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Posted by on Jun 14, 2007 in Society | 0 comments

Save The Hadzabe

A friend forwards me the following email:


Please take the time to read this article about the plight of the Hadzabe in Tanzania.

The Hadzabe are one of the few remaining “bushmen” tribes in the world. They are nomadic hunters and gatherers who still remain mostly untainted by the trappings of the modern world. I had the good fortune to have several interactions with members of the tribe while I was in Tanzania, most significant of which was the help of one of their trackers with my research while I was in Tarangire National Park. I was also lucky enough to spend a day with one of the groups of Hadzabe who live near Lake Eyasi, digging for roots and gathering berries with the women and children, not to mention learning clapping games and getting into clicking contests with some of the kids (needless to say, the children won; the Hadzabe speak a click language).

I found the lives of these people to be wonderfully elegant and simple. They have no need for clocks as they do not need the concept of “time” other than morning, noon, and night as well as dry and rainy seasons. The men hunt and the women and children gather and they share everything. They still create fire using wands and kindling (I also tried my hand at that and failed miserably, as did all my other white friends who tried, much to the amusement of the Hadzabe). Their children are spoiled rotten, treated as the treasured future of the tribe, but yet somehow they remain mostly sweet and well mannered (a trick I’m sure most non-Hadzabe parents would love to learn).

Now, this culture that is one of the oldest remaining on the planet is being threatened so that the royal family of the United Arab Emirates can have a more expansive hunting ground for their growing numbers. I am appalled by the disgust and derision with which the Hadzabe are treated by their fellow Tanzanians and by other “civilized” outsiders. This “tribeism” is not uncommon in Tanzania, especially directed towards those who choose to continue on a traditional way of life, and the snatching of land from beneath an entire people is common practice, but this is one instance where I feel more compelled than ever to take a stand.

I implore you, if you feel any empathy at all for the Hadzabe, to write letters to both the embassy of the United Arab Emirates as well as the Tanzanian embassy in Washington DC. We in the United States have our own sordid history of taking lands from people we find too primitive to use for our own devices. It is too late to do much about our own shameful behavior here at home, but now we are being presented with a chance to prevent such a travesty from happening abroad to a people who could not be more undeserving of such a fate.

The addresses for the two embassies are provided below. Please take a few minutes to write letters expressing your concern and displeasure over how the Hadzabe are being treated. We may only have this one chance to preserve a culture that is literally as old as human memory.

Tanzanian Embassy:
2139 R Street, NW
Washington, DC

Address the letters to Alan S. Mzengi, Minister Plenipotentiary, Consular and Social Affairs and/or Joseph E. Sokoine, Counselor, Political, Information, Education and Tourism.

United Arab Emirates Embassy:
3522 International Court, NW, Suite 400
Washington D.C, 20008

Address the letters to Saqr Ghobash, Ambassador.