Family Tie: The Four Sides of Webster

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DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is what makes everyone on earth unique. DNA can separate different groups of people, but it can also bring people together. In the travelogue Meeting the Family: One Man’s Journey Through His Human Ancestry, the author Donovan Webster discovers that he shares DNA with four different groups of people, including the Hadzabe Bushmen of Tanzania, Lebanese Arabs, tribal Uzbeks of central Asia, and Spanish Basques.

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These groups are vastly different from one another, and yet they face similar issues. Each of these peoples must determine how to make a living in this contemporary world to survive. These groups, that all exist in one person, have had to face modern pressures and social issues to survive in the modern age, including finding clean drinking water, technological advancements, and violent terrorist organizations.

The first part of Webster’s trip was the Great Rift Valley in Tanzania, home of the Hadzabe Bushmen. This is where he met Julius, a man whom he is distantly related to. Both men share the M168 marker. Julius showed Webster the way of life in the Hadzabe tribe. The Hadzabe people make a living by hunting and gathering. Julius said that they prefer to “live purely inside nature,” and not partake in manufacturing, farming or husbandry. Most parents do not send their children to school because they do not wish for their children to sleep under metal roofs. Even water is something they prefer to get from rivers or streams, although they have a cistern for water on their land that was built by the Tanzanian government. Since the water has gone through the metal, they prefer not to drink it. This purely natural lifestyle is quite unique to the Hadzabe people, especially when compared to the other three groups that Webster is related to. Hunting and gathering would not be considered a modern lifestyle by most people. Some people wonder why the Hadzabe continue to live this way even though the world is now full of new inventions and technologies.

The explanation is simple: although not many people still hunt and gather, it is something that has worked for the Hadzabe people for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, so they do not feel the need to change. One could argue that their resistance to change is why the Tanzanian government protects the land the Hadzabe tribe lives on. With the huge population explosion and technological changes, the Hadzabe are left as some of the last hunter gatherers in Africa. The government feels that they need to protect their land to preserve their nearly extinct way of life and culture. One problem faced by the Hadzabe tribe is that other tribes such as the Datoga and the Masai are on their land illegally. This is a major problem for the Hadzabe because these other tribes are allowing their animals to graze in their fields,

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