Three hundred plus strong, the Hadza converged in Umbea, an area of Hadzaland known for its rocky outcroppings and river edges. They selected this place to meet the District Commissioner (DC) – meeting on their own turf to air grievances about incursions of pastoralists on their land.
The Hadza came only with their bows, arrows and a blanket for the chilly nights, while the DC and his team of district officials arrived seeming a bit out of place in their carcade. The DC listened, questioned, and gave advice emphasizing the need to use the administrative and political systems at a local level. Most importantly, he assured the Hadza that he and the district would back them up if necessary.
The DC only stayed a few hours, but the Hadza used the gathering for a three-day meeting. Beyond getting the District’s attention, they also discussed issues related to cultural identity and threats, and agendas such as the dangers of HIV and alcohol abuse.
Bags of rice and maize flour were brought in by car and seven bulls were slaughtered and completely devoured over the three days. More than 70 small sleeping fires scattered under bushes or tucked behind rocks mirrored the brilliant star-studded sky.
This Hadza meeting was significant as it shows that when given the opportunity, the Hadza use their own communal earnings to ensure the further protection of their land and its ecosystem. The attendance of the DC also signaled a continued commitment by the Tanzanian government to honor and protect the customary land title deeds (known as ‘CCRO’s’) awarded to the Hadza last year.
The Hadza covered 80% of the costs for this meeting using funds generated from Carbon Tanzania’s carbon offset project as well as from community tourism initiatives – Dorobo Fund covered the remainder.