A journey to explore the Maasai and the Hadzabe indigenous wisdom and natural healing in Tanzania
Päivitetty: 28. marras 2019
The Maasai spirituality
There are certain places in the world with undeniable energy, the power to stir our emotions, inspire reflection, or fill us with a sense of peace, and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is one of these places. As the Ngorongoro is a protected area, the government has placed restrictions on populations within it. The Maasai are the only people who are allowed to walk inside the Ngorongoro Crater as they live in a balance with the wildlife. They have a long history of living in the area. On this unique expedition, we have a chance to learn and observe their indigenous wisdom, and natural healing with a Maasai "laibon," who is a spiritual leader and medicine man.
“Among indigenous peoples there is a long tradition of solving human problems by learning from other species and from the wider nature”
Maasai life has no clock-time. Instead they life follow natural cycles and rhythms. Maasai's way of life is deeply rooted in traditions that they have been practicing in the same way for hundreds of years. The Maasai belief system is monotheistic. Their deity is called "Engai," and it has a dual nature. The most crucial figure in the Maasai religion is the laibon, the spiritual leader, and a medicine man. His role as a spiritual leader includes healing, divination, and prophecy. On this expedition, we have a rare opportunity to meet and interact with the Maasai laibon in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Laibon tells us about Maasai wisdom and natural healing. You have a unique chance to learn more about natural bush medication and natural healing. After visiting laibon, we have been invited to join Maasai warriors when they climb a mountain. Many Maasai ceremonies require visiting a sacred mountain for rituals and blessings by elders. We have a rare opportunity to see the ritual blessing of the Maasai women early in the morning before we join the warriors and climb the mountain. But we won't visit the sacred site. This trip is fully planned and designed by the Maasai themselves.
The Hadzabe wisdom
Hadzabe are hunter-gatherers who have lived in Lake Eyasi for thousands of years, which indicates that they have early origins. The Hadzabe don't call their spirituality as a religion. Instead, spirituality is an integral part of their culture and daily life. Hadzabe's spiritual beliefs are intimately associated with nature. They experience a connection to the earth, with the entirety of nature that is associated with it, that has become unknown to the western world as we try to separate ourselves from nature. The Hadzabe spirituality is based on a belief that every act of a humans needs to look after nature, an obligation which has been passed down as law for thousands of years.
The Hadzabe's most sacred ritual is "epeme" that consists of two parts; meat and a dance. The epeme dance is an essential ritual for the Hadzabe as it brings them together as a community. Epeme dance is needed in special times as it brings harmony among people and with the natural world. On this extraordinary expedition, you learn more about Hadzabe's ancient wisdom that is deeply rooted in nature. In the evenings, we gather around a slow-burning acacia fire to listen to our Hadzabe hosts singing, and storytelling under the African sky full of stars. We set up our bush camp next to the Hadzabe's huts.
We give back
Tourism can only be fair and responsible if it benefits the local people. Our mission is to help broader Maasai and Hadzabe communities. Maasai and Hadzabe live in very remote locations with no roads or electricity in Tanzania. Their traditional indigenous life has become tougher due to land loss that infects their traditional livelihood, which is based on hunting, gathering, and pastoralism. We gathered together with the Maasai and Hadzabe women to discuss what aid would they like to receive from our expeditions. The woman said that they would like to receive food, clean water, and have access to health services. Therefore, with every trip booked by us, we buy one health insurance for Maasai and Hadzabe families. The amount of health services depends on how many people we have per tour. But even one health insurance helps one family that consists of parents and their kids — last time we bought health insurance for eight families.
One of these families was Naomi's family, a Maasai woman who has seven children. Her oldest daughter gave birth inside a Maasai hut two years ago, but she passed away due to obstructed labor. She left behind Najesu, a sweet toddler. At the time we visited their hut, Najesu had fewer and ear infection, so we took her to the hospital with her new insurance. She got a remedy for the infection and basic vaccination. Najesu's mother, Naomi, promised that she would not allow any of her daughters to give birth in a hut anymore. By buying health insurance, we also try to educate to prevent diseases, avoid home deliveries, and to get their children vaccinated. Your trip can save someone's life.
On the last day of our trip, we organize a local market where Maasai and Hadzabe women can sell their handicrafts. This is a rare opportunity for women to get cash as we operate in rural areas where is no tourism. Women need money to buy food or medicine.
We believe in fair and sustainable tourism, which means that indigenous peoples take control of tourism that involves their ancestral lands and cultures. Therefore, this expedition is planned and provided by the Hadzabe and Maasai. The tour is facilitated by Visit Natives, which is a travel agency whose mission is to preserve indigenous cultures through small-scale sustainable tourism. Visit Natives was founded by Anniina Sandberg, who has an MA in African studies and a minor in cultural anthropology from the University of Helsinki. Anniina is a Swahili interpreter, and she speaks Maa language also.
Anniina's life journey took her to Tanzania, where she lived among the Maasai while she conducted her fieldwork. She lived in a Maasai "boma" for almost a year, and she participated in Maasai daily life as fetching water with donkeys, and milking cows, and goats. She slept in a Maasai hut on a bed made of sticks and covered by cow's skin together with her extended Maasai family that consisted of a Maasai mother and her six kids. She experienced their real life, shared their joys and struggles. Once Anniina got a high fever for several days and her Maasai family got worried. They took her to a local clinic by bicycle where she was diagnosed with malaria and typhoid fever. The doctor asked if she wanted to have a lift to the nearest local town, but Anniina refused. Her home was with the Maasai and she wanted to return with her medicines to people that cared for her. The Maasai made sure she recovered well by offering her local drink made of milk and fresh cow's blood.
Living with the Maasai changed Anniina's life profoundly and gave her new perspectives on life. She founded Visit Natives for her desire to preserve indigenous cultures and alleviate poverty through small-scale sustainable tourism that allows indigenous peoples to earn additional income. Because Anniina has lived among the Maasai and conducted anthropological fieldwork observing their rites of passage, she has a deep connection to the Maasai community that we visit. On this once-in-a-lifetime journey, you are welcomed to join special ceremonies and observe rituals that are not shared with other people out of their community in general.
Book this journey
We facilitate this expedition together with David Metcalf, who is a professional photographer and film producer. This is a fantastic opportunity to improve your photography skills and gain a deeper understanding of your camera with David's guidance. Travel dates: 3.-10, February 2020. The minimum number of travelers is four, the maximum is six. Bookings and more information here. Wake up soon in the savanna with us!