to the Bushmen
Victory in Botswana
Situation in Botswana may not yet be resolved with the Botswana
Government taking obstructive action against Bushmen trying
to return to the Central Kalahari Reserve. This is despite
the landslide legal victory allowing them access to the lands
they were evicted from.
The latest episode in the Saga is a legal restriction on them
using Borehole water in the CKGR. There is no logical reason
for this except to obstruct the peoples legitimate rights.
This is being appealed by the Bushmen so the Court battles
Botswana still basks in the glory of World applause as the
"Most Successful Democracy in Africa". The trouble
is these accolades shelter them from International scrutiny
in their many human rights abuses. Not as extreme as some
of our African Basket cases but they are very guilty of grinding
down the resolve of a people that have limited power to fight
Your involvement is important, as was the Worldwide campaign
to educate people on the Bloody Legacy of Diamonds. Check
out the "Organisations"
listed. They all work on different levels, from fairly radical
to a more philanthropic/humanitarian approach. If
you feel strongly about the rights of the Indigenous Peoples
of the World, this is a good place to start - You are bound
to find one that suits your personal belief system.
could also Subscribe to the Survival
International' newsletter to get a minute by
minute update on developments Worldwide. (They are completely
safe - you do not get any other Junk Mail or unsolicited pleas
for donations etc.)
are touched with sadness as I have watched these people catapulted
into the modern world at a pace too fast for successful assimilation.
Inevitable changes have been forced upon them, sometimes in the
name of modernisation or for purely political and commercial objectives.
Rarely were they given the opportunity to adjust and adapt at a
more organic pace that may well have resulted in successful transitions.
A pace where they can adapt without a total breakdown of their social
& cultural foundations.
debate about these changes continue to rage, while the very subject
of that discussion disintegrates around them. These people really
are in their twilight years, as the last cohesive bands of Bushmen
dissolve and fade into the African dust. Although I am angered by
many activities, this Website is not intended as a critical assessment
of the different opinions and strategies applied, but merely as
a beginners introduction to a culture worthy of greater respect
and to encourage active dialogue and a better understanding of the
few remaining old world cultures.
I am not a preservationist that is intent, at all costs, on them
being preserved as some kind of romantic legacy but I do believe
that, where circumstances allow, they should be left to determine
their own course of action. Where that is impossible, I want them
to be offered genuine opportunities and the right to determine what,
if any changes they wish to make with dignity & respect. I am
certain that I would upset a few 'Social Scientists' but I also
believe that, in the face of rabid change, they need shielding or
protecting from the more predatory elements of our amoral and greedy
Another very important objective of this Website is to change the
Modern World perception of a 'Nobel Primitive' to one of Respect.
One that fully appreciates their unique environmental knowledge
and to understand the inherent strengths of a socio/economic system
that has lasted 10,000+ years relatively unchanged. Not a weakness
but a strength we may yearn for sometime in the near future.
are the Bushmen?
a tapestry of mystique and legend, the Bushmen have been known by
many names throughout recorded history. This is an attempt to strip
away some of the romantic notions and show them as a real people
facing outside pressures in a very real and often harsh world. Although
the most studied anthropological group in the world, there are still
many misconceptions concerning them, not least of them the beliefs
that they are just another African Tribe, that they are truly Nomadic
(in the same manner as the Bedouin), that they all speak a common
tongue and that those living in the deserts were driven there by
white settlers. Many of these beliefs can be rooted in ignorance,
prejudice & inaccurate observations by early settlers and explorers
while many other misconceptions, although having some small underlying
element of truth, are fundamentally misleading and inaccurate.
often referred to as the San or the generic term Khoisan, are the
remnants of world's oldest cultural group, genetically the closest
surviving people to the original Homo-Sapien apex from which we
all emerged. The 'So called' African Eve & Adam. They formed
the branch that remained in Africa and, despite their light skin,
the Negroid branches emerged. They
are small in stature generally with light yellowish skin, which
wrinkles very early in life. Despite the later massive expansion
of the pastoral and agrarian tribal cultures, those Bushman groups
that utilised environments that were unsuitable for farming, survived
until fairly recently with a high level of genetic purity.
anyone shouts about my racial stereotyping let us remember that
from the African branches that went North & East, emerged all
the other traditional racial classifications like Oriental, Indo-European
etc. The world is made up of a Myriad dispersion and fusion of peoples
but we all originate from that same African Apex.
hunter/gatherers, with traditionally about 70/80% of their diet
consisting of plant food, including berries, nuts, roots and
melons gathered primarily by the women. The remaining 20/30% was
meat, hunted by the men, using poisoned arrows and spears. Their
hunting & gathering economy and social structure had remained
virtually unchanged for tens of thousands of years until very
recently, a socio-economic culture that has sustained mankind
universally during their evolution until the advent of
agriculture. The Bushmen did not farm or keep livestock, having no
concept of the ownership of land or animal.
