Update on the Book and Asante Sana

Tanzanian hunter-gatherers read the Swahili version of the Hadzabe book

We would like to give a huge thank you to the many people who have supported the Habzabe book project thus far.  We have seen a number of positive outcomes, among which:

1) it has engendered cultural pride and dignity in both of these remaining hunter gatherer groups;

2) already had a positive influence on Tanzanian's perceptions of hunter-gatherers including politicians and Government leaders as reflected by inclusion of minority/indigenous rights in the ongoing constitutional review process; and

3) importantly, raised funds for cementing and expanding the land rights of these amazing and very special cultures.

We are excited by the progress made so far this year on an extension of the current Hadza title that with continued support and hard work, we believe can and will lead to a connection to Ngorongoro Conservation area. The implications of success are huge for both the Hadza and Conservation.

In addition, the groundwork has been laid to move forward on the establishment of the first communal land titles for Akie hunter-gatherers on the Maasai Steppe.

We have 200 copies of the hard cover limited fundraising edition of the Hadzabe book remaining, and invite you to spread the word and support the ongoing land work (along with education & health care) by contributing a $100 or more to have a book sent to a library or institution of your choice.

Author of the book, Daudi Peterson, talks to Hadzabe and Akie hunter gatherers about the book 


Tanzanian Hunter-Gatherers Unite

Bringing the Akie, Hadza and Sandawe to Tarangire Safari Lodge

On September 27th, eighty-two hunter-gatherers from around Tanzania joined together at the Tarangire Safari Lodge.  The Hadza, Akie and Sandawe peoples gathered at the lodge to talk about common issues they face, mainly those related to land, while also taking time to simply have some fun together.

The journey to get to the lodge was not easy – many walked six to eight hours just to get to catch the bus to bring them to Tarangire, and once on the bus they didn’t have a very smooth ride. The Sandawe caught a bus to Singida at 2:00am; the Akie’s bus broke down three times resulting in a midnight arrival; and the Hadza’s bus got stuck in the mud for several hours after encountering unseasonal rain.

Yet despite the exhausting travel, the energy level after breakfast on the first morning remained very high.  In fact, as they drove around Tarangire National Park they seemed more excited to see the wildlife than average tourists – although their perspectives were somewhat different: “Look at that one, it has so much fat!”

Following the game drive, the hunter-gatherers spent the afternoon talking about land, comparing stories and challenges they face in their respective areas.  The evening was filled with singing and dancing, which carried on late into the night.

This gathering offered a unique opportunity for the Hadza, Akie and Sandawe to experience cross-cultural unity and learning, enhancing their identity as hunter-gatherers.  It strengthened their resolve to acquire and protect traditional lands, allowing them to exchange stories and strategies for strengthening tenure and rights.  Although the time was short, it paved the way for many more discussions and joint activities for the future.

Such a gathering would not have been possible without the support of many individuals.  A heartfelt thank you to Jon and Annette Simonson for closing their lodge to tourists and opening it and their hearts to the Hadza, Akie and Sandawe.  And, a big thank you goes out to all who purchased the Hadzabe special edition book as your contribution covered all of their travel, food and accommodation expenses.  Asanteni sana! 

We look forward to watching the journey continue (one that we hope is a little smoother…) and will be sure to keep sharing stories and pictures along the way.




Hadza Granted Land Title

On October 18, 2011, the Hadza living in the Yaeda valley were issued land titles for land encompassing more than 20,000 ha. A culmination of years of strategy and work, this was a momentous occasion and a historical precedent in Tanzania. 

Hadza receiving land titles from the Assistant Commissioner of Lands

While the Hadza have access to resources in a much greater area, the green zones are now titled to them for traditional use.  Although the land is communal, the Hadza have legal rights and control as if it were a private landholding.

It all began in the late 90’s after Carol & Bruce Hosford of Seattle, Washington visited the Hadza and pledged significant support through the Dorobo Fund over several years to try reverse land encroachment on historical Hadza land. With facilitation by Daniel Ngoitiko working for the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT), the Hadza and neighboring villages were able to complete village land use plans that were ratified by the District with supporting by laws.

