Language of the Land: Living among the Adzabe in Africa

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A rare adventure with the last Stone Age hunting and gathering tribe in Africa.

In l997 James Stephenson arranged to have almost a full year free, a year he wanted to spend among the Hadzabe in East Africa. He had visited these people several times previously and with every trip his fascination with them deepened, for the Hadzabe are the last hunters and gatherers still living a traditional life in Africa.

At the age of 27, Stephenson intended ...

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Overview

A rare adventure with the last Stone Age hunting and gathering tribe in Africa.

In l997 James Stephenson arranged to have almost a full year free, a year he wanted to spend among the Hadzabe in East Africa. He had visited these people several times previously and with every trip his fascination with them deepened, for the Hadzabe are the last hunters and gatherers still living a traditional life in Africa.

At the age of 27, Stephenson intended to spend the year living among the Hadzabe, and, more importantly, living their life, hunting what they hunted, eating what they ate, participating in their dances and ceremonies, consulting with their medicine men and learning their myths and dreams.

Armed only with his camera, his art supplies and the open-hearted courage of youth, he set out to visit with a people who have changed little since the Stone Age. He wanted to glimpse the world as they perceived it and learn the wisdom they had wrestled from the land. This account of his adventure and what he learned is travel writing at its best, reminiscent of the books of Peter Beard and Bruce Chatwin.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
At the age of 27 the author arranged to take a year off from his terrace gardening business in New York City to spend it with the Hadzabe in East Africa, a people said to be the last hunter-gatherers in Africa. One of many trips he had and would take, this nine-month sojourn was undertaken to document the Hadzabe with pen, camera, and art supplies<-->the products of all these media presented in the book.This is travel literature in the tradition of Bruce Chatwin and Peter Beard. No index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312241070
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1900
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 9.78 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

James Stephenson received his B.A. in English Literature at Ohio State University, and studied at the Rhode Island School for Design. Currently working as a landscape artist in New York City, where he designs rooftop gardens, Stephenson lives in Brooklyn and Tanzania, East Africa.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Preface ix
1 Arrival 1
2 Dream of the Lion Mother 17
3 Following Lions 39
4 A Night in Mang'ola 57
5 Search for Nudulungu 81
6 The Mountain of Nudulungu and the Ancestor Spirits 113
7 The Coming of the Rains 133
8 The Search for the Rock Paintings 157
9 The Little Girl 183
10 Departure 201
Epilogue 203
Portfolio 207
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2000

    A Compelling Portrait

    In 'Language of the Land' James Stephenson tells a compelling story of his life among the Haszabe. He celebrates the nobility of this people at the same time exposing the specter of modern civilization and it's potential impact on them. Mr. Stephenson's immersion into the very soul of the Hadzabe makes for excellent reading. His descriptions are vivid and his perceptions poetic. His friends and guides became my friends, his fear mine. I could smell the blood of freshly slaughtered game; feel the second wind of survival. His experience not only took him into the day-to-day existence of the Hadzabe but also their spirit world and ultimately a journey into his own mythology. The accounts of his adventures made me acutely aware of the thin edge we all live on. I admire his courage and appreciate his gift of this story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2000

    Africa itself awaits you...

    James Stephenson combines an extarodinary adventure with a poetic sensibility in this work that is rare indeed. Interested readers will find _The Language of the Land_ a window to a world as old and as sacred as human memory itself, simultaneously intimate and expansive. I found myself laughing at the exploits of James and the hunters Mustaffa and Sabina and others in their wild celebrations after the hunts, short of breath on the safaris where they passed within feet of lions and warned them off with medicine, and completely caught up in the intricate, tattered tapestry of Africa Mr. Stephenson reveals here. This book is beautifully produced, and Mr. Stephenson's narrative is combined with photographs of the African bush outsiders will never, one hopes, actually ever see. It also combines what surely must be the first ever collaborative art between a Westerner and the Hadzabe, several works of which are included in a stunning portfolio of color plates at the end of the book. If you have an interest in human history, Africa and its peoples, strong poetic prose, or a story which is piercingly important at this point in our world, then you need to get this book, read and experience it, and then pass it on to your children.

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