Photographer's Note

The San people (Previously called Bushmen) once were spread all over Southern Africa but, with the arrival of other groups from Central Africa and Europe, ended up occupying the most hostile, barely habitable, arid areas. Their existence as hunter gatherers is changing drastically, and not by choice, towards an agricultural society. Here seen doing a traditional dance, it is doubtful whether such events can still be readily observed. The lighter patch centre left are the ashes of their fire. Being excellent trackers and hunters of game, they camouflage very well against the red sand of the Kalahari desert which straddles the border of South Africa with Namibia and Botswana.

A few insights into San society from Wikipedia, the free dictionary:

"Children have no social duties besides playing, and leisure is very important to Bushmen of all ages. Large amounts of time are spent in conversation, joking, music, and sacred dances. Women have a high status in the San society, are greatly respected, and may be leaders of their own family groups. They make important family and group decisions and claim ownership of water holes and foraging areas. Women are mainly involved in the gathering of food, but may also take part in hunting.

The most important thing in the lives of the San people is water. Droughts can last for many months and waterholes may dry up. When this happens, they use sip wells. To get water this way, a San will scrape a deep hole where the sand is damp. Into this hole will be put a long hollow grass stem. 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.

Traditionally, the San were an egalitarian society.[ Although they did have hereditary chiefs, the chiefs' authority was limited. The bushmen instead made decisions among themselves by consensus,[18] with women treated as relatively equal. In addition, the San economy was a gift economy, based on giving each other gifts on a regular basis rather than on trading or purchasing goods and services."

PS: Digitally reproduced from a colour slide in my archive.

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Additional Photos by Neels Gunter (corjan3) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 253 W: 17 N: 452] (2109)
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