The Iraqws

They dominate in the areas of Mbulu / Hanang, the Iraqws, speaking a language, classified as Cushitic, very different from the Maasai (Nilo-Hamitic) and the Meru, Sonjo and Mbugwe (Bantu). There are four main divisions of the group; The Iraqw, mostly on the Mbulu plateau west of the Rift, but spilling over into Hanang around Giting and Endasak; The Gorawa, around Mount Ufiome and Lake Babati; The Alawa in the northern section of Kondoa (Bereku), and The Burungi in the south of the same district.

It is uncertain when the Iraqw arrived, perhaps two hundred years ago. They settled in a favourable area Kainam, on the top of the Rift Wall, bounded on the North and South by forest (Marang and Nau) and on the West by dryer country originally inhabited by the pastoral Tatog.

Iraqws are an ethnic group of people who resemble the Ethiopians or early Egyptians in appearance, the largest Cushitic group in Tanzania. They are both cultivators and livestock keepers. When not in the farm, Iraqw women practice their handicraft skills. One of the things they make is their traditional baskets.

The traditional identity of Iraqw dressing is the ‘Mgorori’. This is a big piece of cloth, normally three meters long that is worn over the usual clothing, more or less like a cloak. Normally, an Iraqw man will carry a stick.  This tribal stick, hharrah is distinct from the herding stick and is also a weapon.