Meeting the San Bushmen

Today we left the Okovango Delta and made our way to the town of Ghanzi, known as “the capital of the Kalahari Desert”, the largest continuous stretch of sand in the world. With that said, you can imagine the vastness and aridity that characterise this area. Also, it is freaking hot! Currently it is leading towards the end of the hot summer season, with temperatures around 40 degrees during the day and not much of a cooling down at night either.

So now imagine, it is early afternoon and the sun is burning down. You are standing in the middle of nowhere, just bushland around you, dry spiky plants everywhere. Everything is shallow, allowing you to see far into the vast area. This is the setting, in which we met the San. 1

These traditional hunter-gatherers are believed to be the original inhabitants of southern Africa and one of the populations from which all modern humans descend, and their culture is just as vibrant today.

They have been the most lovely people, proudly telling us about their culture and traditions. San women often act as the leaders of their family unit and are not required to be gatherers – many hunt too! It is an incredibly important part of San upbringing that their children’s only responsibility is to play and explore, because they view youth as an important time to enjoy life’s many offerings.3They have introduced us to some the many practices, they have developed in order to be able to sustain themselves in this tough habitat. Those included finding water, stored in the roots of particular plants or making medicine out of the leaves of others. They showed us how they use big egg shells containers to store water and how to make fire using two sticks. There is so much knowledge in these people and you could feel how deeply linked they are to our nature.

I was absolutely fascinated by their way of talking. They communicate through a variety of distinct languages that are all based on various clicking sounds, making it sound extremely unfamiliar and extraordinary. I’ll put a video up, as soon as i’ve got the opportunity.

While the San Bushmen are lively people who honor their culture, they sadly are not free from modern struggles. They have been oppressed, been evicted from their land and had to feel the force of society to conform to more modern practices. Regardless, they continue to protect and live off the incredible land they love and have called home for thousands of years, the Kalahari Desert.

 

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