The San Peoples
Formally referred to as "Bushmen," the different San language groups of Namibia met in late 1996 and agreed to allow the general term "San" to designate them externally. The KPF website provides updates on the struggles for political, economic and cultural self-determination of the indigenous inhabitants of Namibia, Botswana, and other countries of Southern Africa.
Currently, there are over 95,000 people defined as San in Southern Africa. Nearly half of these people are in the Republic of Botswana, and a third are in Namibia. Some of these people face economic difficulties in part because they have not been able to take advantage of some of the opportunities offered to their fellow citizens due to remoteness, insufficient information about the availability of funds, or lack of technical assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions
To what extent are the San people still "pristine"?
The question of "pristine-ness" is a troublesome, and to an extent, old-fashioned concept to most anthropologists. There is a vast amount of oral, linguistic, ethnographic and archaeological evidence to suggest that San people have had relationships (trade, kin, etc.) with surrounding ethnic groups for as long as they and others have inhabited the Kalahari region (at least 100,000 years). Most people who ask this question may actually be referring to contact with Europeans, which began as the region was colonized.
Do San people continue to rely on gathering and hunting?
Yes and no. Many people still continue to hunt and gather for food, but it is not the only means by which people feed themselves. The San are often characterized as hunter/gatherers or foragers, and to an extent this obscures the (much messier) reality that their cultures can be hallmarked as extremely fluid. In other words, people of the Kalahari will turn to capitalism, agriculture, horticulture, pastoralism, hunting and/or gathering as the situation calls for it. This is a fitting subsistence strategy given the climate of the Kalahari.
I am a filmmaker, documentary or otherwise, hoping to film members of the San community. Can KPF provide me with the information/contacts necessary for me to accomplish this?
Yes, KPF is willing to help filmmakers by providing contact information with the local leaders and representatives necessary to film members of the San community. To request this information, please contact us here and include answers to the following questions: (1) What is the concept of the film/documentary? Please be specific about role of San peoples within the proposed film. (2) How will local people be involved in the production of the film or documentary? (3) How will local people benefit from the film or documentary?