Official website of the community of Bermi village in Northern Tanzania

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Reference: Issues: Is it time for an Electronic Peace Corps? Six Articles discuss the pros and cons: Official website of the community of Bermi village in Northern Tanzania

By Admin1 (admin) on Friday, July 13, 2001 - 9:43 am: Edit Post

Bermi village in Northern Tanzania's Rift Valley by PCV Andy Carling

Bermi village in Northern Tanzania's Rift Valley by PCV Andy Carling

Bermi village in Northern Tanzania's Rift Valley by PCV Andy Carling

Bermi Village, Tanzania

Serikali Ya Kijiji Bermi, P.O. Box 290, Babati, Arusha Region, Tanzania, East Africa

Welcome to Bermi

This is the official website of the community of Bermi village in Northern Tanzania's Rift Valley.

The majority of us are from the Iraqw tribe. We are a peaceful village that works hard to improve itself.

We hope you enjoy finding out about life in our African village.

Listen to Safari Ingi's music from Bermi WAV format Real G2 Player

What's On The Site

The Village An introduction to Bermi and the Iraqw tribe, with information on the village, it's government and the role of the Wazee or village elders. This section also includes: Malaria is our biggest problem - A stronger strain has caused an epidemic in the village. We show the human and financial cost of this disease.

Our History For the first time, the community has written their history down. From oral tradition to the internet in under a week!

The People Meet some villagers and find out a little about our lives.

Our Culture About our culture and traditions *To Be Added Shortly

About the Site New Background on how the site is made and Developing the Site

Photo Gallery New Pictures Photographs of the village and it's people, with brief descriptions

Contact Us Our address and information about 'Friends of Bermi' our monthly email newsletter

Downloads Download some free wallpaper, music and files from Bermi

Links Links to useful and interesting sites

We would like to know what you think about our site send email

Latest News

we have a proposal for download (12.3Kb) zip file.

This shows how we intend to continue with this site. this proposal is about to be submitted to donor/commercial organizations for funding.

we are working alongside a small NGO, LISO - Local Initiatives Support Office. Download their press release (4.65Kb) zip file.

Home The Village Our History The People Our Culture About the Site Downloads Photographs Contact Us Links

History of Bermi Village

Home > Our History
This is the first time our history has been written down.

Page 1 of 3: 1862 - 1939

First Settlers
In 1862 the Iraqw tribe expanded into the area now known as Dareda Kati, which includes the site of Bermi village.

The first settler in Bermi was Gitanyet Kopa, who came from the nearby village of Kinermutl, on top of the escarpment. At this time there were no villages, just isolated family groups.

Searching for good farming land Gitanyet settled here with his wife at the base of the escarpment, near to where Mzee Cosmas now lives. Matlaa Yaawo and Tluqo Emmay followed in 1865.

All the area was thick forest and the families looked after cattle, but didn't plant crops. There were many wild animals and it was a dangerous place to live.

However, Gitanyet passed messages saying there was good land here. Kidifa Marando, Mulki Tlehhema and Yarot Akonaay moved their families here.
Gitanyet Kopa's grand children by his grave

Gitanyet Kopa's Grave
left to right
Pius Genda, Paulo Akonaay and Petro Gunda

Naming Bermi

The people cleared land for growing crops by cutting down trees and bushes. Then, using sharpened pieces of wood, they began planting crops. Also living near here at the time were some of the Barbaig tribe who do not plant; they are nomadic pastoralists. As the Iraqw used land for crops the Barbaig moved further away. There was no fighting between the tribes.

The Iraqw asked Gitanyet the name of this area. He said it is called Bermi bacause it has plenty of bushes known as berma.

There were some people from Spain, Portugal and France who were exploring Tanganyika. Some of them came near here and bought goods and services with German rupees.

Around 1878 Arabs came trading clothes, beads and rings in exchange for rupees, elephant tusks and rhino horn. The Iraqw were wearing animal skins before this. Then the Arabs returned and tied people up and took them to the coast as slaves. This happened for two years. The Iraqw chief was Kopa Margwet.

