The San 'Bushmen'  also known as Khwe, Sho, and Basarwa are the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, (and are part of the Khoisan group), where they have lived for at least 20,000 years. They are hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa. Genetic evidence also suggests the San Bushmen are one of the oldest peoples in the world. Their home is in the vast expanse of the Kalahari desert.
                                             San Bushman carrying his two kids
The Bushmen are the remnants of Africa's oldest cultural group, genetically the closest surviving people to the original Homo sapiens “core” from which the Negroid people of Africa emerged. Bushmen are small in stature generally with light yellowish skin, which wrinkles very early in life. Bushmen traditionally lived in Southern Africa in the following countries, although virtually none live purely by hunting and gathering today: Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola, with loosely related groups in Tanzania.

 San father hugging his children 
 Bushman/San People. Farther  embracing his children. Archaeological evidence suggests that they have  lived in Africa for at least 22, 000 years. Namibia. N/a?an ku sê  ( an organization owned by Doctor Rudie van Vuuren and  his wife Marlice van Vuuren, one of Namibia’s most popular nature  conservationists who is fluent in Khoi San, do a lot of work with the  bushmen.  Amongst others they have the Lifeline Clinic and Bushman  School to tend to the needs of the bushmen. This image, as part of a  series, was taken to raise awareness and funds for the conservation  projects of N/a?an ku sê, as the bushmen had a very close relationship  to animals in the past.
  IMAGE: © Martin Harvey/Corbis
San father hugging his children

Recorded history also placed them in Lesotho and Mozambique. Rock art and archaeological evidence can place them as far north as Libya, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, with the evidence of legend & racial type suggesting some traces remain.

                                         San old man

 Bushmen is an Anglicization of boesman, the Dutch and Afrikaner name for them; saan (plural) or saa (singular) is the Nama word for “bush dweller(s),” and the Nama name is now generally favoured by anthropologists. Each of these terms has a problematic history, as they have been used by outsiders to refer to them, often with pejorative connotations. The individual groups identify by names such as Ju/'hoansi and !Kung (the punctuation characters representing different click consonants), and most call themselves by the pejorative "Bushmen" when referring to themselves collectively.

                                                San kids with facial painting

The term San was historically applied by their ethnic relatives and historic rivals, the Khoikhoi. This term means "outsider" in the Nama language and was derogatory because it distinguished the Bushmen from what the Khoikhoi called themselves, namely the "First People". Western anthropologists adopted San extensively in the 1970s, where it remains preferred in academic circles. The term Bushmen is widely used, but opinions vary on whether it is appropriate because it is sometimes viewed as pejorative.

                                     The Bushmen Tribe of Tsumkwe

San History
The San are said to be descendants of Early Stone Age ancestors. They are nomadic group living in temporary shelters, caves or under rocky overhangs. With the arrival of the first Europeans settlers in 1652 in Southern Africa sparked clashes as they sought new territory they exterminated the Sans whom they deemed to be inferior like wild animals. They called them "Bushmen" and proceeded to wipe out 200,000 of them in 200 years. They also sold them in slave markets and to traveling circuses.
Our bushman guide. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.
San man

According to Dr Ben Smith, genetic evidence suggests they are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, peoples in the world, going back to perhaps 60,000 years. They have genetic traces that no one else in the world has, that put them at the root of the human tree - we are related to them, but they are not as closely related to us. They were in South Africa thousands of years before, the iron age Bantu people arrived with their superior technology.

                                              San Bushmen,the world`s oldest people

The San have a rich oral history and have passed stories down from generation to generation. The oldest rock paintings they created are in Namibia and have been radiocarbon-dated to be 26 000 years old. The San rock art gives us clues about their social and belief systems.

                                         San Basarwa woman and her bay

One of the most significant pieces of Rock art found in South Africa was found on Linton Farm in the Eastern Cape. The panel was removed from the farm in 1917 and taken to the South African Museum in Cape Town. It is known as the Linton panel, and an image from this panel was used in the new South African Coat of Arms.

Eighty-three years in museum care, protected from the elements, has made the Linton panel one of the best preserved of all pieces of South African rock art. In 1995, the panel featured as one of the premiere attractions in the international exhibition, "Africa: the Art of a Continent".
Bushman standing with bow, arrow and walking stick on a hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.
San man with his arch. San people are expert archers

The figure embodies the spirit of the African Renaissance. When European nations began their Renaissance, they turned to the classical age of Greece and Rome when art and architecture had reached its zenith. San rock art is one of the great archaeological wonders of the world, and is a mirror which reflects the glories of the African past.

                                      San women of Ghanzi in Botswana

San languages, characterised by implosive consonants or 'clicks', belonged to a totally different language family from those of the Bantu speakers. Broadly speaking, they are two different and identifiable languages, namely the Khoikhoi and San. Many dialects have evolved from these, including /Xam, N?¡, !Xu, Khwe and Khomani. Nà má, previously called Hottentot, is the most populous and widespread of the Khoikhoi and San languages.

                      Ju/’hoansi San People making arrows

 The San bushmen major language groups include !Kung, Khomani, Vasekela, Mbarakwena, /Auni, Auen, /Gwi, //Ganaa, Kua, /Tannekwe, /Geinin, /Xoma, //Obanen Ganin, /Xam-ka!ke and !Xo.

Very little is known about the different dialects of South Africa's San people, as most of these beautiful, ancient languages were never recorded. Fortunately, the /Xam dialect, which is spoken by the San, was recorded almost in its entirety, thanks to the work of a German linguist, Dr WHI Bleek.

                             San woman holding her beautiful baby boy

/Xam speakers originally occupied a large part of western South Africa, but by 1850, only a few hundred /Xam speakers lived in remote parts of the Northern Cape. Today, the language is no longer exists, but survives in 12 000 pages of hand-written testimony taken down word-for-word from some of the last /Xam speakers in the 1860s and 1870s. These pages record not just the /Xam language, but also their myths, beliefs and rituals. A comprehensive /Xam dictionary was produced by Dr Bleek at the time, but was only published years later (DF Bleek: 1956).

                                               San woman with her baby

South Africa's motto, written on the SA coat of arms is a /Xam phrase: !ke e: /xarra //ke, literally meaning: diverse people unite.

Economy and Socio-Political Structure
Bushmen were 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 (mostly antelopes), hunted by the men using poisoned arrows and spears on hunts that could last several days. They made their own temporary homes from wood that they gathered.
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.

                                           San beauty

Their social structure is not tribal because they have no paramount leader 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.
Families within a clan would speak a common language but neighboring clans would usually speak a different tongue, although there would normally be a fair degree of similarity & understanding between them. Apart from family relations, bearing the same name (out of only about 35 names per gender) would also foster a “name kinship”.Bushmen are generally nomadic within fairly limited boundaries, governed by the proximity of other families and clans. 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.

