Alternate names: Kisangu
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The Sangu: Many of the Sangu people follow traditional religion. Neither Islam nor Christianity has penetrated in places away from the main roads. Some people may follow one of these religions, but likely have not given up their own traditional practices either. The Sangu are a very proud people and do not easily receive anything new from the outside.
In many areas there are no churches at all. The church leaders are very exhausted in their work of evangelism and church planting. They appreciate any help they can get to draw their people to Jesus. Bible Translation is one way to help reach the Sangu with God’s Word in the language they understand.
Location within country: Usangu Plains, Mbarale District, Mbeya Region. The Sangu area can be easily reached by car from Mbeya by heading east on A104 and then north at either Igurusi or Igawa. The interior is inaccessible to vehicles during the rains.
Geography and Climate: The area is extremely dry for about eight months of the year and then the plains are flooded during the rainy season.
Cultural Information: The Sangu people are the original pastoral inhabitants of the vast area of flatlands towards the southern end of the Great Ruaha River System. More recently a large rice project sponsored by the Chinese was introduced. Some of the Sangu people have learned the art of planting rice from them and now have their own smaller rice paddies. The Sangu also plant millet and maize but often experience hunger. Some own cattle, goats and sheep. During the rainy season flooding is common; rains are sometimes so strong that the rice gets completely flooded. In the dry season water supplies may be up to twelve kilometers away. The villages are far apart, spread over an immense area. Even the individual homesteads are at a distance from each other with people living quite independently of one another. Most houses in the Sangu area are built of mud and sticks or mud bricks. Generally each village has a school, but many of the children in the more remote places do not get to attend.
Very few Sangu have received higher education and there are very few Sangu pastors and evangelists.
Language Group Information: The Sangu are a very proud people and do not easily receive anything new from the outside. The Sangu language is still used in private and public life throughout the Sangu Plains but if outsiders are present it is not used. They feel that their language is not very prestigious. Many other Tanzanian groups have also moved into the area in search of good grazing land for their cattle, including the Maasai, Datooga, Sukuma and Nyakyusa.
A sociolinguistic survey of the Sangu people was conducted in October 1997. Sangu is the primary and almost exclusive language of most aspects of daily life and appears likely to remain that way. Swahili ability is limited in the more remote areas. Sangu people express an interest in having written materials in their language. No previous language development occurred before this project began in 1998.
Religion: Traditional, Muslim, Christian. Somewhat receptive to Christianity. About 99% of the Sangu follow traditional religion.
The Sangu Church: The Sangu do not appear to have been reached by the existing churches in the area and in many areas there are no churches at all. The churches in the Sangu area are weak and struggle a great deal. Many Sangu, even those attending church, also go to practitioners of traditional religion or practice it themselves. The church leaders are very exhausted in their work and would appreciate any help they could get to draw their people to Jesus. Bible Translation is one way to help reach the Sangu with God’s Word in the language they understand best and that speaks to their heart.
History: In 1870’s and 1880’s the Baluch people from Pakistan emigrated into the area, starting large farms, intermarrying and bringing Islam. Christianity was brought to the region in 1898. The Sangu were involved in slave trading until it was banned by the government. The clan of the Sangu chief has a strong Arabic influence because of their former involvement in this trade.
Sangu team: The team has members from MEC and Lutheran churches. The team is made up of Abedy M. and Yoram C. as translators, Prisca M. as Literacy/SU coordinator and Matrida M. as back translator.
> Browse our Sangu project stories