On the sideboard in my dining room in Kent there is a small bowl of very fine, reddish sand from the southern-most tip of the Kalahari Desert and a large, gleaming white ostrich egg with a hole drilled in the top. The two objects, so far removed from their place of origin, conjure up for me and my daughter Michaela who bought the ostrich egg at a tourist camp in Namibia and collected the sand from a dune in a north-west Cape squatter camp called Welkom vivid if nostalgic memories of the Kalahari and the Bushmen who still live in it. But they symbolise much more: they speak of an ancient civilisation that existed and flourished for thousands of years under the great dome of the African sky. To the Bushmen the ostrich is a legendary bird — it first gave fire to man — and also the butt of many stories and jokes. They prize it as a source of protein and for its tough eggshells. The latter have both artistic and practical applications; they are used in the manufacture of jewellery and as containers to store water under the sand against times of drought.
Debunking the colonial myth of the "naked Bushman"
To dress is a unique human experience, but practices and meanings of dress are as different as the people populating the world. Through travel literature and historical ethnographic descriptions of the Bushmen of southern Africa, such perceptions and prejudices have also made their mark on the modern research tradition. The Bushmen are the indigenous hunter-gatherers of Southern Africa. Very few still live a life of primarily hunting and gathering.
588 Naked African Tribes Premium High Res Photos
The San people of South Africa were not naked at all. They used clothes, jewellery, tattoos and scent to create and maintain social relations. It is therefore a paradox that researchers have not shown more interest in the dress of the San hunter-gatherers, historically among the most studied groups of people in the world.
Can we seek to find the truth about the past, or will our own backgrounds at some point always betray us in that endeavor? Is all truth relative or might we still aim to getting closer to the truth, a part of the truth, or at least one kind of truth? I guess these are questions every student of the humanities, in the aftermath of postmodernism, have asked themselves, or been confronted with in lectures, seminars and discussion forums.