The Shambaa people, also called the Sambaa, Shambala, Sambala or Sambara, are an East African ethnic and linguistic group. They are found in the Usambara Mountains of northeastern Tanzania and in the Kilimanjaro and Manyara regions. The word Shamba means "farm", and these people live in one of the most fertile Tanzanian region. In 2001, the Shambaa population was estimated to number 664,000.
Kishambaa is the Sambaa word for the Shambala language, Wasambaa are the people (Msambaa for a person), and Usambaa or Usambara is used for Sambaa lands. The Shambaa call their lands Shambalai.
They are related to the Bondei and Zigua people, and the Shambala language is mutually intelligible with Bondei and Zigua, with the three groups sharing significant overlap in territory and a long history of intermarriage. The similarity between them has prompted some to refer to themselves as "Boshazi" (the first syllable from each of the three groups).
The WaSambaa were ruled by the Kilindi dynasty from the mid-18th century to the end of the 19th century. The founder of the dynasty was Mbegha, and his son Bughe established the hilltop capital at Vuga. The kingdom reached its greatest extent under Kimweri ye Nyumbai. After he died in 1862 a civil war broke out over the succession, fueled by competition for the new wealth that the caravan trade in the Pangani valley had brought to the region.
Smallpox and slave trading contributed to the disintegration of the kingdom, and in 1898 a fire destroyed Vuga. The Germans took control. Under colonial rule the dynasty continued to have some authority, but in 1962 the Tanzanian government removed all power from the hereditary chiefdoms. Kimweri ye Nyumbai's descendant Kimweri Mputa Magogo (died 2000) was the last Lion King.
The Usambara area was the early colonial headquarters for German East Africa during the hot season. Tanganyika, the name for the German colony, and later for the republic and eventually for the mainland portion of Tanzania is itself from Sambaa: Tanga means farmed land, and nyika is brushy land.
- David Lawrence (2009). Tanzania and Its People. New Africa Press. pp. 121–122. ISBN 978-1-4414-8692-9.
- Katariina Vainio-Mattila (2000), Wild vegetables used by the Sambaa in the Usambara Mountains, NE Tanzania, Annales Botanici Fennici, Vol. 37, No. 1 (2000), pages 57-67
- Ethnologue 2001.
- Murless 2013, p. 1.
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- Murless 2013, p. 2.
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- Feierman 1990, p. 172.
- Ethnologue (2001). "Shambala: Language of Tanzania".
- Conte, Christopher Allan (2004-01-01). Highland Sanctuary: Environmental History in Tanzania's Usambara Mountains. Ohio University Press. ISBN 978-0-8214-1554-2. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- Feierman, Steven M. (1990-11-14). Peasant Intellectuals: Anthropology and History in Tanzania. Univ of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-12523-3. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
- Murless, Peter (2013). "The Usambara Mountains of Tanzania" (PDF). Irente Biodiversity Reserve. Retrieved 2013-09-08.