The Arusha Times

Issue 00520

May 31 - June 6, 2008

issn 0856 - 9135 

Front Page 4

Arab hunters bow out
Hadzabe
now live in peace again
 

By Valentine Marc Nkwame

Yaeda in Mbulu district  is once-more the Eden it used to be after the Arab investors who wanted to turn the vast valley into a hunting zone  recently called it quits. 

“The Arabs have left, they have taken away even their tents and other camping equipment. Yaeda is once again a peaceful area and the residents are happy,” said Mandege-Naftal Jonga (Kitandu) who was speaking at Karatu recently. 

For the last two years the deep, vast Yaeda has been a pawn of controversy following a proposal by  Arab investors who intended to take over the entire 3975 square kilometers of the valley and the Eyasi escarpment in the Eastern division of Mbulu District, Manyara Region and convert the area into a hunting arena. 

Yaeda valley, which since human evolution has been home to the East Africa's only remaining Bush people, the Hadzabe, was later to become an area of controversy  between the native residents, among them the Hadza people, Datoga, and the Barbaig, who were at loggerheads with both the investors ands some Mbulu District Officials who supported the project. 

The over 10,000 Residents in the area have since 2006 and late 2007 been living in fear, some alleging that some officials were threatening them to either accept the investor or be evicted from Yaeda-chini valley .  

The Tanzania United Arab Emirates (UAE) Safaris Limited, which had planned to introduce both commercial and sports hunting activities in the valley, had moved into the valley in 2006 and pitched up a temporary camp near Dumanga.  

During that time Reuben Mathayo the Mongo-wa-Mono village chairman, one of the officials who supported the Arab investors, said the agents from the company have promised a number of development projects in the location.  

The Arab hunters may be gone, but Hadza bush people are facing another  danger: hunger. Naftal Jonga says that increasing human activities in the valley has made a large number of animals to disappear. Animals are the major source of food for the Bushmen.

 The current Hadzabe population is less than 2000 and drastically falling. "There are about 1800 Bushmen living in Yaeda at the moment," said Mandege Naftal Jonga, who is an enlightened Hadzabe who lives and conducts research in the valley.  

 According to Jonga, some 30 years ago, the bush people population at Yaeda was more than 5000 but since then about 3200 Hadzabe people have disappeared mostly through deaths brought about by epidemics and drought. 

With over 3200 Bushmen dying in a period of 30 years, according to the researcher, it means an average of 106 Hadzabe people dying every year.  



Jongo said he  was  sure of the Hadzabe population that was recorded 30 years ago. "This is because in 1977 the then Tanzanian president, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere toured the Yaeda valley and all important data concerning the Bushmen had to be compiled.

 

 

 

 

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