The Datoga, also known as Tatoga or referred to using the Swahili word Mang’ati, attributed to them by the Maasai and meaning “respected enemy”, are a great southern Nilotic people living in northern Tanzania.
They come from South Sudan and the highlands of western Ethiopia, and are divided into seven different tribes. Among them, the largest and best known is the Barabaig tribe, based in the volcanic highlands dominated by Mount Hanang; their language is spoken by more than half of the Datoga peoples.
In the past, they were chiefly pastoralists, but more recently farming has become their main source of subsistence. Although they share a number of traits with the Maasai, they have always distanced themselves from neighbouring populations, rejecting any outside cultural interference.
The Datoga are blacksmiths, breeders and hunters. The men cast iron to make arrowheads, which they sell to the Hadzabe, as well as the lances they use to hunt. The women tan goat skins to make clothing they decorate with colourful beads.
These people live a very primitive life, rejecting every formality of modern development; they have a variety of dialects and only 5% of the Datoga can speak Swahili, the national language of Tanzania. All of this has contributed to their isolation.