Monday, July 23, 2007

Some Hadza Updates

Afarensis and Tim at Anthropology.Net have some new posts up regarding the current situation with the Hadzabe. Both discuss a recent Daily Mail article on the Hadzabe regarding their way of life and efforts by the United Arab Emirates to have them evicted from their own lands (the picture of Gonga with the article's author is the same Gonga I knew and hunted with in the late 1980s/early 1990s - I even have a few examples of his arrows in my collection).

I have been in contact with several individuals regarding the Hadza, although I have yet to post on these developments. Part of the problem is the lack of information regarding the actual state of negotiations between the UAE, Tanzanian government and the extent to which the Hadza may or may not be involved (or other organizations are involved on their behalf). It has been suggested that we not "rock the boat" too much in the blogosphere given that there may be negotiations taking place that could be compromised by too much media attention in the West (the old " westerners interfering with sovereign people like they always do" argument). On the other hand, the UAE is apparently sensitive to publicity (particularly negative publicity - the fact that the UAE and Tanzanian governments are now accusing researchers and tourism operators of violating Hadza rights in order to shift blame (as if they really cared!) is suggestive that outside word about this shady deal may be having an effect); plus I have had some indications that the transfer of Hadza land to the UAE royal family is a "done deal".

Given this rather limited information, I have a request from my fellow bloggers and any commenters:

Do you think it is better to stay relatively quiet on this matter, under the presumption that "behind the scenes" talks might be taking place that would at least give the Hadza retention of their lifestyle (and there is no indication that this would be a condition of the negotiations at this point) and so as not to jeopardize any potential deal that might benefit the Hadza? Further, should we be sensitive to the "Western intereference" argument, or is that a red herring?


Should some of us go for broke and ramp up the negative publicity (strategies are already being worked on) in an effort to completely forstall any sort of deal between Tanzania and the UAE, even if it might jeopardize a potential deal favoring the Hadza? (Let me add this: even if negotiations on behalf of the Hadza are taking place, there is no doubt in my mind that UAE royal family control of this area would still radically change the Hadza way of life).

Any comments/suggestions/advice would be helpful.


Steffen Keulig said...

Dear all,
we start a campaign against this development in Gemany. Please use this protest letter and send them to your own Government, to the Tanzania Embassy in your country and as a copy to:
Tanzania Government:

RE: Expulsion of Hadzabe people from their homeland territory in the Yaida Valley, Tanzania
Dear …
I would like to raise serious concerns about the situation of the Hadzabe people because they are being threatened with expulsion from their ancestral homelands.
According to current estimates, there are about 800 to 1200 members in the Hadzabe group. They are among the last remaining Hunter-Gatherers in Tanzania. They live in small family groups of 15-20 members in the area around Eyasi Lake.
Their ancestral homelands are in the savannah and they still use their efficient ancient skills to harvest Nature’s treasures in a sustainable manner, much as our own ancestors did 10,000 years ago, even before the Neolithic revolution had taken place. The men hunt antelope, gazelle and baboons, and the women gather berries, roots and honey.
Unfortunately, the Tanzanian Government does not see these people as worthy of protection, despite the fact that organizations like UNESCO claim to protect the cultural diversity in the world. The Hadzabe are still treated like second-class human beings. Philip Marmo, Tanzania’s Minister for Good Governance, who represents the Yaida Valley in Parliament, has referred to them as “backward”.
Now, recent developments have raised serious concerns. The Tanzanian Government is planning to lease out the Hadzabe’s ancestral homeland territories to the “Tanzania UAE Safaris Ltd”. This company acts on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Royal family, (Prince Hamdan bin Zayed), and they plan to establish their own personal Safari playground on the Hadzabe’s traditional territories.
This eviction would spell the end for one of the last East African hunter-gatherer communities. They would become homeless and lose their traditional livelihood. It is clear from other similar evictions that these communities then become destitute and reliant on hand-outs, no longer able to survive independently. Even if there are arrangements between the parties, the Hadzabe would be unable to survive without help, as trophy hunters would rapidly deplete the wildlife of the animals that they rely on for food. Therefore, the Hadzabe themselves, unequivocally object to this project proposed by the Tanzanian Government.
Already in July 2006, the Hadzabe’s situation became more precarious and threatened when the lower Yaida valley area was ceded to “Tanzania UAE Safaris Ltd”. Then, on May 21st 2007, the Tanzanian police arrested Richard Baalow, a Hadzabe’s spokesperson. This action could be interpreted as a form of intimidation on the part of the government, and is a cruel violation of Human Rights.
This development is being forced on the Hadzabe people against their will, and therefore violates the guidelines of the Human Rights Council and its clear requirement for Free, Prior and Informed Consent in all decisions that affect the lives of Indigenous People.
I therefore beg you to consider helping with this sensitive issue of the Hadzabe to see if a way can be found for them to remain on their ancestral homeland territories.
Should you require more detailed information on this matter, please contact the German organization “Freunde der Naturvölker e.V” ( contact Steffen Keulig: or the international section of “friends of Peoples close to Nature”( Films about the Hadzabe can be viewed on their web-sites.

Yours sincerely,

Thanks for your support on this isseu!

Kind regards,

Steffen Keulig
Chairman of Freunde der Naturvölker e.V.
German Branch of the
World Wide Network "friends of Peoples close to Nature"
Katzenstr. 2
D-21335 Lüneburg
Tel: +49 (0) 4131 68 22 32
Mobil: +49 (0)17624022969

Kambiz Kamrani said...

I say we go for broke and start a big negative publicity campaign. I don't see how being passive really can help out... but that's because I do not know the nature of the Tanzanian and UAE governments. I'm assuming that they'd hate to tarnish their international image, and I'm also running on the fact that what they are doing is unethical... which fuels my fire a bit more. So count me in! I'm ready to help out in any way I can!


Duane said...

I agree. We need to get as much pressure on the parties as possible. I've already called the folks at State and the representative of the Tanzanian government that I talked to a month or so ago. My guess is that the UAE will claim that they are not a party to these issues even if a couple of the princes are. Such a position, if they do indeed take it, is BS but it is a rather hard position to work around. I would like to see the US government take a position.

afarensis said...

I emailed Edward Porokwa of the Pingos Forum (he was mentioned in the second article I linked to, haven't heard back yet) his email is if anyone else wants to try.

I think we need to keep making a fuss. It seems to me that the best thing for the Hadzabe is that they be left to make their own decisions and control their own fate.

QrazyQat said...

I'm sure that at some time in history, making a public fuss has torpedoed some wonderful private negotiation. In all of history, I'd guess counting on your fingers and toes would cover those times. Now for the other million and one times, the fuss was either good or at least not damaging.

Sure, it could be that right now, concerned, non-corrupt government officials are hammering out a terrific agreement with civic-minded, culturally senstive Emirates. Anybody want to take that bet? I'm offering long odds...

Anonymous said...

It is now August 31, 2007 and the silence on this issue is deafening. If favorable negotiations for the Hadzabe cannot be detected, then go for broke, and let it rip! Throughout history there were contentions over land between 2 (or more) poor factions but there is absolutely no necessity in this case.