Location map needed (pending to replace all)

Population: 55,000 (including Sizaki)

Location: Mara Region, Bunda District (northwest TZ)

Altitude: 1430 metres (4700 feet)

Diet: cassava, sorghum, millet, corn, beans, and cotton

Alternate Names: Kiikizu, Ikiikiizʉ, Kishashi

Browse our stories from the Ikizu project

Spread throughout the hilly Ikizu language area (approximately 600 square kilometers) are small villages that are home to people who are greatly influenced by their local geography, economy, culture, and religious beliefs.  Though people in neighboring language areas may eat a lot of fish, the Ikizu people are more involved in small-scale crop farming and animal husbandry.  They like to eat meat (often dried) from goats, cattle, and sheep, along with other staples such as a thick corn or sorghum porridge (called ugali) and beans.

Location within Country:  The Ikizu live in the Bunda District of Mara Region, located in the northwest corner of Tanzania.  The language area isn’t far from the eastern shore of Lake Victoria.  Directly south is the western portion of Serengeti National Park.

Geography and Climate: Though the location is close to the equator, a relatively high elevation makes for dry conditions many months of the year.  There are a number of hilly areas.  Farmers depend on the rainfall which typically arrives at certain times of year for crop production.  Temperatures are generally warm and dry, though not extreme.

Cultural Information:  In Nyamuswa, a central Ikizu village, there is a large tree which is protected by the Ikizu people.  The tree is called Omongwe.  The Ikizu say that when they were deciding on the borders of their area, they looked for a place where the spirits would descend to help them to protect the borders of their territory.  They found Omongwe on the hill of Nyamuswa and built their central village around it.  This tree was the biggest they could find in the area, so they determined that it had clearly been favored by the spirits.  Even today, it is forbidden to break off even a twig or a leaf.  If this is done, the sin must be paid for by sacrificing a cow.  Even Queen Elizabeth II of England has visited Nyamuswa to see Omongwe.

Economic Status:  Many Ikizu people are farmers and typically have at least a small number of livestock.  They commonly cultivate cassava, sorghum, millet, corn, beans, and cotton.  Some find employment in churches, schools, or local government.

Language Group Information:  Though the Ikizu and Sizaki people have some differences between the languages they speak and consider themselves to be different people groups, the differences are slight and the populations are quite mixed.  It is estimated that there about 50,000 Ikizu people and just 5000 Sizaki.  For these reasons, Sizaki is generally considered to be a dialect of Ikizu.  And for the purpose of Bible translation, it seems agreeable to most people that an Ikizu translation will be adequate.

The relationship between the Ikizu and the Zanaki (neighbors to the northwest) is close.  Not only is there significant lexical similarity between the two languages, but their respective chiefs were friends in past years.  The Ikizu relationship with the Ngoreme (neighbors to the northeast) has not been so friendly, largely because of frequent cattle raids in their past.

Religion: There are significant numbers of Ikizu people who claim to be either Christian or Muslim.  However, African traditional religion is prevalent and often permeates these religious circles.  The largest Christian denomination is Roman Catholic, followed closely by Seventh Day Adventist.  There are also Mennonite, Anglican, and a variety of small Pentecostal churches.

Published Scripture:  Luke, Ruth, Jonah

Browse our stories from the Ikizu project