Australian anthropologist who became a tribal by choice

Raj Gonds, Kolams and Pardhans residing in the village and neighbouring hamlets paid rich tribute to him commemorating his contributions for the upliftment of their communities.

By Author   |   Published: 11th Jan 2017   12:30 am Updated: 11th Jan 2017   7:47 pm
Haimendorf
Australian anthropologist Prof. Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf, his wife Elizabeth and documentary flim-maker Micheal Yorke along with some tribals of Ginnedhari village in Tiryani mandal. Photo: Arrangement

Kumram Bheem Asifabad: The local people and tribes of Marlavai village in Jainoor observed the 30th death anniversary of Australian anthropologist Prof Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf on Wednesday.

Haimendorf along with his wife Elizabeth settled in Marlavai decades ago when the then Nizam asked him to study the reasons of unrest among aboriginal tribal communities of erstwhile Adilabad district following the martyrdom of legend Kumram Bheem in 1940s. The couple researched the customs, cultures and traditions of the Raj Gonds.

“Australian anthropologist Prof Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf was a Christian. But he became a tribal by choice. He adopted the lifestyle of the adivasis dwelling in Adilabad district. He named his children after the elders of our community,” said Kanaka Ambaji Rao, a contract residential teacher of Marlavai in Jainoor mandal and district president of Haimendorf Youth Association.

Raj Gonds, Kolams and Pardhans residing in the village and neighbouring hamlets paid rich tribute to him commemorating his contributions for the upliftment of their communities. They performed rituals that are practised by adivasis during death anniversaries.

Over a period of time, the researcher couple gelled with the tribal people and meticulously followed the customs of the Gonds. He named his son after Lachchu Patel, an elder of the village. “Haimendorf followed the lifestyle and customs of adivasis. But, some persons are trying to convert tribals into Christians these days. He had showed unrequited love towards our communities. He had recognized richness of tribal culture. We need to carry forward his legacy,” Ambaji Rao said.

Haimendorf wanted to be cremated in the village and accordingly, the people built tombs of the couple.

To keep preserve his legacy the people formed the Haimendorf Youth Association few years ago.