Pare Culture

The Pare (locally, WaPare) hail from the Taita Hills area of southern Kenya, where they were herders, hunters and farmers. It was the Maasai, according to Pare oral traditions, who pursued them into the mountains, capturing and stealing their cattle. Today, many Pare are farmers, cultivating plots of vegetables, maize, bananas, cassava and cardamom. Thanks to significant missionary activity, the Pare also distinguish themselves as being among Tanzania's most educated groups. During the 1940s, leading Pares formed the Wapare Union, which played an important role in the drive for independence.

Traditional Pare society is patrilineal. Fathers are considered to have great authority during their lifetime as well as after death, and all those descended from a single man through male links share a sense of common fate. Once a man dies, his ghost influences all male descendants for as long as the ghost's name is remembered. After this, the dead man's spirit joins a collectively influential body of ancestors. Daughters are also dependent on the goodwill of their father. Yet, since property and status are transmitted through the male line, a father's ghost only has influence over his daughter's descendants until her death.

The Pare believe that deceased persons possess great powers, and thus have developed elaborate rituals centred on the dead. Near most villages are sacred areas where the skulls of tribal chiefs are kept, although you're unlikely to see these unless you spend an extended period in the mountains. When people die, they are believed to inhabit a nether world between the land of the living and the spirit world. If they are allowed to remain in this state, ill fate will befall their descendants. The prescribed rituals allowing the deceased to pass into the world of the ancestors are of great importance.

To learn more about Pare culture, look for copies of The Shambaa Kingdom by Steven Feierman (1974), on which some of this section was based, and the intriguing Lute: The Curse and the Blessing by Jakob Janssen Dannholz (revised translated edition 1989), who established the first mission station at Mbaga.

excursions into the Pares rather than as a base. If you do want to stay a few days before heading into the villages, there are several walks into the hills behind town, although for most of the better destinations you will need to take local transport at least part of the way. Sunday is the main market day, when traders from towns all over the Pares come to trade their wares.

The Catchment office (for paying forest reserve fees) is at the end of town, on the main road past the market.

There's currently no reliable internet connection in town. National Microfinance Bank (go left out of the bus stand, up one block, then left again) changes cash.

Amani Lutheran Centre (% 027-275 8107; s/d Tsh7000/10,000) offers simple, clean rooms around a quiet compound, and has meals available on order. It's along the main road, just south of the market, and about five minutes' walk from the bus stand.

Same's most 'upmarket' accommodation, Elephant Motel (% 027-275 8193; www.elephantmotel .com; camping per person US$5, s/tw/tr US$20/25/30) has faded but reasonable rooms, a cavernous res taurant serving up decent meals, and a TV. It's on the main highway about 1km southeast of town.

Most buses on the Dar es Salaam-Arusha highway stop at Same on request. Otherwise, dalla-dallas travel daily between Same, Dar es Salaam and Moshi, leaving Same in the morning. There is a direct bus between Arusha and Same, departing Arusha at around 8am (Tsh4000, hours). To Mbaga, there are one or two vehicles daily, departing Same between 11am and 2pm.

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