This is the official website of the community of Bermi village in Northern Tanzania's Rift Valley by PCV Andy Carling

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tanzania: Peace Corps Tanzania: Web Links for Tanzania RPCVs: This is the official website of the community of Bermi village in Northern Tanzania's Rift Valley by PCV Andy Carling

By Admin1 (admin) on Monday, July 09, 2001 - 3:53 pm: Edit Post

Bermi Village, Tanzania

Bermi Village, Tanzania

Bermi Village, Tanzania

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

Welcome to Bermi

a rainbow over Bermi signals the start of the rainy season

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

About Safari Ingi, lyrics and a CD for sale

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 New

About our culture and traditions

About the Site

Background on how the site is made and Developing the Site

Photo Gallery

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


Download some free wallpaper, music and files from Bermi


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

Introducing Bermi Village

Home > The Village

Listen to Safari Ingi's music from Bermi

WAV format Real G2 Player

About Safari Ingi, lyrics and a CD for sale


Bermi, 200Km south of Arusha, has a population of around 2,500. The nearest town is Babati, 37km away. The village is at the foot of the Rift Valley escarpment.

We are four hours drive from the Ngorongoro crater to the north and an hour away from Lake Manyara and Tarengirie to the east.

People from many tribes live in the village, the majority are from the Iraqw tribe. We live peacefully together without any trouble.

The main economic activity is small scale farming, typically on half acre plots. Main crops are maize, beans and corn.

Map of Tanzania

The Iraqw Tribe

The Iraqw originally came from Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), leaving there around 9,000 BC.

They travelled through the Syrian Desert to the coast and went south to the Nile, and followed the Nile to Ethiopia, where they settled "for a long time". A long time is measured in millennia.

They were based around the town of Harrar, later made famous by the Victorian explorer Sir Richard Burton in his book 'First Footsteps in East Africa'.

After an outbreak of disease, similar to meningitis or some type of plague, the survivors left Harrar and headed down the Rift through Kenya to their present location, where seeing that "the land was good so we decided to stay".

The Iraqw are the descendants of the first farmers in the Fertile Crescent. Their farming traditions brought them into many conflicts on their migration with the many tribes of nomadic cattle herders who were competing for land. The Iraqw wanted to plant, the nomads to graze.

The Iraqw are a gentle people who try to avoid conflict.

Village Government

There are two power structures in Bermi; official and traditional.

The official side of things is the village government, elected by the community.

At the top is Gervais Sangka, Diwani or District Councillor. He is reponsible for all the villages in the area. Under him is James Andrew, the village chairman and the village council.


There are several village committees like the Escarpment Committee with various responsibilities.

Then there are the three sub-village leaders, and finally the Ten Cell leaders who represent around ten households.

There is no corruption in Bermi.

The other, traditional, power structure lies with the village elders.

Village elders

Mzee Cosmas The village elders, known as Wazee, are a traditional council. The swahilli word for an old man is Mzee. This word also means wise man. Wazee, is the plural.

The Wazee that traditions are maintained and respected. They also operate a court. Basically and villager with a problem asks the Wazee to intervene and judge the matter.

Although their decisions have no legal force they are complied with. The elders have a reputation for being fair. With the legal system being rather dubious the Wazee provide a free and fair way of obtaining justice.

A typical Mzee is honest, committed to his community, a walking encyclopaedia , and most of all wise. The Wazee really have wisdom. An all too rare commodity.

Also in this Section

Malaria is our biggest problem - The village has been suffering an epidemic from a stronger strain of malaria.

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

Home The Village Our History The People Our Culture

About the Site Downloads Photographs Contact Us Links


Home > The Village > Malaria

Our village is suffering from a malaria epidemic

Effects of Malaria in Bermi

With the rainy season, malaria has become a serious problem for us. From Febuary to May, every household has been affected and many children have died.

In the last three months twenty people have died and pregnant women have had miscarriages caused by the disease. Malaria is the biggest single problem facing us.

There are stronger strains appearing and the medicine we used to use, like chloroquine is useless

The only cure at the moment is a quinine drip. The number of people suffering is increasing rapidly as are the death rates.

Maria in Dareda Mission hospital

Maria Gervas in hospital with malaria

Costs of Malaria

Treatment is very expensive for us. One bottle of quinine drip costs 500 Shilling, usually we need three bottles. Also we have to have saline drip which costs 1,500 Shilling. A hospital bed costs 3,000 Shilling per night. A blood test costs 2,000 and blood transfusions costs 5,000 Shilling per bottle.

The usual bill for treatment is over 15,000 Shillings. Average yearly income here is 100,000 shillings, so treatment for one child will take over 15% of our average income. Most children have to be treated for malaria five times a year. To keep one child healthy will take 75% of our annual income. We have more than one child each.

