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Traditional Hadza, like Onwas and his camp mates, live almost entirely free of possessions. The things they own—a cooking pot, a water container, an ax—can be wrapped in a blanket and carried over a shoulder. Hadza women gather berries and baobab fruit and dig edible tubers. Men collect honey and hunt. Nighttime baboon stalking is a group affair, conducted only a handful of times each year; typically, hunting is a solo pursuit. They will eat almost anything they can kill, from birds to wildebeest to zebras to buffalo. They dine on warthog and bush pig and hyrax. They love baboon; Onwas joked to me that a Hadza man cannot marry until he has killed five baboons. The chief exception is snakes. The Hadza hate snakes.

The poison the men smear on their arrowheads, made of the boiled sap of the desert rose, is powerful enough to bring down a giraffe. But it cannot kill a full-grown elephant. If hunters come across a recently dead elephant, they will crawl inside and cut out meat and organs and fat and cook them over a fire. Sometimes, rather than drag a large animal back to camp, the entire camp will move to the carcass.

Hadza camps are loose affiliations of relatives and in-laws and friends. Each camp has a few core members—Onwas's two sons, Giga and Ngaola, are often with him—but most others come and go as they please. The Hadza recognize no official leaders. Camps are tra­ditionally named after a senior male (hence, Onwas's camp), but this honor does not confer any particular power. Individual autonomy is the hallmark of the Hadza. No Hadza adult has authority over any other. None has more wealth; or, rather, they all have no wealth. There are few social obligations—no birthdays, no religious holidays, no anniversaries.

People sleep whenever they want. Some stay up much of the night and doze during the heat of the day. Dawn and dusk are the prime hunting times; otherwise, the men often hang out in camp, straightening arrow shafts, whittling bows, making bowstrings out of the ligaments of giraffes or impalas, hammering nails into arrow­heads. They trade honey for the nails and for colorful plastic and glass beads that the women fashion into necklaces. If a man receives one as a gift, it's a good sign he has a female admirer.

There are no wedding ceremonies. A couple that sleeps at the same fire for a while may eventually refer to themselves as married. Most of the Hadza I met, men and women alike, were serial monogamists, changing spouses every few years. Onwas is an exception; he and his wife, Mille, have been with each other all their adult lives, and they have seven living children and several grandchildren. There was a bevy of children in the camp, with the resident grandmother, a tiny, cheerful lady named Nsalu, running a sort of day care while the adults were in the bush. Except for breast-feeding infants, it was hard to determine which kids belonged to which parents.

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