Bushmen in Botswana

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Beer Monster

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Aug 25, 2004
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Thought I'd post a link to a gallery of some of the photos I took the last time I was in Botswana.

Here is a link to the gallery:- http://img204.imageshack.us/gal.php?g=xhaseportrait54jv.jpg&cols=4

This gallery is of some bushmen we spent a day with whilst in the Kalahari. On a day to day basis they work as trackers at the nearby lodge. These are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Quick to smile and constantly laughing and they are fantastic people to be around.

I'll just explain some of the photos so that you get an idea of what went on that day:-

Going out for a walk:-




Malaki dug a tuber (the type of plant escapes me at the moment ..... can anyone tell me?) out of the ground. After scraping away the outer skin he dug into the pulp inside rolled it into a ball and then squeezed it in his fist releasing a fluid (alot!) that he guided to his mouth using his thumb. I had a go and the water released was quite bitter and tasted of turnips!:-


He also took us to an area where he had previously hidden some some ostrich eggs that held water:-


He had buried them and the hole in the egg was plugged with some dry grass. He had to hide them quite deep underground as the animals can smell the water.

One thing that amazed me was that the area was quite flat and featureless (as you can see in the first photograph) with a low scrub. We walked for quite a while (an hour or two) and seemed to weave or way through the bush. After about 10 mins I was completely disorientated but they unerringly navigated their way to a single plant/trap that that they had set the day before more often than not they didn't even raise their heads as they were intently looking at the track and plants around them ...... built in GPS!

Here Malaki and Xhase set a spring trap:-


Preparing the fire stick:-


A scene many of you will be familiar with!:-




This was one of 2 methods they showed us. The second was using a small piece of flint that I picked up while we were out on the walk.

Here they are drilling holes in fragments of ostrich egg to make a necklace or bracelet:-


Showing off their hunting skills:-


Here Xhase hit my 0.5 liter water bottle (empty) that was a good 40 - 50 meters away ........ I thought that was quite a distance for such a small bow?!

I hope you enjoy the photos. Some aren't very good as it was about midday so the photos are quite dark!

I'm off to Tanzania in the next couple of weeks :eek:): so hopefully will have more soon!
 
W

Walkabout

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Thats fantastic. And some people call them savages... :?:
ps Can you tell us what they carried as their day-to-day kit? All I can make out are buckskin bags with sticks poking out!
 

Beer Monster

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Walkabout said:
Can you tell us what they carried as their day-to-day kit? All I can make out are buckskin bags with sticks poking out!
Thanks for all the comments one and all.

As far as I can recall the long stick you can see sticking out is a spear. In this photo you can see Xhase on the left with the spear (point down) sticking out under his arm.



The point has a leather cover on it. They are also carrying in their hands a short club (the Zulu name in Knobkerrie ..... not sure what the San call it ..... lots of clicks!) that when moving is carried in the sack on their back (they also sometimes carry a larger version that is about 5foot long ...... you can see it leaning against the shelter on the right of the firestick prep photo). The knot on the end has been hardened in the fire. This is not only used to dispatch animals close up but can also be thrown.

One of the shorter sticks is the firesticks (with hearth board) and the other is a bow. Inside the sack is a quiver of poison tipped arrows (5-6 in number), a short diggingstick, a knife and a flint, iron and tinder in a little pouch. Thats about it really. Very simple but functional. They some times carry a kaross which is a type of leather shawl as it can get very very cold at night.

I think the reason the bags look a little bit bulky are that they are carrying the rattles (made from silk catapillar coccons!) that they use for dancing, see in this photo around Malakis ankles:-



In that photo you can also see a small wooden mannequin sitting up on the floor. In one of the other photos in the gallery you can see Malaki making it dance to the thumb piano music (and singing) by stringing it between his toes. It was very very good and suprisingly life like!!! They really got into the whole thing and the sound was amazing ....... just look at the expression on their faces (you can also see the solid tube like arrow quiver behind Xhase):-


Here is a wee website that will tell you a bit more. They say they also carry an axe but I must admit these guys didn't.
 

