A Portrait of the Ju/’hoansi San People

San People Namibia traditional healing dance

Visiting the Ju/’hoansi San people (or Bushmen as they used to, rather derogatively, be referred to) in the //Nhoq’ma village in the far northeastern corner of Namibia, was one of the most genuine cultural experiences I have ever encountered.

San people, descendants of the first indigenous people of southern Africa, are now one of the smallest tribal groups with only about 100,000 people still living across the region, of which about one-third in Namibia. Their tongue & throat twisting click language challenges even the most linguistically talented amongst us. The many clicks are generally written as //, ! or ǂ and sounds range from sucking noises, tongue clicks, to more throaty sounds.

Apart from their most unusual language, their incredible traditional knowledge, skills we western people have lost many generations ago, their customs and history was totally mind-boggling. Traditionally San lived semi-nomadic lifestyles, however the modern San people live in small villages, still as an egalitarian society and following their traditional lifestyle as closely as possible.

San People Namibis traditional hunt

Hunters following spoor in the hope to catch some small antelope or porcupine. If they stumble upon honey however the hunt is off and the golden sirup is collected.


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