The Chagga are a Bantu speaking people indigenous Africa and are the third largest ethnic group in Tanzania. In Kiswahili, the person belonging to this group is called Mchagga, plural Wachagga and the language is Kichagga.
They traditionally live on the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru and near Moshi. Their relative wealth comes from the favorable
climate of the area and succeful agriculture methods which include extensive irrigation system, terracing and continuous organic fertilization methods practiced for thousands years.
They were one of the first tribe in the area to convert to Christianity. Schools built by missionaries in the area may have given them an economic advantage over other ethnic groups.
Traditionally, Chagga clothing was made of cowhide. With time the Chagga started wearing imported bead ornaments and cloth wraparound gaments. The colourful pieces of cloth called "kanga" and "vitenge" may be worn over a dress or may be used to carry babies on the back or hip.
School aged boys wear shorts but adults (both male and female) and young women generally do not wear shorts in public except for sports.
The Chagga used to make their own utensils, mainly from wood. These items included small bowls, huge beer tubs and spoons. Iron ornaments include bells, hoes and spears. The Chagga also made their own weapons and animal traps. Musical instruments include wooden flutes, bells and drums. Basket weaving was also common. This art is now dying out as more items are bought at local stores.
Traditionally, the Chagga marriage ceremony was a long process. In some cases, bridal payments were made over the wife's lifetime. Today, Christian couples are married in churches and Muslims at the Mosque. There is much drinking and feasting throughout the marriage negotiations and celebration.
The groom used to be responsible for building the house where he would live with his wife after marriage. This was close to his parents home, often on the same
Traditional Chagga instruments include wooden flutes, bells and drums. Dancing and singing are part of almost every celebration. With exposure to other ethnic groups and Western culture, the Chagga have shown a liking for various types of music. These include Swahili songs produced by Tanzanian bands and West and Central African music and dance form.
The Chagga have rich oral traditions and have managed to record most of their history. They have many legends and songs, proverbs are used to guide youth in the societie.
Bananas are the staple food of the Chagga. They are also used to make beer which is a popular beverage in the Kilimanjaro region. The Chagga plant diferent food crops , including bananas millet, maize (corn), beans and cassava. They also keep cattle, goats, chicken and sheep. But because of a scarcity of farming and grazing land, many Chagga are forced to buy meat, milk and eggs.
The main language spoken by the Chagga people is Kichagga. It has different dialects spoken by people in different regions.
Most Chagga also speak the national language Kiswahili. It is the language of instruction in primary school and is also spoken used in many working places.
English is the language of institutions of higher learning.