The Pare (pronounced “Pahray”) people are members of an ethnic group indigenous to the Pare Mountains of Tanzania, which are part of the Kilimanjaro Administrative Region. Pareland is also known as Vuasu (Asu the root word and Chasu or Athu, the language). The area was very strategic as one of the northern routes of the East African long distance trade connecting the hinterland with the Indian ocean coast.

Historically, the Pare were the main producers of highly-demanded iron for peoples who occupied the mountain regions of north-eastern Tanzania. The Chaga were among their consumers. The Pare were also known as rainmakers. One of the most known Pare rainmakers was Mfumwa (Chief) Muhammad Kibacha Singo, a local ruler of Same (a district in Kilimanjaro Administrative Region) since the German colonial era until 1963 when chiefdom was abolished by an independent Tanganyika government. He died in January 1981 estimated to be aged between 120 and 140 years.

The residents of North Pare divide their mountains into two areas based on ethnolinguistic differences: Kigweno-speaking Ugweno to the north and Chasu-speaking Usangi to the south.

Pre-Colonial Pare

Among the Pare, the Ugweno Kingdom of northern Pare emerged in the 17th century.

Traditional Pare 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) was a fungal ailment thought to come from the mother’s breast. It was treated by giving the child sheep’s milk instead of the breast. 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.

Colonial Pare

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.

Pare contribution to the independence struggle

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 ehtnic-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.' read more

Ms. Damari Sefue (nee Kangalu), was the first Tanganyikan (Now Tanzania Mainland) woman to qualify as a teacher. (For more please see The Development Of the SDFA 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.

Post-Colonial Pare

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 Economy of Parelands

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).

Places of interest

Usangi is a small, spread out town 3 hours from Moshi, located in some kind of crater surrounded by a bunch of peaks that is the Northern Pare Mountains.

Ugweno is located in North Pare Mountains about 80km from the capital of Kilimanjaro, Moshi.

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


  • 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.
  • Michael Sheridan (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, Admirality, 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 A. Temu, (eds) (1969). A History of Tanzania. Dar Es Salaam.


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