Today we got another early start (6:00 a.m.) and drove to an indigenous tribe of “bush people” called Hadzabe. They are nearly extinct – only about 1700 left in two communities. They live in stick huts and in caves when it rains. They hunt and migrate, although I think the migration has ended and they move only slightly within their now, new national park.
David, our official guide, interpreted their culture and their language. For about 90 minutes or so we watched them do a sampling of their daily tasks, including hunt, make fire and harvesting root vegetables. It was fascinating – especially to see their ingenuity in making and using common items for other than their intended purposes.
Since they hunt with bow and arrow, we saw them making bows from branches and heard how they use animal tendons for the strings on their bows. They seem to eek out a living while making a life holding true to their beliefs.
After we left, we went to the edge of the park and saw a family camp of the Detoga tribe. These folks are a little less primitive, but they do live in mud huts with no plumbing or electricity. What they do well is to barter for what they need and make what others need. The Detogas are master blacksmiths. They collect and buy spare metal and then melt it and reshape it into a variety of items. They are particularly skilled at making the arrowheads that the Hadzabes need for their arrows. They also make jewelry to sell at markets or to barter with neighbors.
It was amazing to watch this family, with a small charcoal fire, take a brass pipe fitting and melt it in a few short minutes. At the same time the craftsman was pounding, shaping and cutting an arrow – one so perfectly lethal it brought chills to hold it!
The entirety of the day’s experience reminded me a bit of how the “Old West” would have been in America in the 1850s.
As a pastor I’ve learned over the years from Depression Era folks that “nothing was ever wasted.” Seeing this mentality in full display really gave me an appreciation for what that is like. I’ve also heard from our daughter that in the Twin Cities they have many “repurposing” centers for used home-building items. Old fixtures and other things are finding their way into “retro” spaces. The next generation is also into “thrifting,” namely buying the majority of their clothes at Thrift Shops. Some are even swapping clothes in community.
It seems that maybe things are coming full-circle. Old things are being made new by being “repurposed.” Jesus certainly preached often on newness of life. The prophetic word in Revelation is that “all things will be made new” (Rev 21:5) when God’s Kingdom comes.
I certainly hope that this is how it works. I’m excited that, by my faith, God can “repurpose” me. I often experience this and I hope you do. I believe that I’m never quite used up. God has something that I can do, even if it is only a kind word or a prayer said for someone else.
Thinking about that fire, it certainly was hot and yet it made pure the brass. I remember the times when I’ve felt burned by life. From this vantage point today those events certainly purified me. Hurts can melt away our junk and make us malleable for God’s use. Life can pound on us. Hopefully, we can be reshaped into what God wants for us. What “repurpose” have you found?
Pastor Greg Bouvier