Today I walked with the Kalahari Bushmen in an effort to gain an understanding about their beliefs, nomadic lifestyle and survival methods. Haina Kalahari Lodge offers this fantastic experience as one of their on-site activities. The aim is to educate guests about their culture and lifestyle. Lasting a couple of hours, guests will stop en route to uncover the hidden medicinal properties of plants and enjoy an interactive fire-making ceremony. And, if you’re the adventurous sort, I suggest sampling some of roots and tubers on offer!
Bushmen are the original inhabitants of the Kalahari. Their nomadic lifestyle and authentic way of living has, unfortunately, been tainted by the modern world. Most of today’s Bushmen are descendants of original tribes and have now infiltrated into a more modern way of living. The Haina Bushmen experience is re-enacted by direct descendants of the Bushmen who have not lost their beliefs and still carry out many similar rituals from a bygone era. Currently, there are only two tribes in the Central Kalahari that manage maintain an authentic lifestyle while still trying to co-exist with modern societies. And even they have been inflicted by more progressive tools and lifestyles.
Bushmen live off the land and rely on the wilderness to provide all the neccissities they need to survive. During the walk today I learnt how to make fire by rubbing two sticks together, discovered leaves that make good toilet paper and how to make alcohol out of berries. We dug up tubers and extracted water, we cooked beetles in the fire and ate them. Well – I lie; I never ate the beetles – the Bushmen did ! They also presented us with a quirky Oryx dance – looks like Bushmen..Gangnam style.
Bushmen beliefs are all tied into the animal and plant kingdom. They believe that good people come back as eland (buck species) and evil people as snakes. They read the bush, they use plants for medicinal purposes and they create spiritual associations with animals. Their language comprises a series of clicks with each click possessing a different meaning. Their culture is fascinating and Haina provided a brilliant introduction to the Bushmen.