April 24, 2015
1537 NAMIBIA - Ju/'hoansi bushmen in Eastern Bushmanland
Khoisan is a unifying name for two groups of peoples of Southern Africa, who share physical and putative linguistic characteristics distinct from the Bantu majority of the region. Culturally, they are divided into the foraging San (or Bushmen), and the pastoral Khoi, previously known as Hottentots. The San include the indigenous inhabitants of the region before the southward Bantu migrations from Central and East Africa. Over time, some Khoi abandoned pastoralism and adopted the hunter-gatherer economy of the San, and are now considered San. Similarly, the Bantu Damara people who migrated south abandoned agriculture and adopted the Khoi economy. Large Khoisan populations remained in some arid areas, notably in the Kalahari Desert.
Also called Ju/wasi or !Kung, Ju/’hoansi is a San society of about 30,000 people living in the deserts of Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, in southern Africa with a central, interior area on the Botswana/Namibia border. Most of them were nomadic hunters and gatherers until the latter part of the 20th century, but over the past 50 years some of them have settled into permanent communities, where they farm, herd livestock, and produce crafts. Due to the hostile environment, they had to keep moving in order to keep eating, since food and water resources are sparse. Until recent decades, while the Ju/’hoansi still subsisted on hunting and foraging, everyone prized the meat that the men hunted but they really lived on the vegetable foods gathered by the women, which provided 60 to 80 percent of their diet.
The basis of their society is the willingness to share everything, a practice that prevails among foraging groups. But even though they regard stinginess with great hostility, they are even more strongly opposed to arrogance. A hunter who announced his success to his camp, or a woman who made a point of displaying her gift to another is arrogant. Discussions of issues that might lead to conflicts, such as laziness, stinginess, or unfair distribution of meat are normally maintained at the level of gossip, open criticism, or humor. Children have no social duties besides playing, and leisure is very important to San of all ages. Large amounts of time are spent in conversation, joking, music, and sacred dances.
About the stamp
The stamp is part of the series Medium-sized Antelopes of Namibia, designed by Helge Denker and issued on May 27, 2014:
• Red Hartebeest / Alcelaphus buselaphus caama (postcard rate)
• Springbok / Antidorcas marsupialis (postcard rate) - It's on the postcard 1537
• Red Lechwe / Kobus leche (postcard rate)
• Bushbuck / Tragelaphus scriptus (postcard rate) - It's on the postcard 1802
San people - Wikipedia
Ju/’hoansi - Encyclopedia of Selected Peaceful Societies
Dobe Ju/'hoansi: Law of a Hunter-Gatherer Society, by David Freeman
Sent from Katutura (Khomas / Namibia), on 01.04.2015
Photo: D. Keinrich