Nyamwezi


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Nyamwezi

 

(Wanyamwezi), the largest people of Tanzania; living between Lakes Victoria and Rukwa. Their population, together with other related peoples (Sukuma, Sumbwa, Konongo, and others), is approximately 2 million (1967, estimate). They speak Kinyamwezi (Nyamwezi), a member of the eastern group of Bantu languages. Most of the Nyamwezi profess the Islamic faith (Sunnite sect); some are Christians. The basis of their economy is hoe farming (corn, rice, beans, sweet potatoes, and other crops). A considerable number of the Nyamwezi go to sisal plantations, mines, and cities in search of wages. In the middle of the 19th century the Nyamwezi, under the leadership of Mirambo, put up armed resistance against the slave traders (Arabs and Swahilis).

REFERENCES

Ismagilova, R. N. “Etnicheskii sostav i zaniatiia naseleniia Tangan’ika.” In Afrikanskii etnograficheskii sbornik, vol. 2. Moscow, 1958.
Blohm, W. Die Nyamwezi. Vol. 1: Land und Wirtschaft. Hamburg, 1931.
Malcolm, D. W. Sukumaland: An African People and Their Country. Oxford, 1953.
References in periodicals archive ?
According to Deutsch, the slave trade in the latter half of the 19th century increased and transformed aspects of Nyamwezi society.
The eastern African interior came rather later to the attention of Europe, but it mattered little that no European had actually visited the region before the 1850s: a prominent armchair geographer felt able to assert that the Nyamwezi, a loosely-defined people in the area of modern Tanzania energetically engaged in long-distance commerce, `waged perpetual war with [their] inland neighbours'.
Migration built on patterns of caravan porterage, and tended to tap into societies where porterage had been a tradition, such as among the Nyamwezi. As colonial rule took shape, societies produced migrants increasingly because of patterns of colonial rule rather than traditions of migration.
I am reminded of that dim didactic effort by the publicity for "Primitivism" in 20th Century Art at the Museum of Modern Art, which sets beside one another examples of primitive and modern art: an elongated Nyamwezi effigy is yoked with Alberto Giacometti's "Tall Figure" of 1949; a Zuni war god is put alongside Paul Klee's "Mask of Fear" of 1932; a Mbuya mask from Zaire keeps company--both have concave noses!--with one of the heads from the right side of "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," and so on.
Since most slaves lived with the families for whom they worked, outside observers could rarely distinguish free Nyamwezi from un-free slaves.
The lack of attention to African societies and to changes within them means that it was impossible for Koponen to shed much light on the differing responses over time of the economically active Sukuma and Nyamwezi to migrant labour and the brutality associated with it, not only vis-a-vis other groups but also regarding their own individual group behaviour (pp.