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Peoples and Cultures

Barabaig and Datooga
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins

Registry of Peoples codes
 Datooga:  109878


Registry of Languages code (Ethnologue)
 Datooga:  tcc

Concerning the Datoga (Taturu) of Tanzania, I have heard someone working there refering to them as the Barabaig, never as the Datoga.  In addition, I find that the Ethnologue (Edition 14) appears to list Datoga as a language (not a people group) spoken by the Barabaig (and others).  I am wondering if we have listed a people group by a language name.

The Barabaig are the largest sub-group of the Datooga, and due to this, some list them as a separate group, or informally use this name to refer to the whole ethnic/language group.  See my separate profile on the Datooga group.

One missionary I know, who has lived among the Barabaig for many years has used this name of the largest group generally for the whole ethnic group of the Datooga.  We have talked at length, from the time he entered this work, about the various names and divisions.

Various databases list this ethnic group under the name Datooga, which is the academically preferred name in broader contexts.  The name Datooga is usually used for the larger group in ethnic history and analysis.

The term Taturu usually refers to the Datooga as a whole and their language.   This is the name they are called by the Sukuma. Thus the Barabaig might also be referred to as "Taturu" by Sukuma or related outsiders. I notice in the Ethnologue Edition 14 (2000) Taturu is listed as a separate language/ethnic subdivision with its population.  This name, plus others, are given with population figures from earlier censuses, as far back as 1948.

This changed in the 15th Edition (2005), where no sub-groups are reported, though numerous dialects are listed.  The Datooga entry does make separate reference to the Barabaig, but includes Taturu as an alternate name for Datooga, for whom they use the figures of World Christian Database to report a total of 87,798, down from the range of 150,000 to 200,000 reported in 2000.

I do not find Taturu shown as a distinct ethnic division in some sources, only as a name variant.  The sub-group names occur in the Ethnologue for the first time in the 1996 edition.

Here are the relevant Ethnologue entries, which give good info on the sub-groups and dialects:
Datooga Ethnologue 14
Datooga Ethnologue 15

The Registry Of Peoples has one entry for Datooga (Taturu) with several alternate names, noting that some sources also have a separate entry for Barabaig 

The ROP code for the Datooga is 109878.

See also the related cultural profile of the The Datooga of Tanzania


First written January 28, 2004
Last updated 07 June 2005
First posted 21 August 2007

Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 2005
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use. Other rights reserved.
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