World Langauges Week in Review


During World Languages Week, a number of parents took time from their busy day to come visit IST to share books, stories, pictures, songs, games and much more about their home language and culture.

“During World Languages Week at IST, my mom came to visit our class and read the book After Dark written in Urdu (a language of Pakistan) to us. She read the words in Urdu first and then she translated the words into English so everyone could understand the story. It is about two sisters. One sister is scared of the dark and she will not sleep in her bedroom by herself. My classmates and I really liked the book. It was exciting to have my mom come in and read the book to us.” – Yusra

Insiyah and Yusra also read a book written in Urdu to the class. “We read the book Come and Take a Shower aloud to the class. It was a fun book to read to the class. The class seemed to enjoy the book when we asked questions. If students answered our questions correctly, they received a chocolate from us. In the story, the boy was fussy about eating some kinds of food. People enjoyed the part where the boy said, ‘the chicken flew out the window’. The boy did not want to eat the cooked chicken so he threw it out the window. The message from the book was that you should not be fussy about food. You should always eat what parents give you so that you can keep your body healthy.” – Insiyah and Yusra

During World Languages Week IST ES Campus was bustling with activity. Here is a short video of one of the performances during recess.

“My dad came to visit us at IST during World Languages Week. He told us a story about a young warrior named Wule. He sang the song “Ulegmanatende” which comes from Iramba (where my dad and I are from) in Tanzania. I danced while my dad sang and eventually the rest of the Kung Fu Praying Mantids joined in. We all had a lot of fun. At the end, my dad and I taught the class a fun game.” – Bertha

Thank you Mr. Jairo and Ms. Rasool for coming to visit us at IST. We had a super fantastic time learning from you!

The Kung Fu Praying Mantids

Tanzania’s Ethnic Groups – A Visit with IST Graham Mercer


As part of our ongoing investigation of different cultures, Grade 2 invited Mr. Graham Mercer to give a slide presentation on the different ethnic groups of Tanzania.

The Maasai, because of their colourful and interesting culture and the fact that their traditional lands often coincide with major tourist routes, are perhaps, the best-known of Tanzania’s various peoples. Yet they are far from typical, in numbers or in lifestyle. They represent only about 1% of the country’s 120 or so ethnic groups.

The great majority of Tanzanians are Bantu-speaking tribes that moved into what is now Tanzania from the south-west, some hundreds of years ago, whereas the relatively few pastoralists, such as the Maasai and Datoga, came from the north. Bantu tribes include the Sukuma (Tanzania’s largest tribe), the Chagga, the Makonde, the He-He, the Go-Go, the Haya and the Nyamwezi.

Among the other ethnic groups are the Swahili, descendants of Arab settlers from the Gulf who intermarried with African women. Swahili means “coast” and most Swahili still live by the sea, on the mainland and in Zanzibar. They are not a distinct tribe but they have much in common, not least their first language, which of course bears the same name.

Another non-Bantu, non-pastoralist tribe is the Iraqw, who live and farm on the plateau between the Rift Valley and the Crater Highlands. They originated from the Horn of Africa or maybe even the Yemen.

Pastoralists include not only the Maasai but the Datoga (a cluster of clans and former enemies of the Maasai). Until fairly recently the young Datoga men would sometimes prove their manhood by killing a neighbouring tribesman and cutting off his hands or fingers etc as trophies, with which to impress their girl-friends. This habit was of course frowned upon and stopped by the government, though the Datoga “warriors” still kill lions occasionally, as the Maasai do, using only spears.

Like the Maasai they live mainly on milk – cattle are at the very centre of their lifestyle – though their family settlements and huts are very different from those of their former enemies. They live south of Ngorongoro around Mount Hanang.

The real indigenous people of Tanzania are the hunter-gathering Hadzabe, who live, as some Datoga do, along the southern shores of Lake Eyasi, south of Ngorongoro. Small in number, they are one of Tanzania’s most fascinating peoples. Hunting with immensely strong longbows and poisoned arrows, they can kill animals up to and including the size of elephants. They don’t build huts, have no chiefs, and their favourite food is baboon meat, which they say is “sweeter than chicken”. They sleep in the open or even in trees and caves, and have little time for the trappings of civilisation as we see it “We have our bows and arrows and the bush – everything else is taka-taka [rubbish]”. They speak a click language and have a disconcerting habit of changing their names when they feel like it.

Mr. Graham Mercer has been teaching at IST since 1977. He has long been fascinated by Africa’s wildlife and wild places. Born in Lancashire UK, Mr. Mercer first visited East Africa as a sailor in Britain’s Royal Navy. Mr. Mercer spends his leisure time traveling with his wife Anjum through Africa and the Indian subcontinent.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions for Mr. Mercer. He is more than happy to answer questions you may have about Tanzania’s ethnic groups.

A Traditional Maasai Visit


On Tuesday March 23, 2010 a traditional Maasai came to our class. His name was Mr. Mayuwe Samarie. He comes from a village in Arusha called Kiteto.

We got to ask him lots of questions. He didn’t speak English so Mr. Elliot translated for us. We learned that Maasai drink cow’s blood to get energy. Sometimes they mix it with milk.

Did you know… Maasai men can have more than one wife? But Mr. Mayuwe only has one! Mr. Mayuwe has 60 cows but the richest man in the village has over 700 cows!

After our visit in the classroom we joined the other grade 2 classes in the field to watch and learn how to dance and jump like the Maasai. They jumped very high and chanted. We enjoyed jumping and singing with them.

written by:
The G2 Kung Fu Praying Mantids

A note to our Global Friends:
Please feel free to leave comments asking us questions about the Maasai people of Tanzania. We will do our best to answer your questions or find someone to help us find the answer.