                                                San (Bushmen) children of Kalahari Desert

The roles of men & women were very distinct and rarely overlapped, 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.

                                        San (Bushmen) of Kalahari Desert

Traditionally, bushman women spent 3-4 days a week gathering veldkost (wild plants), often going out in groups to search for edible or medicinal plants. Furthermore, before the advent of trade with Bantu or white settlers, all tools, construction material, weapons or clothes were made of plants or animal products.
About 400-500 local plants and their uses were known to bushmen, along with the places where they grew – not only providing a balanced nutrition, but also moisture from roots even in time of drought.

                              Khomanani Boesman (San) people of Kalahari Desert

Plants were used in ways similar to western phytomedicine to treat wounds and heal illnesses; other plants where rather part of healing ceremonies in which a healer would burn plants to make rain, trance to heal an ailment, or perform a charm to bring fertility. The range of ailments treated included wounds including snake bites, colds, stomach ache, tooth ache or headache, or diarrhea but also infections like malaria, tuberculosis, or syphilis. One bushman plant, Hoodia gordonii, even made the worldwide news since it was patented by a pharma company as a diet support due to its traditional bushman usage to suppress appetite and hunger – a law case against “bio piracy” ensued, with the parties settling to royalties being paid to bushmen organisations.

                  Bushmen (San) tribe, Tsumkwe, Namibia having their meal by the fireside
The bushmen’s diet and relaxed lifestyle have prevented most of the stress-related diseases of the western world. Bushmen health, in general, is not good though: 50% of children die before the age of 15; 20% die within their first year (mostly of gastrointestinal infections). Average life expectancy is about 45-50 years; respiratory infections and malaria are the major reasons for death in adults. Only 10% become older than 60 years.

                                  Bead making from ostrich shell.

Birth, Death, Marriage and initiation
Amongst the Bushman or San, birth is not generally a big issue. They don't really prepare and or go to a hospital like modern man. It is claimed that a Bushman women who is about to give birth will simply go behind a bush and "squeeze out" the baby.
                                               San woman carrying her baby in a blanket sling

 There is also some claims that they prepare a medicine from devils claw (Harpagophytum spp.), have the baby, and is back in her daily routine within a hour. In reality she is likely to take her mom or an elder aunt along, for comfort and help. The book "Shadow Bird" by Willemien le Roux, describes a Bushman birth with complications, and the old woman that was called to help, so it doesn't always go as easy as it is supposed to.
Naro Bushman child,Central Kalahari in Botswana

After the birth a Bushman child will receive much love and attention from his parents and other adults and even older children. Their love of children, both their own and that of other people, is one of the most noticeable things about the Bushman
                                         San girls from Namibia

If a child is born under very severe drought conditions, when the fertility of the Bushman women are in any case low, perhaps to prevent such an occurrence. The mother will quietly relieve the just born baby of severe and certain future suffering by ending its life. This is most likely to happen in lean years, if she is still suckling another child and will obviously not be able to feed both of the children
San  Man

. This is accepted behaviour, and born out of necessity and not malice or any other consideration. It stems from the simple realiy of live in a harsh climate, and the realisation that the life of the child that a lot has already been invested in, and that might be put at risk by tender feelings for a new-born that are in any case likely to die soon, are not likely to have a good outcome.

                Children of the San people (Bushmen) in Omatako village, Namibia

Death is a very natural thing to the Bushmen as shown by the following lines from a Bushman song, quoted by Coral Fourie in her book "Living Legends of a dying culture". "The day we die a soft breeze will wipe out our footprints in the sand. When the wind dies down, who will tell the timelessness that once we walked this way in the dawn of time?"

 If some-ones dies at a specific camp, the clan will move away and never camp at that spot again. Bushmen will never knowingly cross the place where some-one has been buried. If they have to pass near such a place, they will throw a pebble on the grave and mutter under their breath, to the spirits to ensure good luck. They never step on a grave and believe that the spirit remains active on that spot above ground, and they don't want to offend it.
San elder

Among most Bushmen, a wedding is a private event between the Bridegroom and the Bride. Only in exceptional cases may a guest be invited, but there is no celebration or other ritual as we understand it, only a private "ceremony" or agreement between the two people involved.

The Bushmen don't have initiation ceremonies. There is some dancing and cleansing ceremony after a maiden has shed her first menstrual blood. Boys are not considered men until they have killed their first large and dangerous animal. Thereafter they are are treated as full members of the clan or tribe.

                                                 San Barwa elder with pipe

Most Kalahari Bushmen believe in a "Greater" and a "Lesser" Supreme being or God. There are other supernatural beings as well, and the spirits of the dead. The "God" or supreme being first created himself, then the land and its food, the water and air. He is generally a good power, that protects and wards of disease and teaches people skills. However, when he is angered, he can send bad fortune. The greater god, depending on his manifestation, is called different names by the same people at different times, and also have different names among the different language groups.

                                 San old woman and her grandchild

The lesser god is regarded as bad or/and evil, a black magician, a destroyer rather than builder, and a bearer of bad luck and disease. Just like the "supreme being" he is called by various names. They believe bad luck and disease is caused by the spirits of the dead, because they want to bring the living to the same place they are. Similar to the black people in South Africa, the Bushman have a strong believe that the ancestral spirits play an important role in the fate of the living, but they don't use the same rituals to appease them.
Cagn/Kaggen is the name the Bushmen gave their god; the first sociologists translated this as “Mantis”, maybe wrongly. This god being nothing else than the unseen presence of nature and everything that surrounded them. They also prayed to the moon and the stars but they could never explain exactly why they did this. Cagn/Kaggen was seen as human like and also had magical powers and charms.

The Bushmen's beliefs go beyond that. The eland is their most spiritual animal and appears in four rituals: boys' first kill, girls' puberty, marriage and trance dance.
A ritual is held where the boy is told how to track an eland and how the eland will fall once shot with an arrow.
He becomes an adult when he kills his first large antelope, preferably an eland. The eland is skinned and the fat from the elands' throat and collar bone is made into a broth. This broth has great potency.

In the girls' puberty rituals, a young girl is isolated in her hut at her first menstruation. The women of the tribe perform the Eland Bull Dance where they imitate the mating behaviour of the eland cows. A man will play the part of the eland bull, usually with horns on his head.
This ritual will keep the girl beautiful, free from hunger and thirst and peaceful.

                                 San Maidens

As part of the marriage ritual, the man gives the fat from the elands' heart to the girls' parents. At a later stage the girl is anointed with eland fat.

