Some Bushmen searching for water. I really wondered: how can they find water in such dry area? © Travel Explorations.
If you like to see how the Bushmen - the San, live today, you can meet some of them in Namibia. In 1996 I had the great honour to meet some of these fantastic people.
Namibia is located in the south-western part of Africa, and is one of the latest discovered countries on this continent. It is because of extremely barren and inhospitable coastlines. But probably is Namibia one of the most interesting places to visit.
The Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert Kalahari is the place on earth where the red sand meets the deep blue sky and the sun sets in with a mosaic of colours. It is also the place where the last few Bushmen still live in freedom and harmony with their land. A place that is harsh and hostile. It is possible to live under such conditions? Yes, one incredible people have proved it, the Bushmen. Some of them live almost the same way as they did for thousands of years ago. It is amazing to see how these people have adapted to their environments.
Some people consider them to be very primitive, but if they look more thoroughly on their nomadic life, hunting, huts, bush craft, beadwork and rock art, you have to admit that their culture is highly developed in many ways. Do you think you could survive in the desert without modern equipment and food brought with you? Now the ancient lifestyle of the last aboriginal people is threatened by extinction.
Photo. Two bushmen women searching for water in the desert. © Travel Explorations.
The Bushmen live in perfect harmony with the nature. They are real survivors!
There are only approximately 60.000 Bushmen left today, but few continue to live of the land as their forefathers did. The most of them have been influenced by other lifestyles. We met a group of Bushmen who almost lived in their traditional way, and seemed to have a good life. See the photos below:
A proposal for marriage
As other tribes around the world, also the Bushmen have their own distinguished customs, and one of them was how to make a proposal to a woman you want to marry. Since I am a bachelor I would like to test out the custom without being accused for bigamy. A Bushman gave me a small bow and arrow for the purpose. Then I approached her in the most discrete way, and so I started to aim at a woman's bump. I had already made good eye contact with her. She was just what my mother waited for.
Because I am a real gentleman I would like to get closer to her before I released the arrow. I wouldn't hit her to hard, or on the upper part of her body. But before I came closer, and let the arrow fly, she escaped into a straw hut. I shook my head full of disappointment. It is always hard to be rejected. If I had come so far that I had hit her with the arrow, there had been two alternative outcomes.
First, if she didn't like me, she would pick up the arrow and break it, probably the most likely scenario. But if she really liked me she would hold the arrow against her heart. And suddenly I have to be ready for a new great challenge, hunting in the desert. It would definitely give me a hard time. If I managed to catch a prey at all, I had to put it on the entrance outside her parent's hut. So if they appreciated my efforts and the gift, they would hopefully accept my marriage proposal too.
Photo. The woman who broke my heart, but probably gave me a good reason for travelling further to see more of the world.
© Travel Explorations.
Why do the Bushmen use a cupid's bow in his courtship of a woman?
Regarding creation the Bushman see himself as a bow strung by the woman his arms. Together they can shoot a new life into the future.
Photo. The Bushmen village where I was mingling with the friendly natives.
© Travel Explorations.
The sun was hot, and it was almost impossible to find a shadow.
Something is going on! Love is in the air?
Photo. See the shy woman in the middle. The flirt is already started! © Travel Explorations.
I really wonder what she think about me!
I felt the tension, and so did her.
Photo. Happy couple, but just for a while. It was before I aimed at her with the "Love-bow".
Then she become really frightened.......
Maybe she thought I was a lion, and would like to eat her?
The tribesmen laughed a lot and encouraged me the best they could!
Photo. The great and wise Bushmen chief liked my proposal. © Travel Explorations.
When the old, big chief heard about my proposal, he shined up and laughed wildly.
He talked eagerly with the strange "click"-sounds, which the Bushmen have in their dialect.
I started to think about the prepartions for the wedding cermony, and I wondered how I would be able to hunt animals in the traditional way as the Bushmen still do?
Introducing of football (soccer)
Photo. The great and wise Bushmen chief was eager to discuss my proposal.
© Travel Explorations.
