Weekly Newspaper

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issn 0856 - 9135
Issue No. 0821:
July 6 - August 1, 2014

Front page 1

Hadzabe starve as farmers deplete forest

By Charles Ole Ngereza, Karatu

An Hadzabe community living in a remote Eyasi valley in Karatu district, Arusha region is facing a serious food crisis, frightening the survival of a rare ethnic group.

An indigenous hunter-gatherers community depends on wild fruits; roots, honey and wild meats as its staple food, but farming, tree felling for charcoal and mining activities in Eyasi valley have robbed them of ther natural forest, a key source for their foodstuff.

The Hadzabe say that the situation has  gone  worse as they can now stay three consecutive days without  food.

The Hadzabe  boma leader Kankono Mkanga said that the farmers and miners have reduced their forestry, keeping the fruits and wild animals out of their reach.

Hadzabe outside their dwelling in the Eyasi Valley of Karatu district
. (Photo by Charles Ngereza).

“We are close to starvation because no one cares about our situation. We normally used to get food aid from various churches and tourists but this year we haven’t seen anyone” says Kankono

According to a Hadzabe woman Ngake Mtawona ,their ancestors land alienation by farmers, miners and livestock keepers has reduced the community to permanent beggars.

"We are starving, all the animals have disappeared and we Hadzabe only feed on meat."  an old man who was making arrows from sticks explained through an interpreter. His wife, Ntale Nzale explained that at the moment they are forced to go begging as far as Mang’ola barazani and  Endamaga villages where they end up getting onions, which do not constitute their traditional foodstuff.

“So we are compelled to eat onions as a staple food rather than dying of hunger. We call upon the government and any other well wishers to come up and rescue our community from perishing from hunger,” she noted.

Eyasi Division officer, Laanyun Ole Supuk admitted that the Hadzabe population  is under threat due to food insecurity, appealing to the government to supply the community with relief food as soon as possible.

Supuuk said that the major problem of Hadzabe is their traditional lifestyle, which does not encourage keeping food stocks.

“I think if they get eighty tones of maize it will help them until the high tourism season starts in earnest, normaly when tourists visit them they donate some money for their survival,” Supuk  added.

The Hadzabe, who live in small groups are believed to be less than 1,500 in total in Tanzania. This unique community is the closest cultural relative to the San Bushmen of the Kalahari in Botswana.

Naftal Zengu Kitandu, 58, a Hadzabe and Eshkesh  Ward civic leader, said the Hadzabe bush people's population has dwindled from 5,000 in 1990s to as few as 1,500 now.

"Invasion by other tribes from Mwanza, Karatu and Shinyanga who come along with herds of cattle and introduce farming in the valley, have been threatening the survival of the Hadza people who only depend on fruits, roots, honey and  small animals for survival," Mr. Kitandu explained.

The aliens' invasion, according to the Mongo-wa-Mono Ward representative, Mr. Bryson Magombe, has been destructive to the environment leading to the disappearance of most wild animal species, natural vegetation and water sources thus endangering the lives of the Hadza.





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