In the trance dance, the eland is considered the most potent of all animals, and the shamans aspire to possess eland potency.
The Bushmen believed that the eland was /Kaggen's favourite animal.

The modern Bushmen of the Kalahari believe in two gods: one who lives in the east and one from the west. Like the southern Bushmen they believe in spirits of the dead, but not as part of ancestor worship. The spirits are only vaguely identified and are thought to bring sickness and death.

'Medicine People' or shamans protect everyone from these spirits and sickness.
A shaman is someone who enters a trance in order to heal people, protect them from evil spirits and sickness, foretell the future, control the weather, ensure good hunting and generally try to look after the well being of their group.

Studies have shown that the Bushmen have many strategies for dealing with ill health.

The women are experts at harvesting and preparing medicinal plants for the treatment of a wide range of ailments.
Blood letting and scarification may also serve as a medicinal function.
The best-known Bushmen medical practice is the healing dance. This is when the healers or shamans enter a trance by way of rhythmic clapping and stamping of the dancers feet.

                                         The shamans and medicine people

A shaman or medicine person is someone who enters a trance in order to heal people, foretell the future, control the weather, ensure good hunting and so forth.

The Bushmen have many shamans. They are ordinary people who perform everyday tasks and are not a privileged class. The shamans sometimes exercise their supernatural powers in the dream world, but principally it's practiced at a trance dance.

At a trance dance the women sit around a central fire and clap the rhythm of songs. The men will dance around the women. With the sounds of the dancing rattles and thudding steps combined with the women's songs they activate a supernatural potency that resides in the songs and in the shaman themselves. When the potency 'boils' and rises up the shamans' spine, they enter a trance.
The shamans rely on hyperventilation, intense concentration and highly rhythmic dancing to alter their state consciousness. Inexperienced shaman can fall to the ground unconscious if they can't control their level of concentration.

When entering a trance, shamans often bleed from their nose and experience excruciating physical pain. The shamans' arms stretch behind them as the transformation into the spirit world takes place.

During the trance the shamans perform their tasks, the most important is to cure people of any ailments. They lay their trembling hands on these people and draw sickness from them into their own bodies. Then, with a high pitched shriek, they expel the sickness through a 'hole' in the nape of the neck, the n//au spot. The sickness thus returns to its source, which is thought to be unidentified wicked shamans.

The next day, fully recovered, the shaman will tell people of his experiences with the spiritual world. It is from these experiences that the Bushmen painted the rock art and more recently on canvas.

                             Shaman healing dance of San people

Today about half of the men and a third of the women in the Kalahari are said to be shamans. Most young men strive to become shamans, not for personal gain, but to serve their community in that capacity. In their late teens they will ask an experienced shaman to teach them. The apprenticeship may last some years, during which the novice will dance with the older man, absorbing his potency.

                                                   San healing dance

San Trance Dance
A trance dance occurs not only for the healing of the sick but also serves as a social and sacred function.
A fire is lit where a group, mostly women sit in a circle around it. The dancers, mostly men, will start dancing in a circle around these women. They will have rattles on their legs made from dried seed pods. The group sitting around the fire will sing, clap and tend to the fire while the dancers are trying to enter a trance.

The first few hours of a trance dance are relaxed and sociable. Then, when the first person shows signs of entering a trance, the clapping and singing gets more intense. This could be when they start to sweat profusely, begin to breath heavily and have glossy stares.

Traditional healing dance – not only curing illness, but also a means of relieving any existing social tensions.

The dancers will soon begin to enter a trance. From here they will be able to start healing the people. A normal dance will last about 6 hours but occasionally can go for the whole day.

                                       San Dancers

San Rock Art
The Sans rock art is one of the greatest in the world. The San/bushmen paintings are one of Southern Africa's greatest cultural treasures. Subjects of the bushmen/san paintings range from animals (mainly eland) to humans, therianthropes to ox-wagons and mounted men with rifles.

When Europeans first encountered rock art of the San people, or Bushmen, in southern Africa some 350 years ago, they considered it primitive and crude. They were just “Bushman paintings,” two-dimensional accounts of hunting and fighting and daily life. Twentieth-century scholars had much more respect for the aesthetics of the paintings—often finely detailed and exquisitely colored—but many also viewed them largely as narrative accounts of hunter-gatherer life
In terms of archaeology we have a seemless stone tool tradition, and a seemless art tradition, going back 27,000 years with the 'Apollo 11' stones - indeed, the San have longest continuing art tradition in the world.
                             The 'Apollo 11' Stones

The general features of southern African San art are explained in terms of concepts that pervade the cognitive systems of San people from all areas. Amongst all San groups the most important ritual is the Great Dance. In this dance, through trance, the San say that they harness a kind of spiritual power that is like electricity. In a Bushmen society, shamanism is practised at a trance dance.The visions that are seen by the shamans in a trance, is where they get their inspiration to paint.

                                         San rock art

Because so many of the paintings depict trance visions, many researchers believe that all the artists were shamans. It seems impossible that shamans made the paintings and engravings while they were in a trance. It is more probable that they remembered or experienced after-images and then depicted these experiences. It is also entirely possible that anybody familiar with the mythology about the spirit world and beliefs about the healing ritual, and who possessed artistic skill and imagination, may have been an artist.

                                        Rock paintings, Tsodilo Hills,Botswana

They use this power for things such as healing, hunting, removing societal tensions and making rain. It is aspects relating to this dance that are pervasive in San rock art, partly because this dance was of such great significance to the San, but more importantly because the act of making rock art seems to have been part of the process by which San ritual specialists harnessed and shared the power of the dance.

Game Pass Shelter the 'Rosetta Stone' of South African Rock Art
Game Pass Shelter is commonly referred to as the 'Rosetta Stone' of South African rock art,
it was here that archaeologists first uncovered a vital key to understanding the
symbolism of the San Bushman rock art painting

In all areas, therefore, rock art images depict aspects of the dance, most often just fragments of the dance rather than entire dance scenes. We see individual or small groups of dancers bending forwards, wearing dancing rattles, holding wildebeest tails or dancing sticks and bleeding from the nose: these are all features particular to the dance.

                                                              Capturing the "Rain-Bull"

Around these fragments of the dance are placed animals, but not just a random selection of animals. Those animals that have special supernatural potency are the ones particularly chosen and repeated often. It is from these animals that the San say they draw power in the dance and the rock art sometimes shows this. Lines of power connect animals to dancers in the art. More than this, dancers are regularly depicted taking on features of powerful animals such as their hooves or heads.

                 Rock art in Game Pass Shelter, Kamberg Nature Reserve.

