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The !Kung San Of The Kalahari Desert

1120 words - 4 pages

The !Kung San of the Kalahari Desert are one of the most highly researched groups by anthropologists. They refer to themselves as the Zhun/twasi, which means, “the real people”. The !Kung San people inhabit Southern Africa, and are commonly referred to as Bushmen. Being that the !Kung San are a nomadic people; their bands are usually only seen as being fairly low in population. These people, who also inhabit parts of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Swaziland, and Mozambique, have a fascinating lifestyle due to the hostile environment that the Kalahari offers (Bushmen, 2011).
The !Kung people’s lifestyle brings one word in mind to me; flexible. They rely on hunting and gathering for their subsistence. As a people they are very appreciative of what the land has to offer, as they are completely dependent on it. They must remain flexible because the land may not always provide. The land they occupy is a very harsh environment. During the wet season it averages about five to forty inches of rain. Temperatures are also extreme. During winter months the temperature is often below zero, while summer months are over 100F. Because of their basic system of food acquirement, it helps mold the other aspects of the !Kung San life (Lee, 1979).
The subsistence retrieval methods are very different between the men and the women. Women do the gathering, and men do the hunting. The men are physically more adapted to be able to protect themselves while away from camp then women. It is also the women’s role to take care of the children, which requires her to be close to or at camp. Men set off to go hunting often for days at a time. Game is often not plentiful, so traveling long distances to make a kill is often necessary. Women set traps, which helps attribute to the food supply as well. They trap tortoises, lizards, snakes, some small mammals, and birds and eggs (Lee, 1979).
In addition to setting traps, as I previously stated, women generally do all of the gathering. Children sometimes accompany their mothers on the daily trips to gather. Women gather fruits, roots, berries, and nuts. Their largest acquirement from gathering is the mononogo nut. This nut is very high in protein, calcium and vitamin E. Archaeologists have found evidence that the nut has been being consumed by the San people, as well as many other bands and tribes for over 7,000 years. It is a very reliable subsistence due to the fact that if stored well, they can be eaten for the entire year. The women are also responsible for the collection of firewood and water. The gathering by women is accounted for most of the sustenance of the band (Mongongo, 2011).
There is no formal education system in the !Kung San band. Instead, the children learn from the parents, and other members of the band. Young girls will go along with their mothers and other women and learn what plants and roots are edible, and which ones are poisonous. She will also learn how to raise...

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