Honeyguide is Africa’s Sweet Connection
Honeyguide is Africa’s Sweet Connection, as told to children in the storybook of the same name by Alana L. Jolley (yours truly) and illustrated by Patti Murphy. The sweet connection discussed is about a cultural connection. How so? When asked, “what is culture?” some scholars and authors venture into unknown academic territory, making culture hard to understand by the average person. The late Professor Merrifield, a mentor of mine for 20 years, gave me the best definition of culture in the fewest words. He said, “Culture is everyday life.” How simple is that?
Honeyguide and Culture
An article by Maya Wei-Haas, at Smithsonian.com, about Africa’s Honeyguide shows and tells about the relevance of passing down culture. It also explains in a unique way how culture is truly about everyday life in Mozambique in the Sub-Saharan Africa Global Village. See the Global Villages Map. The link below guides reader’s to the scientific role of this cultural connection between humans and a unique bird.
Yao Honey Hunters
It is not known how long the symbiotic relationship between this little bird and humans has been going on. However, the importance of it cannot be underestimated for the Yao honey hunters. The Yao are indigenous people who make a living using slash-and-burn farming methods. They grow corn and sorghum; and fish in the nearby Rovuma and Lugenda rivers. Some grow tobacco for cash. Fewer still, hunt for honey in the traditional way of their ancestors.
Africa’s Sweet Connection lets children in on the secrets of this ancient tradition, and how it is passed on to the young. Both mothers and fathers pass on their cultural realities about the small bird whose scientific name is indicator, indicator, but commonly known as Africa’s honeyguide. (Excerpts from the book.)
Science and the Honeyguide
The author of the Smithsonian article, Wei-Haas, says, “it wasn’t until the 1980’s that scientists got in on the game.” Yet, during my research, I was intrigued by an article in National Geographic by Herbert Friedmann, a renown ornithologist in the 1950’s. His article is more about science than anything else. In the following archival link we discover that the honeyguide also eats wax! Friedmann also gave us a glimpse of unusual nesting practices. (You may need to subscribe to the National Geographic website to access the archival link, but it is free.
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