The art also shows the magical other-worldly things such as rain-animals (above left), monsters and spirit people that are encountered by dancers on their out-of-body vision journeys. We thus understand San art as a deeply spiritual art, one that harnesses and shares with others the power of successive generations of San spiritual experience and enlightenment.

                                 Engraved by scratching away the rock patina

By linking specific San beliefs to recurrent features in the art, researchers have been able to crack many of the codes of San rock art. Unfortunately there are no recorded interviews with the painters themselves, in order to shed light on the paintings. However, in the late nineteenth century a Bushman named Qing guided Joseph Millerd Orpen, a magistrate from the Cape colony, through the Drakensberg.

                                         Elephant engravings

On their journey, Qing and Orpen came across many magnificent paintings in rock shelters. Orpen was so impressed that he copied several of them. He then sent these to a magazine editor in Cape town, who showed them to a Dr Wilhelm Bleek. Bleek was a German linguist who was living in Cape Town. He was studying the language of the /Xam people - a San group from the Northern Cape - at this time. When Bleek showed Orpen’s drawing of the strange looking animal to the group of /Xam San he was interviewing, they immediately saw in it 'the rain animal', and proceeded to explain its spiritual and religious significance. It was this historical explanation that began the decoding of the paintings.

It was then the work of Professor David Lewis-Williams, the South African scholar and professor of archaeology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, threw more light on the paintings. The 'Rosetta Stone' of this rock art is located at the Game Pass Shelter in the Drakensberg Mountains. "One day, I was looking at a picture in which there was a dying eland and a man apparently holding its tail. The man had hooves, like the eland; his hair was standing out, like the eland's hair; his legs were crossed, in imitation of the eland's legs," he explained.

                       Dancing figures with sticks

Studying this detail, the meaning fell into place: both the eland and the man are behaving as if they are dying. The man is a shaman going into trance. He is about to leave this world for the spirit world, and he is taking on the power of the eland, the most powerful animal of all, and the god /Kaggen's favourite.

             The San describe their experiences of out-of-body travel as like flying

Trance is so overwhelming that it is difficult to describe. To explain it and to help people who were not shamans to see what they had been through, the painters of rock art images looked for comparative experiences. Crossing over to the spirit world during trance could be compared to 'death'. This did not mean that they actually died, but that they believed that while they were in trance, their spirits would leave their bodies and meet others in the spirit world. 'Death' is used as a metaphor for the trance state. Trance is very much like death. Sometimes it is called 'half-death'.
Painting from KwaZulu-Natal depicts a typical San circular shaman healing dance

Professor Lewis-Williams explained how all this suddenly made sense to him: "I saw that the dying eland was a metaphor for the dying medicine man. Shamans are said to die when they enter the spirit world through trance. And sthe dying eland is a source of potency (spiritual power)."

                The rock art paintings reflect the San travelling to the spirit realm

To show their experiences, the artists also used visual metaphors such as showing shamans 'underwater' and 'dead'. These capture aspects of how it feels to be in trance. The artists also show their actions in the spirit world, such as their capturing of the rain animal, their activation of potency for use in healing or in fighting off enemies or other dangerous forces. But, the art was far from just a record of spirit journeys. Powerful substances such as eland blood were put into the paints so to make each image a reservoir of potency. As each generation of artists painted or engraved layer by layer of art on the rock surfaces their expansion created potent spiritual places.

                          A partly transformed shaman holds the tail of a dying eland

The Linton Panel

The Linton Panel, South African Museum, Cape Town
The ‘Linton Panel’, now in the South African Museum, Cape Town

Today’s Friday Find is the so-called Linton Panel – surely the most astounding example of San rock art now housed in a South African museum. The Linton Panel is a large slab of rock, measuring 2m by .8m that was removed in 1918 from a rock shelter on a farm named Linton. Rock shelters through out most of South Africa are adorned with some exquisite rock paintings made by San hunters and gatherers. The imagery is typical of those depicted to show San shamans’ experiences in the spirit World.

In 1985 I and two colleagues, Paul den Hoed and Zachary Kingdon, traced the panel – it took us four days, often working in to the small hours of the morning. I then created a one-to-one, black and white reproduction of the panel (see below), which I used for the focus of my honours dissertation in archaeology at the University of the Witwatersrand. In 1986 I returned to Linton farm and found the rock shelter from which the panel had been removed. The hole measures 4.5m by 1.35m, and then there were still traces of paintings around the edge of the hole, indicating this panel was once at least 6m in length.
The paintings on this slab of rock are amongst some of the finest of all South Africa’s rock paintings. While seeing rock paintings in their original settings is highly recommended, if this is not possible, visiting Cape Town’s South African Museum good alternative.
South Africa’s Coat of Arms
South African Coat of ArmsNot only is this panel one of the most spectacular pieces of San rock art in a South African museum, one of the human figures on this panel has been used in South Africa’s coat of arms (for a full explanation of the symbolism in the South African coat of arms, on the South African government’s website, click here). As wonderful as it is for the San hunters and gatherers to have been recognised so prominently in a post-apartheid South Africa, the inclusion of a San image in the coat of arms is rich in irony.
The human figure on the Linton Panel is male, it clearly has an erect penis. This anatomical detail was, however, removed for the coat of arms. Also, on the coat of arms the human figure has been given a mirror image of itself, presumably to create balance. But this is explained as creating “an attitude of greeting, symbolising unity. This also represents the beginning of the individual’s transformation into the greater sense of belonging to the nation and by extension, collective humanity.” When one considers that there are literally countless human figures painted or engraved on the rocks of South Africa, in my opinion it is a shame that two or more other human figures, without penises, could not have been chosen to indicate ‘unity’ and ‘collective humanity’. In fact, it seems a wasted opportunity for a post-apartheid South Africa to have opted for such an overtly European-style symbol of identity. Rather than acknowledging the Khoisan peoples as the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, the coat of arms serves to reiterate the way in which Khoisan people and their culture continue to be manipulated in South Africa today.
Reproduction of the Linton Panel
My line drawing of the Linton Panel, 1987.
You can find the Linton Panel on display in the Rock Art Gallery of the South African Museum, one of the Iziko Museums of South Africa. Founded in 1825, the South African Museum is located in the historic Company’s Garden in Cape Town.

                                 San (Bushmen) father and his baby

What problems do bushmen face today?
The Bushmen had their homelands invaded by cattle herding Bantu tribes from around 1,500 years ago, and by white colonists over the last few hundred years. From that time they faced discrimination, eviction from their ancestral lands, murder and oppression amounting to a massive though unspoken genocide, which reduced them in numbers from several million to 100,000. Today, although all suffer from a perception that their lifestyle is 'primitive' and that they need to be made to live like the majority cattle-herding tribes, specific problems vary according to where they live.

