EANHS Bulletin 26 (3/4), December 1996______________________________________________________________________________2
have moved into southern Usangu fromthe south and south-east, attracted by thepotential for irrigated rice cultivation; and(agro)pastoralists from the north, attractedby the rich pastures and permanent waterresources of central Usangu. The ricefarmers include large numbers of Nyakyusa and Ndali from the south-west,and a polyethnic mix of people living onand around Usangu’s large irrigationschemes. The (agro)pastoralists includeIl-Parakuyu Maasai, who first enteredUsangu in the 1950s, and large numbers of Sukuma, who began settling on the plainswith their large herds of cattle in the1970s. The indigenous Sangu nowcomprise less than half of the total humanpopulation of Usangu.
Sangu Knowledge of Fish
Fish comprised an important supplementto the diet in Utengule, the former capitalof the Sangu chiefdom and village inwhich I lived and conductedanthropological research in 1980-82.Some of the fish eaten in Utengule wereobtained from the River Mambi, whichruns through the village, as well as fromlocal irrigation channels, but largerquantities were brought in by fishermenfrom the rivers and wetlands to the northand north-east.The general term for fish in
(noun class singular/plural 9/10).Most of the body parts of fish are referredto using terms which are also applied toother creatures (e.g.
, 3/6, ‘head’,
, 3/6, ‘bone’,
, 3/6,‘sharp spine’, ‘thorn’). Special terms areused, however, for the tail end of a fish(
, 3/6) and the mid-sectionbetween the head and the tail (
,7/8, literally ‘mid-body’).All of the Sangu names for fishwhich I heard in Utengule are listedbelow. This list is no doubt incomplete,because I only noted names as I cameacross them. It is also possible that Sanguin eastern Usangu know of species whichdo not appear in and around Utengule, orhave different names for some of the fishwhich do. The majority of the Sanguliving in the eastern plains speak dialectswhich are more closely related to Hehe(spoken especially around Madibira) andBena (in Rujewa and the south-east) thanto the
of Utengule and itsenvirons. Some phonological and lexicalvariation in local fish taxonomies shouldtherefore be expected, though to whatextent remains to be established.I have added to the list probablelinguistic cognates from the
PreliminaryGuide to the Commoner Fish of the Ruaha National Park and Upper Ruaha Basin
compiled by Ian Payne, Vicki Cowan, andPhilip Townsley (hereafter PCT). Their‘local names’ were mostly recorded to theeast of Ruaha National Park along theGreat Ruaha, Little Ruaha andTungamalenga Rivers, and in the vicinityof Mtera Dam. Hehe-speakers dominatethe polyethnic population of this area, andwere the source of many of the names theygive. It should be noted that linguisticequivalence (or similarity) does not entailequivalence of zoological reference: thiscan only be established by identificationin the field. It is also possible that someof the Sangu terms refer to more than onespecies, or fish in different colour phasesor stages of growth. Nonetheless, thecomparison with PCT forms a potentiallyuseful starting-point for further research.
(12/13), described as a small fish, alsocalled
. PCT ‘sulu-sulu’,
(Mormyridae, Elephant Trunk Fish).
(5/6), described as ‘white’ (probablysilver) in colour, with a head the size of afrog’s and spines which are painful if trodden upon. Cf. the root of
(5/6), describedas having spines which are painful if trodden upon.