Reddish-brown clothes that blend with the color of the soil. Circular tattoo around the eyes. Brass bracelets and necklaces. These are identifying characteristics of the Datooga people. Sometimes spelled Tatooga, the people are predominantly herders. The tribe occupies Singida and Manyara Region of north-central Tanzania. Notwithstanding being cut off from civilization, Chem Chem Association is offering them support in the form of a tourism center.
The tourism center will likely open the Datooga people to the world. By offering indigenous culture tourism services, the center will become a huge tourist attraction. Consequently, it will be a huge source of revenue for the community villages in the Babati District Council as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism. Speaking about the benefit of the center to women, Mr. Walter Pallangyo, Chem Chem Social Development Officer said,
“We will continue supporting you (the Barbaig women) by channeling to this village, tourists who come to Che Chem for photography tourism. You will, in turn, make business as you will be selling your goods and make money. But we are also urging other tourist companies to bring tourists to this area.”
A peek into the custom and identity of Datooga people
Datooga people pride themselves as Tanzania’s oldest tribe. However, the Bushmen and Maasai claim this title too. Apart from their nomadic lifestyle, they are also fierce warriors. Cattle are the most important domestic animal. Over time, the people have diversified into plant production including maize, beans, and millet. The Datooga people guard their culture jealously and resist external influences. The Barabaig are the largest group among the Datooga speaking people.
Consequently, the Datooga people are animists who fear and respect their ancestors. Their environment is semi-arid which makes it difficult to get clean water. Therefore, maternal mortality is high in this area. Their language closely resembles Omotik which is the speech of another small northern tribe in Tanzania.
The tourism center proposed by Chem Chem Association will be located at Vilima Vitatu village. The center is specifically for the women in the area who speak Datooga’s eponymous dialect. Chem Chem Association works in the Burunge Wildlife Management Area (Juhibu). The center will be situated in Burunge, close to Manyara and Tarangire national parks. The center will allow them to diversify their income from herding.
How the people can make the most of the tourism center
There are several ways Datooga people, particularly the women, can make the most of the tourism center. However, for this to happen, they need to take good care of the tourism center. By doing so, tourists will be able to visit and enjoy their traditional dances and learn about their culture. It is up to the women to push themselves to learn a foreign language so that they can better communicate with the tourists. They also need to be innovative in making items that tourists will love to buy. During the launch of the center, Ms. Beatrice Maliseli, Babati District Cultural Officer said,
“We got information that before construction of the center, you were facilitated to form a credit and savings groups. You should use the funds to make different types of cultural items to sell to tourists.”
Mr. Jan Neggers, a tourist from Holland who toured the place with his family said the Barbaig traditions and culture was an eye-opener. According to him, it was fascinating and a treasure to sustain a native culture in the modern world. Consequently, Mudilani Gichidabega, the Datooga Group Chairperson thanked Chem Chem for creating a new way of making money for them.
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