The Last Foragers of Tanzania – A Farewell to the Hadza?

Chris O’Brien at Northstate Science has a gut-wrenching post on the plight of the Hadza of northern Tanzania. Their very existence is threatened by wealth, ignorance, and a complete lack of compassion by the government that should be responsible stewards of the cultural diversity of its citizens.

Instead, the Tanzanian government is coming to an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to lease the land they live on as a private hunting ground for the UAE Royal family. This would make the Hadza trespassers on their own land, the land they’ve subsisted on successfully for thousands of years.

Chris provides references an MSNBC story that begins with “[o]ne of the last remaining tribes of hunter-gatherers on the planet is on the verge of vanishing into the modern world.” The story goes on to quote Tanzanian officials who refer to the Hadza as “backward” and implied that they would benefit from being forced to “modernize.” But the story is fair to the Hazabe in that it gives them their props:

While they have through 50,000 years survived the coming of agriculture, metal, guns, diseases, missionaries, poachers, anthropologists, students, gawking journalists, corrugated steel houses and encroaching pastoral tribes who often impersonate them for tourist money, the resilient Hadzabe, who still make fire with sticks, fear that the safari deal will be their undoing.

And:

The Hadzabe are believed to be the second-oldest people on Earth, and they still hunt and gather as a way of life, if occasionally before audiences of khaki-covered tourists, who flock to northern Tanzania by the thousands.

It’s a shame that such a noble and successful culture is looked down upon by the “modern” world that views them as quaint or as a curiosity at best, as “backward” and as an in-the-way annoyance at worst. The fact that their success has outdone that of any modern culture is all but ignored.

I can’t recommend Chris’ post enough, Hadza Tribal Lands Being Confiscated By Arab Royal Family. He isn’t just regurgitating the news like I am here, Chris is sharing his personal experiences having lived and worked among the Hazabe during the 1990s. Chris puts a personal touch on their plight, bringing individuals within the tribe to life as real people, not just a news story about a few people far, far away. Reading his post puts the Hazda closer to home and, while they may be on the other side of the globe, the neighbor of my neighbor must be mine as well.

What can we do?
Write. Pass the word.
Send emails to the UAE embassy as well as the Tanzanian embassy. Post on our blogs. If you don’t have a blog, send links to the story and Chris’ post to friends. And click on the link below to Digg the story by clicking underneath the yellow ranking to vote Chris’ story up. If it gets digged enough, it’ll rise to the top of the page and get noticed. Diggs snowball, they’re slow at first, but the votes increase exponentially, so don’t think your vote doesn’t count if the votes are still low.

Digg Chris’ Post here
Northstate Science
Afarensis I
Afarensis II
Anthropolgoy.net
/Anthropology.net II
The MSNBC.com story
Remote Central
Schmoo on the Run
Indigenous Peoples of Africa

Visit these links, read the posts, drop comments. Get the word out. I’ll try to update this list with new links as I come across them. Please leave them in the comments below if you’re so inclined!

About Carl Feagans 313 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.

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