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Title: The Wahehe people of Tanganyika
Author: Redmayne, Alison Hope
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 5869
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1965
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The Wahehe are a tribe of approximately 1/4 million and the majority of them live in the Iringa district of Tanganyika. They first became famous because they defeated a German expedition led by Zelewski on l7th August 1891. On 30th October 1894 the Germans captured the Wahehe fort at Kalenga but the war continued until Chief Kkwawa committed suicide on 19th June 1898. During their struggle against the Wahehe the Germans acquired considerable respect for them. The British who governed Tanganyika under a League of Nations mandate after the First World War knew about the military prowess of the Wahehe from German writings and they too regarded the Wahehe as one of the more important and promising tribes. Mkwawa's son, Sapi, was installed as chief in 1926 as part of the policy of indirect rule. The Wahehe are famous for their military prowess and their mighty chief in the pre-colonial period and for their political organisation under indirect rule. There is sufficient evidence to reconstruct and analyse their political organisation before the German conquest and although there is enough to do so during the period of indirect rule, the Wahehe political organisation at that period is most interesting and significant only when it is understood in the context of their pre-colonial history and that under German rule. This thesis therefore describes the development of the Wahehe political organisation over the period of about 100 years, for as long as it is possible to have adequate knowledge of their development. This approach emphasises the fact that at no period have the political institutions of the Wahehe been stable. Ch. II The boundaries of Uhehe have changed at different times but during most of the period under discussion it has included five climatic zones; hot damp lowland in the Ulanga valley, high damp forest in the Usungwa mountains, high rolling downland, the drier area of miombo woodland on the central plateau, and the hot dry lowlands of the central plains. They keep some cattle and small stock and the staple food crop is maize although the number of cattle and the subsidiary crops vary in different areas. No physical anthropologists have done research in the area but it is accepted that the Wahehe are of mixed origins and there is a great variety of physical type among them. Some Germans produced grammars and a vocabulary of Kihehe but there has been no substantial linguistic research in the area. It is generally acknowledged that Kihehe is related to Kibena and Kisongu. The missions in Uhehe have always been predominantly Roman Catholic but there are a few Lutherans. The Koman Catholic missions have controlled most schools in the area. The Wahehe have not shown any particular enthusiasm for education in spite of the fact that there has been more provision for intermediate, and later secondary, education in the district than in most others. Ch. III. The kinship terms are listed and defined. The Wahehe are particularly concerned with physical descent. The mothers and the father's kin are equally important, but individuals are more likely to recognise distant kin on the father's side because praise names, food avoidances and descent names are inherited patrilineally. The Wahehe have no explanation of the origin of this system but it is generally acknowledged that those who have both praise name and food avoidance in common may not marry. Ch. IV. There is little evidence from which to deduce the political organisation of the Wahehe before the reign of Munyigumba, that is before about 1860. There were a number of small independent groups of people with roughly similar culture and language in the Usungwa mountains and on the central plateau, but it is unlikely that any one of these groups was known as Wahehe. There is however substantial evidence of immigration and emigration and that at least the ruling families of these separate groups inter-married. Ch. V. The unification of these diverse groups began with the accession of Munyigumba, who was believed to be the descendant of one Muyinga, the son of a hunter who had come from Usagara and SeMududa, the daughter of the chief of Ng'uruhe. Munyigumba conquered and absorbed the chief doms of the neighbouring rulers and later defeated the Wakinamanga in the area known as Utemikwila or Ngololo and he also fought the Wasangu and Angoni. After his death his son-in-law who had held authority under him, seized power and drove his heir, Hkwawa, into exile, to Ugogo. Mkwawa returned assisted by one of Kunyigumba's other subordinate rulers and built a fort at Kalenga. The usurper fled but then returned with Wakonongo forces, fought Mkwawa and was defeated and killed in 1833. Mkwawa then had about 10 years of exceptional military success during which he defeated the Wasangu, Wabena and Angoni and established colonies at Mukondoa, Wota, Mdaburu and Loato to the north and east. There is much German literature about Mkwawa's military success and organisation but little about his normal peacetime political organisation and this is because his campaigns followed each other in quick succession and his chiefdom was expanding so fast that he developed no settled peacetime organisation. His political and military organisation was based on his fort at Kalenga where he gathered together men from all over his chiefdom. Some of his subordinate rulers who were called vansagila, were descendants of formerly independent rulers, some were his relations and affines and others were new men who had shown themselves fit to hold authority.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bantu-speaking peoples ; Ethnology ; Hehe (African people) ; Tanzania