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Datoga Cultural Tours

Datoga people also known as the Mang’ati in Swahili, are agro-pastoral nomadic Nilotic speaking people living in Singida and Manyara Region of north-central Tanzania near Mt. Hanang, Lake Basotu, and Lake Eyasi. The Datoga occupies, precisely, the areas around the Rift Valley in the regions of Arusha, Sangida, Dodoma, Shinyanga, Tabora and Mara. About 70% are found in the present Hanang and Mbulu district Arusha (Manyara) Region.

The Datoga consider themselves the oldest tribe in Tanzania (the Maasai and Bushmen also claim this fame). The Datoga are proud people and are first and foremost fierce warrior’s, known for their stealth ability to eliminate their enemy.

Traditionally, young men had to prove themselves by killing an “enemy of the people,” defined as any human being not a Datoga, or one of the dangerous wild animals, such as elephant, lion or buffalo. Other Tanzanians and outsiders consider the Datoga primitive, because they resist education and development. They live in low standards of hygiene, and have high infant mortality.

The range of population estimates for Datoga living in Tanzania varies between 30,000-76,000. In the mid-1990s it was estimated that there were approximately 30,000 self-identified Datoga scattered across Tanzania and even some parts of Malawi.

Rates of fertility among Datoga are higher than among other pastoral populations, but tend to be lower than their agricultural neighbors. Borgerhoff Mulder (1989) identified seasonality in Datoga births that corresponds to rainfall, although this trend is more prevalent among semi-nomadic communities. General health is poor compared to other groups in the area, marked by a high rate of infant and young child mortality, poor growth and nutrition, and increased prevalence of infectious disease.

Datoga are not as well-known as some of the other pastoral groups in Tanzania such as the Maasai, however their visibility has increased in recent years. Datoga have received local and international media attention, as well as increased visibility related to cultural tourism in northern Tanzania. As a result, it is now possible to find pictures of Datoga wearing traditional dress on YouTube, Flicker, as well as on many safari sites promoting trips to northern Tanzania. The impact of cultural tourism on Datoga communities is unclear at this point, however rates of alcoholism have increased in many areas where tourists are consistently present.