Pare people

The Pare (pronounced "Pahray") people are members of an ethnic group indigenous to the Pare Mountains of northern Tanzania, part of the Kilimanjaro Region. Pareland is also known as Vuasu (Asu the root word and Chasu or Athu, the language). The location lies on one of the northern routes for historic east-African long-distance trade, connecting the hinterland with the coast of the Indian Ocean. The residents of northern Pare recognise two sub-areas based on ethnolinguistic differences: Gweno-speaking Ugweno to the north and Chasu-speaking Usangi to the south.

Total population
~ 735,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Pare (Asu/Chasu) and Gweno Dialects: Pare related to Taita; Gweno related to Taveta and Chaga
Christian, Islam, African indigenous religion
Related ethnic groups
Asu people of Kenya

Recent history

The Pare were the main producers of iron for which there was considerable demand by the Chaga and other adjacent populations. Notable Pare blacksmiths include the Shana clan (Shana, meaning blacksmith) who have maintained the tradition to this present day. The Pare are highly organised in terms of compulsory community work through msaragambo. The Usangi Kingdom between Ugweno to the north and Mgagao in the South was ruled by Mfumwa Sangiwa I who died in 1923, Mfumwa Koshuma Sangiwa up to 1928, Mfumwa Sabuni and finally Mfumwa Shaban Mtengeti Sangiwa up to the abolition of traditional rule following the independence of Tanganyika. The Pare were also known as rainmakers, one notable exponent being Mfumwa (Chief) Muhammad Kibacha Singo, a local ruler of Same who died in January 1981, estimated to be aged between 120 and 140 years.


The Ugweno kingdom (or "Vughonu/Vughono" to its inhabitants) of northern Pare came into its own in the 18th century. However, it goes back many centuries before that, when it was initially ruled by the Shana clan and was known as the "Mountains of Mghono/Mghonu", after an early notably famous Shana ruler from whom it got its name.[2] The German (1881-1919), then British colonial eras lasted until 1963 when the chiefdom was abolished by an independent Tanganyika government.

At the start of the 20th century the population of South Pare (now known as Same District) was estimated at 22,000 (Naval Intelligence Division, 1920, p. 28) comprising an ethnic group called Asu or Pare who are speakers of Chasu, a Bantu language. They are patrilineal and were in several areas organized into small chiefdoms. This region has historically received a substantial population of people from the Taita region of present-day Kenya.

The Pare area was also inhabited by Cushitic groups like the Mbugu in Ugweno who were eventually assimilated into the Pare communities. Some pare come from Ethiopia and South Sudan. They came through Kenya and paid some price to be part of the pare pare clans. The Mshana Clan who are categorised into two, Wshana weusi who were pastoralists, washana moto who were the iron shelters, the black Smith they melted Iron at night that produced fire that is why it is called washana moto to mean washana fire. The washana weusi who were pastoralists they invited most people into their clan. A good example is the Mcharo, Mcharo means a visitor or a person of not that origin. The Mcharo came from Eastern Sudan passed through Kenya to Upare mountains.

Independence Movement

The Pare Union formed in 1946 was one of Tanzania's first ethnic-based nationalist movements to begin activism against the colonial system. Among many grievances, was the exploitation through the production of export crops particularly Sisal and Coffee. Like many other ethnic-based political groups in Tanganyika, The Pare Union then became part of the Tanganyika African Association (TAA) which later became the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) in 1954. This avoided groups like the Pare Union forming into full political parties that were ethnic in orientation.

Moses Seenarine writes of the contribution of Pare women in the struggle: 'The Pare women's uprising in northwest Shambaai, Tanzania, occurred in early January 1945 and continued with demonstrations into 1946, involving thousands of women. It began in Usangi, one of the chiefdoms, when the district commissioner arrived for discussions with the local chief. A crowd of five hundred women appeared, demanding an explanation of mbiru, a system of graduated taxation. When the commissioner tried to leave without addressing the women, they became enraged and mobbed the assembled officials. Two days later, women surrounded the chief's house singing songs, and ultimately stoned officials and battled police.'

Ms. Damari Namdori Sefue (née Kangalu), was the first Tanganyikan (Now Tanzania Mainland) woman to qualify as a teacher. (For more please see The Development Of the SDA Church in Eastern Africa, Edited by K.B. Elineema, p. 56).

