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Hadzabe people of Tanzania


I have just returned from The Serengeti in Tanzania, from what was and always is a productive and game rich safari. It is remarkable how this unique ecosystem never seems to fail in producing a huge volume of quality wildlife sightings - between Singita Mara and Singita. Sasakwa we found 39 different lions in just 5 nights! All of these animals aside, what resinated the most were the people that we met along the way.

There are 125 spoken different languages (nearly 10% of the spoken languages in Africa) in Tanzania today. Tanzanians all speak Swahili and most speak english as well as their mother tongues, making them, what in my mind must be, one of the most multi-lingual nations in the world. It is quite remarkable that a country with so much diversity amongst its people, is blessed with a conflict free and peaceful history. 

I was able to fulfill  a personal aspiration on this safari, walking with the Hadzabe people. Africa is home to 3 of the world’s oldest people who are slowly being forced into the modern ages from their current peaceful existence as hunter gathers. I have had the opportunity to spend time with both the Bushmen of the Kalahari in Southern Africa and the Batwa from the impenetrable forests of Central Africa. For millennia, these people have lived in synchronicity with Africa’s wildlife, never using more than they needed. They have always had a remarkable approach to their societies, no chiefs, just respected elders, little or no difference in the position of women, who are accepted as equals in their communities and no ownership of possessions. 


Men are the hunters, using arrows with poison strong enough to bring down a giraffe and the women gather a multitude of wild vegetables, tubers and fruit that makes up the bulk of their diets. The reason that these ancient communities have survived largely in tact is because they have been the only people who can survive in some of the world’s harshest environments where farming and the keeping of livestock are not a viable enterprise.

It was thrilling to watch 3 Hadzabe men walking through the bush with 3 kids from New York City. The Hadzabe had no idea of english and the kids certainly had no concept of their ancient clicking language but they got on so well together and understood one another perfectly. It made me reflect on what we as modern people, might have lost along our 70 thousand year head long march out of the stone age into today’s iphone age!

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