Message from the Chairman

This malaria is very difficult for us to overcome. We are asking visitors to this website to help us, if you can. We made this website for informing people about our lives, but this problem is so difficult for our people that we have to ask for assistance.

Because most of us are sick, we are unable to work on developing our village. The mothers are in the hospital all day looking after their children and their husbands are too busy preparing food for the children to work.

When malaria hits a family they are unable to earn any money; but they have very large hospital bills to pay. We wish to buy mosquito nets for every family, but the village has no money.

If you can help us please send email and we shall tell you how you can help us.

village chairman

James Andrew, Village Chairman

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

History of Bermi Continues

The history is avaliable in several formats on the downloads page.

Home The Village Our History The People Our Culture

About the Site Downloads Photographs Contact Us Links

About the Site

Home > About the Site

Why This Site is Important

The Bermi website is unique. There is much on the internet about Africa and African issues; but almost all of this comes from European/American researchers, NGO's (Non Government Organisations) or tourists and visitors. The Bermi site is an attempt to put an authentic voice of a rural community on a global platform.

In addition to other problems, Africa is information poor, on the wrong side of the digital divide. Websites like this can give a voice to marginalised and neglected communities; a voice that will enrich the diversity of the internet. The intenet can bring many benefits to African society, from encougaging open governance to providing information to, for example, schools, hospitals etc.

This is why the Bermi website is important. But it stands alone. We hope that this website will act as an example of what can be achieved.

How the Site is Written

This website is written by the Bermi community. It is a slow process as many people contribute to each section. For example, the village history was written on paper over five days of meetings with the village elders. These were open meetings with many others dropping in and contributing. The elders decided what photographs should illustrate the words.

Once the first written version was completed it was passed around the village for further comments. After this it was coded into HTML and formatted in Word and as a text file, as the elders wanted people to be able to take copies. Then it was put online.

How Difficult It Is

The above sounds easy, but it isn't. It's not impossible to build a website for a remote community like Bermi; but it is almost impossible.

Organising meetings has been very hard recently. If a group of five are to meet to discuss the website, on any given day one or two will be suffering from malaria and two others will be busy looking after relatives, or family, suffering with malaria.

Although power lines pass through the village, for some reason, the transformer that will bring power into the village has yet to appear. The site is coded into HTML with some difficulty. Petrol has to be bought in a nearby village and put into the only generator in the village. This gives four hours of power, so we have to work fast.

Completed pages are taken to Babati (37Km away), where a British NGO, Farm Africa, will let us email them to a friend in England who FTP's them to the webspace. If the email is down, it is a three day round trip to Arusha (210Km away) where we can FTP them from a cybercafe.

Developing The Website

It has been a real struggle to get the site where it is today. Please read the page on how we want to Develop the Website. We welcome your comments on this.

download our website proposal for details on how we intend to improve this site.

Home The Village Our History The People Our Culture

About the Site Downloads Photographs Contact Us Links

By kingluie ( - on Wednesday, October 22, 2003 - 5:58 pm: Edit Post

Do saitah gairmo,

Habari gani marafiki? Ninategemea Hamjambo. Na taka kusema mambo tu, na wasalamia watu wa Bermi Dareda na Masakta. Mimi ni kingluie na nipo nzuri sasa. Nina fanya schule siku hizi ninasoma mambo za Mwanamazingira. Vitu ni poa tu. Andrew, kama uko nipe habri yako bwana. Andrew if you're out there say hi.
Take care, Kingluie

By Anonymous ( on Wednesday, August 17, 2005 - 12:02 pm: Edit Post

This is nice website.

By Lucie Qorro ( on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 4:00 am: Edit Post

this is so good!!
Hongera sana sana sana!!

By Anonymous ( - on Wednesday, May 17, 2006 - 4:30 am: Edit Post

This is a wonderful piece of work. Keep it up. However, there are some important literature on Wairaq. these can provide more clue on various issues about Iraqw of Tanzania. I will search for these and will post in due course.



By hellenagallant ( - on Thursday, September 06, 2007 - 1:32 am: Edit Post

We visited Tanzania this summer and passed by your village. This website is so interesting. We would like to help.
Victor and Hellena

By Rhoda Mdundo ( on Monday, June 29, 2009 - 10:17 am: Edit Post

My name is Rhoda Joel Mdundo, Originaly from Dar- es Salaam, Tanzania. I Worked as a Health Educator with the Ministry of Health at the Health Education division at Muhimbili. I visited Arusha several times and was involved in the "Soap Opera research conducted under the supervision of UNFPA" Also another research on "Environmental Impact issues affecting the Region. I now live in the United States of America since 1997.I would like to know the economic situation of women in Babati, Mbulu, Mbulumbulu and Mto wa M'mbu area, especialy those involved in small businesses, also health issues affecting children and women in those areas. Thanks.

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