Hadza people

Hadza people

The Hadza people, or "Hadzabe'e," are an ethnic group in central Tanzania, living around Lake Eyasi in the central Rift Valley and in the neighboring Serengeti Plateau. The Hadza number just under 1000. [Marlowe 2005 (see [http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hbe-lab/acrobatfiles/mate%20prefs%20of%20hadza.pdf online] )] Some 300–400 Hadza live as hunter-gatherers, much as they have for thousands or even tens of thousands of years; they are the last functioning hunter-gatherers in Africa. The Hadza are not closely related to any other people. While traditionally considered an East African branch of the Khoisan peoples, primarily because their language has clicks, modern genetic research suggests that they may be more closely related to the Pygmies. The Hadza language appears to be an isolate, unrelated to any other. [harvnb|Lee|1999|p=200]

Genetic evidence for origins

According to Knight et al. (2003), Hadza Y-haplogroups mainly consist of B2b (52%), i.e. the same subclade of Y-haplogroup B that is present in typical Pygmy groups like Mbuti. The high presence of E3a (30%) shows a marked Bantu admixture, and the rest is predominantly formed by other E-subclades. Their mtDNA lineages are formed by L2 (mainly a Pygmy lineage L2a1) and L3 (mainly an East African lineage L3g), and none of them is shared with the San from South Africa, who originally belong to L0d/L0k mtDNA haplogroups. The overall genetic picture suggests that the original Hadza population, possessing Y-chromosome haplogroup B2b and mtDNA haplogroup L2a1, was influenced by gene flow from the Bantu and East Africans.


There are four traditional areas of Hadza dry-season habitation: West of the southern end of Lake Eyasi, between Lake Eyasi and the Yaeda Valley swamp to the east, east of the Yaeda Valley in the Mbulu Highlands, and north of the valley around the town of Mang'ola. During the wet season the Hadza camp outside and between these areas, and readily travel between them during the dry season as well. Access to and from the western area is by crossing the southern end of the lake, which is the first part to dry up, or by following the escarpment of the Serengeti Plateau around the northern shore. The Yaeda Valley is easily crossed, and the areas on either side abut the hills south of Mang'ola.

The Hadza have traditionally foraged outside these areas, in the Yaeda Valley, on the slopes of Mount Oldeani north of Mang'ola, and up onto the Serengeti Plains. Such foraging is done for hunting, berry collecting, and for honey. Although hunting is illegal in the Serengeti, the Tanzanian authorities recognize that the Hadza are a special case and do not enforce the regulations with them, just as the Hadza are the only people in Tanzania not taxed locally or by the national government.

Threats to existence

The remaining hunting, berry, tuber, and honey grounds of the Hadza are threatened by encroachment. The western Hadza lands are on a private hunting reserve, and the Hadza are officially restricted to a reservation within the reserve and not allowed to hunt. The Yaeda Valley, long uninhabited due to the tsetse fly, is now occupied by Datooga herders; the Datooga are clearing the Hadza lands on either side of the now fully settled valley for pasture for their goats and cattle. They hunt out the game, and the clearing destroys the berries, tubers, and honey that the Hadza rely on, and watering holes for their cattle causes the shallow watering holes the Hadza rely on to dry up. The Mang'ola region has become the principal onion farming area in all of East Africa, with immigration for work bringing the population up from 2000 in the 1984 census to 38,000 in the 2004 census, and perhaps 50,000 in 2008. After documentaries on the Hadza on PBS and the BBC in 2001, the Mang'ola Hadza became a tourist attraction; although this has given being Hadza monetary value, it also introduced alcohol for the first time, with a concomitant epidemic of tuberculosis.

In 2007, the local government controlling the Hadza lands adjacent to the Yaeda Valley leased all of this, 6,500 km², to the Abu Dhabi royal family of the United Arab Emirates, for use as a "personal safari playground", [McCrummen 2007 (see [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/09/AR2007060901465.html?nav=hcmodule online] )] and both the Hadza and Datooga were evicted, with some Hadza resisters imprisoned. However, after negative coverage in the international press, the deal was rescinded.


Hadza men usually forage individually, and during the course of day usually feed themselves while foraging, and also bring home some honey, fruit, or wild game when available. Women forage in larger parties, and usually bring home berries, baobab fruit, and tubers, depending on availability. Men and women also forage cooperatively for honey and fruit, and at least one adult male will usually accompany a group of foraging women. During the wet season, the diet is composed mostly of honey, some fruit,fdr tubers, and occasional meat. The contribution of meat to the diet increases in the dry season, when game become concentrated around sources of water. During this time, men often hunt in pairs, and spend entire nights lying in wait by waterholes, hoping to shoot animals that approach for a night-time drink, with bows and arrows treated with poison. [harvnb|Lee|1999|p=201] The poison is made of the branches of the shrub Adenium coetaneum.Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 226 (= note 23)] The Hadza are highly skilled, selective, and opportunistic foragers, and adjust their diet according to season and circumstance. Depending on local availability, some groups might rely more heavily on tubers, others on berries, others on meat. This variability is the result of their opportunism and adjustment to prevailing conditions.

