We ran through the scrub land, dodging low-hanging branches, thorny bushes and jumping ditches, simply trying to keep up with the Hadza. They fanned out in search of their quarry and ran silently through the bush like phantoms, whilst we struggled to keep up, crashing through the bush after them. How they were going to surprise any animal with us trailing, I had no idea.
Suddenly the bush opened up and we came into a clearing. One of the young men was standing smiling broadly at us. As we approached, he held up a small squirrel, skewered through the middle by an arrow, like a sausage ready to go on the barbeque. So that was their game; stay well ahead of us! Before we could take a closer look at the squirrel, we heard a sound come from ahead of us. He quickly tucked the squirrel into his belt, and took off in the direction of the call.
Earlier that morning, we had woken when it was still dark, dressed, and stumbled sleepily out to the Land Rover for the short drive to the Hadza’s overnight camp. We arrived at the crack of dawn to find a circle of men and boys sitting around a fire. Most of them were silent, gazing into the fire as they handed around a pipe, taking long, deep drags from it.
One of them stood up and began preparing his arrows, checking their quills and placing each one carefully into his quiver. We were to go out on their morning ‘snack-hunt’ with them, meaning they would be hunting small animals. We couldn’t go out on big animal hunt with them because this would be too dangerous; an injured buffalo or even baboon could inflict serious wounds to the slow and uninitiated.
The Hadzabe bushmen of northern Tanzania are amongst the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes. They live in the scrubby bushland to the east and south of Lake Eyasi, a beautiful soda lake that’s part of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa. It is thanks to the semi-arid, unproductive land that the Hadza people and their way of life still exists. However, their culture, way of life, and ancestral lands are at risk due to development creeping ever closer, and the government’s attempts to ‘civilise’ and settle them.
What do you think? Should the Hadzabe people be allowed to continue their traditional way of life, or should they be brought into the ‘real’ world and settled? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.