Written by Marianne on 22 Oct, 2003
From Morogoro, it is a pleasant 1-hour walk to Nugutu village. Walking is the only way to get there, as there is no public transport. The village lies on the foot of the Uluguru Mountains and has about 500 inhabitants. Nugutu village is an excellent…Read More
From Morogoro, it is a pleasant 1-hour walk to Nugutu village. Walking is the only way to get there, as there is no public transport. The village lies on the foot of the Uluguru Mountains and has about 500 inhabitants.
Nugutu village is an excellent place to learn about the Luguru traditions. The Luguru tribe has been living on the lower slopes of the mountain for many centuries. They have developed terrace cultivation and grow rice, maize, sorghum, and all kinds of vegetables. The kind of tilling the soil reminded me of the paddy fields in Asia. Land is passed from mother to daughter. This possession of land makes women independent.
The village chief and some prominent villagers have set up a number of interactive programmes for tourists. They need to know one day in advance that you are coming in order to make preparations. We booked through the offices of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Pamba House, Old Dar es Salaam Road in Morogoro, who also provided us with a guide.
It is impossible to do this trip on your own. There are two reasons:1. The village is difficult to find2. This project is a community project. If you come unannounced, there will be no programme for you.
The whole programme is organised by different parties who all get their financial share. At the moment, they are being coached by the Conservation Society. But in the future they will have to stand on their own feet and generate some extra income for the village. All money earned goes towards a village dispensary.
The closer we came to the village, the louder the singing and music. All in our honour. The village chief welcomed us and explained, through our interpreter-guide, the day’s programme. Then our guided village tour began. First we went to the weaving ladies. Mat- and basket-weaving is the village’s main source of income. The twine is made from the phoenix palm, which is collected in the forest, then it is dyed. The women deftly weave long strips, which are sewn together and end up as mats or baskets. The weaving looked very simple, but when I tried to do it, I realised I didn’t have the necessary skills.
The blacksmith showed us how to make utensils and a "coconut chair." This is a small stool, on one side sticking out a scraper. While seated, the women can grate coconut or squeeze oranges. I gave it a try but grated part of my thumb, another skill I had not quite developed. This chair is a very important contraption--possession is a precondition of getting married.
The village chief, important villagers, and by now a whole string of children accompanied us to the potters. All steps in the process were shown. Women carried on their heads the clay which had been collected from the mountain. Others took over and showed how to knead and soften it. Then the pots were shaped by hand and finally baked in the oven. We explained to the chief how a potter’s wheel worked and made a drawing with instructions. He looked at it approvingly and put it carefully in his pocket.
We were then led up a steep path, halfway along which was the open-air kitchen. Some women showed us how to prepare beans and cassave puree, and ugali, a kind of stiff cornmeal porridge, the staple diet. It was stirred with a huge wooden spoon which resembled a rowing oar.
An even steeper path led up to two dining areas, one for us, the visitor. It was a bit big for the two of us, and some of the men kept us company. There was a "buffet" of traditional dishes and we could help ourselves. The other dining area was soon full of the women and children, who filled their plates too.
After the meal, we could ask questions about anything we wanted to know about the Luguru tribe. This was also an opportunity for us to show our family photos, which were passed on from hand to hand. We then invited them to ask us questions. They were very interested in premarital sex and inheritance laws. They day ended with singing and dancing.