In South Africa, for example, the !Khomani now have most of their land rights recognised, but many other Bushman tribes have no land rights at all.

                                                   Khomani San people

Situation in Namibia
A fairly large community of bushmen, the Ju/'hoansi, today live on both sides of the border between Namibia and Botswana, named Bushmanland. This group has been studied, filmed and assisted by Western scholars since 1951.

The academic studies continue to this day and they are under the general guidance of the "Ju/wa Bushman
Development Foundation" which is essentially a group of concerned individuals and academia. In 1991, with the formation of the "Nyae Nyae Farmers Cooperative" and with representation and guidance from the "Ju/wa Bushman Development Foundation", they managed to secure land rights within Bushmanland.
They are still permitted to hunt within the boundaries, despite being a game conservation area, as long as they use traditional methods. It means no firearms, dogs, vehicles or horses, rules that are occasionally broken and usually results in a prison term for the offenders.

One of the biggest problems is alcoholism, brought about mainly by military stationed in the local town of Tsumkwe bringing alcohol into the region despite a government ban on bringing in spirits. Having virtually no tolerance of alcohol, there was a massive increase in drunkenness, alcoholism and crime with a general decline in family structures and community well-being.

Situation in Botswana – Central Kalahari Bushmen
The Gana (G//ana) and Gwi (G/wi) tribes in Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve are among the most
persecuted. Far from recognising their ownership rights over the land they have lived on for thousands of years, the Botswana government has in fact forced almost all of them off it. In the early 1980s, diamonds were discovered in the reserve. Soon after, government ministers went into the reserve to tell the Bushmen living there that they would have to leave because of the diamond finds.

In three big clearances, in 1997, 2002 and 2005, virtually all the Bushmen were forced out. Their homes were dismantled, their school and health post were closed, their water supply was destroyed and the people were threatened and trucked away.
Almost all were forced out by these tactics, but a large number have since returned, with many more desperate to do so. They now live in resettlement camps outside the reserve. Rarely able to hunt, and arrested and beaten when they do, they are dependent on government handouts. They are now gripped by alcoholism, boredom, depression, and illnesses such as TB and HIV/AIDS.

Although the Bushmen won the right in court to go back to their lands in 2006, the government has done everything it can to make their return impossible. Since then the government has arrested more than 50 Bushmen for hunting to feed their families, and banned the Bushmen from using their water borehole.
Hundreds still languish in resettlement camps, unable or scared to return home. Unless they can return to their
ancestral lands, their unique societies and way of life will be destroyed, and many of them will die.

Botswana - Ghanzi Bushmen
Bushmen around the town of Ghanzi had served as cattle herders to Afrikaans farmers since early 20th century. They worked in largely unfenced ranges. There were still some benefits for the Bushmen as game was still fairly abundant, while getting the spin-off benefits of some milk, some money and even the occasional cow that died naturally.

                                   San People in Botswana

All this changed significantly, courtesy of the European Common Market, who in their wisdom offered a very high price for Botswana's beef as long as they instituted major disease control measures to eliminate foot & mouth, anthrax and a few other endemic ailments. This resulted in an extensive game control fencing operation to separate the cattle from the “disease ridden wildlife”. Unfenced ranges with moderate levels of wildlife became fenced in lands with a catastrophic drop in game numbers due to a cut of the herds’ migration routes to cope with drought.

The Common Market (later the European Economic Community) were happy and paid the massively inflated prices, while subsistence game hunting became meaningless. The cattle monoculture further destroyed the bushmen’s plant resources, severely impacting their traditional hunter and gatherer lifestyle.

South Africa - Khomani Bushmen
These Bushmen from the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (now the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) region were ejected from the Reserve between 1931, upon its formation, & 1973 when the last were finally evicted. They had initially during this period been allowed limited assess and work within the reserve but were finally removed by the management.

                                          San People in Cape Town,SA

 Despite many attempts to get access to their traditional hunting areas, entry was denied on the basis that they would become a problem begging from tourists. This was despite the valid argument that the large southwestern region requested was off limits to visitors to the reserve and therefore should not present any difficulties. They remained a small impoverished group largely integrating themselves within the mixed coloured communities that developed along the fringes of the Reserve, working where possible for local farmers.
San people of Western Cape,South Africa

A group of bushmen still partially adhering to their traditional life and family structure, under their leader Dawid Kruiper were finally successful in 1999 when 40 000 hectares of land next to the Kgalagadi Park was purchased by the government from local farmers and given back to the Khomani community. In 2001 it was agreed that an additional 25 000 hectares of the Kalahari Gemsbok park was to be returned to them for managed utilisation but not for residence.

                                    Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park  San (Bushmen) and his son

Tension between the traditional and westernised bushmen led to various power struggles, but some of the bushmen continue to occasionally hunt and gather. Furthermore, the community-owned !Xaus luxury lodge recently opened in the Southwestern-most part of Kgalagadi Park.

San folklore
Creation of the first Bushmen
As the Bushmen lived in a very dry area, water to them have a very magical power that could revive them. In the legend of creation Mantis appears and the entire world is still covered by water. A bee (a symbol of wisdom) carries Mantis over the turbulent waters of the ocean. The bee however, became very tired and flew lower and lower. He searched for solid land to make his decent to but he only grew more and more tired. But then he saw a flower drifting on the water. He laid Mantis down in the flower and within in him the seed of the first human. The bee drowned but when the sun came up Mantis awoke and from the seed the bee had left the first human was born.

                                   Nharo-San boy making fire

Mantis and his family
The bushmen don't regard the Mantis as god but rather a superbeing. They are not the only civilization who has this belief and other African tribes do see it as a God. Even the Greeks believed it had divine and magical powers. Mantis is a Greek word meaning divine, or soothsayer. All over the world many legends is told about this magical creature. To the Bushmen however he is a "dream Bushman". He is very human. Many paintings of the bushmen figure a Bushman with the head of a Mantis.
San hunter-gather with his bow and arrow

Mantis also has a big family. His wife is Dassie (rock hyrax). His son is also a Mantis and he also has an adopted daughter, Porcupine. Her real father is the evil monster called the All-Devourer who she is too afraid of. Porcupine is married to a creature that is part of the rainbow, called Kwammanga. They have two sons, Mongoose or Ichneumon and then Kwammanga, after his dad. Mantis also has a sister, Blue Crane that he loves very much.

