The Hadzabe

Near the Olduvai Gorge and to 1.000 meters of altitude it is the salted lake Eyasi. To only 10 kilometers of their waters, in a too hot and dry area, one of the most primitive tribes in the country inhabits: the Hadzabe

For the paleontology, the north of Tanzania is an unique place in the world. There the Olduvai expands Gorge, a canyon 50 kilometers long for 90 meters deep that it has a singular geologic history: during almost two million years left depositing, in successive layers, volcanic remains that today provides an extraordinary documentation for the study of the old life.

In 1959, for example, it was opposing a fossil that gave place to a polemic debate on the evolution of the mankind. It was a skull of 1.8 million of years of the Australopithecus boisei, also called Zinjanthropus that means “man nutcracker” in connection with their big molars.

In Kenya and in Ethiopia they were also fossil of about two million years that contributed to the investigation. According to these discoveries, at least three hominids species inhabited that region: the Australopithecus boisei, the Homo habilis and the Homo erectus. Both first they extinguished (in the case of the Homo habilis, it seemed to have been absorbed for or evolved toward the Homo erectus) while it is believed that the Homo erectus continued and it evolved toward the Homo sapiens, the modern human.

Near the Olduvai Gorge and to 1.000 meters of altitude it is the salted lake Eyasi. To only 10 kilometers of their waters, in a too hot and dry area, one of the most primitive tribes in the country inhabits: the Hadzabe (or Bushmen, “men of the mount“, as people of the place the flame.)

They counted me that for the census of this year (2002) they had to give them the meat of five zebras to be able to join them to all and this way to count them. To arrive there was not easy, the roads are under terrible conditions and they cut big mountains for what I specified of but of 7 hours to cross the last 71 kilometers until Mangola, a small town.

To my arrival, on the evening I knew Isa, native one of the few ones that spoke English, and that he/she offered to guide me toward the Hadzabe, the tribe that they still live off the hunt and of the gathering in the mount, and of who it is believed that they take 10.000 years inhabiting the region.

To the dawn of the following day we leave with Isa toward the mount in our bicycles. The one pedalled was very difficult due to the strong wind in against, but finally we arrive to where they were some families.


I hardly saw them I surprised myself. There was not neither a single house! Some of them were wrapped in a low couple of cloths the bushes, while other they got ready to go of hunt. Later I knew that during the dry time (6 months) they live to the bleakness, and that they only move to some caverns in the rain season.

Isa at once explained to them of me and of my trip; I told them that my interest was to know them, and to know its customs. My clock didn’t still mark the 7.30 when I could accompany them in the search of its food.

We leave toward the north to a quick rhythm. We were nine and everybody took their arches and arrows, inclusive a boy that didn’t have but of 6 years. We went very attentive and for moments in subgroups of two or three.

I knew that to the tips of the arrows they put them poison that they obtain of the plants, for what they can hunt big animals as the warthog (boar), gazelles or zebras, but for they specify it of a lot of luck.

In two occasions I witnessed how they tried to surround a Kirk’s dik dik (kind of a bambi) but the small animal was very quick. I also saw them guess right to three small rodents, of the size of a mouse that they hid in bushes of scarce vegetation.

We were the whole morning from a side to another. I didn’t still stop to surprise me.

Suddenly they stopped and with their arches they pointed to the peeled glasses of the trees, and I wonder: “And now that they seek? “. Did I Believe that there would be some monkey but not, was it mistaken, did they throw the little birds.

Then I thought: “To the little birds not!, be not son of p…, what Wednesday you will guess right! ” But I made a mistake again… they guessed right at two.

With three mice and two menu little birds, there same they took two wood – a hard one and another light one – and with a lot of court they lit fire.


Incredible! Without matches neither lighter. It seemed lie. Alone some minutes with the meat to the fire and I list. They took out him the burnt part, the skin and the feathers, and they invited me; I was quite hungry but I preferred to obviate that exotic breakfast.

Then we were in search of water, but as the river it was dry they should dig so that the earth them providers at least the indispensable thing to drink. We also stopped next to some plants, of those that cut their roots to eat them ater.

Already of return we saw a dozen of Guinea fowl, kind of a turkeys, and we ran toward them. At once they threw to fly for what I believed that their chances of hunting them had finished. The hunters were dispersed and during some minutes I lost them of view, but then I saw on my head to one of these birds, with a nailed arrow that one came in having itched.


Once again, I could not believe it. What aim! And there it was… that it was the lunch.

The Datooga

Of return for Mangola, Isa took another road and it took me to the house of a family Datooga.

The Datooga is another tribe that he/she inhabits the central region of the country. Many of them still possess the mark that identifies them, similar to that of the Makondes. They are tattoos made in their faces with needle and coal, and a peculiar style: they have circle form and they spread around their eyes.

For territorial questions for a lot of time are antagonized with the Masais and the same as they, raise the livestock of which they also drink their blood.


The Datooga works the earth; they cultivate corn and grains mainly, and they pick up some fruits. They have several ceremonies to those that attend periodically: in one of them that they are carried out every year, choose the best warrior according to the obtained hunt. The elect is exhibited being able to be chosen by an or more women for the marriage. The polygamy is allowed.

Finally I asked them on the circumcision and they answered me: “for us it is something normal, we practice it in the men when they are small and in the women exactly before the marriage.”

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