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Encyclopedia > Bushman

The Bushmen or San peoples of South Africa and neighbouring Botswana and Namibia, who live in the Kalahari, are part of the Khoisan group and are related to the Khoikhoi. However, they have no collective name for themselves in any of their languages. They have a sign language that they use while hunting.


With the pygmies of Central Africa, they have been considered root of female DNA lineage - the legendary Mitochondrial Eve.


The term San was historically applied to them by their ethnic relatives and historic rivals the Khoikhoi; as the term means outsider and was derogatory, many of this group prefer to be called Bushmen, despite the fact that the term is considered politically incorrect by most Westerners (see this UPI feature (http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=17062002-072804-4319r)).


In modern South Africa, the Bushmen have largely been absorbed into the so-called Coloured or Cape Coloured population of the Western Cape.


The Bushmen of the Kalahari were first brought to the western world's attention in the 1950s by South African author Laurens van der Post with the famous book The Lost World of the Kalahari, which was also a BBC TV series.


Since 2002, the Bushmen of Botswana are seeking legal action to prevent the Botswana government from removing them from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, their ancestral homeland. The Bushmen are arguing that the Government of Botswana is attempting to destroy their culture through forced relocation and persecution based on their identity.


Further reading

  • Survival International (http://www.survival-international.org/bushman_0202.htm) and National Geographic (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/04/0416_030416_san2.html) highlight the Botswana bushmen issue.



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