Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Hadza Day Five

IMG_5486In this audiorecording, I continue to describe more of my adventures and observations with the Hadza hunter gatherers of Tanzania. This time, I visit a different group and describe more of what I learn about their archery equipment and how they make their arrows. In the photo below, you can see the fletching style on one arrow and a bunch of shafts on the ground.IMG_5456

IMG_5463Necessity is the mother of invention. One guy is holding an arrow shaft between his toes and he shapes while the man in the foreground uses the back of his sandal as a cutting board for trimming the feathers on his newly made arrow. He wore a Hadza-style tire sandal on one foot and a”Croc” type shoe on the other.

 

 

Tanzania 2017 This photo shows a still smoldering charcoal pit. The Iraqw tribe are mostly subsistence agropastoralists but they make charcoal to be sold for cash. The production of charcoal for cooking fuel is one cause of deforestation in this area. The trees chosen for charcoal production are often the important habitat trees for the animals the Hadza hunt such as birds and Galagos.DSCN5533

In this photo, you can see  what I  think is some species of Cordia with edible berries. We spent almost an hour gleaning fruit from this tree. This tree is also the source of the arrow shafts and bow staves used by the Hadza. Talk about a multipurpose plant! Further research on this tree in its human ecological context would be very useful. Fortunately for the Hadza, it seems that the Agropastoralists often leave this tree when they are clearing areas for cultivation, probably not for the fruit as much as for the valuable fodder the leaves provid.On this trip we also saw some cool cucurbit species growing wild including a jelly melon, which I have grown in my garden in California.

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On this eventful day with this group of the Hadza, this guy shot a hornbill and another guy shot a Goshawk. These were some of the most interesting bird species that I saw close up during my entire trip to Tanzania. What is it about killing and eating a hornbill or a bushbaby compared to chicken or pig that affects modern Westerners? For more about this topic see Eating Biodiversity.

 

In this video you can see part of the fletching process.

I practice archery and I fletch my own arrows so I have a lot of appreciation for the speed, efficiency, and artistry of the Hadza fletching process. It takes me twice as long to fletch a single arrow.

IMG_5465While the Hadza worked on arrow shafts, I was busy drawing the plants, animals, and material culture that make up their daily life. This journaling process was the backbone of my trip and the basis for the book that I put together when I got back home.

For more about my time in Tanzania you should check out my book, Intertropical Impressions: Volume Three, available in a high quality print edition, a downloadable PDF and an ebook edition.

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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.

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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: Hadza Hunt Day Two

On my second day out hunting with the Hadza I experimented with doing audiorecordings during the trip instead of trying to take notes in my small pocket notebook. It was my first time trying this and was a bit hard because I felt self-conscious talking to myself in English while following these guys on their subsistence hunt. Once I got over that it turned out to be a much more efficient and safe way to record information while running over rocks, dangerous steep gullies, and seventeen kinds of spiny plants. Part way through you can hear the loud sounds of humans, baboons, and dogs clashing violently. You can hear some of my personal questions and train of thought around the human ecology of Hadza hunting.

 

IMG_5433Young hunter and the large male baboon that he shot with his bow on this hunting trip.

 

 

 

 

Here is my recap from the rest of that day. In this recap I share some more of the complexities and reality of how these people actually live and my own personal experiences in the moment. For example, how they shared food with some of the agropastoralists and how they stopped to get soda at a weird little shack. I talk about my own reflections around the concept of a “curated experience” and some of my hidden biases around what to portray and what not to portray in my photos.

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Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: First Day Hunting With the Hadza

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.

Tanzania 2017I tried to keep very careful notes about their hunting techniques, how many arrows they shot, how they debate the tracks on the ground, and how they make decisions about where to follow the animals. I mostly used my small Moleskine pocket notebook for scribbling notes and drawings on the fly because the Hadza move so fast that there was little time for me to take out my nature journal. I soon learned that it was even more efficient to record audionotes on my phone on these hunts.

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Several birds and squirrels were taken in this hunt and also some lesser Galagos, and an intense encounter with Baboons. These notes include some of my descriptions of the beauty of the landscape and some of my questions. There is also more about my process in this audio-recording from Tanzania. You can hear the East African birds in the background as I review my trail notebook from the first day with the Hadza.

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Here is a short video I took on the first hunting trip where I tagged along. They walk fast, talk, joke, and smoke.

 

 

 

DSCN5588By traveling and studying traditional food production systems around the world I am sometimes in situations that present ethical questions. These Galagos were the cutest animal that I saw the Hadza kill for food and I am sure that many of my compatriots would question the killing of such animals for food. My main goal on these trips is not to judge from the standards of my industrial culture but to be an observer and to try to understand the perspective of these people who hunt and gather every day for their survival. For more on the ethics of eating see my post about Eating Biodiversity.

 

Spoken Reflections From Tanzania: Ngorongoro to Karatu

Tanzania 2017During 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.

In this particular recording I give some of my observations about agriculture, tourism, and my personal reactions to the land of contrast.

Most of these observations I make in messy notes in a tiny notebook in the moving bus or car, a practice I have kept up on my last three tropical expeditions. Even though I get car sick I find that there is so much to see during these trips and I have so many ideas that it would be a waste not to record them. The notes are almost illegible because they are made while in motion. I also use this book when I am on fast paced walks or hikes that do not allow for me to pull out my big nature journal sketchbook. On this trip I began the pattern of rereading these notes and elaborating on them verbally with an audio recording. I plan on repeating this system in the future.

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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.