Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Hadza and Cultural Tourism

On my third day with the Hadza I tag along with the women for a little bit to learn about some of the plant resources they gather and use. When I get back to camp I spent some time reflecting on some of the complexities of my observer/tourist role and the implications of cultural tourism on the Hadza way of life.

Some of the questions that I ask are: What is authenticity? How is the Hadza’s daily life curated to provide an “authentic” experience to tourists?

Part of my intent with my Tanzania trip was to be as transparent as possible. I’m recording my impressions, I’m recording what I see, and I am recognizing that I am part of the equation. I am not objectively floating above the landscape. In these audiorecordings and in my book you can see how I try to pay attention to and process my conflicting feelings around cultural tourism, my role in it, and my relationship to the Hadza. While it might be easy to imagine some isolated stone age tribe living in harmony separate from everyone else, it would be a disservice to all involved to project this blindly onto the Hadza. The truth of the matter is that we live in a much more complicated and inextricably interconnected world.

Tanzania 2017

In the above photo you can see two Hadza and Yussef the motorcycle driver walking past several spiffy safari Land Cruisers parked outside the Hadza camp. Some days there would be more than 5 groups of tourists that might come through and visit one Hadza camp. They would often be led through the same series of activities and hear the same speech from the cultural tourism guides. “And here you can see how they make fire with sticks, and now you can see how they smoke marijuana, and now you can see how they shoot the bow, and here are the women cooking baboon, etc.Tanzania 2017This photo would have looked more “authentic” if it were not for the bright green shirt of Ita, the motorcycle driver, and Zacharia in the frame. I noticed in myself the automatic desire to snap photos of just the Hadza with their bows and animal skins and to exclude the modernly dressed guide and driver. This is one way in which the bias and expectation of outsiders can influence how the whole experience is curated. When I look at a lot of the photos about the Hadza and videos of the Hadza online the Swahili speaking guides and the drivers and the other Tanzanians are usually not present in the photos. I understand the aesthetics behind this but what is the meaning? How would you feel if you were one of the guides and you notice that the tourists are always avoiding you or even shooing you out of the frame when they are taking shots of the primitive Hadza tribes-people?

 

If you are interested in learning more about my trip you should check out my book, Intertropical Impressions Volume Three.

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Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Manyara to Arusha

IMG_5367During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

Here are some reflections from the last day of the Nature Journal Safari when we drove from Lake Manyara back to Arusha. A lot of observations during the drive, covering a lot of land, seeing a lot of patterns and trying to make landscape level connections in my mind.

IMG_5414 During this drive I was constantly surprised by how barren and dry the landscape looked and how many people it actually supported.

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Spoken Reflections from Tanzania: Day 2

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During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audio recordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

The following is a recording where I review my second day:

It was the first day of the Nature Journal Safari and contains many of my first landscape scale impressions from the hours of cross-country driving.

One correction from the audio regarding the hanging beehives. I think they are not actually managed hives but traps for enticing homeless swarms.

IMG_5278I was not expecting so many agaves.

IMG_5279While we were waiting for our permits to enter Tarangire national park I sketched the elephant skull then posed in front of it. Thanks to Dana Vallarino for the photo.

tanzania scans 6-6A page of sketches from that morning.

IMG_5285I took this photo when Impalas were so fresh and novel. By the time we left the Serengeti, Impalas and Gazelle by the hundreds were commonplace.

Spoken Reflections from Tanzania: Day 1

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During my trip to Tanzania, I used my nature journal and my pocket notebook for drawing and writing and I used my phone for photos, short videos, and audiorecordings. With this diverse toolbox I tried to document my observations, feeling, and impressions.

The following is a recording where I review my first day:

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Back From Tanzania

Much recognition to Jack Laws for his genius and courage in conceiving of the 2017 Nature Journal Safari!  I am extremely grateful that he invited me to come on as a fellow nature journaler and minor assistant!! Thanks to all the knowledgeable guides and their often invisible roles as intermediaries. And last but not least, so much of my respect goes to the Hadzabe, their skills, and their patience in putting up with my constant questions, and endless inspection and drawing of their plants, animals, bows, arrows, and hand drills 🙂

Check out my instagram feed for more images and videos from my Tanzania trip.

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Nature Journal Safari and Hadzabe Tag a Long

A week from today I will be getting on a plane heading to East Africa and Tanzania. I have been preparing for months. I will visit the world renowned serengeti and the ngorongoro crater with my sketchbook in hand, documenting my experience. For the second part of my trip I will be visiting the Hadzabe people near lake Eyasi, one of the few people on the planet that still maintain a predominantly hunter gatherer lifestyle.

Follow my progress on my instagram.

I also plan on publishing pages from my journals in “Intertropical Impressions” an upcoming travel narrative.

Thanks to John Muir Laws for initiating this adventure.

 

Here is a short video about the Hadzabe and their diet from National Geographic photographer Matthieu Paley.