After a long speech he shook my hand and encouraged me the best he could. Probably he would like me to join his tribe.
He and his tribe men gave me a fine carved stick, which I preserve as one of my best souvenirs and memories ever.
From a long distance I and my travel mate Geir brought with us a football, as we usually do. Since we both are interested in football we invited the Bushmen to play with us. It was immediately a success. The Bushmen flocked around us, and so they started to participate in the game. It was a bizarre situation; think about playing football almost in the middle of the disreputable Kalahari. The ball bounced high and low, between small trees, huts, and long out in the dry land. All the Bushmen ran after the ball and kicked it wild, but the were no hard tackles.
Finally we challenged the Bushmen in a penalty competition. I have to admit that I lost; all the evidence is on videotape so I can't unfortunately lie about that. The San Bushmen Kalahari United - Norway 1-0.
I explained that this would rank them among the ten best national football teams in the world (ref. the FIFA-ranking). As the noble sportsman I am, I congratulated the Bushmen with the great victory and gave them our football. They gave me back a bigger bow and arrow, and it looks more suitable for a new marriage proposal, but it was to late, I didn't get the chance to shoot again.
Photo. A friendly football match against The San Bushmen Kalahari United. © Travel Explorations.
If Norway loose against the Bushmen in football, Brasil and England would definitely loose too. The scores are proven!
When we left the Bushmens` camp, the woman I made a marriage proposal to, waved wildly at me (look at the photo above). She probably regretted that she ran away from me. Why didn't she understand at once that I am the mother in law's dream?
Inspirations from Laurens van der Post
Our source for inspiration was taken from Laurens van der Post book "The heart of the hunter - a journey into the mind and the spirit of the Bushmen". This book and other books he as written represents a great tribute to a people of unique spirit, the Bushmen. Laurens Van der Post was an author, explorer, anthropologist, linguist and philosopher. Van der Post was an opponent to apartheid. His books are a unique contribution to understand the Bushmen's life and culture, which we find very useful for our visit. Namibia has everything. It will give you the time of your life.
If you like to find some inspiration for a tour to Namibia, I recommend you to read Laurens van der Post`s books. At the same time you will get a good base for doing the right things when you meet the Bushmen. But for me I had to use the "Love-bow", which I brought with me, for another pretty girl I will meet on my way. Time will show!
Stein Morten Lund (Norwegian Viking), 6 June 2000
Here are some of the attractions in Namibia:
- Fish River, a natural wonder of the world, which ranks as one of the most spectacular sights in Africa.
- Etosha National Park in the northern part is one of Africa's most beautiful and interesting game parks. It is also the largest game park in Africa.
- The country's largest national park, Namib-Naukluft Park, is the place where you can ride on the world's highest sand dunes. It is also fun to slide down the sand dunes on a dune board. A unique spectacular adventure is to soar in a balloon over the desert when the sunrise, and have champagne breakfast in the middle of the desert afterwards.
- Many interesting animals. Wild life covers the most, including large predators as leopards. At Okonjima not far from the capital Windhoek, we encountered a big leopard called Mike Tyson. The leopard's neck was extremely thick and he really looked like the famous boxer in many ways. Further more Okonjima is an unspoilt area where you can see other big cats too.
- Mixed diversity of cultures and origins: Kavongo, Basters (Rehoboth), Khoi-Khoi, Herero, Ovambo, Afrikaner, German, Asian and others. I and my travel mate Geir found the San - the Bushmen of Kalahari Desert - the nicest and interesting people to meet.
Some facts about Namibia:
- Formal country name: Republic of Namibia
- Area: 825,418 sq km
- Population: 1.8 million
- People: 86% African (50% Owambo, 9% Kavango, 7% Herero, 7% Damara, 5% Nama, 4% Caprivian, 3% San, 2% Baster, 0.5% Tswana), 7.4% mixed and 6.6% white
- Language: Bantu, German, Afrikaans, English and Herero
- Religion: Christian, Lutheran and native religions
Read more about Namibia on our web site: Meeting big cats in the Garden of Eden.
For more general information about Namibia, click on the link www.LonelyPlanet.com