Notes regarding the San Bushmen.

Firstly, a note regarding how San people like being called massarwa or basarwa.

This comes from "The Heart of the Hunter" by Laurens van der Post, Penguin edition 1961. A quote from pages 59 and 60.

So gradually in these and other ways a natural pride in himself came alive again (in Dabé, their Bushman guide). Once it nearly had serious consequences. Jeremiah (the Bantu cook) tended to have a noticeably superior manner with his companions, particularly Dabé. For long he never called Dabé by his name, referring to him simply as 'Massarwa'. This term is used by Africans to describe not only the Bushmen but all the mixed people in the Kalahari living the Bushman way. no one suspected how much this hurt Dabé until one morning, after having been referred to repeatedly as Massarwa, he could bear it no longer.

'How would you like it if I called you not Jeremiah but Kaffir?' he asked sharply.

Kaffir (from the Arabic term "unbeliever") is the term used by Europeans to describe all black people in Africa irrespective of their race and origin, and has come to be used as a deadly insult among Africans themselves. Dabé could not have hit on a more accurate or provocative parallel.

'Massarwa!' Jeremiah exclaimed, putting down the sausepan in his hand, while John, his chief assistant, stopped working too and looked as injured as he did. 'Massarwa. You must not call me Kaffir.'

'But if you call me Massarwa, why should I not call you Kaffir!' Dabé insisted, the fiery Bushman temper of which my grandfather had so often spoken, for the first time visible.

'You must not call us that!' Jeremiah and John said together now, both their dark faces pale with emotion. They came belligerently to their feet and looked tall over Dabé's sturdy little figure.

Luckily I was near and stopped the argument before it became a fight by sending Dabé away on an errand, while I told the others they were never again to call him Massarwa and I would see that he never called them Kaffir. But to me, slight as the incident was, it was a shining example of a truth I have always believed - that one of the great hungers of the human spirit from the earliest to the most contemporary level is the hunger for honour. I am certain Dabé, Jeremiah, and John had been prepared to fight to the death because the matter appeared to concern their honour.

END of Quote.

Books about Bushmen that I think are worth reading.

By Laurens van der Post

      The Heart of the Hunter
      The Lost World of the Kalahari
      Testament to the Bushmen (with Jane Taylor)
      A Mantis Carol
      Yet Being Someone Other

By other authors

Dornan, S. S. 'Notes on the Bushmen of Basutoland'. in S. Afr. Jnl. Phil. 18 pp 437 - 450. 1909
Ellenburger, V. La Fin Tragique des Bushmen. Paris 1953.
How, M W. 'The Mountain Bushmen of Basutoland', Pretoria 1965.
Inskeep, R. R. 'The Peopling of Southern Africa'. Cape Town 1979.
Johnson, P., Bannister, A., & Wannenburgh, A. 'The Bushmen.' Chartwell Books, New Jersey. 1979.
Lee, R. B. & de Vore, L. 'Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers' Cambridge (Mass.) 1976.
Marks, S. 'Khoisan resistance to the Dutch in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries'. in Jnl of African History. 13, pp 55 - 80. 1972.
Marshall, L. 'The !Kung of Nyae Nyae. Cambridge (Mass.). 1976
Schapera, L. 'The Khoisan peoples of South Africa: Bushmen and Hottentots. London 1930; New York. 1953.
Shotak, M. 'Nisa, the Life and Words of a !Kung Woman'. London and New York. 1981.
Silberbauer, G. B. ,'Hunter and Habitat in the Central Kalahari'. Cambridge 1981.
Thomas, E. Marshall. 'The Harmless People'. London and New York. 1959
Tobias, P. V. . '(ed) The Bushmen. Cape Town 1978.
Vinnicombe, P., 'The People of the Eland'. Pietermaritzburg. 1976.
Wright, J. B., 'Bushman raiders of the Drakensburg. Pietermaritzburg, 1971

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