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The Maasai Herbalists in Arusha Town, Tanzania


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.

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Ibrahim, F., Ibrahim, B. The Maasai Herbalists in Arusha Town, Tanzania. GeoJournal 46, 141–154 (1998).

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