Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman | Study Guide

Marjorie Shostak

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman Study Guide." Course Hero. 6 Feb. 2018. Web. 29 Sep. 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, February 6). Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved September 29, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman Study Guide." February 6, 2018. Accessed September 29, 2023.


Course Hero, "Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman Study Guide," February 6, 2018, accessed September 29, 2023,

Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman | Key Figures

Key Figure Description
Marjorie Shostak Marjorie Shostak is a 24-year-old ethnographer studying the !Kung San people. Read More
Nisa Nisa is a !Kung woman in her 50s who is interviewed extensively by Shostak. Read More
Gau Gau, Nisa's father, is a !Kung healer and hunter. Read More
Chuko Chuko, a !Kung woman, is Nisa's mother. Read More
Tashay Tashay is Nisa's third husband and the father of her children. Read More
Besa Besa, Nisa's fourth husband, often works for the Tswana in the East. Read More
Bo Nisa is married to Bo, her fifth husband, at the time Shostak interviews her. Read More
Bau Nisa's fourth child, Bau is not yet walking when she dies from a chest sickness.
Bey Bey, Kantla's first wife, likes Nisa and urges her to marry her husband and be a co-wife to her.
Bo Nisa's first husband Bo doesn't last long; he sleeps with her guardian Nukha and their marriage dissolves within days.
Dau Dau, Nisa's older brother, is a healer who often helps and protects Nisa. Nisa loves and admires him and often goes to him for help.
Debe Debe is one of Nisa's lovers during her marriage to her fifth husband Bo.
Dem Kantla's younger brother Dem has an affair with Nisa, too. When the brothers fight over her, her husband Besa hears about it, and she denies Dem is her lover.
Isak Utugile Isak Utugile was the first official regional headman in the Dobe region, appointed in 1948. A respected leader, he mediated problems among the !Kung, Tswana, and Herero for more than two decades.
Kantla Kantla, a married man, is Nisa's lifelong lover and one of the most important men in her life. He offers to marry Nisa many times, but she does not want to be a co-wife.
Keya Keya is Nisa's friend, with whom she plays sexually.
Kumsa Kumsa, Nisa's younger brother, takes Nisa's place in nursing when he is born, though she is not ready to stop nursing. Kumsa later gives his young daughter Nukha to Nisa to raise after her own children die.
Kunla Kunla is Nisa's childhood friend, with whom she plays sexually.
Kxamshe Nisa's younger sister Kxamshe, whom she loved very much, died from a "trembling sickness" in childhood.
Kxau Nisa's son Kxau, who is just learning to hunt, dies from a chest sickness before he reaches adulthood.
Little Chuko Little Chuko is Nisa's first daughter, whom she names after her mother. Little Chuko dies very young from a sickness in her chest.
Nai (Nisa's friend) Nai is Nisa's childhood friend, with whom she sometimes plays sexually.
Nai (Nisa's daughter) Nisa's helpful daughter Nai marries and moves away from her family. Her husband tries to rape her when she refuses sex, and she dies after he throws her down and her neck breaks.
Nanau Nanau has an affair with Nisa, but her husband Besa catches them together and Nanau is beaten as a punishment.
Nisa's son-in-law Nisa's son-in-law is the husband of Nisa's daughter Nai. When Nai refused to have sex with him, he becomes enraged, throwing her down and breaking her neck.
Nukha (Nisa's guardian) Nukha is an older woman who is supposed to watch over Nisa when she first marries as a young girl. Instead, she sleeps with Nisa's husband, Bo.
Nukha (Nisa's niece) Nukha is Kumsa's young daughter, whom he gives to Nisa to raise when his wife becomes pregnant again.
Numshay Numshay is Nisa's lover in the Tswana village.
Saglai Saglai is the woman Nisa's father tries to make his co-wife.
Tikay Tikay is Nisa's first boyfriend, and it is with him she first explores sexual play.
Tiknay While Nisa is married to Tashay, he marries a second young girl, Tiknay. Nisa fights with her frequently and finally chases her away.
Toma Nisa's mother Chuko leaves her husband for her lover Toma, who is also her sister's husband. Toma leaves his first wife and does not even pay his respects when she dies.
Tsaa (Nisa's husband) Tsaa is Nisa's second husband, and though she likes him, she refuses to have sex with him. He then refuses to give meat to her or her father, so her father dissolves their marriage.
Tsaa (Nisa's lover) Tsaa is one of Nisa's "important loves," but she becomes jealous when he takes another lover and refuses to see him again.
Tuma Tuma is Nisa's cousin who makes sexual advances toward her.
Twi (Nisa's brother-in-law) Twi, the younger brother of Nisa's husband Tashay, becomes her lover and the father of her first child, Chuko.
Twi (Nisa's rescuer) Twi is Nisa's lover after her husband Besa abandons her. Her brother Dau eventually runs Twi off.
Unnamed 15-year-old girl The unnamed 15-year-old girl discusses various aspects of childbirth with Shostak.
Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!