The Datooga of Tanzania
Pray for the Datooga of Central Tanzania. They are a large group of former nomads, who have now settled and farm and keep animals. They are proud of their culture and see no reason to change. Few children go to school and illiteracy is common. The Datooga are animists, and communicate with their ancestors through the spirits.
Pray the Datooga would see that, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness, they do not know what makes them stumble.” Proverbs 4:18-19
There are Datooga believers and some have gone to Bible school. Pray they would be strong in the Lord and anointed evangelists. There are Bible stories being translated and shared. Pray this will bear much fruit. Ask the Lord to continue to build His church among the Datooga.
Location and Background: Datooga is the name of the large group to which the Barabaig and Taturu belong— there are possibly 16 groups or clans. They were formerly nomadic but now most farm as well as keep animals. Although scattered across Tanzania, their homeland seems to be near the sacred mountain Mt Hanang, which is an important theme in their songs and myths.
History: The Datooga are highland Nilotics who it is thought came down from southern Sudan or Ethiopia about 3000 years ago. About 1500 years ago they split into two groups—the Kalenjin who stayed in Kenya, and the Datooga who continued south to Tanzania.
Culture: Cattle are by far their most important animal though they also keep goats, sheep, donkeys and chickens. They also now grow maize, millet, and beans. They live simply, and everyone who is not a Datooga is a “mswahili” (other people). They are a proud people and see no reason to change. The Datooga have distinctive body markings, whether scars or burn markings or elongated ear lobes. They love wearing beads. Polygamy is widely accepted where wives are ranked in order of marriage, and women are required to work tirelessly for the family. School attendance is sporadic amongst the children and illiteracy common
Religion: The Datooga respect and fear their ancestors, and communicate with them through the spirits, so witchcraft and sorcery is rampant. They believe in a distant creator God named Aseeta who has twin sons who will come to rule and judge the world some day. The Datooga will be recognized by their distinctive dress and jewelry and will then be taken to heaven. They have many rituals, including worshipping at a special tree, or going to the mountains to call on the ancestors. Burial rituals can last for weeks or even months where they slaughter cows and consume alcohol and erect shelters for the dead.
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Pray that the Datooga, whose main work is livestock, will recognise and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ as their good shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep.
Because the Datooga are pastoralists, during seasons of drought they move their animals to other grazing areas. It is hard, therefore, for people to study the Bible consistently over many months. Pray for those who are producing recordings of Bible stories, that even when the pastoralists move, they may continue to hear and grow in their knowledge of the Word of God.