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Bates College

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Tanzania: Wildlife Conservation and Political Ecology


Over the course of 20 days during April, 2011, a study was conducted on the public perceptions of Freemasonry and the phrase, “Mtu ni Watu,” (Translation: A Person is People) in Arusha, TZ along Sokoine Road and at the Institute of Accountancy in Arusha. The study consisted of a questionnaire that was distributed to students at the university (n=100) and to business owners in Arusha (n=15). The main purpose of the study was to elucidate the culture of community and how the public’s perception of Freemasonry was influenced by that culture. Specifically, this study addressed how an individual’s desire to become a member of the Freemasons related to their perception of community. Freemasonry is widely perceived as a wealthy organization that acquired its wealth through the dishonest manipulation of “Evil” forces which pervade the belief system of the Arusha community. The belief in the presence of witchcraft, sorcery, and sacrifice were found to be very real in the perception of Freemasonry and their unaccountable wealth. The lack of information about the Freemasons and their imperative to function with an oath of secrecy lends the organization to a whole host of various public interpretations. Therefore, perceptions of Freemasonry in Arusha are infused with local cultural mythologies, metaphors, and narratives. The initial hypothesis stated that there would be a correlation between desire to join the organization and community consciousness measured by the use of, “Mtu ni Watu.” Based on descriptive analysis of the data, those who were more inclined to join the Freemasons were, in fact, more likely to not only use the phrase more frequently, but also to cite joining for purposes of community-support.



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Sociology Commons


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