Dr.art in archaeology from the University of Bergen, Norway.
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Usagara village is located some 25 kilometres south of Mwanza. The Sirari-Mbeya Road from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam passes the village, which is located on both sides of the road. In Mwanza Region small-holder agriculture is employing about 85 per cent of the population.
The rain season from February to April was disastrous this year and the rains almost completely failed, with only some small showers now and then. The first harvest of maize which was planted late January died.
Striga, also known as witches weed, is a parasitic plant; here seen attacking maize crops.
Fields prepared for rice cultivation. The farmers are waiting and believing that rain eventually will come so that they can start planting.
The cultivation of cash-crops, such as cotton, has declined in the last decades. In Usagara about 50 per cent of the farmers were growing cotton only 3-4 years ago, compared to only 13 per cent today, following the radical fall in prices for cotton. When life is an endless struggle to make ends meet most farmers prefer subsistence agriculture.
Keeping livestock is an additional source of income and security, particularly during times when harvests fail. There is money to make from selling milk and meat but the availability of land for grazing is limited.
Even in the years when rain fails there is sufficient water in the village for the cattle, which are watered at different times during the day at various communal water holes.
A pot belonging to an elderly former rainmaker. The pot is no longer used for any rituals because there in not any support from the villagers or demand for the rainmaker’s services. The local residents are increasingly regarding the old tradition as “primitive” and “backward”.
All agricultural strategies are dependent on seasonal rains. Rainfall is often much localised and dark clouds, as captured in this picture, can often suddenly blow away and produce little if any rain at all. Residents in the area differentiate between two types of rain: male and female rain.
Today's Usagara village was part of the Bukumbi chiefdom. Bukumbi was the earliest of the Catholic Parishes established on the southern side of Lake Victoria by the White Fathers in 1884. The cemetery where the Christian chiefs have been buried is in Kigongo Village, near Usagara. The cemetery is located beneath a rock shelter where there is a Bantu rock-painting - the only rock-art in this area.
Images from Tanzania where Terje conducted research for his project “Rainmaking and Climate Change in Tanzania: Traditions, Rituals and Globalisation”. Terje Oestigaard visited Usagara Ward in Mwanza Region by the shores of Lake Victoria where there has been a major change from cash-crop to food-crop agriculture. For several reasons, the institution of worshiping the ancestors has vanished, forcing many to seek solutions to everyday misfortunes in the world of witchcraft.
See the image gallery above.
Terje's blog can be found here: http://oestigaard.com/