Settlement, livelihoods and identity in Southern Tanzania : a comparative history of the Ngoni and Ndendeuli
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The focus of the thesis is a comparative history of two neighbouring ethnic groups in Songea District and their agroecological environments: the Ngoni, a branch of the Mfecane migrations from South Africa which dominated southern Tanzania in the late nineteenth century; and the Ndendeuli, one of numerous indigenous groups that were created by partial incorporation into the expanding Ngoni State. Under British Indirect Rule, the egalitarian, stateless Ndendeuli were ruled by authoritarian Ngoni Native Authorities, and the character of the two ethnic groups diverged, with the Ndendeuli enthusiastically adopting tobacco production, and Islam, while rejecting the European Christianity that had taken hold among the Ngoni. As the colonial economy developed, Europeans characterised the Ngoni as conservative and indolent- a 'deteriorating tribe' - while the Ndendeuli were increasingly recognised as industrious and progressive. These representations informed divergent patterns of intervention including coercive agricultural programmes for the Ngoni and forced resettlement of the Ndendeuli. In the early 1950s, a successful campaign for Ndendeuli selfrule emerged, which quickly transformed into mass support for TANU while their Ngoni counterparts allied with European interests. Despite forty years of nationalism, ethnic tensions between the Ngoni and Ndendeuli were sustained by a District Council and Cooperative Union which straddled the two regions, until July 2002 when Songea District was divided into two along a 'fault-line' that can be traced back to pre-colonial social and spatial organisation. The starting point for analysis is the insight that Undendeuli is the frontier of Ungoni, with a rapidly increasing population and unstable pattern of settlement and land use that developed in a region of indeterminate political and moral authority. The thesis examines how the people who became known as Ndendeuli created their society and culture out of the materials of a shared frontier experience, under economic, ecological and sociological conditions common to innumerable internal frontiers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, the thesis adapts Kopytoffs model of ethnogenesis and social change given in The African Frontier. The discussion explores the extent to which Ndendeuli history can be seen as an endogenous movement to build a new society in opposition to that found at the Ngoni centres of power. An interdisciplinary methodology was employed including sequenced historical mapping of settlement patterns, political organisation and land use; archival research, oral histories and interviews; participatory appraisal techniques and participant observation. The thesis is structured both thematically and chronologically, exploring in turn: pre-colonial settlement, political control and ethnic identity; colonial administration and the politics of representation; colonial religious identities and educational opportunities; the cultural economy of cash crop production; settlement and resettlement; and post-War political reform and resistance. The conclusions show how long-term settlement dynamics can offer new ways to frame and understand rural development trajectories and ethnic identities in other African districts.