Segeju people

The Segeju are an ethnic and linguistic group from Mkinga District, Tanga Region, Tanzania, between the city of Tanga and the Kenyan border. The people are historically related to the Dhaiso. In 2003 the Segeju population was estimated to number fewer than 15,000, with fewer than 7,000 speaking the (ki)Segeju language.. The Segeju have kinship relations with the Digo people, who are part of the nine tribes of the Mijikenda. The Segeju live in two areas namely the coastal and the highlands of the Usambaras. Those that live in the Usambara call their language Dahisu and call themselves Segeju.


The name Segeju is said to derive from the Swahili words "Kusega", meaning 'to draw' and "juu", meaning 'up' or 'high'. The Segeju were said to have acquired the name following contact with the Shirazi Arabs in the 17th century, on account of the habit of their wearing of skin garments around their loins higher than was usual.[1]



According to Segeju traditions recorded by Mhando (2008), the Segeju state that they originated in Shungwaya. Another version states that they came from Yemen.[1]

c. 1650 - 1700

Galla-Segeju conflict

Mhando records that the Segeju were attacked by the Galla in the second half of the 17th century. This caused their society to fragment into at least three sections. One of the groups fled to Lamu Island where they intermarried with the local people, giving rise to the Bajun people. Another group fled to an area known as Mwangea while the third fled to the lower Tana region. The last group would later move to their current areas of occupancy due to long droughts in the Tana region.[1]


  1. Jacob Mhando, National Museums of Kenya (2008). Safeguarding Endangered Oral Traditions In East Africa (PDF) (Report). Unesco. p. 23. Retrieved September 22, 2019.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
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