Translator:Nyoi-Bo StudioEditor:Nyoi-Bo Studio
Li Du and his party’s camp was next to the Hadza tribe – actually, it was two or three
kilometers away, but the grassland was flat. At night, the fire burned brightly,
so they could see each other.
Early in the morning, the sky was just turning lighter. The night was not quite gone. The
stars were still shining in the sky, emitting a pale glow.
However, in the east, the morning sun was about to rise. The eastern horizon was
growing brighter with every moment, and the sun would show before long.
Li Du was used to getting up early to exercise. When he went out of the tent, Brother
Wolf in the tent next to him was awake too. He stretched and made several punches to
relax his muscles and tendons.
Ali saw it, jumped over and followed his rhythm with its fists. It looked very serious
learning the punches.
Li Du was ready to go for his morning jog. In the winter of the South African prairie, the
morning was still a little cold. As Li Du jogged, the cool breeze blew in his face, bringing
the smell of dry grass with it, and the air was very fresh.
Some wild birds flew up in the air. Ready to look for bugs and worms, they were starting
their busy day.
Li Du turned toward the Hadza camp and, together with Brother Wolf, ran for a while
until he met Cheeks.
Cheeks was having a morning jog too, together with some of the kids from his tribe. He
waved when he saw Li Du and said, “It’s a nice coincidence that we met so early. Are
you interested in visiting our tribe?”
Li Du smiled and said, “Won’t I disturb you?”
“You are very welcome. Our people have never met a Chinese, and they don’t even
know that there is a civilized world outside of this continent,” said Cheeks.
Li Du asked Brother Wolf to go back and tell the others that he followed Cheeks to the
The day before, he had seen the strength of the Hadza. This tribe was considered large
among the Hadza, with about seventy tribesmen.
It was not easy to live on just the resources of the wild. Although the Hadza tribe moved
around in a nomadic lifestyle, they had limited freedom.
Without the government to subsidize them, they could only rely on their own resources
to make a living.
For Li Du and the others, hunting meant aiming at the prey and pulling the trigger, but
for Hadza people, who still lived in a largely primitive society, hunting was a big
To survive, the Hadza had to get up early and prepare to hunt for a day’s meal.
Li Du followed Cheeks to their camp, where more than thirty women and old men were
sitting around the flickering fire, keeping warm as they worked.
They did not live in tents. Not far off, some of the tribesmen were still sleeping down by
the campfire, with the sky as their tent and the ground as their bed.
At the sight of Li Du, some children showed surprise. They stuck their fingers in their
mouths or jumped up and down, ran to his side and looked at him curiously.
A child pointed at Li Du, turned around and shouted something to a woman behind him.
The woman frowned and scolded him, and the child cowered and ran back into the
“What did he say?” asked Li Du.
“He said your skin is like a lion’s,” chuckled Cheeks.
Li Du thought the comparison was quite good, and wondered, “Is that a bad thing? Why
did his mother yell at him?”
“That’s his grandmother, not his mother. She asked the kid to be quiet because the
hunters in the tribe are still sleeping. No one should disturb the tribe hunters,” explained
Li Du was surprised. The woman looked far too young to have such a big grandson.
When Cheeks returned, some people had suspended sticks over the fire, hung with
roasting meat and clumps of roots.
After a while, the smell of food filled the air, and the sleepy hunters woke up one after
another. They did not wash, but stretched themselves and sat by the campfire to eat.
A plump young woman took a stick and gave it to Li Du. She said in crude English,
“Hello, guest, please eat.”
Li Du thanked her and took the stick to gnaw on a piece of meat. He felt as this was a
barbeque party in his university campus. It was enjoyable.
The meat, however, did not taste that good. It had a fishy smell and was largely
unsalted and unseasoned, which was something Li Du was not used to.
Also, the roasted meat was dried, with no gravy or fat, and tasted very woody. Li Du had
difficulty chewing it.
The Hadza were very hospitable people, maybe because they were always on the
move, curious about the outside world and hoping to make more new friends. Li Du
instantly became very popular. Later in the morning, some people came over to propose
Their drink, a fruit wine they made themselves, looked cloudy and sour.
Li Du did not make a fuss, however, since it was clear that the Hadza were used to
drinking this wine with no ill effects. He saluted his hosts, raised his cup and drank.
This fruit wine didn’t smell very good, but it had a pleasant taste, like juice mixed with
alcohol. It was very strong, with a fruity aroma, and it tasted good at the first sip.
Li Du drained a cup in one gulp. The hunters laughed and nodded to him.
Cheeks covered Li Du’s head with an animal’s skull. Its upper part resembled a human
head, but the lower part was wider and had two hideous fangs.
Li Du tried to understand what animal the skull belonged to, remembered the words of
Brother Wolf, and asked, “Is this the skull of a baboon?”
“Yes, we Hadza give this as a gift to our guests,” said Cheeks, nodding with a smile.
Wearing a baboon skull, Li Du held a cup of wine in his left hand and a barbeque stick
in his right. It tasted of wilderness.
While the hunters ate, the old, the weak, the women and the children made tools and
prepared equipment for them, cooked lunch over open fires, and so on, busy and
orderly, with a sense of rhythm in life.
Li Du chewed the roast meat and asked Cheeks what they intended to do next. “How
long are you going to stay in this grassland? Where are you going?”
“For us Hadza, there are no seasons, just dry and rainy. We move around and collect
food when it is the dry season. When the rainy season comes, we move into the
burrows of the breadfruit tree to get away from the humidity and mud,” said Cheeks.
“We’re going to spend some time on this prairie, and then we’ll go north to look for
breadfruit trees and prepare for the rainy season.”
“You have received higher education and understand modern society. Why not lead
your tribe to reform? For example, build houses to live in during the rainy season,”
suggested Li Du.
Cheeks laughed and shook his head. “No, I have no right to do that. The tribe has
passed down many traditions that may not be modern, but are the key to our survival.”
He paused and went on, “I studied medicine. I can help people prevent and cure
diseases, but I cannot deny their right to go on with their traditions.”