The Northern Circuit – Tarangire National Park – Babati

24th February 2013

Tarangire National Park – Babati

Meriting the long, hard journey to get there, the Babati region is a place of great natural beauty and interest, much of which is provided by its unusual combination of resident peoples. Three main distinct tribal groups live on these hills and plains in the shadow of MountHanang, most of whom settled here following unfortunate conflicts with the Maasai tribe elsewhere. This is the land of the Barbaig, Nilo-hamitic-speaking pastoralists with similar social structures to their successors, the Maasai, historically reputed for their power as rainmakers. It is also home to the Tatoga people, who are renowned for their skill in developing terraces and in agriculture. It is hard to get either tribe to admit to being the subject of a local story which tells how a certain local tribe became known as ‘Man’gati’, and this region called the Man’gati plains, until they made an eventually successful public appeal against the name, which, tellingly, translates as ‘cattle-stealer and trouble-maker’. This does seem to point to one tribe in particular, as one group consists of nomadic cow-herders, and the other pastoral agriculturists.

The area also extends into the greater territories of the Iraqw tribe, who are thought to have originated from the Arabian Gulf region, and yet are also said to have migrated down  the Nile and on into the Ngorongoro regions, from where some were forced [by what/whom?] further west to settle here. It is thought that the Hadzabe people, now largely settled around the LakeEyasi region, and Sandawe bushmen ranged freely around this region before the advent of the Bantu tribes 2,000 years ago. Nowadays they tend to stay further north, but these descendants of early San-Bushmanoid groups are the most likely people to have created the unusually varied collection of rock paintings around Kolo.

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