Traditionally, the Hadza do not make use of hunting dogs, although this custom has been recently borrowed from neighboring tribes to some degree. Most men (80%+) do not use dogs when foraging.

Women's foraging technology includes the digging stick, large fabric or skin pouch for carrying items, knife, shoes, other clothing, and various small items held in a pouch around the neck. Men carry axes, bows, poisoned and non-poisoned arrows, knives, small honey pots, fire drills, shoes and apparel, and various small items. While men specialize in procuring meat, honey, and baobab fruit, women specialize in tubers, berries, and greens. This division of labor is rather apparent, but women will occasionally gather a small animal or egg, or gather honey, and men will occasionally bring a tuber or some berries back to camp.

A myth depicts a woman harvesting the honey of wild bees, and at the same time, it declares that the job of honey harvesting belongs to the men. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 19, 225 (note 5)] For harvesting honey or fruit from large trees such as the baobab, the Hadza beat pointed sticks into the trunk of the tree as ladders. This technique is depicted in a tale, [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 26–29] and it is also documented recently in film. [Heller & Keulig 1999 (see [http://fpcn-global.org/content/Hadzabe-No-need-development-1999-43min-German-language online] )]

There exists a mutualistic relationship between honey-guide and mammals: in order to obtain wax, the bird guides people and honey-badgers to the nests of wild bees. The Hadza whistle "dialogs" with the honey-guide that mimic the bird's song. [Blench 2008: 2 (see [http://www.rogerblench.info/Language%20data/Khoesan/Handout%20Riezlern%202008.pdf online] )] The role of the honey-guide is reflected also in Hadza mythology, both in naturalistic [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 18] and personified forms. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 21]

The Hadza move camp for a number of reasons. Conflict is resolved primarily by leaving camp; camps frequently split for this reason. Camps are abandoned when someone falls ill and dies, as illness is associated with the place they fell ill. There is also seasonal migration between dry-season refuges, better hunting grounds while water is more abundant, and areas with large numbers of tubers or berry trees when they are in season. If a man kills a particularly large animal such as a giraffe far from home, a camp will temporarily relocate to the kill site. (Smaller animals are brought back to the camp.) Shelters can be built in a few hours, and most of the possessions owned by an individual can be carried on their backs.

The Hadza, like many predominantly hunter-gatherer societies, are predominantly monogamous, though there is no social enforcement of monogamy. [Marlowe 2005 (see [http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hbe-lab/acrobatfiles/mate%20prefs%20of%20hadza.pdf online] )]

Myths and tales

:"The names of mythological figures are given in the transcription of the source (Kohl-Larsen 1956a): German approximation, augmented with some diacritics and surplus symbols (including a ! symbol designating a click consonantKohl-Larsen 1956a: 9] ). A conversion to IPA is not appropriate because of possible ambiguities.

Myhological figures with celestial connotations

There are some mythological figures who are believed to take part in arranging the world, for example rolling the sky and the earth like two sheets of leather and swapping their order to achieve the recent situation — in the past the sky used to locate under the earth. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 42–43] These figures also have made crucial decisions about the animals and humans (designating their food, environment), [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 34–35] giving people the fire and the capability of sitting. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 42–45] These figures have celestial connotations: Ischoko is a solar, Haine is a lunar figure.Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 13]

Ishoko ("sun")

The character under the name "Ishoye" seems to be identic with Ishoko.Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 226 (= note 22)] She is depicted in some tales as someone who created animals, even people. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 32–33] [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 82] Her creatures included also some people who later turned out to be a disaster for their fellow people (the man-eating giant and his wife): as Ishoko saw this, she killed the man-eaters: "you are no people any longer". [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 127]

Uttering Ishoko's name can mean a greeting, a good wish to someone for a successful hunt.Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 130, 227 (= note 51)]

Ishoko is the wife of Haine [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 62, 227 (note 32)]

Roles of a culture hero

The man who returned from death

Indaya, the man who went to the Isanzu territory after his death and returned (according to a myth), [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 37–38] plays the role of a culture hero: he introduces customs and goods to the Hadza. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 14]

Isanzu people

The Isanzu people neighbor the Hadza. Unlike the Iraqw and the cattle-raiding Maasai (who used to lead raids towards Isanzu and Iramba through Hadza territory), the hoe-farming Isanzu are regarded as a peaceful people by Hadza. Moreover, many goods and customs comes from them, and the Hadza myths mention and depict this benevolent influence of the Isanzu. This advantageous view about Isanzu makes the role of this people comparable to that of a culture hero in Hadza folklore. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 13–14]

Also in some of the mythical stories about giants (see below), it is an Isanzu man who liberates the Hadza from the malevolent giant. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 14]

Stories about giants

The stories about giants describe people with superhuman strength and size, but otherwise with human weaknesses (they have human needs, eat and drink, they can be poisoned, cheated).

