Hunting Baboon With the Hadzabe
TEDx Dare: Life lessons from Africa’s remote tribes.
Never before has our world been so connected or convenient. With the click of a button we can change the channel, drop the heat or book a trip to Barbados. Our food is grown, produced and plated-up to our exact liking. Drive-thrus, home deliveries, medical advances and the right to education.
In a short space of time, life has transformed to one of convenience. So why are we so stressed, overweight and dreaming of being free? Have we forgotten something our ancestors knew? Africa's Hadza tribe is the closest we'll get to looking into that past.
Because through travel and talking and interviewing people all over the place, I have learnt the greatest life lessons.
The first lesson:
1. There’s no such thing as normal. We, as humans, are all so wonderfully different, yet in so many ways, we are exactly the same.
There are obviously language barriers and stark cultural differences, but I’ve learnt that we all have a similar desire for happiness, health, peace and joy, and a need to get through life the best we can.
Here’s my example: The Suri Tribe – on the border of Ethiopia and South Sudan – one of the most treacherous and isolated locations on Earth.
Johnny Cash and the Train to Mashhad
We found ourselves back at the monastery later that night feeling rather daunted.
The master monk arrived, pulled out his iPhone, and asked if it was ok if he recorded his meditation.
'You should feel the breath on your nostrils... and then on the top of your lip. If your back hurts or your legs cramp, just quietly observe these feelings and keep breathing. Let go of your attachments and fears. Forget your ego. The secret to happiness is mindfulness. We must be aware of our words, our deeds and our thoughts. Mindfulness is greater than any God in the Universe. Breathe in... and out.'
Dutch Aussie African
After 7 hours of staring, I asked if he would like to listen to some music, which his parents approved. For 15 minutes he had his first taste of Johnny Cash, Led Zeppelin, Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. I hope the smile on his face indicated he was influenced by this music in same way I was at his age. I got this photo of Assa, as the train stopped for prayer time for 20 minutes.
Bulljumping with the Hamer Tribe
‘Skin colour was also a big topic. The students wanted to know why some people have dark skin while others have light skin. The first reaction was, "Because we live in the Netherlands!" But with two kids in the class having an African dad, who was born and raised in the Netherlands, a discussion was inevitable. "That can't be true! Look at us. We are a little brown too! And we live here!" The kids looked at them and started thinking.’
Love in the Time of Malaria
The Hamer is the Omo Valley’s largest tribe. It has a long and staunch history of tradition and ceremonies.
For young men, the bulljump is their gateway into manhood. The ultimate challenge. In this age-old ceremony, the male (normally around 15) is required to shave off most of his hair, strip naked and then run over the backs of six or more bulls, four times.
A successful attempt means the young man is given an AK-47 and is considered man enough to marry and raise a family.
A Quick Guide to Life
Stepping into the wild unknown with your partner can end in two ways – blissfully well as you sail into the sunset, or badly... very badly. Thankfully our story has a happy ending, despite a series of military coups, a filthy dose of malaria and an almost deadly scorpion sting.
It was never going to be an easy journey. Here we were, two television producers suffering from a case of wanderlust, taking a year out from busy careers to explore the dark depths of Africa. We carried little more than our cameras. Our goal was clear – live alongside Africa's most endangered and isolated tribes in places like Ethiopia and South Sudan - and try not to kill each other in the process.
S: Do you do yoga? Everyone here seems to do yoga.
R: Of course. My dad taught me when I was little. I do it every morning with meditation. Calm, cool mind is important. You must focus on your Third Eye.
S: What do you wear?
R: What do you mean?
S: What clothes do you wear for yoga?
R: Anything. But not tight jeans. That is silly.
S: What do you eat? Are you vegetarian?
R: I eat what my body tells me to. I don't like to eat a lot. Too many people eat McDonalds and Dominos and they blow themselves up at the gym like a balloon. Not me. I listen to my body. If there is meat in front of me, I may eat it because one day I will be old and have no teeth, and I will think why didn't I eat that meat.
S: What about women Raju?
R: Women are good. It is good that God created beautiful women. I see that. But beauty is on the inside. The most beautiful women in the world are the ones who are so big and bright on the inside.
The Rise in Women Travelling Solo
So I step inside today's LA class and head for the back of the room. I'm between a stoner surfer in his 60's who wears a beanie and later an orange headband, and a young meticulously chiselled dancer who wears aviator sunnies the entire time. In front, a middle-aged guy wearing Speedos...and nothing else, and sprinkled throughout the class are ex-Home and Away star lookalikes plus Ryan Kwanten, who actually is an ex-Home and Away star. There's also an Ethiopian model, a fiercely cut lesbian with a pink mohawk and a Charlotte from SATC-style mum. The instructor is totally gorgeous and so LA.
'Breathe in. Cook it. Exhale.'
'Just chill in your dog for three breaths.'
'Left arm over right and twist towards Malibu...swap and then to Venice.'
The Speedo guy constantly breaks into random headstands while we're meant to be in Child's Pose. The dancer has her left leg to the ceiling giving the stoner a heart attack.
And then you know at the end when you're meant to say OMMM together, and everyone is suddenly shy and awkward, not wanting to sing first?? Well, none of that. It was like an X Factor final.
So LA and so much fun. I'm coming back tomorrow.
During my time in Colombia with World Nomads I interviewed a number of badass solo women travellers. Women of all ages from all over the world, choosing to pack their bags and set sail on their own.
These women are inquisitive, adventurous, normal and know how to stay safe. They told me the appeal of going without friends or family was in the true sense of freedom it allowed. They could also be pushed outside their comfort zones and feel a boost in confidence and accomplishment upon their return home.