The San are the aboriginal people of South Africa. Their distinct hunter-gatherer culture stretches back over 20 000 years, and their genetic origins reach back over one million years. Recent research indicates that the San are the oldest genetic stock of contemporary humanity.
Image by Competitions @ IT Services
I am now a third-year Brasenose D.Phil. student in the Geography Department, and my research topic is the Kalahari Bushmen in South Africa and their struggles to make a living on the lands returned to them by the South African government in 1999. During my fieldwork, I spent four months in South Africa in 2009 and 2010. The photo depicts me interviewing the traditional leader of the Khomani San people, Dawid Kruiper, and in the photo you can also see the shadow of a young Khomani man, Richard Steenkamp, who assisted me in interpreting from Nama and Afrikaans into English.
Image by Dietmar Temps
A young boy of the Bushmen tribe in Botswana, Kalahari Desert, is making fire by rubbing sticks together.
The ‘Bushmen’ or ‘San’ are the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa. They are hunter-gatherers and their home is the Kalahari desert. The Bushmen speak a variety of languages with a unique ‘click’ sound. They hunt, mainly various kinds of antelope, but their daily diet is also based on fruits, nuts and roots which they seek out in the desert.
Starting in the 1950s the Bushmen switched to farming as a result of government-mandated modernization programs as well as the increased risks of a hunting and gathering lifestyle in the face of technological development. Many Bushmen who have been forced off their lands now live in settlements in areas that are unsuitable for hunting and gathering.