German Colonialists

In 1887 the German colonialists arrived and built an office and resthouse. The district office was built in Mbulu in 1905. At first, the Iraqw were pleased to see them.

The Germans made large farms and planted coffee. They paid people for working on their farms. The money was caled rupees. Many Germans lived here. One German, Mr Smitt had a farm above the river Gilaw.

But the Germans began to force people to work on their farms. They were tied in chains and beaten with sticks.

The Germans built the central railway, which the Arabs used for transporting slaves.
Thr German office is now a smallholding
Site of the German Colonial Office

In 1918 the Germans retreated before the British. They forced people to carry their equipment to Singida on their heads. Two men, Khaday Gitanyet and Matlaa Yaayo refused. The Germans became very angry and tied them to carts like horses and muzzled them.

When they arrived in Singida the people were paid a small amount of money for thanks and released. Khaday and Matlaa were imprisoned in a rough house. When night came, the Germans were asleep, so they pushed a wall down and escaped back to their homes in Bermi. The Germans didn't try to follow them.

The Iraqw were very happy to see the people return safely and that the Germans had gone.

British Colonialists
Shortly after this the British arrived in Mbulu and took over the German headquarters. The head of the British was called Mr Harris. He asked the people "Who are the leaders?". Isara Marmo was the Iraqw chief.

They met to discuss how to develop the people; building roads, classrooms, providing veterinary services and teaching agriculture. The British provided ploughs and jembe's and arranged to buy the crops for export. There was to be no forced labour.

After the meeting, the leaders sent messages for a mass meeting of all the Iraqw. The agreement between Mr Harris and Isara Marmo was discussed and agreed. The people of Bermi were very pleased and a British man came and began veterinary advice, a school, a dispensary and a primary court.

In 1939 the District Commissioner wrote a letter asking the Iraqw to provide soldiers for the British. The leaders recruited soldiers who went to Mbulu for a medical examination. Then they joined the African Rifles, medical units and as drivers and engineers.

In this year the Iraqw leader, Michael Ahho died. He was the first leader to be educated. The new leader was Khwastal Nade. Two years later Elias Sarwat became leader

The Pharmacy

In 1942 the Assistant Medical Officer, Cosmas Muryo wrote to the District Commisioner asking to build a pharmacy. The previous pharmacy was a grass hut.

The new pharmacy was built by men carrying stones from the river and women collecting baskets of sand. This was the first brick building in Bermi.

Medicine was carried from Mbulu and medical treatment became available.

In 1945 the soldiers returned and there were big celebrations. After the celebrations the District Commissioner, Mr Roh and his assistant Mr Tomliso wrote to the headman, Amsi humuri, saying that we have met in Mbulu with other elders to make arrangements to clear the bush so that people can live and farm there.
Mzee Cosmas's Pharmacy built in 1942
The Brick Pharmacy
left to right
Cosmas Muryo and Paulo Akonaay
Amsi collected people for a meeting which agreed to send the young men to clear the area around Mbulubulu near Karatu.

The British introduced a poll tax. Those people who were unable to pay were sent by Amsi to the District Commissioner in Mbulu. The D.C. sent them to work on farms run by German women who stayed after the war.

The women were unable to harvest the crops, so the non-payers worked there for one month and they returned to Bermi with a certificate to show Amsi that they had paid their poll tax.

There were many types of crops in Bermi like maize, wheat, millet, cassava, potatoes etc. There was no hunger and the people lived without problems.

Towards Independence

In 1954 the Tanganyika African National Union chairman Julius Kambarage Nyerere held a meeting in Tabora, where he said that TANU will be able to look for independence and he explained how to get registration certificates and to arrange a national meeting. Every district was to have a TANU commitee who would meet and discuss independence.

From Bermi, Vicent Akonaay and Andrea Amsi attended the meeting and returned to Bermi to open a TANU branch. The British didn't give TANU any problems because the registration certificate was in order.

