts, one group to the Northwest (Alagwa) and the other to the Southeast (Burunge).

Religion: Muslim.There are two Christian churches.

History: Christianity began in 1951. The Pentecostal church came in 1952 but have no Alagwa members. The Lutherans were once in the area but left due to a lack of receptivity.

The Cushitic people are believed by historians to have originated in the Middle East. They entered Africa through Somalia or Ethiopia and migrated south into eastern Africa.

 
 
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