Who are the Bushmen?
The Bushmen are an indigenous people to the Kalahari Desert in Africa, with a territory covering parts of South Africa, Namibia, Angola and Botswana. Historically, they are a hunting-gathering society, but with western colonization, many Bushmen have been forced from their traditions. It is commonly believed that they have inhabited the African continent for more than 22,000 years, and some archaeologists believe that they are the oldest group on earth. Bushmen are descended from the Khoisan ethnic group, related to the Khoikhoi. They are well known for their unique language that includes clicking sounds, characterized by the ! or / symbols in written language. Bushmen, which denotes them as a general group, including many sub-groups, are also referred to as the Basarwa, San, !Kung, and Khwe, all of which, excluding !Kung, were given to them by outsiders. This has been problematic, because many of these names are slurs or derogatory. The term Bushmen itself has negative connotations in
Woven within 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. The Bushmen, often referred to as the San or the generic term Khoisan, are the remnants of Africa’s oldest cult
About half of southern Africa’s 100,000 surviving bushmen live in Botswana, where they have hunted in the Kalahari desert for some 22,000 years, making them the region’s oldest inhabitants. The Bushmen or Basarwa (meaning “those without cattle”) — also known as the San — traditionally live in temporary wooden shelters. They are renowned for their ability to track wildlife by reading signs in the sand, although none of the Bushmen now live the traditional life of their ancestors which involved tracking and killing game on foot using poisoned arrows. Why were the Bushmen re-settled? The bushmen claimed they had been evicted from their protected reserve illegally by the government to make way for diamond mining. Now living mainly in two resettlement camps, they say they have suffered from disruption to their traditional way of life, with many falling victim to AIDS and alcoholism, and can no longer hunt for wild game and forage for roots and berries as their ancestors once did. Around 1
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