The Baboons
At a time long ago the baboons were little people like the Bushmen, but they were very mischievous. They loved making trouble. On a day Cagn sent his con Cogaz to go and look for sticks they could use in making bows. When the little people saw him they started dancing around the boy shouting: "Your father thinks he is clever and wants to make bows to kill us, now we will kill you!" They did as they said and Cogaz's body was hung in a tree. The little people danced again and sang: "Cagn thinks he is clever!"

Then Cagn awoke from his sleep. He had a feeling that something was wrong so he asked hi wife Coti to bring him his charms. He thought and thought. Then it came to him. He realized what the little people did to his son. He immediately went in search of his son. When the little people saw him coming they started singing an other song.
 A little girl sitting nearby told Cagn that they were singing something else before he came. He ordered them to sing what the girl heard before. When he heard this he ordered them to stay where they are until he returns. He returned with a basket full of pegs. As they danced he drove a peg in each of their backsides. They fled to the mountains because they now had tails and they started living with animals. Cagn then climbed into the tree and used his magic to resurrect his son.

                                  San people

How Mantis stole fire from Ostrich
Mantis also gave the Bushmen fire. Before this people ate their food like all the other predators, raw. They also had no light at night and were surrounded by darkness. Mantis noticed that Ostrich's food always smelt very good and decided to observe what he did to his food. As he crept close one day he saw Ostrich take some fire from beneath his wing and dip his food in it. After eating he would tuck back the fire under his wing.

Mantis knew Ostrich would not give him the fire so he planned a trick on Ostrich to steal the fire from him. One day he called Ostrich and showed him a tree carrying delicious plums. As Ostrich started to eat Mantis shouted at him that the best ones were at that top. Ostrich jumped higher and higher and as soon as he opened his wings Mantis stole the fire from him and ran off. Ostrich was very ashamed of this and since that day kept his wings pressed to his sides and will never fly.
                                                          San Bushman

The Rainbow
Rain was once a beautiful woman who lived in the sky. She wore a rainbow around her waist and she was married to the creator of the earth. They had three daughters. When the eldest daughter grew up she asked her mother to go down to earth. Her mother gave her permission but as soon as se went down she got married to a hunter. While she was gone Rain had another child. This time a boy which she called Son-eib. When he was old enough his sisters asked Rain if they could all go down to see the world. In fear of losing them all Rain didn't want them to go. But then a friend Wolf who liked the two daughters said he would accompany them down and look after them. The father believed this wicked beast and gave his permission.
San boy

As soon as they got to earth they went to a village. A woman in the village saw Son-eib and he looked very familiar to her. She offered them food and Wolf accepted this. They all ate of this food except Son-eib as Wolf told everybody that he is not a person but merely a thing. Son-eib turned away and went to sit in the grass, all by himself. While sitting there he caught a little red bird. He concealed it under his coat.
That night the woman offered them shelter in her house. But once again Wolf did not allow the boy to sleep inside the house and said that Son-eib should sleep in the small hut outside. While everybody was sleeping Wolf went and fetched all the bad people in the village. They set fire to the hut killing poor Son-eib.
San Children of Kalahari desert

However, the little bird managed to escape. It flew up into the sky and went straight to Rain, the boy's mother.As soon as it arrived it told Rain of what has happened. Rain told her husband and they were furious. A little while later the people of the village saw a great storm approaching them fast and around its waist was a rainbow. Lightning started to flash striking all around them. Only Wolf and his fellow bad people were hit and killed. Then a mighty voice
came from the sky with the words: "Don't kill the children of the sky!"
Ever since this all Bushmen are afraid of the rainbow. When the bushmen see a rainbow they would hit on sticks and shout for it to go away!

                                                                      San hunter-gatherers

The sun, moon and the stars
One of the stories of the sun says that he is a man from whose armpits shine the rays of light. He did not want to share his light with all the people so he stayed in his hut. The first Busman ordered hi children to throw him into the sky. They threw him up and this is where he still shines from today. In the night he is very cold so he draws his blanket over him. This blanket is very old and has lots of little holes in it. This is the stars we see at night.Another tale tells of a young woman who waits for the hunters to return every night. When it grows dark she throws up a handful of white ash. This becomes the Milky-way that guide the hunters home.
The moon is believed to be the old shoe of Mantis. He placed it in the air to guide him at night. The sun is very jealous of the moon when it is at its full brightness. The sun uses its sharp rays to cut of pieces of the moon bit by bit until there is almost nothing left of the moon. The moon begs the sun to stop and then he always goes away. Soon after the moon starts growing again until it is full and the whole process repeats itself.
San woman

Hunting Methods:

                         Out on hunting
The San are excellent hunters. Although they do a fair amount of trapping, the best method of hunting is with bow and arrow. The San arrow does not kill the animal straight away. It is the deadly poison, which eventually causes the death. In the case of small antelope such as Duiker or Steenbok, a couple of hours may elapse before death. For larger antelope, this could be 7 to 12 hours. For large game, such as Giraffe it could take as long as 3 days.
                                San hunters with their bow and arrow
 Today the San make the poison from the larvae of a small beetle but will also use poison from plants, such as the euphorbia, and snake venom. A caterpillar, reddish yellow in colour and about three-quarters of an inch long, called ka or ngwa is also used. The poison is boiled repeatedly until it looks like red currant jelly. It is then allowed to cool and ready to be smeared on the arrows. The poison is highly toxic and is greatly feared by the San themselves; the arrow points are therefore reversed so that the poison is safely contained within the reed collar. It is also never smeared on the point but just below it - thus preventing fatal accidents. The poison is neuro toxic and does not contaminate the whole animal. The spot where the arrow strikes is cut out and thrown away, but the rest of the meat is fit to eat.  The effect of the poison is not instantaneous, and the hunters frequently have to track the animal for a few days. The San also dug pitfalls near the larger rivers where the game came to drink. The pitfalls were large and deep, narrowing like a funnel towards the bottom, in the centre of which was planted a sharp stake. These pitfalls were cleverly covered with branches, which resulted in the animals walking over the pit and falling onto the stake. When catching small animals such as hares, guinea fowls, Steenbok or Duiker, traps made of twisted gut or fibre from plants were used. These had a running noose that strangled the animal when it stepped into the snare to collect the food that had been placed inside it. Another way of capturing animals was to wait at Aardvark holes. Aardvark holes are used by small buck as a resting place to escape the midday sun.
                         San people gathering for food
 The hunter waited patiently behind the hole until the animal left. When this happened, it was be firmly pinned and hit on the head with a Kerrie (club). The San are intelligent trackers and know the habits of their prey. On discovering where a herd has gathered, they immediately test the direction and force of the wind by throwing a handful of dust into the air. If the ground is bare and open, he will crawl on his belly, sometimes holding a small bush in front of him. Hunters carry a skin bag slung around one shoulder, containing personal belongings, poison, medicine, flywhisks and additional arrows. 
                       San people
They may also carry a club to throw at and stun small game, a long probing stick to extract hares from their burrows or a stick to dig out Aardvark or Warthog. Hunting is a team effort and the man whose arrow killed the animal has the right to distribute the meat to the tribe members and visitors who, after hearing about the kill, would arrive soon afterwards to share in the feast. According to San tradition, they were welcome to share the meal and would, in the future, have to respond in the same way. However, plant foods, gathered by the womenfolk, are not shared but eaten by the woman’s immediate family. The San make use of over 100 edible species of plant. 
While the men hunt, the women, who are experts in foraging for edible mushrooms, bulbs, berries and melons, gather food for the family. Children stay at home to be watched over by those remaining in camp, but nursing children are carried on these gathering trips, adding to the load the women must carry. Gender roles are not jealously guarded in the San society. Women sometimes assist in the hunt and the men sometimes help gather plant foods.
               San women gathering for food

