Ndamba / Wandamba

The Ndamba are an ethnic and linguistic group based in south-central Tanzania. They are found in everywhere in Tanzania especially south central, the Kilolo District of Iringa Region, northeast of Bena, southeast of Hehe, west of Pogolo and southwest of Mbunga.

The Ndamba of Tanzania areb numbering 295,000n (Peoplegroups.org, 2024)

Ndamba People



Most of the Ndambas are rice farmers, who raise the cash crop in the fertile, damp floodplains of the Kilombero and Rufiji rivers in Tanzania. They areb well known for eating rice and fish only. They also raise poultry and goats.



The Chindamba language has a lexical similarity of 69% with Mbunga and 56% with Pogolo. Speakers also use Swahili. Although it has been reported that Ndamba and Mbunga are two different tribes, the reality is that they are one tribe and the difference between them is purely dialectic. All three are Rufiji–Ruvuma languages of the Bantu family.

In recent years some Ndambas have volunteered to write a dictionary on Chindamba. The first standard Ndamba dictionary was published in 2008 and 2010 by Agathon Kipandula, a language researcher who was an employee of the Bank of Tanzania. Some Ndambas have also written Historia na Maisha ya Wandamba that was published in 2022. Those writers include: Reverend Fidelis Mfalanyombo (OSA), Agathon Kipandula, John Eusebius Chilipweli, Asernius Hamis Ndege and Leoni Alois Mbala

Linguistic texts include the 2010 Rüdiger Köppe Verlag publication Edelsten, Peter; Lijongwa, Chiku (2010). A Grammatical Sketch of Chindamba - A Bantu Language (G52) of Tanzania.



Oral tradition states that the Ndamba people were originally an offshoot of the Pogoro people. Their first chief was Mbuyi Undole I, who led a small group westward away from the Pogoro. It was Mbuyi Undole I who registered the Ndamba as a tribe with the German government in 1901. The Ndamba flourished and spread through the southern part of the Morogoro Region. The tribe is now found in Mlimba, Masagati, Chisano, Chita, Merera, Malinyi, Igawa, Biro, Ngombo, Mchombe, Mngeta, Lwipa, Mbingu, Mofu, and other parts of Kilombero District and Ulanga District areas.


Customs and beliefs

The Ndambas trace descent through male lines. They are primarily Muslim in their religious orientation, but they general ly do not observe Ramadan or many other Islamic rituals. The wearing of a white skull cap and the adoption of an Arab name are the only religious requirements they regularly fulfill.

Like other Tanzanians, the Ndambas have been dealing with the government's ujamaa program since the mid-1970s. The policy is designed to alter the traditional homestead settlement pattern in favor of establishing village clusters where public education and public health campaigns can be more successful. Some ethnologists include the Pogoros among the Ndambas.