The latest documentary series to hit Channel 4 screens, takes us to live with the Ethiopian Hamar tribe and it’s leading family. So what would you expect for a TV show like this? To be learning about strange customs and unique lifestyles of this East African country? Well, yes but what is most enjoyable are the many similarities you’ll see between us.
Throughout this series, you’ll see how grumpy-old-man tribe leader Ayke Muko mopes around complaining about how no-one is listening to him and how his bones ache. The show displays how his younger sons are most focused on engaging with members of the opposite sex and proving themselves as competent adults to their father. We see how the teenage daughter Hacho rebels against her parents, as she tries to come to terms with coming of age. These situations could be happening anywhere but they become epic when set upon the backdrop of Ethiopian arid terrain.
Sure there are many differences. The Hamar tribe live socially. Many families come together and even other tribes visit and stay over. Here in the developed world, we are more likely to want our own space and privacy. It is perhaps a consequence of our economic system, driving an ‘every man for themselves’ attitude for us. In the dessert, these people depend on each other to survive and they find strength in numbers. After all, the tribe in the oldest and longest surviving way of life on planet earth. Would you bet against this way of life outliving capitalism? Our economic system is just 400 years old, tribes have been around for tens of thousands of years. In our system we use I-O-U slips that promise gold as currency called money, in theirs they use the more tangible currency of goats.
Across this documentary series, there are many fascinating moments. It is an incredibly human series that with an open mind we can all learn lots from – about the Hamar tribe, people in general but also about ourselves.
Watch the full series of The Tribe courtesy of Channel 4 here.