Population: 350,000

Location: Dodoma Region, Kondoa District

Altitude: 1200-2000 metres

Economic Status: Annual income per worker (estimated) $375USD.

Alternate names: Kirangi, Kilangi

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There are four dialects of the Rangi language. Earlier this year a survey was taken in many Rangi villages to determine which dialect the translation of the Bible should be done in. The Rangi people are close neighbors with the Burunge, Sandawe, Gogo and Masai. Some villages have all five language groups in them.

Location within country: The Rangi live in six divisions of the Kondoa District: Kondoa, Pahi, Mondo, Goima, Kolo and Bereko, in northern-central Tanzania. 

Geography and Climate: Bush savannah and highland forests, moderate semi-arid. Between January and May any village which does not lie on the Great North Road (excluding Kondoa, Mnenia and Pahi) might be inaccessible because of the rainy season. The Rangi live in an arid climate in central Tanzania bordered by the following: 

  • Chenene Hills (S) which are at the border between Kondoa and Dodoma districts.
  • Forest reserve (SW) which is a government forest infested with the tsetse fly.
  • Bubu River Valley (W)
  • Bereko Escarpment (NW)
  • Tarangire National Park (NE)
  • Maasai Steppe (E)
  • Burunge Hills (SE)

Cultural Information: The majority of the Rangi population live in villages. People perceive their membership in communities by villages. These are not necessarily political villages but can be traditional villages. The Rangi are mainly farmers and grow cash crops such as: sunflower seeds, millet, beans, lentils, peas, and onions.

Other goods are furniture, wooden crockery and cutlery, ropes and other useful household items and embroidered caps. They also have farm animals: predominantly cattle, goats and chickens. Many Rangi are also vendors in the marketplaces. 

Diet: Food crops are millet, maize, legumes, potatoes, cassava, sugar cane, and various nuts and fruits. (The latter is found in the highlands only.) 

Economic Status: Only about 2% of the population hold salaried (government) positions. The majority of all other income comes from small businesses (shops) and transportation of cargo. Estimated annual income per working person is $375USD. Cash crops also give some income but this is notoriously unreliable due to their dependence on rain. 

The following are considered wealth: 

  • Stored grain- either from one’s own field or acquired with money from other activities. It is stored in special containers made of wood, and hidden. It’s eaten in times of need or for festivities or it might be sold again.
  • Cattle- either through animal husbandry or bought at auctions.

Language Group Information: The Rangi language is categorized as Bantu F.33 within the Bantu subgroup of the Niger-Congo language family. Swahili is the language of education but most Rangi cannot fully understand it. 

Religion: 93% Muslim. (There is a mosque in every village with eight in Kondoa Town.) The remaining 7% are primarily Roman Catholic. Traditional religious beliefs have often been incorporated into the majority religion. Reports of witchcraft among the Rangi are common.

Writing System

In October of 1998, Rangi mother tongue speakers had agreed on a writing system. However, this system had hardly been used due to various problems. A first primer (of October 1999) and three parables from the Gospel of Luke (of July 2000) had been published using this writing system, and even though people could read those, writing their language proved too difficult. Realizing this, two Wycliffe members of the Rangi team, Oliver S and Marg H, have begun work to revise, and where possible, simplify, the Rangi writing system. 


In August 2005 a completed translation workshop resulted in three participants being employed in the project: 

  • Paulo K (the best student of all 40 workshop participants) is now a full-time translator.
  • Andrew M is the new Rangi Literacy Coordinator in training.
  • Gervas Simon V is the new Rangi Public Relations Officer in training.

The Rangi team of Paulo L and Richard C (a Wycliffe missionary) is progressing steadily in translating for the Rangi people. 

2006 TimeTable
  • January: A final check of the book of Jonah was done. This is the first Biblical book ever published in the Rangi language. 
  • March: Checking of several chapters of the Gospel of Mark. The story of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection (Mark 14-16), was checked and several trial versions were given to local churches in time for Easter. 

December: Translation will continue with the goal of having the Gospel of Mark completed in early 2007.


The literacy program is gaining ground! There is now a primer which is used in seminars to teach Rangi to read and write in their own language. There was a limited edition of the first primer in 1998 used to test the writing system. Rangi literacy classes (led by Rangi) have started in Kondoa town and the first villages outside of Kondoa town. 

Materials: A book on traditional Rangi tools was completed in March 2006. More booklets are in process, including: UKIMWI(HIV Aids), the Jonah story, the Ruth story and the transitional literacy primer. 


Nearing completion: 

  • Rangi spelling guide.
  • Rangi grammar. This will be the first Rangi grammar ever produced.
  • 10,000+ word dictionary is in process. This will be the first dictionary ever published in Rangi! 

The Word In Song

Two Rangi choirs have been trained and are now performing Psalm 23 and a Rangi alphabet song in churches. When they began to sing, the reaction was amazing! The drumbeat changed, people started dancing spontaneously, and many said they hadn’t felt God come so close to them for a long time.

Rangi Origins

The Rangi probably formed as a distinct language group some time between 1000 and 1500 AD when Bantu language speakers from the West (more specifically, the southern shore of Lake Victoria) infiltrated the Kondoa highlands, then sparsely populated by Cushites. The Haubi valley is regarded as the cradle of the Rangi from where every Rangi’s descendants originated. In reality, many who call themselves Rangi today (and are Rangi linguistically and culturally) have Cushitic ancestors. 

Early History

The Kondoa highlands were a cultural backwater until ivory traders arrived between 1850 and 1880 and founded trading posts at Kondoa and Busi/Sambwa. The first mosque was built (in Kondoa) in 1885, and the first Catholic church (also in Kondoa) in 1910. Rangi were then living predominantly in the four valleys of Kondoa, Haubi, Mondo and Kolo, plus the Busi/Sambwa settlements below the escarpment. They were not centrally organized but each area had its own subchief. 

After World War I, a sultan was set over all the Rangi, Sultan Salimu Kimolo, whose palace was at Kolo (his dynasty was abolished soon after Tanzanian independence in 1961). 

Recent History

After World War II, the bushland plains below the escarpment, up to then infested with tsetse-fly, were cleared and many Rangi moved into the Northern plains between Pahi and Kisese, the Eastern plains up to Jangalo, and the Southeastern plains from Soya to Zajilo on the border with Dodoma District. Today, there are also sizeable Rangi communities in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Babati and Arusha.

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