Vicent Akonaay became TANU chairman and Cosmas Muryo was the secretary. Membership cost 50 cents. Bermi was the headquarters of TANU in the Arusha region.
The site of the first TANU office
Site of the TANU Office

The District Commissioner visited Dareda in 1957 and had a meeting with Amsi Humuri and the village elders Yame Bahye, Matte Qarqara and Songay Ehim. They discussed how to make a dam to collect water. They chose a place called Mala, 4 miles from Bermi. When the dam was completed, the people called it Lambor Amsi because Amsi humuri started the work.

In 1960 TANU started a school. The school was open from 8pm to 10pm. The secretary of TANU, Michael Tarmo and Pius Genda taught people swahilli and english. In this year Michael Mark replaced Amsi humuri as headman.

In 1961 Tanganyika became independent. The Union Jack of the British was taken down. Julius Nyerere became President of Tanganyika. Previously he had been Prime Minister between 1958 and 1960.

At the TANU school in Bermi, Pius Genda was transferred to Dareda Kati and Joakim Mandoo and Patrice Lumumba continued teaching.

In 1964 there was an earthquake and the people that lived at the base of the escarpment moved to Birinye and Daktara because they were afraid that the escarpment would fall on their homes.

At this time TANU advised all the people to learn to read and write. Those that already knew taught the others. There were no special teachers.

In the morning they would farm, and in the afternoon they would sit in one place to learn. TANU sent books to help teach the people. Some people refused to attend because most of them knew how to read and write. These parents sent their children to school and they learnt there and at home.

The Operation

In 1975 villigisation (the operation) began in Bermi. The Area Commisioner, Kisula, came from Babati to explain the operation to the people.

The operation was to collect people in villages for the first time and provide services to the people. The people could have schooling, water and medical treatment easily.

The land was divided up into two parts; the good land was used for farming and the fields were irrigated. The rest of the land was used for grazing.
the bermi section of the rift vallet escarpment
The Bermi Escarpment
Emanuel Safari Gaspar, the District Councillor, was one of the surveyors. They divided up the land between the 280 families. Each family got one acre for farming and one acre for building on.

The people who had moved from the escarpment after the earthquake returned to their homes. The people were very happy.

In 1976 a village farm of 11 acres was started and the village government began. The first chairman was Andrea Amsi and the village secretary was Daniel Sangka.

In 1977 Gervas Sangka became chairman and the village continued to develop. We collected 30 shillings from each person to start a village shop and buy a grinding machine. The primary school was opened in 1978.

In 1981 the proceeds from the villageshop and mill bought a 7 ton lorry, and in 1983, a tractor was bought. This was used on large farms and payment was in a percentage of the harvest. The shop sold seeds wholesale along with soda etc. In 1985 the village had 150 acres of wheat, which produced 80 bags. This was used to buy a 3 ton Isuzu pick-up.

In 1990 Tanzania Breweries bought a 100 acre wheat farm. However, this year was very hot and the crops failed completely. The village got very little income from the hiring of the tractor and there was a lot of hunger. The government bought in maize for the people. A family of 10 people got 40 Kg.

Between 1991 and 1994 the harvests improved and the village slowly recovered from the disastarous crop failure of 1990. The village had no money, and when the pick-up and the lorry broke down in 1994, there was no way of repairing them.

From 1995 the village began to feel the effects of global warming and the harvests were very low. Sometimes the rain failed to appear and in 1998 El Nino destroyed the crops and severely damaged farms, buildings and the road. There was serious flooding.

The previous year, 1997, the village worked on conserving the escarpment, planting over 20,000 trees. Without this work El Nino would have caused serious landslides.

In 1998 a kindergarten was opened and the lorry was sold.

In 2000 the crops were very poor. The village bought a new motor for the mill. Electricity pylons passed through the village, but Bermi will have to wait untill 2001 for a transformer that will bring power to the village.

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This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Special Interests - An Electronic Peace Corps; COS - Tanzania



By Peter King ( - on Friday, July 14, 2006 - 2:37 pm: Edit Post

Hi there,
does anyone have any info about Captain Lloyd DC of the area probably in the 30/40s.
Found a reference to him in Yorkshire UK and got curious,
Peter king

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