Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Visiting a Datoga Family in Tanzania

When we planned our trip to Tanzania we told the travel agent that not only did we want to see the animals we wanted to experience the people and the culture of the country.  So we were taken to visit a Datoga Family near Lake Eyasi.  The Datoga are a pastoral people who have herded cattle for hundreds or thousands of years on the Serengeti Plain and in the Ngorongoro Region.  After the Maasai moved into the area approximately 500 years ago, they pushed the Datoga out of the area and onto the shores of Lake Eyasi.

We were invited into their home and told a little about their lifestyle.
This gentleman had 4 wives which is very common in this area.  Both my mother and I noticed that the man's wives were getting younger each time he remarried!  My husband thought that wasn't such a bad deal........

He also had 24 children.  The youngest children remained at home while the older children were sent out to watch/guard the cattle.  The children would take the cattle as far as 60KM from home in search of food and water.

One of his wives using a stone to make flour from corn.  We have seen this before in our re enactments groups and in museums but here they continue to use this method to grind corn.

The head of the household sitting on a plastic bottle that holds fresh water

Some of the younger children ran and operated a forge.  Here they took scrap metal and turned it into jewelry to sell to the tourist.  They also made arrow heads and sold it to the  bushmen in the area (more on that later)

We watched the children melt an old bronze facet and turn it into a bracelet

Princess communicating with one of the children.  Kids can communicate even if they don't speak the language.  Another good picture to debunked the socialization myth of home schooling.  Princess introduced herself and was trying to learn some Swahili words

one of the wives in traditional clothing

The husband!  Behind him is the fence that surrounds his home.  It consists of Brambles and thorny bushes.  We were told this aided in stopping wild animals coming into their compound.

The home was made from cow mud and consisted of 3 tiny rooms.  There was only one wooden bench as furniture and a couple of shelves for simple cooking items to store.  The floor was a dirt floor and we were told that the children slept on the floor using animal skins as covers.  If the weather was particularly hot they family would sleep on the roof of the home.  One of the side rooms was for the husband and wives to sleep in which also was the family storage room for food.  The final room was for either the children to use or for when a traveler or guest arrived at the home.  
the wooden bench that lines one side of the home inside

Food storage in the home

the guest house that is still being built...need to add cow mud

side of the home and a cat that Little Man found

another room of the house
I have to say I was astonished to see the living situation of this family!  I have taken for granted the many blessings my family has and all the modern conveniences we have in our home. 


  1. You always have amazing travels, but this must be the most amazing yet. What a wonderful opportunity to explore and learn a little about a different culture. And how wonderful of that family to share their day with you!

  2. I have always wanted to travel to Africa and experience the culture and people. This looks like a great learning experience for children. I'm curious...does the travel agencies compensate these families when they bring tourists? Is it part of how the these families make their living?

    1. Excellent question and yes the Tour company did pay this family (I don't know how much) and my husband also gave the family money, plus we bought a few things they were selling so this is how they make some of their money:)

  3. Sp the husband sleeps with all his wives in one room?!?!? What if he wants to have "marital relations" with one of them? Do the others leave the room or does he just do it in front of all of them? If he does, I wouldn't be surprised if they are not secretly glad that it is another wife he is interested in and not themselves that will be getting pregnant, yet again! At least they all look relatively well-fed. Still, a poor man should not be supporting 4 wives and 24 children. Or maybe he is not poor, for his area?

    1. LOL that is a question I did not ask:)

  4. I agree, you all do the most amazing things! What a great way to learn! Thank you for sharing.

  5. It is amazing! A real eye opener...I shouldn't complain about our tiny house!

  6. Wow, that is so amazing. I thought that my father-in-law who spent time in Nigeria with people who have so little. This is even worse. It is amazing in today's world that you could find this kind of living situation. I know it is there; but it still seems so strange and sad. However, since they don't know any different life; they are probably very happy with the one they have. Loved the pictures and this will be one of my favorite adventures with your family.
    Blessings to you all1