Another important historical event is that of Mbiru, a protest during the colonial period by the Pare people which involved refusal to pay tax. It was led by Paulo Kajiru of Mamba. Professor Kimambo of University of Dar es Salaam has written a book describing this event.


Sheridan (2004) documents on archival sources and oral histories to explain how the altering of post-colonial land management in the North Pare (currently known as Mwanga) Mountains affected environmental conditions. Colonial forest management and water policies were all abandoned, affecting villagers in many aspects including environmental degradation and a drop in management capacity.


The area's chief produce is tea, coffee, sisal, and cinchona. Rice is grown in the swampy plains. The Parelands are by Tanzanian standards, quite prosperous as its infrastructure of roads, electricity, telephones, and piped water supply attests. An older infrastructure of irrigation furrows, stone-lined terraces, and sacred forests lies alongside these newer technologies and shows that the Pare landscape has been carefully managed for centuries. In 1890, for example, a German geographer praised the area's stone terraces as being. similar to European vineyards and stated that the North Pare irrigation system was a "truly magnificent achievement for a primitive people" (Baumann, 1891:229). Even gold is found in the river of Upareni like same district, tanzanite found in those areas of usangi, gypsum materials are found in Upareni. And all sorts of foods and tree Upare is blessed with.


Traditional Food

Makande is a typical dish of the Pare tribe, who live in the Pare Mountains, and is popular throughout Tanzania. The dish is a kind of stew of maize, red beans, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and chicken stock, and it’s normally prepared on Friday and lasts through Sunday evening, which gives people more time to socialize during the weekend without worrying about cooking—the food is kept in a big clay pot on the damp ground so it stays cool. Kishumba is another traditional food,is kind of bananas being cooked together with red beans and being crushed to make something like hard porridge.It is normally prepared for the shamba work. Vughai is another traditional food, is kind of hard porridge being prepared by either banana, cassava or maize flour, or a mixture of both. It is served with either vegetable, beans(or beans family) or meat/fish/chicken stew or both if available. When served with meat/chicken it is considered as a welcoming dish for guests.

The special food to the women after delivering, including the porridge made up with Qa dried banana(matendera).This is mixed with sour milk. They can also make astif porrige consumed with sour milk in kipare this is termed as #idundi This makes the delivered woman recover earlier. The other staff to a delivered woman is a soup from either sheep,got and cow. Their other traditional food is kishumba made of red Beans and Banana eaten like Ugali.

Traditional Medicine

Before the introduction of western medicine there were certain symptoms which were being cured using traditional medicine. Children used to suffer Wintu (mouth sore) a fungal ailment thought to come from the mother’s breast. It was treated by giving the child sheep’s milk instead of breast milk. Kirumu, kirutu, and kinyoka (eye infection of the newborn). This may be neonatal conjunctivitis. The juice of leaves from a plant called mwore was used as a cure. Mtoro (diarrhea), made ‘the child as thin as firewood.’ Ash of the root of wild banana was administered orally as medicine. Mwana equhiwe ntembo was believed to be caused by a witch who had been able to take a piece of the placenta. The child died with difficulty in breathing after a short time for no apparent reason, as if it had been buried alive.

The most prominent and notable belief in Pare people was that,when a baby was born and milk teeth started to grow from the upper jaw,it was believed to be a curse to the society and thus will be killed by being pushed on the edge of a large rock with the steep slope facing down the mountain,this belief has now been faded away due to the civilization brought by the literate among the early scholars of the society. Pare people have all sorts of medicine that can even cure Cancer, join borns and the like since the land is Soo fertile with natural vegetation and unpolluted land with few people.

Places of interest

1. Usangi is a small, spread-out town 1:82 hours (by personal drive) and 2:30 hours by bus from Moshi, located in some kind of crater surrounded by a bunch of peaks that is the Northern Pare Mountains.

2. Ugweno is located in the North Pare Mountains about 74.2 km from Moshi.

3. Suji, Kilimanjaro is located approximately 150 km from Moshi. And 20 from Makanya, a town on the main Dar es Salaam - Moshi road.

4. Shengena Natural Forest is part of Eastern Arch Mountain. In this forest there are some ponds whose water is milky in colour and some have black colour and the soil has some different colours from place to place some is goldish,some is pinky.

