APRIL 2013 BACK ISSUE words by Joanna Eede photographs by Joanna Eede, Jean du Plessis & Fiona Watson Just south of the Equator, between the soda waters of Tanzania's Lake Eyasi and the ramparts of the Great Rift Valley, live the Hadza, a small tribe of approximately 1,300 hunter-gatherers: one of the last in Africa. The Hadza's homeland lies on the edge of the Serengeti plains, in the shadow of Ngorongoro Crater. It is also close to Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world, where homo habilis - one of the earliest members of the genus Homo - was discovered to have lived 1.9 million years ago. The Hadza have probably lived in the Yaeda Chini area for millennia. Genetically - like the Bushmen of southern Africa - they are one of the 'oldest' lineages of humankind. They speak a click language that is unrelated to any other language on earth.  Over the past 50 years, however, the tribe has lost 90% of its land. Picture © Joanna Eede Until the 1950s all Hadza survived by hunting and gathering.  The Tanzanian government has since made repeated attempts to ‘settle’ the Hadza. Today, only 300 – 400 of a population of approximately 1,300 Hadza are still nomadic hunter-gatherers, gathering most of their food from the bush; while the rest live part-time in settled villages, supplementing locally bought food with natural produce. “In some areas, the Hadza are living in poverty on land stolen from them by their agricultural and pastoral neighbours, in a situation where there has been discrimination against them,” says anthropologist James Woodburn, who has worked with the Hadza for decades.  Picture © Jean du Plessis During the last 5 years, increased worldwide awareness of their situation has led to some significant successes for the Hadza.  They faced eviction in 2007 when a foreign safari company won rights from the Tanzanian government to a large hunting concession. The company were forced to withdraw from the deal following an international campaign led by the Hadza themselves along with a coalition of local and international ngos.  More recently, in October 2011, a Hadza community of 700 people were issued with titles for land encompassing more than 20,000 hectares. It was a historic moment: the first time a Tanzanian government had formally recognized a minority tribe’s land rights. Metal from nails is hammered and shaped into arrow-heads, and the sap of the desert rose shrub used to coat the tips in poison.  Certain rules and beliefs govern Hadza hunting practices. If an animal is only wounded when shot, the name of the species may not be mentioned directly; in uttering its name, the Hadza believe that the animal would recover – and escape.  Picture © Joanna Eede Wild honey, which constitutes a substantial part of the Hadza diet, is shared.  Hunters follow the honeyguide bird to a wild hive. The bird calls to the hunters, who whistle back to it. It flits from tree to tree, stopping to wait for hunters to catch up, so leading them to a bees’ nest often high in the reddish-grey boughs of an ancient baobab tree.  The Hadza have a very intimate relationship with the honeyguide bird, and they’ll whistle a certain way to attract it and let it know they are listening says Daudi Peterson, Safari guide and Founder of the Ujamaa Community Resource Team and the Dorobo Fund.  Some trees have been harvested repeatedly by the Hadza for hundreds of years.  Picture © Joanna Eede A young Hadza boy eats a honeycomb seconds after it has been removed from a hive.  Picture © Joanna Eede The Hadza make huts by bending tree branches into round structures, and covering with grass.  Picture © Fiona Watson The Hadza are preoccupied with equality. Differences of power, wealth and status are systematically subverted. And equality is, in a sense, generalised by them to all mankind.  Picture © Jean du Plessis On top of Mukelengeko, a rocky outcrop that is one of the Hadza’s most important ritual sites, Gonga looks out over his homeland; the woodland is deep green from recent rains.  Beyond lie the soda waters of Lake Eyasi and the red earth of the Iraqw people.  “This is my home. Our grandparents lived here. I am part of the land, this is where we feel free,” says Gonga.  “Without the land, there is no life.”  Picture © Joanna Eede “Land is our biggest problem,” says Richard Baalow, a Hadza man. “We need people like Survival to keep on working for us.  Loss of land deprives us of our cultural identity and the means to move with dignity into the future world.”  Picture © Joanna Eede
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