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The Datoga Tribe (Blacksmith People) of Tanzania – Community Tours, Way of Life & More

The Datoga tribe also known as Mang’ati in Kiswahili or the Barbaig tribe are an indigenous agro-pastoral nomadic group of people living in Tanzania. They are located in the Northern part of Tanzania in regions surrounding the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Lake Eyasi, Lake Basotu and Manyara region.

They self-identify themselves as traditional pastoralists who place incredible and great importance on their livestock most especially the cattle. The Datoga Tribe pride in being skilled herders. With cattle rearing being a focal part of their day to day livelihood. However, just like other people, they do engage themselves in farming (beans, millet, maize) and wage-based labor.

The Datoga people are a Nilotic speaking tribe who speak a language called Datoga or Barbaig. A very small percentage of the Datoga people speak Kiswahili (widely spoken in Tanzania) as a result of their increased interaction with their neighbors, as they are known for keeping to themselves, marrying within the tribe.

Datoga tribes include:

  • Barabayiiga (largest)
  • Gisamjanga
  • Rootigaanga
  • Bianjiida
  • Tsimajeega

The Datoga people are proud, fierce warriors with who blend themselves with their environment. They practice various traditional customs as they do have a rich cultural heritage. Body painting like tattooing of circular patterns around their eyes is a common practice.

The Datoga men wear a Maasai blanket (usually red in color) around their shoulders with a shirt and shorts underneath and the women wear a woven cloth (red in color) or a leather cape and often wear metallic ornaments on their ears, arms and around their necks and always decorated with colorful beads.

The Datoga are an organized tribe with structured clans. As with most African cultures, decision making and authority is held by the elder men of the clan. While women on the other hand play their role in raising the children and managing the household.

The Datoga people are not social especially to outsiders. They consider anyone not of their tribe an enemy and traditionally, the young Datoga men had to prove themselves to the society by killing an enemy, that is anyone who is not Datoga or one of the most dangerous wild animals like the lion.

Though they sometimes conflict with their neighbors, the Datoga people have a history of interacting with them through trade of cattle and other goods.

Just like other indigenous tribes, the Datoga have also experienced a little modification to their cultural practices, traditions and ways of living as a result of urbanization, modernization and cultural tourism.


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