Ntemi comes from the word “kutema” which means opening up of new land. It also means finding a locality.Ntemi was the name given to a leader who organized the action of opening up new land and controlled the people, Ntemiship was being practised in Unyamwezi by 1300 AD. It then spread in the neighbouring such as the Sukuma, Sangu, Hehe, Kimbu, Gogo and Bena of Tanzania. There were about 300 Ntemiship in Tanzania in the 18thC. Among the Sukuma, the ruler in Ntemiship organization was called Ntemi. He became Ntemi because he was the founder of the locality. He was chosen by a counsel of elders choosing a person to become Ntemi depended on his wisdom courage and experience.


1.1.1. Responsibilities of the Ntemi


  1. He was the top authority in the political and judicial matters provided overall guidance in the
  2. He enforced proper uses of resources such as land, water, forest resources
  3. He was the overseer of the community food
  4. He settled disputes in the
  5. He had the religious power. He led the people in his community in performing religious ceremonies and offering sacrifices to the
  6. To collect tributes from his
  7. He provided over all guidance in the


1.1.2. Factors for the rise of the Nyamwezi Kingdom


Nyamwezi who lived in central Tanzania area group of the Bantu societies. Each of these societies had their own settlements headed by a chief and titled Mtemi(Ntemi).


Ntemiship (chiefdom) was composed of people of shared background or kingship and believes. Each of the Nyamwezi kingdoms had a Ntemi at the centre who was helped by a council of elders the Wanyampala in administration.Towards the middle of 19th century more dynamic political structure developed among the Nyamwezi under Fundikira, Nyunguyamawe and Mirambo. This led to the institution of the Ntemi becoming one of the most powerful positions; the several Nyamwezi settlements were united under one senior Ntemi.



Factors for the rise of the Nyamwezi kingdom or chiefdom can be explained below as follows;


  1. Ngoni invasions- the Ngoni invasions in Western Tanganyika made the Nyamwezi people to unite in order to resist the Ngoni
  2. The expansion of real trade into the Regional trade/ Long distance trade due to emergency of wealthy traders like the Mirambo who made the effective use of Ruganga.
  3. Penetration of the Europeans into the coastal interior This introduced new trading patterns to the Nyamwezi traders who joined together to effective resist European pressure to stop slave trade.
  4. The rise of Mirambo as trader and leader used their influence to unite the Nyamwezi
  5. The use of the gun and gun powder by the Mirambo’s solders; this caused the weakening of

watemi submissive to his rule.

  1. Growth of the towns Example: Tabora and
  2. Population
  3. Unity among the people

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