The Wameru of Tanzania: Historical Origin and Their Role in the Process of National Integration
The Meru live in one of the most fertile and densely populated areas of Tanzania, and their current population number is about 198,000 people. Today they are organized in 26 clans. Most Wameru claim their origin from the Machame and Siha/Ng'uni groups associated with Chagga community, whose ancestors arrived and settled on the slopes of Mt. Meru about 400 years ago. Three clans traced back to the Maasai ancestors. The Meru actively opposed Christianity, and the missionaries were treated extremely hostile. The first Meru who adopted Christianity in 1905 was ostracized by the whole community. In the course of time the situation changed and currently most Meru are Christians. The Meru actively participated in liberation movement and were among the closest comrades of Julius Nierere. The economic liberalization evoked changes influencing the Meru people economy. Along with agriculture, many families are now engaged in various off-farm activities.