Dress for success


We have previously mentioned the current predicament of the Hadza. Here is an article in the Daily Mail, Face to face with Stone Age man: The Hadzabe tribe of Tanzania.

Ah, journalists. The Hadza don’t live in the Stone Age. “Hadzabe” is the feminine plural of “Hadza”; this usage is usually considered redundant in English, so we speak of the “Swahili”, not the “Waswahili”. The journalist writes,

I introduced myself and Naftal translated my words into clicks and whistles to an older Hadza called Gonga (Good Hunter in Swahili).

He smiled warmly, revealing surprisingly well-kept teeth.

The Hadza language, like many language in Southern Africa, use clicks as consonants, but no whistles.

There is a picture of the journalist in the article. He has surprising well-kept teeth for a British journalist.

What is interesting about the picture is that the young Hadza man is dressed up for the tourism business. Hadza men don’t usually use animal skins for clothing, and they certainly don’t use hoods. A hood makes no sense in the environment in which the Hadza live. There are photographs of the Hadza dating back to the 1930s, taken by Ludwig Kohl-Larsen, and there are later photographs taken by James Woodburn and others.

It is clear that increasing use of skins and also beads is a response to tourism. The Hadza are now on the tourism circuit. They put on their faux-traditional outfits for the benefit of tourists, and take them off when the tourists have left.

If that provides more income, why not? One danger is that government officials will find it embarrassing that there are people walking about in hides and skins, and will do little to help the Hadza with the biggest problem they face, loss of control and ownership of their lands.


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