The Maasai Herbalists in Arusha Town, Tanzania

Abstract

This paper presents the findings of a case-study carried out on the Maasai herbalists of Arusha town, whose social and economic situation, both in their villages of origin and in town is being analysed. Special emphasis is laid on the struggle of women herbalists to upgrade their low economic and social status in their home villages and, at the same time, satisfy their most basic needs in town. In this, they depend on their asset of indigenous ethnomedical knowledge, which they commercialise. They do not consider themselves professional experts among their own people, but they become ones when they are in town. A major aim of this paper is also to illustrate the wealth of indigenous knowledge concerning the biodiversity of people's environment. A survey of the medical plants most frequently sold by the herbalists is presented with the intention of identifying those species which are endangered, although the herbalists themselves do not yet perceive the seriousness of the situation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Brenzinger M., Heine B. and Heine I., 1994: The Mukogodo Maasai, an Ethnobotanical Survey. Köln, 314 pp.

  2. GTZ, 1997: Interim Report on Traditional Woodland Management in Northern Tanzania. In: Ibrahim, F. and Ibrahim, B., eds, Assessment of the Indigenous Knowledge of Tree Uses Among the Children of the Study Area. TOEB. PN 89.2143.9-01.42. Eschborn, 20 pp.

  3. Ibrahim F. and Ibrahim B., 1995: Pastoralists in Transition-A Case Study from Lengijape, Maasai Steppe. GeoJournal 36: 27–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ibrahim B. and Toima P., 1997: Resource Scarcity and Lack of Entitlement-The Food Crisis ofWomen Among theMaasai of Simanjiro District/N. Tanzania. Bayreuther Geowissenschaftliche Arbeiten, Vol. 16. Bayreuth, pp. 66–87.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Ibrahim F., 1997: The Current Status of Knowledge and Actual Usage of Medical Plants Among the Maasai of Naberera, Northern Tanzania. Bayreuther Geowissenschaftliche Arbeiten, Vol. 16. Bayreuth, pp. 88–116.

    Google Scholar 

  6. ITDG and IIRR, 1997: Ethnoveterinary Medicine in Kenya. Nairobi, 226 pp.

  7. Johnsen N., 1998: Maasai Medicine-Practicing Health and Therapy in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Ph.D. Dissertation. Ph.D.-raekke nr. 7. Institut for Antropologi, Copenhagen, 359 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Kokwaro J.O., 1993: Medical Plants of East Africa. Nairobi 1976, 2nd edn., 401 pp.

  9. Mbuya L.P., Msanga H.P., Ruffo C.K., Birnie A. and Tengnäs B., 1994: Useful Trees and Shrubs for Tanzania. SIDA, Nairobi, 542 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Noad T. and Birnie A., 1992: Trees of Kenya. Nairobi, 1989, 3rd edn, 308 pp.

  11. Schade S., Ibrahim B., Ibrahim F. and Toima P., 1999: Nachhaltigkeit konkurrierender Landuntzungssysteme in der Bannsavanne Nord-Transanias. TOEB/GTZ, Eschborn, 172 pp.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Sindiga I., Nyaigotti-Chacha Ch. and Kanunah M.P. 1995: Traditional Medicine in Africa. Nairobi, 197 pp.

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ibrahim, F., Ibrahim, B. The Maasai Herbalists in Arusha Town, Tanzania. GeoJournal 46, 141–154 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1006963632571

Download citation

  • indigenous knowledge
  • Tanzania
  • Maasai
  • ethnobotany
  • ethnomedicine
  • herbalists
  • biodiversity