Introduction / History
The Sangu people are the original pastoral inhabitants of a vast area of flatlands near the Ruaha River. In the 1870s and 80s, Baluch people from Pakistan emigrated into the area, starting farms, intermarrying, and bringing Islam. Many Tanzanian groups have also moved into the area in search of good grazing land for their cattle. The Maasai, Datooga, Sukuma, and Nyakusa are a few of those Tanzanian groups.
Despite all the neighbors, some Sangu live in isolated settings. Those who herd animals as their primary economic activity require a lot of space. Agricultural Sangu tend to live in villages and towns along the roads. Some in the larger towns also have small businesses.
Life can be difficult in the more remote areas. In the dry season, some people travel up to twelve kilometers to get water. During the rainy season, many places are completely inaccessible by land due to flooding; however, several airstrips provide access to the area.
Islam and Christianity have a long history with the Sangu. Islam came via the early Pakistani immigrants, but its practice is mainly limited to the larger villages possessing mosques. The Lutheran church arrived in 1898, the first among many Christian denominations to start work in the Sangu area. For the most part, these churches are in close proximity to the main road. Generally they serve a broad mixture of people, and the Sangu comprise only a minority of the church members. In more remote areas, the Sangu people follow neither of these "outside" religions. They prefer their traditional religion. It is strong among the Sangu, and even the majority of Muslims and Christians continue to practice it alongside their chosen religion. It was said by one church leader that the Sangu will never leave their traditional religion because it works for them. When they pray for rain, for example, it comes.
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