Kaguru Religion

Doctrines For the Kaguru of Tanzania, God (Mulungu) created the world and the Kaguru, but they do not concern themselves with the how of such creation. Instead, they believe that as humans are born from out of the land of the ancestral ghosts, so too the Kaguru emerged from the north and the west, two directions associated with the dead and birth. Clans own particular strips of land, due to the fact that their first ancestress did, and so their spirits (misimu) assure fertility by the fact that annual rites of purification (tambiko) are performed, in which the names of the dead are spoken by the living. During those festivals tombs are swept clean, beer and flour are poured upon the stones, and the blood of sacrificed animals is poured on them. However, God remains the ultimate source of such fertility and prosperity. Spirits are not only associated with the land though, as the country of the spirits (kusimu) is far away, some say far above, some say far below. Spirits therefore are propitiated on mountainsides as well as in the bush far from the villages.

History The land of the Kaguru lies in what was one of the major caravan routes between the Indian ocean and the lakes of Central Africa. Therefore more than 100,000 people used to passed through Kaguruland, even before the arrival of the colonial powers, transporting ivory and slaves. The area was a safe one, as there were warriors and pastoralists around them, such as Maasai, Hehe and Gogo.
In the late 1870s, the Arabs recognized and supported a local Kaguru leader in Mamboya, named Senyagwa Chimola, and gave him arms, cloth, and beads. The Kaguru in return provided local labour, building materials, building sites, and food for the caravans. They encouraged him to take the Arab name Saidi, and helped him to extend his political influence. As a result, some Kaguru men armed with guns looted their neighbours, and a certain number of small feuds was established.
By 1876 British missionaries had passed through the area on their way to Uganda, and in 1880 they established a station near the Arab headquarters at Mamboya in central Kaguruland. The missionaries managed to disrupt the existing slave trade and the Arab influence in the area. During those years, the Germans acquired land from the Kaguru, and by 1889, and in response to an armed rebellion by the Arabs, Germany took over Kaguruland. During World War I, the Germans imprisoned the British missionaries, and before their defeat in 1916, burned all mission stations in Kaguruland.

Symbols As in many African societies, symbols are prominently displayed at rites of initiation. In the case of boys, white ashes are used to keep them cool and clean, and they are said to be anointed with ashes, as they are indeed anointed with oil when they are named and blessed as new adults. Other symbols include mountains, associated with high and infertile places and men; lowlands, that are considered fertile and a symbol of women; and red earth, used to cover the initiates at the end of the rites of initiation, that symbolizes strength and vitality.

Adherents No official figures available.

Main Centre
 East Central Tanzania.