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Bushmen of Kalahari Desert

The Bushmen are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa. They have been residents in and around the Kalahari Desert for at least 20,000 years. Their habitats are in the region of South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Angola. Bushmen are reputed for their intimate knowledge of the natural world and also for their egalitarian society that has no religion and no possessions. Bushmen Culture is based on Sharing.

The hunter gatherer are among the oldest cultures of earth. The Historical presents of Bushmen is particularly evident in Botswana’s Tsodilo Hills region. They are semi nomadic moving seasonally within definite areas depending on the availability of resources like water, game animals and edible plant.

By the end of 18th Century after the arrival of the Dutch, thousands of Bushmen were killed and forced to work for the colonists. The British tried to civilise them but not successful.

Bushmen live in Small Mobile bands. Bushmen kinship is similar to Eskimo kinship. The age rule resolves any confusion arising from the kinship terms as the older of two people decides what to call the younger. Children have no social duties besides playing and leisure is very important to Bushmen of all ages. Much of time is spent in conversation, joking, music and sacred dances. Female are also very important members of society. They also take part in decision making. Women are mainly involved in the gathering of food and also in hunting. Water is important in Bushmen life. During long droughts, they make use of Sip wells in Order to collect water. A man scrapes a deep hole where the sand is damp and inserts a long hollow grass stem into the hole. An empty ostrich egg is used to collect the water. Water is sucked into the straw from the sand, into the mouth and then travels down another straw into the ostrich egg.


They are egalitarian society. They made decisions among themselves by consensus. Their economy is gift economy based on giving each other gift rather than on trading or purchasing goods and services.

      Bushmen are monogamous, But if a hunter is capable of gathering enough food, he can have a second wife. Bushmen are mobile people .Early spring is the hardest time for them. Most plants are dead or dormant. Meat is important in dry months women gather fruit berries, tubers bush onions, and other plant materials for group consumption. Ostrich eggs are gathered and the empty eggs are used as water containers. The belongings are blanket, Kaross (to carry food stuff) firewood, smaller bags, a digging stick, and a small version of Kaross to carry a baby. They kill their game with bow and arrow, very often using poisoned arrows. The term Bushmen came from the Dutch word bossiesman which means bandit or outlaw. The term was given to their during their long battle against the colonists.

      The Bushmen belief system emphasizes the supremacy of one God. Ancestor worship is also present in Bushmen society. Bushmen believe that working the soil is contrary to the world order established by God. According to their belief, at the first creation of the world, men and animal were not different, in the second creation, man and animals were separated and men were educated in separate social code. They have unique lifestyle. They are children of nature.
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