Tanzania: “extinct” tribe wins land rights

Tanzania’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribe won an unprecedented victory over development interests who claimed they were extinct, acquiring a certificate of “customary rights of occupancy” (CCRO) to their communal lands in the Yaeda Chini area of the Great Rift Valley. In announcing the move Oct. 30, Doroth Wanzala, assistant commissioner for land in Tanzania’s Northern Zone, said: “We have resolved that the Hadzabe should be given official title deeds to ensure that the country’s last hunter-gatherers are not troubled by land-hungry-invaders particularly in the wake of scramble for land.” The United Arab Emirates’ Safaris Ltd has been seeking to buy the 2,267 square kilometers of virgin bush in northern Tanzania for commercial hunting and tourism. The Hadzabe have resisted efforts to relocate them and “civilize” them since the 1960s by fleeing deeper into the bush.

Hadzabe, who live around the remote Lake Eyasi at the foot of the Serengeti Plateau, are estimated to number between 1,000 and 1,500. They live as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, one of the last remaining groups in Africa to do so. While traditionally classified with the Khoisan languages, primarily because it has clicks, the Hadzabe language is now thought to be an “isolate,” unrelated to any other. (IPP Media, Tanzania, The Citizen, The Citizen, Tanzania, Oct. 30)

See our last post on Tanzania, and our special report on Africa’s Indigenous Peoples.

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