African San people - the world's most ancient race

The African San people have been found to be the most ancient race in the world in a huge genetic study.

                                  San people

The people, who have lived as hunter-gatherers for thousands of years, are the direct relations of early modern humans who migrated from the continent to spread their DNA throughout the world.
A study by the University of Pennsylvania has found all populations descended from just 14 ancient African populations.
San woman from Botswana and her child

Researchers discovered the genetic DNA of The San people was more diverse than any other group, suggesting they have survived longer than any other group.
The first humans evolved in southern Africa, probably near the South Africa-Namibia border, and today the continent has more genetic variation than anywhere else on Earth.
Nearly three-fourths of African-Americans can trace their ancestry to West Africa, according to the analysis published in the online edition of the journal Science.
It is the largest study of African genetics ever undertaken. Over 10 years, Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania and an international team of researchers trekked across Africa collecting samples to compare the genes of various peoples.
"Given the fact that modern humans arose in Africa, they have had time to accumulate dramatic changes in their genes," said lead researcher.

"Everybody's history is part of African history because everybody came out of Africa," said Muntaser Ibrahim of the department of molecular biology at the University of Khartoum, Sudan.

Meet the ancestors: DNA study pinpoints Namibia as home to the world's most ancient race

Scientists have long known that humans originated in Africa, but now a groundbreaking DNA study has revealed our 'Garden of Eden' is likely to be on the South African-Namibian border.
For it is the San people, hunter-gatherers in this area for thousands of years, who researchers now believe are the oldest human population on Earth.
They are descended from the earliest human ancestors from which all other groups of Africans stem and, in turn, to the people who left the continent to populate other corners of the planet.
San people
The San people seen here tracking wildebeest in Namibia, have the greatest genetic diversity in Africa

Researchers conducting the largest study of African genetic diversity came to this conclusion as the San were shown to be the most diverse.
The origin of a species is taken to be the place where people show the most genetic diversity because of the time it takes for genes to evolve.  The DNA tests therefore suggest  the San are the oldest continuous population of humans on the Earth.
The research published today in the online journal Science also showed that nearly three-quarters of African-Americans can trace their ancestry to West Africa.
The 10-year-study was led by Professor Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania.
The San people live on the Namibia-Angola border
She trekked across remote and dangerous areas of the continent with an international team collecting DNA samples from more than 3,000 modern Africans from 121 distinct populations.
Often working in primitive conditions, the researchers sometimes had to resort to using a car battery to power their equipment.
The tests revealed they had all descended from just 14 ancestral populations, and the languages they spokes were closely correlated with the variation of their genes.
The study also suggests that a small group of 150 Africans, who went on to populate the rest of the world, first left their continent from the Red Sea.
The researchers found people who lived in Sudan had genetic markers which suggested they were related to the group who moved abroad 50,000 years ago.
'The human genome describes the complexity of our species,' added Muntaser Ibrahim of the department of molecular biology at the University of Khartoum, Sudan. 
'Now we have spectacular insight into the history of the African population ... the oldest history of mankind.
'Everybody's history is part of African history because everybody came out of Africa.'
Before this study very little was known about the genetic variation in Africans, knowledge that is vital to understanding why diseases have a greater impact in some groups than others and in designing ways to counter those illnesses.
Scott M. Williams of Vanderbilt University noted that constructing patterns of disease variations can help determine which genes predispose a group to a particular illness.
This study 'provides a critical piece in the puzzle', he said. For example, there are clear differences in prevalence of diseases such as hypertension and prostate cancer across populations, Mr Williams said.

Christopher Ehret from the University of California, Los Angeles, compared genetic variation among people to variations in language.
There are an estimated 2,000 distinct language groups in Africa broken into a few broad categories, often but not always following gene flow.
Movement of a language usually involves arrival of new people, Mr Ehret noted, bringing along their genes. 

But sometimes language is brought by a small 'but advantaged' group which can impose their language without significant gene flow.
The study also found that about 71 per cent of African-Americans can trace their ancestry to western African origins. 
They also have between 13 per cent and 15 per cent European ancestry and a smaller amount of other African origins.
There was 'very little' evidence for American Indian genes among African-Americans, Tishkoff said.
Ehret added that only about 20 per cent of the Africans brought to North America made the trip directly, while most of the rest went first to the West Indies.
And, he added, some local African-American populations, such as the residents of the sea islands off Georgia and South Carolina, can trace their origins to specific regions such as Sierra Leone and Guinea.
The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education at Vanderbilt University, the L.S.B. Leakey and Wenner Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard and Burroughs Wellcome foundations.

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The San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert have ancestry that can be traced back an astounding 150,000 years, right back to the very first humans to inhabit Earth
Hoodia Gordonii plant has been used for centuries by the Sans tribe, it allowed the tribe hunters to go without food or water for an extended period of time, allowing them to concentrate and hunt for days interrupted and without feeling hungry
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San boy using stick with hole in it to suck water from the tree

San children

Fresh water in the desert

Naro bushman ( San ) men making a fire with commiphora sticks , Central Kalahari , Botswana

Meet Kapilolo Mario Mahongo – the last storyteller in my series from the Kalahari Desert Festival. Kapilolo has travelled widely to share his inheritance of !Xun stories with audiences in Europe and Africa who delight in hearing the musical sounds of his ancient language. This gifted man is the chairperson of the !Xun Council of Elders, the South African San Institute and sits on the S.A. San Council – among many other things!
He told the Kalahari Festival audience a story about helping people, interwoven with that powerful symbol of healing – the snake.