Over the last few years, the Hadza were outnumbered by immigrants and lost political control of the village. This necessitated a new strategy to give the Hadza some control over a remnant of their historical land. With careful maneuvering within the political and legal context, UCRT was able to facilitate the issuance of land title of these village zones to the Hadza as a community with the designated use restricted to conservation and traditional use by the Hadza for hunting and gathering. The Dorobo Fund provided strategic support for this process throughout with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) providing core support in the last several years augmented by support from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the final phases.

The Assistant Commissioner of Lands, Dorothy Wanzala, in her new Hadza house built for the occasion.



“EMPOWERMENT”: Further musings from the Hunter gatherer powwow

Empowerment is pretty worn, even frayed in NGO parlance. Those of you who know Maanda Ngoitiko - member of the Ujamaa Community Resource Team (UCRT); founder of Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC); District Govt Councilor; threat and friend to many – will agree that she embodies this word.

At the Hunter Gatherer Powwow in Tarangire, Maanda both inspired and challenged all but particularly, the women. She inspired by relating recent examples of how women voting as a block were able to positively influence the outcome of village elections. In one dramatic case, women in the last hour, overturned a candidate who had received a whopping $20k for his campaign from a particularly wealthy investor in support of a ‘pliable’ candidate.

She challenged by exhorting the women to take charge in these elections and ensure that  good, community first, me second leaders  were elected, “if you care about your children and their future  you have no option but to mobilize”.  Today and tomorrow there are community meetings being held as a result on each side of the Yaeda Valley.

Political mobilization is tough under any circumstances but with apolitical, non hierarchical Hunter Gatherers whose means of livelihood require flexibility and mobility, it is very, very difficult. How many Hadza wake up on Sept 28th or whatever date and remember that it’s voting day and for those that do, how many decide to walk the 3 or 4 hours one way to the polling booth?  And someone has to gather the day’s berries, baobab fruit and dig the tubers.

Voting booth in Hadzaland

The other problem is once farming and herding immigrants (with higher fecundity) get their foot in the door, it is only a matter of two or three generations before they outnumber the original people. This election is the last one in which the numbers in Mongo wa Mono village, a village originally set up for the Hadza, allow even a chance for the Hadza to win at the voting booth. 

It is like being in a war where the battle line keeps moving but always backwards. After losing political control of the village, the line is control of a couple of sub villages. The next line (a good one) is using the new land regulations to demarcate and register the established conservation/traditional economy zones in the name of the Hadza rather than the village. Next is to use the progressive Forestry Act to establish a Hadza Community Forest Reserve overlaying the conservation zone. And pie in the sky perhaps, but the ultimate could be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

An adaptive & flexible strategy is required as of course are resources – committed people and financial. The result can be layers of ‘Security and Protection’. This is not to say or advocate that culture and people will remain static. It is to advocate for choice and dignity with feet firmly on the ground. Formal education is essential for informed citizenry, representation and broader livelihood options. It does not however, preclude continuing education of the “Old Way”, time tested and true. Without land, the “Old Way” faces a certain death, with land, the “Old Way” will still certainly change and adapt but the world and all of us will be richer for it.





Hadza and Akie Gathering in Tarangire

An idea hatched last year under the Tarangire star studded sky came to fruition on October 4th. We thought that a gathering of the Hadza and Akie in Tarangire when wildlife densities were at their peak during the dry season could have high value in fun and lessons. This is after all how these folk’s lands looked merely a few decades ago, therefore providing a chance for the elders to show the younger what it could be like and to give impetus to all to regain or at least protect what is left.

Jon & Annette Simonson closed the Tarangire Safari Lodge to tourists to accommodate a full house of hunter gatherers. Others contributed transport assistance and UCRT helped organize logistical details and facilitated the lesson part.

After an early arrival from several geographic localities – Hadza from Mangola, Mongo wa Mono, Gideru, Domanga and Sengela and Akie from Naipilokonya and Ngapapa – all 56 went on a game drive.

In two hours, almost all possible was seen with great exclamation and an oft repeated expressed desire to move to this rich land.

The lesson part was focused on land and leadership ending with groups from each area discussing concrete actions required once they returned home.

More fun ensued once the work was over with singing and dancing until well after midnight.