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The Bushmen Laughed

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  • The Bushmen Laughed

    Here are a few short extracts from a book by the South African anthropologist and game-warden, P. J. Schoeman, on the Bushmen. While Schoeman is very well-aware that he knows many things the Bushmen don't, and even takes a rather superior attitude towards them, he seems very honest about recording when they catch him out or laugh at him.

    This passage records what happened after he shot gemsbuck for them:

    All six Bushmen were there and their tongues clicked at an unbelievable speed. Xameb translated ...

    "They say the White Father does not ruin the skins where he shoots. They want to know whether they may remove the water."

    "Which water?"

    He must have given them permission to do so before speaking to me, because two Bushmen began to dig a hole in the ground, two others cut the bellies of the buck open, while the remaining two gathered branches and grass.

    I sat down and the old man explained. "the buck's skin goes into that hole. They throw branches and grass on to the hide. Next, they put the contents of the animal's stomachs on top of the branches and grass ... These act as a filter. The partially digested grass is held back and the fluid collects on the skin. It is good water for one who is thirsty. The White Father must taste some."

    I walked nearer and leaned forward to look at the green liquid on the blood-stained skin, and did not feel thirsty at all!

    The Bushmen roared with laughter when when Xameb told them what I thought of their "water".
    Next he's offered meat:

    ... Xameb was speaking again:

    "Does the White Father want a piece of the stomach or liver?"

    I squinted at the sun.

    "It is late. If we roast meat now it will be a long time before we get home ...

    They laughed again.

    "The first helping of meat is not roasted. We eat it raw."
    Here Schoeman gets into a discussion about clothing, nakedness, and the cold:

    I bent forward to remove the grass seeds from my stockings. When I stood erect again only old Xameb was with me ...

    "Does the White Father now understand why we go about naked, with only a piece of skin in front and behind? Grass seeds do not stick to a naked body, and the twigs do not say 'kirts, kirts' as they do against your clothes.... the game is wide awake."

    I pretended not to understand.

    "Don't you feel the cold?"

    His reply slightly embarrassed me.

    "The White Father does not wear clothes on his face.... That which is not used to covering does not feel the cold."

    Anyway, the book seems currently to be out of print, although around on Amazon and Amazon UK: HUNTERS OF THE DESERT LAND. (9780869782200): P. J. Schoeman: Books schoeman hunters desert
    Last edited by Lewis; 05-09-2012, 11:38 AM. Reason: spelling

  • #2
    hahaha too funny! thats great