Anthropology - In the Kalahari desert of Africa live a people much different from what we are accustomed to Known as the Bushmen these people are

Anthropology - In the Kalahari desert of Africa live a...

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In the Kalahari desert of Africa live a people much different from what we are accustomed to. Known as the Bushmen, these people are hunter-gatherers, moving around from place to place. The average American might look at the Bushmen society and only see the differences between "us" and "them". With a life uncluttered by the frivolous concerns of modern life, it would appear that these people have little in common with us. However, though quite different from our modern, technologically advanced society, this primitive people shares many of the same basic social tenants as us -- politics, marriage, coming of age, and religion. For these people, almost all of their society revolves around gathering food. Hunting plays a major role in the way Bushman society is structured, providing means of mechanical and organic solidarity within the realms of politics, marriage and divorce, manhood, and religion and spiritual power. As far as organic solidarity goes, hunting is obviously important for the Bushmen. The land wandered, gathered, and hunted by the Bushmen, is located in Southwest Africa. It is a “hostile country of thirst and heat and thorns where the grass is harsh and often barbed and the stones hide scorpions” (Thomas 3). In such a harsh land where water is scarce and food is rare, especially meat, there is always fasting and frequent hunger among the Bushmen. Meat is a coveted article, so coveted that it becomes difficult for Bushmen to “forget their jealousy” and agree that another may be a better hunter than they (Thomas 200). So desirable that a group of four men threw dirt clods and advanced on a pride of lions to win back the meat of a wildebeest that they had killed (Thomas 198). Due to the rarity and the priority given to meat, it is natural that hunting becomes a coveted art, an honorable pursuit, and even a vital act among Bushmen. This is one reason that hunting is so esteemed and valued, and given so much priority as to subsequently affect the spheres of all other societal factors. Without the convenience of a grocery store or an established place to live, the Bushmen's livelihood is hunting, and without it they would cease to exist. Hunting is what allows the Bushmen to be self-reliant. The Bushmen must hunt to maintain their lifestyle. Because of this, it only makes sense that the best hunters are the most powerful people in the community. The skill of hunting is of utmost importance, impacting every single person in the society. This factor causes hunting to be not only important for organic solidarity of the society, but also the mechanical solidarity. Hunting provides a grounds for ideological unity, creating a foundation upon which beliefs are based and the society can function. Like any society, the Bushmen must have a leader. However, unlike an American president, the Bushmen leaders are usually evaluated by the caliber of their collegiate degrees or their experience in progressing state and national political affairs, but rather some more primal qualities. This can be seen in the example of Toma, a leader.

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