The Chagga People


One of the various tribes in Tanzania are the Chagga – which are actually the third largest ethnic group in the country. They are originally from the slopes on Kilimanjaro, near Moshi and Mount Meru.


They developed a very good irrigation system, so that they are professionals of agriculture.
Bananas are the main cultivation of which a traditional beer (Mbege) and different dishes are made. But also yams, beans and maize are cultivated. Arabica coffee is one product for which the Chagga are best known in agricultural exports to Europe and America.

Cattles, goats, sheep and chicken are hold to provide the people with milk and meat.

Interesting is that pregnant women don’t eat the bananas, because they are considered masculine.

Chagga traditions have influences from different other tribes with who they came in contact.  One example is the female circumcision which they stopped again after adapting to Christianity.

Before the arrival of Christianity the Chagga believed in the deity Ruwa (which means “sun”) who resides on the top of the sacred Mount Kilimanjaro. He is the provider of sustenance, but not looked upon as the creator of humankind or the universe. For many people he still is of high importance.
Also the ancestors were highly worshipped and it was believed that they could influence events on earth.

Celebrations are dominated by singing and dancing. Traditional instruments include wooden flutes, bells and drums.

Nowadays the Chagga play an important role in economics. They are probably one of the most successful people in East Africa. Unlike many other societies in Africa, the Chagga women hold forefront positions in economical issues and education. Because of the growing tourism sector in North Tanzania many Chagga work in this business, for example as porters on Kilimanjaro.


The language Chagga is a Bantu language and has a number of dialects related to other languages spoken in the east.

You can learn more about the Chagga on your trip to Tanzania, for example on a cultural tour to Machame. The people will be happy to show you their everyday life and tell more about their traditions. Be open and enjoy!

Your team from World Air Travel & Tours


Photos from and

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