The Hadzabe Tribe – Part 1

Posted on: May 31st, 2011 by Amy 1 Comment

Hadzabe aliases are “bushmen” or “the forgotten people.” When the first Democratic President, Nyerere, came into power in 1961, he told the 126 tribes of Tanzania that they needed a common ground. With this concept, Swahili was born. It is a language that is half Africana and half Arabic, a trading language. Because of the size of Tanzania and the number of tribes, Nyerere sought a common peaceful solution. The President told each tribe, clan, and family that one child would go to school. For most tribes this was a blessing. But for the Hadzabe, a blood-line that is the second oldest in the world, they couldn’t be bothered. The Hadzabe — the bushmen — are hunters and gatherers. That is it. Period. Oh yeah, they like their weed. They are nomadic around Lake Eyasi west and to the south. Where the water goes, they go with it. They are simple but high -minded people. They are free with their hearts and their heads as long as they like you!

I have spent time with the Hadzabe before. They like adventure and they speak with their eyes. There are only two Africans I know that can speak “Click-Click.” When we got there they were excited to meet Vance. Their eyes jumping at his hair, the children pulling on it — they are the same color but different. But they were confused. “What tribe is he from?” They didn’t care that he didn’t speak Swahili because only one out of the 2000 population of Hadzabe speak the national language. Because I had been there before and knew the custom, we went and bought local “bang.” Local bang to the bushmen is like bringing a bottle of wine; it is an offering of understanding.

The Chief of this particular family is young. The Hadzabe’s life expectancy is about 50 years. The Chief was cheerful to see us and I immediately noticed he had an Obama belt buckle on. I pointed and he said he was the “Obama of Hadzabe.” Remember that these people are nomadic. They don’t read or write, no electricity, and hate to have a roof over their head — yet he is proud of Obama!

We where asking questions about the Hadzabe going to school. The bushmen at this point were lighting up the local bang that we brought. The Chief, as he told one of the young bushmen to get a skin for us to sit on, explained that he never understood Nyerere. Why should the bushmen go to school? They know their territory. He then explained that he gets pissed off with all the researchers that come to study the Hadzabe. He toked hard on the bang and said, “We are just people. We are not animals.”

Then the brother of the Chief told a story. Animated and happy, he told the story of how the government got so mad at the bushmen for not going to school that they sent military out with guns in a big vehicle. The military are scared of the bushmen because they are fierce hunters. So the military arrived but they wouldn’t leave their vehicle, guns up front. The bushmen were laughing. Playing with them, they had one of the four year olds point an arrow at them. The military were not happy. The Chief, having known in advance that the military were on their way, conceded and presented one of the clever Hadzabe to go to school. The Chief’s brother continued to toke and tell the story. All of the Hadzabe were laughing. He proceeded to tell us that they took the clever boy to school, put him in clothes and a dorm, hundreds of miles away from his tribe. The dorms all have metal bars on the windows. On the second night, the boy took the bars off the windows, escaped, melted the metal to make arrows and made his way back to his tribe!

One Response

  1. Keith says:

    To contented people some things are better left alone.

Leave a Reply

Video From the Field

We Need Your Support

We hope that you join us in this most important journey. Here's how.