Lake Eyasi – the Hadzabe and Datoga
Lake Eyasi is a very scenic soda lake found on the southern border of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, a couple of hours drive from Karatu. This less visited lake lies at the base of the Eyasi escarpment on the western Great Rift Valley wall, bordered by the Eyasi Escarpment in the northwest and the Kidero Mountains in the south.
This is a hot, dry land, around which live the Hadzabe people, often associated with the Khoisan languages in Southern Africa because of their click language. The Hadzabe are believed to have lived here for nearly 10,000 years and continue to follow hunting-and-gathering traditions. Also in the area are the Iraqw (Mbulu), a people of Cushitic origin who arrived about 2000 years ago, as well as the Datoga also Cushitic, the Maasai and various Bantu groups including the Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, Chaga and Meru. The area is Tanzania’s main onion-growing centre, and there are impressive irrigation systems along the Chemchem River drawing its water from natural springs.
The Hadzabe, a hunter-gatherer tribe, live close to the shores of Lake Eyasi, as do the Nilotic-speaking Datoga tribe who are pastoralists. Visits to these tribes are possible on half day or full day excursions which would include a visit to their homesteads, learning about their way of life, medicinal plants, and even animal tracking with bows and arrows with the Hadzabe hunters.
The Hadzabe – what you can learn from the Hadzabe
The Datoga – what you can learn from the Datoga
- Different kinds of materials being used to make arrows – arrow sticks, the preparation of poison and the point of poison in the arrow
- Processing poison from the poison tree
- Fruit, root tubers and honey collection
- Shallow wells prepared by women for water collection from the ground for home use
Barbeque preparation of fresh meat for the lucky days of hunting, normally about 2 -3 days of big kills per week but small kills are regular and common
How to make fire the traditional way, in the ancient hand-drill method using palms of the hands and two pieces of sticks / wood
Training and exercise in arrow shooting and targeting
Preparation of huts for the women (being made of branches of trees)
Studying the availability of animals for hunting and timing too, as hunting is normally done early morning, and at night for the baboons and traps – common animals are monkeys, baboons, dikdik, kudu, impala, guinea fowls
Life in the caves in the rainy season, and under trees in the dry season
- The monogamy practice for the marriage
- Training of youngsters in hunting & targeting
- General life style of the Datoga
- How mud & cow dung huts are being prepared by women
- Preparation of the boma ( the cattle fence)
- Learning the way men and women dress
Learning the art of women like jewellery making – e.g. necklaces, bracelets, beads, skin skirts etc
Learn about black smiths, weapons & weapon making
Cow milking and preparation of local butter
- Learn the history of polygamy in the Datoga tribe
Flour making by women using grinding stones
Preparation of “gissuda” – a local beer – for ceremonies, weddings, prayers to gods & ancestors. The type of honey used is absolutely natural and women are not allowed to drink this local beer made out of honey & some natural tubers.
Learn the history of underground springs in Lake Eyasi, these springs have the extension of about 1km forming Chemchem River which sustain all irrigation in the basin
The tribes who farm the Lake Eyasi basin include the native Iraqw, the Nyakyusa, Nyamwezi, Chagga, Meru mostly living around the main settlement in the area .Crops being grown around Lake Eyasi include maize, cassava, bananas, potatoes, beans, and onions which is the chief commercial produce found in irrigated farms