One of the most outstanding
experiences of our 61 day safari was this visit to a San village well
beaten track in Namibia. Not that there are many beaten tracks
there. When we reached the end of the road
we found a few men and children there. One of the men indicated the we
should wait and then left down a path. While we waited I took out some
strings and offered them to the kids so they could do some string
figures. The youngest ones had trouble with
how to get started but once over that hurdle it was clear they had done
In a few minutes a young man appeared. He assured us, in excellent English,
that we were welcome to
take pictures and offered to take us to the village. Then he set off at a good pace into
We met several families. We joined one of the families
for a walk while they showed us how they found food and water. Their culture requires them to leave
enough of any berries, water, roots, and other resources for the next
person to come along. You can use a grass straw to get
water from where it has collected in holes in certain trees. Be sure to leave a straw in the hole
so it will be easy to identify it as a water source. Part of the surface of the roots of
some plants can be ground and the pulp squeezed to get water as well. Because not much was taken the roots
could be reburied so they could be used again.
Here's how it's done.
Other roots and fruits are good to
eat and some have medicinal properties. The men all carried a metal knife, a
bow, and a quiver of arrows. The arrows were tipped with metal or
bone points coated with a potent poison that I was told could down a
I didn't get an explanation of the
tattoos that some of the villagers had. Since they aren't particularly
ornamental they were probably the result of traditional medical
Back in the village, A couple of the guys from our group
decided to try to make fire the bushman way by rubbing two sticks
together. one of the bushmen showed them how to
spin the stick in a depression in another stick until it produces
a pile of dust, smoke, and a spark. Then gather that in a handful of
tinder and blow gently until it bursts into
It was a long process but ultimately successful. I couldn't resist getting pictures of
these youngsters, Some of the women were making beads
for headbands like this girl
is wearing and necklaces out
of ostrich shells.
They take bits of ostrich eggs and rub them on a stone to make them
Then use this stick and point to drill the disks to make beads.
Others were giving or getting hair
Meanwhile one of the men offered
(using gestures not words) to
teach me how to make and shoot a bushman style bow and arrow,
He showed me how to make a bowstring for the bow I had just made.
Start with fibers from sisal, twist two bunches separately, then wrap
them together, add more to a bunch when you get close to the end, and
Never add to both bunches at the same time so the fibers in one overlap
the ends of the other. He moves fast but it is a slow
Having made the bow I had to try it out and my bushman friend was happy
to show me how.
The target was a bundle of reeds shaped like a small antelope (if you
used your imagination).
Neither of us hit the target but we both came close.
I have the bow, a complete arrow with a metal point, and a giraffe bone
point for another.
I also had the chance to share string
figures in the village.
One of the girls from the Bushman
village had seen me do a magic trick where I apparently pulled a string
through one of the kids.
She didn't know the trick so it didn't work.
They had set up a "shop" on some
poles with necklaces, headbands, and wooden tools. We selected several items of course.
There was a musical instrument there as well. At the end of the video is a brief
glimpse of some spears. But finally it was time to
Thank you Andrea and Marielle for sharing the pictures from our trip.