We visited a Datoga family near Lake Eyasi. Their origins are from Sudan or the western Ethiopian highlands. Around 3000 years ago, the tribe followed the Nile south, and is now in Kenya and Tanzania. The Datoga were formerly nomadic, but they now have turned to farming and agriculture. They keep goats, sheep, donkeys, and chickens. Some have a plot of maize, and sometimes of beans and millet. The men drink honey beer as a sacred drink on ritual occasions, and our guide also told us that they sniff tobacco.
The Datoga people dress in colors of brown and beige, but are accessorized with beadwork and brass bracelets and necklaces. The family we visited were blacksmiths, and they showed us how they purchase or exchange old metals, put them in the fire in order to melt and mold the metal. They use a hammer to flatten the metal and carve designs into it, making bracelets that they sell to tourists afterwards.
In their traditions, young men need to prove themselves by killing an enemy, which can be any human that is not a Datoga, or any dangerous wild animal such as an elephant, lion or buffalo.
The Datoga believe in polygamy, and they rank their wives in order of marriage. For example, our guide told us he has 3 wives and 16 children!
We spent the morning with the Hadza tribe. There are about 700 people living in Tanzania. They are also known as the “bushmen” because their homes are literally in the bushes. They sleep on the ground, over animal skins. Contrary to the Datoga tribe, the Hadza believe in monogamy.
We had a local translator because they speak very little Swahili. Their language is called Hadzane, which is commonly known as the clicking language. There is only one man who knows how to speak this language, he is an anthropologist from England and is now 87 years old.
We set off with three men, walking and searching for animal or birds to hunt. They build their own bows and arrows from the skins and horns of the animals. They only live off what they catch, and some days, they might not catch very much. Additionally, they do not eat fish. We had brought bananas and offered them to the men for some energy, which they gladly ate. They caught a squirrel and two small birds, cooked them in front of us, and offered us a small piece to taste.
They start their fires using friction with wood and they are big ganja smokers. For some reason our guide told us that it was tobacco. It was only on my plane ride back home that I met a girl who lived with the tribe for two weeks with her anthropology professor and she told me it was marijuana.
While we were all sitting around as they smoked, I asked our guide to ask them how old they were. My brother and I were trying to guess, because the two boys looked quite young. The response was that they did not know. The Hadza ignore years, and all concepts of time, such as weeks or the time of day (except according to the sun of course). What is even more interesting is that their language does not have words for numbers over three or four.
The government has tried to give them houses and farms, but they complained the houses were too warm and did not like the lifestyle, and so they escaped. It was really a shocking morning to be with them. They actually choose to live this way: in the bushes, and feeding on the fruits the women pick and what the men hunt. They do not have concepts of time, nor do they want anything to do with technology. When I would take pictures, I would show them the images on the screen, and they all loved seeing their faces and would comment and laugh. Then, I tried to show the kids how to take the pictures, and tried to get them to push the button. I soon realized, even though I couldn’t understand, that the mothers were telling the children not too push the button of the camera. I felt a little bad for doing this, but then again, I did not know, and it was only after that our guide explained.