Y Ruth respondió: No me ruegues que te deje, y que me aparte de ti; porque a dondequiera que tú vayas, iré yo; y dondequiera que vivas, viviré. Tu pueblo será mi pueblo, y tu Dios será mi Dios. (Rut 1:16)...esta imagen me hace pensar en Rut y Noemí

the //aanna Khwe, the !Xhanu Qaé !Xun, the !Xema !Xun and the Khomani San dancers 

1. If you find a warthog hole in the morning, do not stand in front of it. Knowing that lions have a habit of waiting outside for their morning debut, warthogs back into their holes at night. In the morning the hogs shoot like cannon balls out of their dens, breaking the legs of anyone unlucky enough to stand in the way.IMG_0055-2
2. If you surprise a leopard, do not make eye contact. It will pounce on your back for the offense. Pretend not to notice, look away and slowly move out of the area.IMG_0051
3. If an elephant gets a whiff of you and is feeling grumpy, he will charge or mock-charge and you must make a quick determination of his intentions. If it is a mock-charge, the animal will raise its head and flap its ears as it moves toward you. If this is the case, slowly back away. But if the elephant trumpets, lowers its head, tucks its trunk between its legs and flattens its ears, it is a real charge and you will be lashed with the trunk, gored with a tusk and stomped into chutney.IMG_0070
4. If an African buffalo charges, there is nothing to do but run. Old male buffalo get tired of roaming with the herd and live a sedentary and solitary retirement. If disturbed, the old male will either flee or charge. If he charges, run and climb a tree, but be sure to climb the side of the tree opposite the charging beast, since he may not stop but slam full steam into the tree.IMG_0066
5. If you need to improve your scent, the San people, aka Kalahari bushmen, recommend wild basil as an excellent perfume.IMG_0065
6. If you love a girl, go directly to her and tell her how you feel. She will say come back tomorrow. When you return the next day, she may say, “I forgot about it” and tell you to come back again tomorrow. This may go on for months, if she is too shy to tell you how she feels. You may need to send an emissary to get an answer.IMG_0067
7. If you urinate and it’s too hot (a sign of STD) use the wild asparagus plant, called Mabele, translated from Setswana as “tits of the goat” because of its utter like shape. Dig the root of the male plant, which is thinner and longer then the female. Chop and boil while fresh. Mix with the bark of the jackalberry tree or the feverberry tree and add wild sage. Boil together and drink for three days.IMG_0069
8. If you have an infected wound, use the buffalo thorn (Ziziphus Mucronata) to heal it. First, choose a leaf the size of the wound and place it over the sore. Leave it on over night. In the morning there will be a little hole. Squeeze the wound to remove the infection. Boil the root of the same tree and drink half a cup of the tea once a day, until the infection is gone.IMG_0102
9. If you have the flu with a fever, collect cough grass with roots attached, the leaves of the rain tree and broad leafed “Tappington” grass. Take the tops off the grass and boil all three in a big pot for one hour. Pour the hot liquid into a metal basin and breath the vapors, using a blanket to create a tent to capture the steam. Repeat once a day until the fever is broken and the sinuses are clear.IMG_0097
10. If you get lost in the daytime, look in palm trees for the nest of the Red Billed Buffalo Weaver, who always build on the west side of the tree. You can also take a census of termite mounds, whose tips most often lean to the northwest. Termites work only at night raising the mound with spit and sand. The sun, which travels across the northern sky in the southern hemisphere, dries the new construction more quickly on the sun-facing side bending the nest.IMG_0111
11. If you are caught in a lightning storm, find shelter under an umbrella thorn or the African mangosteen (Garcinia Livingstonei).IMG_0059
12. If you are hungry for antelope meat, dig a hole 3 meters wide and 3 meters deep. Collect branches of silver cluster, sharpen into stakes, harden in fire, dry in sand and sharpen. Line the pit with the stakes facing upwards and cover the pit with twigs and grass. Sit by the hole downwind from the prey. When the prey is on the upwind side of the trap, walk around behind them and run toward the hole.IMG_0085
13. If you hear the Black Plover at night, there may be predatory cats in the area. The Black Plover has only three toes and can not hold a branch, so it must nest on the ground. Baboons also give helpful warnings of predators. A “hoo” indicates the presence of humans, a cough warns of a cat and a high pitched squeak chased by a bark is a sign of a snake.IMG_0145
14. If you hear the Fork-tailed Drongo before sunrise, the time is 4 am. By 5:30 am the coucals start with a sound like water coming from the bottle, “glug, glug. glug”. After that it’s the fish eagles by 6 am.IMG_0088
15. If a bird craps on you, it’s good luck. So be happy.IMG_0142


  1. Thank you for this wonderful introduction to these interesting people.

  2. Very informative article, though at times worded as though by an outsider. Africa is very diverse, and Africans are a diverse people with rich history and even richer cultures. These people are part of the family and deserve rights to roam freely and live as they prefer to live. My vision for Africa in the future is a utopia, a golden land where all the original humans can live in peace. Remember there are black people in other parts of the world indigenous to Oceana and Asia. Australia, Papua New Guinea, The Andaman Islands, India, Madagascar, the Philippines, south America, the north pole.... All different types of melanated peoples who share a common thread in their histories: infighting later supplanted by invasion or genocide. My hope is that a global awakening takes place, and the suffering comes to an end. But it is important to hear from the source. First hand narratives. Are their khoisan people out there who are writing autobiographies? Nelson Mandela, obviously a mix, being Xhosa, seems to be the only one.

  3. Interesting blog. This is one of my favorite blog about hunting and I also want you to update more post like this. Thanks for sharing this article.
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  4. thank you more than i can say. these are such beautiful people, and its hard to find really good stuff about them, and this is just great. i have never seen this wonderful rock art before. i wish more people would come here. San people ave a lot to teach the west. but most especially they need to be left free to live their lives.

  5. "Very informative article, though at times worded as though by an outsider " "NEGROID" words provoke emotions thought and responses. You like to write,lets move on to writing consciously. Be sensetive.

  6. This is the greatest article ever written. Beautiful, and not just because they have such well formed facial bone structures. I reread this article three times and will print it out

  7. Hi there, I am writing a fictional story on the Khoi-San. I am looking for male and female names that I can use for my characters. I have looked everywhere and can't find any. Is it possible if someone can direct me to a site where I can find names or give me a few examples that I can use. And the meaning of the names will be a great help as well. And... does modern names differ from their native names? I'll appreciate any help, thank you so much. And thank you for this awesome article, I am going to use some of it in my story. Thanx once again!

  8. Really nice and informative article. I would greatly appreciate if you would write a list of sources,as it would help me research more on the San people.

  9. Your blog is amazing, the amount of effort you put into it is beautiful


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