Garret Nash and Greg Thompson, Department of Anthropology
Initially, this project aimed to examine cultural factors influencing fuel sourcing habits around Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. In 2008, a study conducted by Prof. Jeffery Durrant of the BYU Geography Department found that the Chagga (an ethnic group which lives on the lower slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro) hold a negative opinion towards the National Park and its staff. Specifically, I wanted to know if giving locals an opportunity to experience the park as tourists would change these perceptions and behavior when it came to conservation. However, as research progressed, it became clear that there were deeply seeded issues related to gender and community among the Chagga that were affecting perceptions and relationships with the Kilimanjaro National Park and Forest. This became the new focus of this project.
Field and Methods
The research field in this study was located in three villages on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. Specifically, these villages were Machembe, Kibosho, and Umbwe. To find informants to interview, myself, Magambe and Glory (two Tanzanian university students I had hired as translators and research assistants) rode local transportation as near as the Kilimanjaro National Park boundaries as possible. Once arrived, we randomly selected households and asked participants to be interviewed. In the first phase of interviews, our aim was to discover opinions and perspectives of the National Park. We also asked households that, if offered, would they be willing to take a tour of the Kilimanjaro National Park? In this phase, men and women were interviewed with the same set of questions.
The second phase of interviews involved exploration into how gender and gender roles change perceptions of the National Park. For Phase Two, I brought two female BYU students (who were in Tanzania on separate projects) to Moshi. At this time, these students would interview only females (accompanied by Glory) while I would interview only males (accompanied by Magambe). While both sets of interviews contained identical questions, the female interviews contained an additional section that focused on household fuel consumption and the role of women in Chagga society.
While findings from this project are still preliminary, we did discover that perceptions and experiences related to the Kilimanjaro National park differ according to gender. In Chagga society, there are clearly defined gender roles and expectations, which in turn affect how an individual will associate with the park. For example, male Chagga believe they have responsibility to provide for a family and give back to the community. Many find employment as porters who carry gear for tourists who climb Mount Kilimanjaro. While women believe that they share responsibility to care for the family and give back to the community, gender roles dictate that they stay at home, where they care for children and engage in small-scale agriculture. It was believed, mostly by men, that it was indecent for women to be employed as porters. One male informant went as far as to say he would disown his daughter if she became a porter.
Because women tend to stay at home and men find employment as porters, men have a greater degree of contact with the National Park. We believe that these gender roles in turn affect opinions of the park. Male informants tended to believe that the Kilimanjaro National Park was a benefit to the community, while women believe the park ignored the local population.
Chagga expectations in the role of the community were also a factor. Chagga informants believed that if they were to come into money or employment, they had a responsibility to give back to the community. These expectations extended to the Kilimanjaro National Park. When the park did not reciprocate as expected, this led to some resentment towards the park from the Chagga community.
What do these findings mean for the current status of the Chagga and the Kilimanjaro National Park? The most obvious and practical application of this research is towards relations between the Chagga and the National Park. The Chagga feel, in a word, isolated from the National Park. A question asked in every interview was if the informant knew officials from the National Park. The answer was always “no”. Locals would see officials driving by, but these officials never stayed more than a day or so in one place. While informants explained that this was so park officials would not become “influenced” (what I assume to mean taking bribes or showing favorability to friends), a side effect of this practice is social dissidence. Within their community, the Chagga expect reciprocity and for those who have more to share. Relations with the park can be improved if the Kilimanjaro National Park can integrate itself into this reciprocity and become more involved in the community (although not necessarily in a financial sense). Women should be especially considered in these efforts, as they are currently the least likely to associate with the park.
The future goals of this project is to transcribe interviews. These interviews will further be analyzed using MAXQDA software. This analysis will look into the trends found in interviews, giving specific attention to how gender affects perceptions and opinions. It is hoped that from this research, a paper will be produced that will be published in an appropriate scholarly journal. Also, findings will be presented at the next Fulton Mentored Research Conference.