The Hadzabe ethnic group

North Tanzania Itineraries

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Last real hunters and primitive gatherers, the Hadzabe people still live today in the same ways as man did in prehistoric times, before agriculture, writing and any other kinds of political organizations appeared.
Only about a thousand of the original population remains nowadays, organized in groups of 20/30 people each, but just 200/300 of them still live like they did nearly 10,000 years ago: the rest of them have somehow accepted modernity to some extent.

A people in symbiosis with Nature

Their life is based on subsistence and there are no tribal or hierarchical organizations in their world: they have no crops, livestock or permanent shelters, nor do they count numbers or keep track of time: all they do in this inaccessibile, remote region of the savannah is hunt or gather. They ignore the meaning of power in any sense to the point that no leadership is accepted in their groups. Since birth, they belong to a rudimental society where customs and traditions have been handed down for numberless generations. This tribe, one of the oldest on earth, speaks a language which has no points of contact with any other one in the world.

An archaic language

Theirs is defined as a "click language", since sounds are made by clicks of the tongue, whistles and glottic pops, recalling the communication code used by our prehistoric ancestors. This language bears just a slight resemblance to that spoken by the San people of South Africa and shares even fewer features with another click language, spoken by the Sandawe people in Tanzania. Some genetical studies have shown that there are no close ties between the Hadzabe people and any other ethnic groups in eastern Africa.

Customs and traditions

Unaware of any technological or economic breakthroughs, they do not believe in any supernatural gods, but they worship a mysterious presence in the sun. They celebrate neither religious rituals nor funerals, weddings or birthdays.
During the moonless nights, the Hadzabe men dance to the rhythm of the women's chants to awaken the spirits of the dead.
They don't exchange gifts, nor do they know the meaning of amassing wealth: things in excess of what's strictly necessary are gambled. As a matter of fact, amassing a good fortune would be pointless since, according to the law of likelihood, it would soon be lost. Getting away with that fortune would cause the other members of the community to follow the winner and start gambling again, hence leading to its loss more often than not.

The women pick tubers, roots and fruits. This nomadic tribe does not use huts or any permanent encampments but prefer to sleep in caves or makeshift beds. A little detour from the safari route will get you to meet this tribe and experience the primal feelings of man stripped of all technological and cultural conditioning factors.


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