THE Hadza, singularly known as Hadzabe are the only remaining Bushmen in East and Central Africa who for ages have been known to reside in the Yaeda Valley of Mbulu District, Manyara region.
Recent discoveries however are revealing that a small section of the endangered aboriginal, hunters-gatherers tribe happens to exist in the Endamaga village in the remote Ngorongoro division of Ngorongoro District.
Their settlements are located within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority and the controversy here is how the tribe which survives for killing and eating wild animals can exist within the protected area where hunting is totally forbidden.
"The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority has allowed us to stay hunt and eat some selected little animals such as Dik-Dik and antelopes," said a Hadzabe, Adam Sigwazi adding that the NCAA allowed them to stay and hunt in effort to save them from obvious extinction.
Mzee Sigwazi explained that in the past they used to go and fend for themselves in parts of Karatu but that used to be dangerous because people used to attack the Bushmen and strip them off their hides and skins used as clothing.
"The hides we wear happen to be valuable to tourists and it suddenly became a lucrative business for some people to waylay the Hadza, attack and strip us naked taking our hide-garments for sale at hotels and a number of campsites in Karatu," he stated.
Fearing such attacks the Bushmen avoided venturing into Karatu, choosing to stay in NCAA. But other than hide seeking robbers, the other thing which caused the Hadza to keep away from Karatu was the fact that the wildlife in Karatu disappeared after the invasion of livestock keepers and farmers in the area.
"The invaders from as far as Shinyanga, Singida and Arusha occupied the once virgin and wildlife filled land around Lake Eyasi and turned the area into grazing and farming plots, driving the animals that we used to hunt away," lamented the Hadzabe man.
After survival became tough in Karatu, the small Hadza population was forced back into the conservation area where the authorities permitted them to stay, practicing small-scale hunting for food, on that they don't and can't grow crops.
Besides, even farming is not allowed within Ngorongoro Conservation Area. But have the conservators permitted them to hunt little animals within NCAA? The in charge of the Eyasi Conservation Zone Mr Cosmas Kireti was non-commital, "We have not allowed them to hunt," he said and added that the Hadza have not been asked to leave either.
"We are careful not to interfere with the Hadza traditions and primeval ways of life and since they are highly endangered, the NCAA would like to protect them," said Mr Kireti. Monkeys and baboons are Hadza's favourite dishes but within the NCAA they now have to do with small animals such as squirrels. They normally hunt once, consume everything on spot; 'waste not want not,' is their survival motto.
Hunger continues to decimate most of the Bushmen and the ones residing within NCAA are less than 1000 with their population falling; "We are dying, there is no food apart from handouts from tourists and the roots used for medicine are disappearing making us susceptible to diseases," they lamented.
If it is of any comfort to them, at least now the Hadza children can attend community schools built for pastoralists within the NCAA, where they are assured of meals, protection and chances in life through education. But on a lighter side, the small structured Hadza community have retained their merriment; waking up to traditionally brewed beer whenever the situation permits and they are not ashamed of puffing sticks of marijuana for added euphoria. Hadza people's oral history documents that in the beginning of time the world was inhabited by gigantic fur-covered people known as the Akakaanebe or Gelanebe.
The hairy Akakaanebe, believed to be Hadza's ancestors were not only towering giants but possessed telekinetic, mystic powers that enabled them to hunt and kill their prey by simply staring at the animals. They also used to consume the animals' meat raw because, as their story goes, fire was not yet discovered by then.
The Hadza ancestors did not build houses and thus they slept under trees or in caves. Even today, most of the Hadza still sleep under bushes, in dug-out tree trunks and caves.