MEET THE HADZABE
Meet The Hadzade : Have you heard of the communities living in the African wilderness while growing no food of their own? Now it is your turn to explore with them. They are called Hadzabe or simply the Hadza, a tribe whose lives majorly depend on simply hunting and gathering. They are found in northern Tanzania close to Lake Eyasi, which is also very close to the plains of Serengeti and the shadows of the Ngorongoro Crater. Their location is also neighbor to the Olduvai gorge, a spot where the remains of Homo habilis (one of the oldest hominids said to have survived about 1.9 million years ago) were found.
Hadzabe is one of the last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes in the world. Like the famous Bushmen of South Africa, Hadzabe speaks clicking language which is said to be one of the ancient languages. They have an estimated population of 1300 people living in the Yaeda valley near Lake Eyasi. They do not have domesticated animals like the Maasai. They own few possessions. They are very nomadic with their huts built temporarily for about one or two weeks before migrating to other places. They usually carry their belongings on their backs when migrating. It is said that they have lost almost 90% of their original land. Tanzanian authorities have taken reasonable steps to defend their land by setting aside an area of about 57000 acres for their settlement. This area should not be touched by either farmers or pastoralists.
Hadza, the unique language spoken by the Hadza
Hadza people speak ‘Hadzane’, a language that involves the production of clicking and popping sounds. It is believed that this unique language relates to that of the Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert, despite not having any connection among the two tribes as proved by various scientific approaches including the DNA tests. These sounds vary from one to another since they are articulated by smacking the tongue to the roof of the mouth.
- Hadzabe is egalitarian; there are no real differences in status among the members. All community members have the same status. Since they have no leader, the decisions are made through discussions. The elders are slightly respected. The camps have 20 to 30 members. Since there is no central leader to address conflicts, most conflicts cause one group to shift to other places for camping. Married couples may choose either to stay with the mother’s or father’s kin. They are also free to live everywhere.
Hunting and Gathering
The life of the Hadza people is full of traditional things. For example, they hunt by using homemade bows and arrows. Arrows are always dipped in poison, harnessed from the Adenium shrub. They camouflage themselves to make hunting easier. The group of men hunters are always small and disperse in the field. They then rejoin again on their way back home. Note that, hunting is done early in the morning and is very favorable during the dry season. What is more attractive is that; their life in the wilderness has made them develop a mutual relationship with some bird species especially the one named “honey guide”. This African bird signalizes the Hadza men to the beehive by a whistle call. The bird in return gets wax easier from the beehive after the honey has been removed. What a beautiful relationship to Meet The Hadzade.
Women and children gather fruits, tubers, roots, berries, and some mushrooms for the food. Unlike men, women gather food in large groups. The collected food is usually used during the rainy season when hunting becomes very difficult. The men join women in this season for gathering.
Entertainment and Ceremonies.
Meet The Hadzade. Women can be heard chanting in their camps with their unique sounds making you desire to understand. During the nights, they sit around campfires telling stories, talking, and sometimes singing and dancing. It is at these campfires where most of the tales about their ancestors are told.
True adult men are called epeme men. They obtain this prestige by killing a large game in the young ages of about 20s. Epeme is allowed to eat certain parts of large games such as buffalo, warthogs, and wildebeest. These parts include the kidneys, lungs, heart, neck, and tongue.
One night of full moon marks their ritual dance, ‘epeme’ where men dressed in their ancestor-like clothing dance for women and children.
Now, you know that Hadza lives in remote areas with no health facilities. Have you thought about the health of these hunter-gatherers? The isolation of the Hadza people gives them an advantage of avoiding the HIV Pandemic and other diseases that spread through intertribal marriages. They make use of traditional herbs to cure their sick ones.
Hadza spent a lot of fiber-rich tubers as well as a huge collection of fruits and honey. This implies that about 70% of their food is plant-based. Their diets are also less processed. This makes them healthier than other normal people. Their frequent movements make them less vulnerable to diseases like obesity and blood pressure.
How to interact with the Hadzabe
Lake Eyasi is found in the Rift Valley. It takes about an hour’s drive to reach there from Karatu. However, due to their nomadism, the tour to the Hadzabe may not be guaranteed. But the tour operators always ensure that they locate this tribe to give you a wonderful experience.
With their language not known by the majority of people in the world, it is a challenge to interact with them. Visitors do go there with local translators in order to have first-hand interaction with them. You will be in touch with their real-life activities since they do not always have time to showcase their culture to tourists. Some of the activities you will enjoy with Hadzabe include the following;
A walking Tanzania safari with the Hadza hunters. They walk in a quick just to ambush a game. You can catch up with them. When they spot a game, they usually run at a high speed that is difficult to go with. Your tour guide will guide you back in such circumstances.
Foraging plant-based products with the Hadza women. This will help you learn the tools used and skills of digging roots and tubers for food. You can go with them and have yourself a local tool for digging roots.
You will also learn how to hunt, gather, and cook over open fires.
The existence of this tribe in Tanzania makes her a sweet destination for cultural tourists. It also gives a chance to interact with Tanzanian iconic cultures such as that of the Hadzabe and the famous Maasai. Plan a visit to such stunning tribes would not only be an unforgettable event but also a great adventure.