Senganii and his brothers

One of the giants, Sengani, was Haine's helper, and Haine gave him power to rule over people. In Haine's absence, the giant endangered people with his decisions. The people had to resist him, thus the giant ordered the lions to attack people, which surprized people, because formerly lions were regarded as harmless beings. The people killed the giant in revenge. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 105–110, 227]

This giant had brothers, "Ssaabo" and "Waonelakhi". Several tales describe the disaster these giants caused to Hadza by constantly killing, beating them. The Hadza had to ask for help from neighboring groups, finally, the giants were tricked and poisoned, or shot to death by arrows treated with poison. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 110–118, 227]

Man-eating giant

A man-eating giant, "!esengego" (and his family) was killed by a benevolent snake. The snake turned out to be the tool ("medicine") applied by Ishoko in favor of people to liberate them. Ishoko changed the corpses of the giant family into leopards. He prohibited them to attack people, except for the case they would be provoked or wounded by an arrow. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 125–127]


Another giant, "!Hongongoschá", played the role of a mythological figure. He did not bother Hadza (except for some smaller stealths done secretly at night), his nourishment was flowers of trees (and stolen vegetables). People greeted him with great respect, and the giant wished them good hunting luck, which indeed realized. The giant provided further his good wish to people even after he was hurt deliberately by a boy, but he took a fatal revenge on the boy. Finally, the god Haine decided about the fate of this giant and the people: he warned people, revealed the malevolent deed of the boy, and changed the giant into a big white clam. [Kohl-Larsen 1956a: 128–133, 227]

ee also

*Hadza language



* cite conference |last=Blench |first=Roger |title=Hadza Animal Names |conference=3rd International Khoisan Workshop |location=Riezlern |date=7–9 July 2008 |format=PDF |url=http://www.rogerblench.info/Language%20data/Khoesan/Handout%20Riezlern%202008.pdf
* cite video |people=Heller, Hartmut & Keulig, Steffen |year2=1999 |publisher=Freunde der Naturvölker e.V. (fPcN Germany) |title=Hadzabe — Die letzten Wildbeuter Ostafrikas |medium=Documentary |format=streamed video |url=http://fpcn-global.org/content/Hadzabe-No-need-development-1999-43min-German-language A film (43 min) in German about this people and their struggle for survival.
* The book is a collection of Hadza myths about giants, also some tribe myths about culture heroes, and anecdotical tales.
* cite journal |last=Marlowe |first=F.W. |year=2005 |title=Mate preferences among Hadza hunter-gatherers |journal=Human Nature |volume=15 |pages=364–375 |url=http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hbe-lab/acrobatfiles/mate%20prefs%20of%20hadza.pdf |format=pdf
* cite news | url = http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/09/AR2007060901465.html?nav=hcmodule | publisher = Washington Post | accessdate = 2007-09-15 | date = 2007-06-10 | title = 50,000 Years of Resilience May Not Save Tribe | page = A01 | first = Stephanie | last = McCrummen

Further reading

* The title means "The magic horn. Tales and animal stories of the Tindiga".

External links

* http://www.khoisanpeoples.org;Bibliographies
* It contains papers also about several other aspects of Hadza life.;Text
* [http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hbe-lab/ Frank Marlowe homepage]
** cite journal |last=Marlowe |first=F.W. |year=2004a |title=What explains Hadza food sharing? |journal=Research in Economic Anthropology |volume=23 |pages=69–88 |url=http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hbe-lab/acrobatfiles/What%20explains%20Hadza%20food%20sharing.pdf |format=pdf |doi=10.1016/S0190-1281(04)23003-7)
** cite journal |last=Marlowe |first=F.W. |year=2004b |title=Is human ovulation concealed? Evidence from conception beliefs in a hunter-gatherer society: the Hadza of Tanzania |journal=Archives of Sexual Behavior |volume=33 |pages=427–432 |url=http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hbe-lab/acrobatfiles/is%20ovulation%20concealed.pdf |format=pdf |doi=10.1023/B:ASEB.0000037423.84026.1f
* [http://www.anthro.utah.edu/people/faculty/kristen-hawkes.html Papers] by anthropologist Kristen Hawkes
* [http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~bmwood/index.html Brian Wood homepage]
* [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/09/AR2007060901465.html?hpid=topnews "50,000 Years of Resilience May Not Save Tribe"] , "The Washington Post", 10 June 2007;Image
* Photo blog. It Includes also images about the exterior and interior of a Hadza hut.;Video
* Eric Turpin: [http://www.ericturpin.com/fr/Hadzabe/Hadzabe.htm Hadzabe, chasseur a l'arc de Tanzanie] . Video and audio materials on Hadza life.
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm8CQaCVyTY Hadza dance] and [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYisrO5LMAw Hadza dance] on YouTube
* A film (43 min) in German about this people and their struggle for survival.;Audio
* The title means: "Hadza: Back to the stone age. The last bow-and-arrow hunters of Tanzania".
** cite web |title=Bawa |format=both downloadable MP3 and embedded |url=http://www.ericturpin.com/Site%20hadzabe/musique/Bawa.htm
** cite web |title=La kaeta |format=both downloadable MP3 and embedded |url=http://www.ericturpin.com/Site%20hadzabe/musique/La%20kaeta.htm
** cite web |title= Iko aiakoa |format=both downloadable MP3 and embedded |url=http://www.ericturpin.com/Site%20hadzabe/musique/Iko%20aiakoa.htm

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