5. Ndungu irrigation scheme, supplying rice to Kilimanjaro and Tanga region.

6. Kihurio, adjacent to Ndungu, is also notable for rice cultivation.

7. Mamba Giti is where the S.D.A Church was founded in East Africa.

8. Mbaga where there is also Ibwe (stone) la vana or mkumba vana used to kill innocent children due to wrong beliefs.

9. Gonja where there is a waterfall known as NDURUMO of about 400 m along Hingilili river, Ibwe leteta, sacred forests, Gonja Lutheran hospital, Shengena forest, Bombo local market in every Friday, hiking from Gonja Maore to Vuje village and then to Shengena peak the highest point in Pare mountains.

10. There is a rock with a shape like a human nose in Mshihwi, known as Ikamba la fua (Nose Rock).

11. There is a rock in Southern Usangi on the slopes of the Hills as you go down to kwakoa village this rock is known as "Ibwe lavyana"; it is this rock where the innocent children were killed.

12. Mkomazi National Park - It was a Game Reserve before it was upgraded to National Park in 2006. 13. River Mshasha at Usangi Mwanga where there is a hanging tree that produces fresh and unstoppable water frequent in whole years.

13. Kindoroko Mountain

Notable people

  • Cleopa Msuya: Former prime minister
  • Asha-Rose Migiro: United Nations 3rd deputy secretary general
  • Jumanne Maghembe Former cabinet minister
  • Halima Mdee: A member of Tanzanian Parliamentarian
  • Jaji January Msoffe from Kisangara Juu Village
  • Dr. Venance Fupi, the former chief CHEMIST TBS from Kisangara Juu Village
  • Dr. Senkondo Mvungi former lecturer at UDSM and famous lawyer from Kisangara Juu Village
  • Gray S. Mgonja, former permanent secretary ministry of finance
  • Dr Rhobert Nathaniel Mcharo Mshana from Usangi, Mwanga Pare Tribe who was born in 1954 in Arusha, Tanzania by Nathaniel Mcharo Mshana and Rhoda Mavura Mcharo, and studied medicine in Dar-es-Salaam. He obtained his MSc and PhD degrees in Oslo, Norway, in the field of mycobacterial immunology, followed by additional short-term training in Switzerland, London and New York. Robert was a truly international person, working as a research scientist in Ethiopia, Gabon and Côte d'Ivoire before moving on to develop policies and guidelines on behalf of the OAU/STRC in Lagos, Nigeria.

Dr Rhobert N. Mcharo Mshana also contributed immensely to WHO/TDR’s R&D activities from 1982 onwards, serving on the Steering Committees for Immunology of Leprosy (IMMLEP), Immunology of Mycobacterial Infections (IMMYC) and Vaccine Discovery Research (VDR).

We will greatly miss Robert, with his keen sense of humour and his modest, quiet but always constructive contributions to the scientific and political discussions. Dr. Robert N. Mcharo Mshana died on 30 January 2000 on plane crush. He was clever invented different medications we use today when he was abroad e.g HIV cure medicines and the like.

  • Eliaza Mmbaga ELLY: The first mount Kilimanjaro Tour Guide to graduate on Tanzania Government Universities on Tourism Management


  1. "The Pare people group are reported in 2 countries". Retrieved 25 December 2014.
  2. Kimambo, Isaria (1969). A Political History of the Pare of Tanzania c1500-1900. East African Publishing House.


  • Elineema, K. B. (1995). The Development of the SDA Church in Eastern Africa. Tanzania: Dar Es Salaam University Press.
  • Hakansson, N. T. (1998). Rulers and Rainmakers in Pre-colonial South Pare, Tanzania: Exchange and Ritual Experts in Political Centralization. Ethnology SUM, 1998, V37.
  • Hakansson, N. T. (1998). Pagan Practices and the Death of Children: German Colonial Missionaries and Child Health Care in South Pare, Tanzania. Uppsala University, Sweden.
  • Sheridan, Michael (2004). The environmental consequences of independence and socialism in North Pare, Tanzania, 1961-1988. (Working papers in African studies).
  • Naval Intelligence Division. (1920). A Handbook of German East Africa. London: Naval Intelligence, Admiralty, HMSO.
  • Mpangala, G. P. (1999). Peace, Conflicts, ad Democratization Process in the Great Lakes Region: The Experience of Tanzania. Institute Of Development Studies, University Of Dar Es Salaam.
  • Kimambo, I. and Temu, A. (eds) (1969). A History of Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Wapare
  • Kasuka, B. (ed) (2013). African Writers. New Africa Press.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
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