Cultures of Tanzania

Posted: March 23, 2015

Over the past two weeks we have had so many amazing cultural experiences that have helped us to understand the differences of the tribes in Tanzania. Last week we spent the day with the Hadzabe and Datoga tribes. The Hadzabe are the last hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania. They taught us how they make fires, how they hunt using bow and arrows, and some of their traditional dances. They then showed us some of the plants that they get tubers from to eat as a supplement for water. Learning that people still live like this off the land and the wildlife really adds to our understanding of why conservation is such an important issue here, and around the world.

Later in the day we went to visit a family of the Datoga tribe. They are known principally for their metalworking. They showed us how they melt down metals to make arrowheads and bracelets that they sell. It was interesting to see the stark difference in the way that these two tribes live, and yet how rich both of their cultures are.

On Thursday we spent the day at a Maasai boma. This was one of my favorite days in the program so far. They showed us a typical day for them which included retrieving water and firewood, they made us some soup of out of tree roots, and taught us how to make the bracelets and necklaces that they wear. We also learned some of their traditional dances and how they make their houses out of cow dung, dirt, and water. By the end of the day we all felt like a part of their family and everyone in the group agreed that it was a truly eye-opening and amazing day.

Seeing these three cultures was an incredible experience. Taking what we have learned in classroom lectures about them, and then going and spending the day actually experiencing how they live is such a unique way of learning and one of my favorite parts of this program. The discussion sparked about the possible effects of cultural tourism on these tribes has been really thought-provoking as well. So many of the students here are incredibly intelligent and it’s been wonderful to have classes that are discussion-based to be able to learn not only from our professors, but from each other as well.

This week we are all busy starting work on our Directed Research project proposals and looking forward to our much-anticipated expedition to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater next week!