It’s my tribe, it’s my language, its who I am!

I was born and raised in the Meru tribe and I’m proud to be Meru. I hope you enjoy the glimpse I’m giving you into my tribe. There are things however, that I won’t share here because they are tribal secrets and I deeply respect that!

Who are we?  We are one of many Bantu tribes.

What are we known for? Wameru are predominantly farmers, cultivating crops and keeping livestock. Meru people are very approachable and welcoming. Typically, as you walk around this region, you can expect to meet women carrying bananas on their heads. Although they are on their way to market, they are also eager to exchange greetings with a visitors to their land.

Where are we located? Arusha, northern Tanzania.

What is the language we speek? Kimeru.

What is our origin? We have shared the slopes of Mount Meru with the Waarusha people for about 300 years. We were established on the slopes of Mount Meru before Waarusha arrived in the 1830s. Waarusha and Wameru cleared and settled most of the south eastern slopes of Mount Meru.

Greetings: Greetings are extremely important. If you fail to greet people and ask about their health and the health of their family, you will be regarded as rude. This is something that has been passed on from generation to generation in Meru tribes. This tradition begins at an early age as children start talking. Greetings are mandatory and start in your household with those you meet daily. If you want a positive response from Meru or Tanzanians in general, you’ll want to exchange greetings first with a handshake.

Respect: Respect is extremely important for both adults and young people of the Meru tribe. If I greet someone who is older than myself and married, I will greet them as Father or Mother, then their last name. When addressing a parent, we don’t use their name at all. Instead we refer to their first child’s name after their title as in Mama Nelson or Father Nelson in my parent’s case. If he/she isn’t married, start with brother/sister and their name followed with greetings.

Hands: The hand that is primarily used for socializing, is the right hand. We don’t use the left hand when giving or receiving something, shake hands or eating. We also don’t point a hand or finger at someone, instead we point our chin in the direction of the person we wish to indicate.

Names: Every person in a Meru tribe has two names; the name that you will be called while at home and the name that you will be called while outside of your tribe, such as in school and work places. This second name is the name we use for academic issues and important documents such as passports, birth certificates, licenses etc. I have two names myself which are Masawe (my tribe name) and Nelson (my academic name).

Household & Cooking: Cooking and household chores are mostly women’s responsibilities. Circumcised men aren’t allowed to be in the kitchen with ladies or in a woman’s room. Young boys who aren’t circumcised yet, can associate with women in a kitchen. Men help women with chopping wood and fetching water. Since Meru depend on farms and livestock, men’s responsibilities are to defend and protect their family and take care of the farm and livestock.

Education: The Meru tribe gives both boys and girls the opportunity for education. Both the men and women’s educations are highly valued and seen as necessary for success.

Marriage: Children are separated from their parents by marriage. In our tribe, living as couple before marriage is not allowed. An announcement of the engagement will come first with an “engagement party”. This is followed by many months to a year of marriage preparation. The marriage ceremonies are huge and take an entire day to celebrate. If you marry into the Meru tribe, you can expect to receive gifts like furniture, dishes, cows, goats, sheep and money.