Beer Monster

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chris said:
Did you go to Botswana on your own or did you join this expedition - http://www.uksurvivalschool.co.uk/bush.htm
Before and during uni (I studied Zoology) I spent quite a while backpacking round southern and central africa. When I graduated I did a few random jobs before landing my dream job ............. I now work for a small tailormade african safari company based here in the UK :) . One of the perks of the job is that I get to go out to Africa every few months and travel round all the lodges to see which ones I like! .......... which is nice :naughty: . I did this Botswana trip last November. You can see the bush is quite green as the first rains had just fallen.
 

Tvividr

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Very nice pics.
Beer Monster said:
.....the Zulu name in Knobkerrie ......
Actually that's not a Zulu word, but the english (South African) word for the Zulu fighting and hunting club. The proper seZulu word is isagila or iwisa depending on what type of club it is. Another word is ikilabhu.
An ordinary stick is called izinti.
As a kid I always carried an isagila while running about in the bush, and I still have some 3 or 4 of them left around the house...
 

Beer Monster

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Tvividr said:
Very nice pics.

Actually that's not a Zulu word, but the english (South African) word for the Zulu fighting and hunting club. The proper seZulu word is isagila or iwisa depending on what type of club it is. Another word is ikilabhu.
An ordinary stick is called izinti.
As a kid I always carried an isagila while running about in the bush, and I still have some 3 or 4 of them left around the house...
Yes your right. My Zulu is pretty much non existent :roll: ....... I always thought it sounded too English/Afrikaans! I've heard of iwisa before but the other names are new to me. Whats the difference between the isagila or iwisa, do they have a different uses i.e. hunting/fighting? Physically how much do they differ? This kind of stuff always fascinates me :) !

Does anyone know the origin of the word knobkerrie? Is it of English origin or is it an Afrikaans word? Maybe a combination!? :?:
 

zambezi

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Aug 24, 2004
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DEVON
knobkerrie \knob"ker`rie\, knobkerry \knob"ker`ry\, n. [Boer D.
knopkirie, fr. D. knop-hout, knotty stick + Hottentot
k["i]rri club.]
A short wooden club with a knobbed end used as a missile
weapon by native tribes of South Africa.
[Webster 1913 Suppl.]
 

Tvividr

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Beer Monster said:
Yes your right. My Zulu is pretty much non existent :roll: ....... I always thought it sounded too English/Afrikaans! I've heard of iwisa before but the other names are new to me. Whats the difference between the isagila or iwisa, do they have a different uses i.e. hunting/fighting? Physically how much do they differ? This kind of stuff always fascinates me :) !

Does anyone know the origin of the word knobkerrie? Is it of English origin or is it an Afrikaans word? Maybe a combination!? :?:
Where I grew up (Swaziland - siSwati is more or less a dialect of seZulu) the word isagila refered to the type of club with a carved head protuding to the side (hard to explain, but I can post a pic if anyone is interested ?), while iwisa was the type of club with a completely round bulbous head.
The isagila is extremely deadly. Due to the carving it will crack a skull open as easy as crushing an egg. I've seen and picked up a dead guy (brother of my parents housemaid) whose brains was smashed with an isagila, and that was not a pleasant sight.
The isagila type of club is more common than the iwisa in Swaziland. There are however variations of both types, and the individual maker can often be recognised by one who has good knowledge about the weapon, just by looking at the way the head has been carved.
 

zackerty

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Dec 16, 2004
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Christchurch...New Zealand
The tuber's name is morama...
...and you did realise that the water that came out of the ostrich egg, was originally sucked up orally, and spat in the egg? When you are thirsty, it don't matter, hey?
 

Beer Monster

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Aug 25, 2004
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Thanks for all the info guys. It always astounds me that the amount of knowledge and experience people on this forum have!!! Doesn't matter what area it is someone will have the answer (or at least point me in the right direction!)! :biggthump.

zackerty said:
...and you did realise that the water that came out of the ostrich egg, was originally sucked up orally, and spat in the egg? When you are thirsty, it don't matter, hey?
Yes they showed us the area where they dug the sip well and the surrounding water indicators, however, I didn't drink the water from the eggs .... just the bushmen!

Thanks again guys. :)
 

zackerty

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Dec 16, 2004
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Christchurch...New Zealand
I was in South African Army from 1978-1981... bushman were our trackers for a while, from Omega Battalion. Sadly, the white man messed up their lives by introducing them to alcohol, and the concept of private ownership of possesions.
They were hunters extraodinaire....still are, I guess.
I miss their simple and complex lives....