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Witness to a Last Will of Man

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  • Witness to a Last Will of Man

    This is thoughts on the spiritual and imaginative life of the Bushmen of Southern Africa by Sir Laurens van der Post. Whatever his failings may have been -- like many others he's been the subject of a very hostile biography -- this, as other of his writings, seems a remarkable achievement to me.

    It was originally published as an afterword to Jane Taylor's book Testament to the Bushmen.

    I found a copy online:

    Witness to a Last Will of Man

    It has, among other things, a remarkable quotation from Wilhelm Bleek of a Bushman's explanation to him of what story meant to him.

    It's amazing the spiritual significance the Bushmen saw in the tiniest things and expressed in their stories:

    Perhaps most moving of all because it is from a story told with singular delicacy and tenderness, it is in such a pool that a Bushman of the early race, hungry and dispirited, sees the wind that represents the living spirit, spiralling over the stricken wasteland. It lifts an ostrich feather to which one tiny speck of dried blood is clinging and deposits it deep in the pool, where it is transformed into a perfect ostrich chick. The pool in the story to be told is surrounded by reeds, marking it as an area of growth dear not only to the water but to the wind that sings in passing as they sway and swish in the rhythm of its movement, a song of birth, death, resurrection and eternal life-giving change.
    Here's some old film of an expedition organized by Van der Post in search of Kalahari Bushmen:

    Sir laurens Van de Post.wmv - YouTube