The Datoga ethnic group

North Tanzania Itineraries

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The Datoga people are of nilotic origins, classified as Highland Southern NIlotes. They are thought to have settled in the Lake Eyasi area about 3,000 years ago from Southern Sudan and Western Ethiopia highlands, where they originally lived before moving to this new region.


In their migration southwards, their ancestors came to occupy the highlands of Kenya and Tanzania. During the migration, they split up into two groups: the former settled in Kenya and gave origin to the Kalenjin people; the latter settled in Tanzania and gave origin to the Datoga ethnic group. The Datoga occupied the open expanses of northern Tanzania, but because of wrong strategic choices and with the Masai progressively taking control of the region, they were forced out of many areas, retreating to the banks of Lake Eyasi, where they currently live.

Characteristic clothing

The clothes they wear bear resemblance to those of the other tribes in the region, such as for example the Masai people. To emphasize the primordial tie with their land, they mainly use earth tone blankets as cloaks or clothes, embellished by leather trinkets and necklaces.
Women's underwear is adorned with beads and worn under their traditional cloaks, covered by well-tanned, comfortable goatskin coats. Married women also wear skirts made with thin strips of leather.

Customs and traditions

The elongated ear lobes are a typical feature of the Datoga people. This alteration is sought-after and is not the only one. Girls have very big drawings on their face and shoulders, etched by carving marks in their flesh. Some even carve extremely deep marks to make the picture more visible.
The mask-shaped drawing on the woman's face is a distintive mark which identifies members of the Datoga tribe.


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