Found in small communities, dotted around the Serengeti Plateau and Lake Eyasi in Tanzania, the Hadza people are a group of under 1000 people deemed to be the last real hunter-gathers on earth. Despite outside interference and attempts, over the last two centuries, to introduce agriculture and Christianity to the Hadza, the majority continue to live in a traditional way, without fixed abode, crops, calendars or many belongings, as they live the life our distant ancestors once lived, all the way into the 21st century.
The Hadza are speculated to have lived in their current territory for around 10,000 years and various genetic studies have concluded that the tribe are not related genetically to any other people on earth, meaning they are extremely unique. Furthermore, their language is not connected to any other languages, even in the region, and they have mainly stayed within their community throughout the many generations. Their contact with outside parties, be them other tribes or foreigners, has been mostly hostile, which has resulted in their relative anonymity and their resistance to modern life, thus far.
Living in groups of 20-30 people, except for in berry season, where multiple groups will join up in the hunt for berries, the Hadza people have no governing hierarchy with conflict mainly being solved personally or by the offending party moving to a different group, voluntarily. The communities practice co-operative child raising with all members of the community looking after each other’s children. Due to the nature of their way of life, the Hadza people migrate with the seasons to ensure they can obtain the best seasonal produce, therefore they have little belongings and can set up shelters in just a few hours. In the dry season, they will often sleep beneath huge trees instead of setting up camp, and without calendars or watches, the Hadza keep time by observing the moon cycle. The men of the Hadza forage individually and will look for honey, fruit (baobab is a favourite) and occasionally wild game. They will feed themselves throughout the day, and bring the rest back to the camp to share out. The women, on the other hand, tend to forage in groups and focus on picking wild berries. The community will adjust their diets to the availability of the season and they have been described as highly skilled and opportunistic hunters.
The Hadza can be said to be one of the most unique tribes in Tanzania due to their hunter-gather existence and their ancient way of living. They are the only people allowed to hunt animals in the Serengeti and recent studies have suggested that the Hadza way of life might hold the key to good health! Due to their hunter gather diet and the variety and seasonality of the foods they consume, Hadza people have fascinated scientists and doctors who have discovered that they have a variety of rare health-promoting microbes in their body, that are non-existent in the western world. The more microbes a person has the more likely they are to avoid immune diseases and extend their life, and doctors are beginning to investigate what lessons we can learn and implement into our own lives from the health of the Hadza people. The Hadza, despite living an extremely traditional lifestyle, might be paving the way to a longer life for the rest of the world.
Tanzania is an unmissable destination for safari holidays and epic wildlife experiences, but if you are thinking of visiting, don’t miss out on the unique culture and valuable life lessons that can be learnt from the Hadza and other tribes of Tanzania.