structure is not Tribal because they have no overt leadership and
their ties of kinship are fairly relaxed. They are a loosely knit
family culture where decisions are made by universal discussion
and agreement by consensus. An individual's opinion is naturally
weighted according to their level of skill and experience in the
particular field of discussion but everyone has the right to enter
discussion & negotiation.
a clan would speak a common language but neighboring clans would
often speak a different tongue, although there would normally be
a fair degree of similarity & understanding between them. As
you will appreciate, the further afield the clans, the less commonality
in language and vocabulary. Get a better idea from the Families
& Clans Page, which explains the broad Khoisan language
generally nomadic within fairly limited boundaries, governed by
the proximity of other families & clans and the availability
of food. As a very loose guideline, the territory of a family may
stretch to a 25-mile circle. Obviously, if there are no other bordering
clans or other people these areas may stretch further, as far as
is needed to ensure adequate food and water sources.
The roles of
men & women were very distinct and rarely overlap, which is
a characteristic almost universal amongst hunter/gatherers the world
over. It based on survival needs encouraging the most efficient
utilisation of available skills and resources. Despite what is often
perceived as a very sexist society, the importance of women is very
high within the group and their opinions often take precedence,
particularly where food is concerned.
It is very difficult
today to find genetically pure lines, but in some areas groups can
be found which appear to have little or no interbreeding with other
peoples and cultures. One would hope that the Genome (DNA) crowd
are targeting these for studies before the interbreeding destroys
too much evidence. It is even more difficult to find Bushmen who
still totally reliant on traditional methods of survival. The reasons
for this are very varied and often the cause of much academic, ideological,
economic and political conflict. Without pointing fingers I will
try to explain the different forces that have impacted most heavily
on these "First People" of Africa.
- A term first applied by white explorers and settlers over
200 years ago. It was in those days a derogatory term applied
to people held in very low esteem by the whites, the Bantu
& the Khoi khoi. The Bantu tribes used various names including
BaSarwa (a Tswana term). In more recent years the derogatory
nature of the name has declined to the level where many prefer
to be refered to by this.
- The term used by the Khoi khoi. Although it is difficult
to get a literal translation, the word was far from complimentary
as these people despised the Bushmen as scavengers. In the
1960's it was first used by the Harvard Kalahari Research
Group, although there is apparently some evidence of a German
professor first coining the word in the 1950's in place of
the term "Bushman" which he deemed offensive. Ironic
that he replaced it with a word that
was even more derogatory. Anyone disputing this should
visit the Ju/wasi Bushmen in Hereroland, eastern Namibia,
and call them "San". Their response will be colorful
to say the least. Although I would much rather an actual Bushman
term be adopted such as Khwe (Variations of this name, generally
meaning "The People", can be found throughout Botswana)
various Bushmen groups in Namibia seemed to have accepted
"San" as a suitable name. The situation is currently
very convoluted but a you can get a pretty good idea from
the people themselves - See - khoisanpeoples.org
- A people found scattered throughout southern Africa who
were genetically similar to the Bushmen and speak a language
akin to the Bushman tongue using the click consonants. They
keep sheep, goats and latterly cattle, unlike the Bushmen
who traditionally kept no livestock. Various theories exist
as to the origins of this socio-economic transition. My best
guess is that their roots lay in at least 2 major interactions
with Arabs or other peoples of the Middle East. Khoi is their
own name for themselves and is now used by most people because
the Dutch term "Hottentot" was considered derogatory.
During the white expansion there was significant interbreeding,
first with whites and later with Bantu. From this interaction
specific clans emerged bearing names such as Witboois and
Afrikaner (not to be confused with the white Afrikaaners),
with pride. Many of these groups moved to the North to escape
- The term most applied by academia today, referring to the
Bushman/Khoi gene pool or, as is often stated, applying to
all those people sharing related languages that use the Click
Consonants. Still, I feel, not a respectful term as in incorporates
the Khoikhoi term San.
- A generic term applied to African Negroid tribal people
who migrated down from central Africa over millennia.
do they live?
They can be
found in Southern Africa in the following countries, although I
stress that virtually none live purely by hunting and gathering
South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola, with loosely related
groups in Tanzania. Recorded history also placed them in Lesotho,
Swaziland and Mozambique.
Rock art &
archaeological evidence can place the Culture as far north as Libya,
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, with the evidence of legend & physical
racial type suggesting some traces remain in Kenya.