Hadzabe or Hadza are a Tanzanian ethnic group living around a lake called Eyasi located in the Rift Valley and Serengeti Plateau. They are called Wahadzabe in the Swahili language and they are mostly found in the Southwest district of Karatu in Arusha Region.
A census of 1,200 and 1,300 Hadza people living in Tanzania was taken in 2015, although nearly 400 of the Hadza people are still living based on the traditional means of foraging which is gathering food or edibles through local means.
They speak the ‘Hadzane’ language that is entirely oral and unrelated to any other, although the Hadza people were once grouped under the Khosian language because it has clicks. Hadzane is considered to be a way of differentiating who is and is not a part of the Hadza people. In recent times, Most Hadza people have learned a second language and the national language of Tanzania known as Swahili.
The oral history of the Hadza people is divided into four stages with each stage inhabited by a different culture. In one of the traditions, they believed that in the beginning of time, the world was inhabited by hairy giants called the ‘akakaanebee’ known as the ‘first ones’ or ‘geranebee’ the ‘ancient one’. Just like the Hadza people live in the dry season today, the akakaanebee did not build shelters and hunted animals down by running after it until it fell dead and ate it raw because they did not possess tools or fire. They slept under trees. The older version of this story tells that fire was not used because they believed that it was naturally impossible in the earth’s ancient state. However young Hadza say that the ancient ones were simply not exposed.
In the second era, the ‘xhaaxhaanebee’ known as the ‘in-between ones’ succeeded the ‘akakaanebee’. They were also giants but without hair. Animals had become cautious of humans as they had to be hunted with dogs but the fire could be made and used to cook meat. They lived in caves and were believed to be the first people to use medicine and charms to protect themselves from enemies. They started the “epeme rite”.
In the third era, the ‘hamakwanebee’ “recent days” were smaller than their predecessors. Bows and arrows, and containers for cooking were invented. They mastered the use of fire. They lived in huts built like those of today’s Hadza people. Because of their contact with non-foraging people, they were able to make knives and arrowheads from traded iron. They were the first Hadza ancestors to meet the non-foraging people. They also created the gambling game called “lukuchuko”.
In the fourth era, it is inhabited by the ‘hamayishonebee’ known as “those of today” and it continues today. Talking about this era, people are more specific of the names and places mentioned and they can outrightly say how many generations ago an event happened.
The Hadza people do not follow a formal religion as they do not believe in the afterlife.