The San Tribe of Southern Africa

The San tribe or the African Bushmen are probably the oldest tribe on earth. Although the are almost extinct and now few in numbers, they have managed to keep their traditions alive over time. They have lived for over 20,000 years, which makes them the oldest tribe in Southern Africa and are said to be descendants of the early men.

The San tribe has been a case study for so many anthropologist mainly because of their evolution, survival, hunting skills and their rich cultural traditions. The Sans are mainly found in Namibia and Botswana.
So here is what has been the most attractive part about this tribe with over 20,000 people is their various ways in which they heal the sick amongst them.

The San Tribe
San Tribe Healing Dance
Photo Credit: momoafrica.com

This includes several traditional practices like drinking oral remedies made of plants and animal materials, making cuts on the body and rubbing in potent substances, inhaling smoke of smouldering organic matter. But the most talked about healing method is the healing dance, which is performed when people are very sick and also to heal negative habits in people. The healing dance is an all night affair, where the healer goes into a trance to interact with the realm of the gods and release the healing effect.

During this state the healers travel to God’s village to provide healing for the community or the affected individual. The healers slip out of their bodies, outside the bodies the healers travel to God’s village through a thin line of thin threads, mostly called “wires to the sky” by locals. The locals say that the “wires to the sky” can break and the healer could fall to the earth, which is described as a very frightening state.

The healer is often in great pains and screaming during the dance most times it ends up with the healer being in an altered state. The healers on getting to God’s village experiences a healing energy that are channeled to the sick people by touching the sick individual on the affected body parts or the torso region. The practice is said to bring peace to the as it drives away anger and disputes in the community.

The Sans are predominantly traditional worshipers as they practice the San religion which involves worshipping the /Kaggen though a few of them are Christians. The Sans observe certain practices like every other African tribe such as; the initiation of a boy to manhood, the initiation of a girl into womanhood, marriage and their healing dance.

The Eland Antelope used by the San Tribe for Ritual purposes.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

For the initiation into manhood a young boy is made to go on a hunting expedition to make his kill which should preferably be an eland antelope, once the animal has been caught it is skinned and the fat from the animal’s throat and collarbone is made into a broth. During the initiation into womanhood of a girl, she is isolated in a hut at her first menstruation during puberty and the women of the tribe perform the Eland Bull Dance where they imitate the mating behaviour of the Eland cows.

A man usually plays the part of the Eland bull, usually with horns on his head. This ritual will keep the girl beautiful, free from hunger and thirst and peaceful. During marriages, the groom gives the girls’ parent the fat from the Elands’ heart and the bride is anointed with Eland fat. The Sans believe that the Eland was /Kaggen’s favourite animal.

Among the most known Sans include, Namibian bush farmer and actor Nǃxau ǂToma Saan, who was Kalahari Bushman Xixo in The Gods Must Be Crazy and it’s sequels. Famous Namibian Politician Royal Johan Kxao ǀUiǀoǀoo is also a member of this tribe.

San Tribe Rock Art
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Did you know, the San tribe kept records of history by engraving drawings on the wall?, or That they hunted animals by using poisoned arrows. So guys next time you make a trip to Namibia or Botswana do make sure you inquire about the San tribe and try to experience their rich cultural heritage.

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