Bushmen of the Kalahari History

Bushmen of the Kalahari. Anthropology 1050-1

The ‘Anthropology of Eating’ Field work


  • Mayh – Outline presented for your ‘fieldwork’ assignment
  • Due Assignment 1 – Part A: Initial outline for fieldwork
  • Due Assignment 1 – Part B: Field work completed

Part A of your assignment: Initial outline

Bushmen of the Kalahari. Hand in a brief outline (Cover page plus 2 pages max) of the participants in your proposed group, the location, and a brief overview of the nature of your observational study

  • E.g. family BBQ or meeting friends, reasons, participants, etc.
  • You are going to be describing:
    • The nature of the occasion in which eating and/or drinking occurs
    • Your expectations – What you expect generally: e.g. Food to be consumed; if pertinent, who might prepare the food, who will likely clean up
    • An overview of the behaviours observed
  • Requisite permissions (participants and any institutions involved)
    • including the informed consent form designed to be signed by every participant and yourself
  • List of any equipment you will use
    • E.g. tape recorder, pencil and paper
  • You can work in small groups of 2-3 (max) if you are observing a larger group activity (remember you still must get Informed consent forms signed by each participant)
  • Regular formatting applies
    • E.g. APA, cover page, introduction, references (optional for part A)
  • Part B of your assignmen:
    • Introduction
    • Methods (especially any changes)
    • Write up your results (briefly), including a section on any problems you encountered
      • no true names or any other identifying information about the participant

Bushmen of the Kalahari




  • Participants– Bushmen of the Kalahari
  • Location– Western Kalahari including parts of Southern Africa
  • Brief overview of the nature of your observation – The Bushmen of the Kalahari, lived in the western Kalahari, which was a desert. They have a small stature, and most of them including the young have wrinkles in their faces. The men walked with bows and arrows and were hunters and gatherers. They could go hunting for wild animals for example giraffes. During hunting, they used a manual communication system and coordinated well amongst each other. They used bows and poisoned arrows to kill the giraffes and could roast the slaughtered animal using firewood from the forest. They then shared the meal together and carried home some pieces to share with their families. The women, on the other hand, sustained their families. They stayed at home and looked for wild fruits to take care of their home needs.
  • Nature of the occasion in which eating and/or drinking took place. The Bushmen of the Kalahari randomly ate whenever they came across food. For instance, women and children ate wild fruits after finding them in the forests. The men came across a source of water, and they deeply drank it because there was no water back in the West. Another instance, while still hunting, the men killed a giraffe, roasted it and ate it together before dividing and sharing it and taking some of the portions to their families. The Bushmen of the Kalahari also ate and drank during celebrations after achieving what they want. For instance, birth of a child led to celebrations that included eating meat as well as drinking.
  • Your expectations – The expected food to be consumed include the wild meat and wild fruits. That is because the men were hunters and could go hunt for animals then take the meat to their families. Additionally, they could take home the fruits that they came across while hunting. Generally, the Bushmen of the Kalahari ate the wild food including meat, fruits among others. Among the meat animals that they ate include giraffe and antelope. The fruits included wild berries and nuts among others. I expect the women to prepare the food for their families. The men could go hunting and bring the food home for their women to cook it. The women were also expected to clean up their homes. It was their duty to ensure their homes and the food in which their families ate was clean.
  • An overview of the behaviors observed – The Bushmen of the Kalahari were very united, the children played together, and whenever there was rain, they would play together in the rains and wash each other. During meal times, families ate together in groups, and the women ensured that everybody got a piece of the meal no matter the quantity. They are also people of a dancing culture. They could dance knowing that through that, they dance their ideas, emotions, and laughter. They also understood that not many could understand the message through observing their dance moves, it was their language, a way of communication.


Lee, R. B. (2017). What hunters do for a living, or, how to make out on scarce resources. In Man the hunter (pp. 30-48). Routledge.

Nielsen, M., & Tomaselli, K. (2010). Overimitation in Kalahari Bushman children and the origins of human cultural cognition. Psychological science21(5), 729-736.



The Bushmen are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa where they lived in the vast expanse of the Kalahari Desert (Lee, 2017). They are the remnants of the oldest cultural group in Africa. They are short with small bodies and have yellowish skin. Their skin develops wrinkles at a very early age, with most of the young children having wrinkles in their faces. Their language is characterized by the use of clicks, which they used to communicate with each other. They were hunters and gatherers and mostly got their food from the desert and forests.


The method used to gather information regarding the Bushmen of the Kalahari included journal articles related to this group of people and watching a documentary that explains the lifestyle of the group as well as their activities. The documentary was particularly important since it clearly showed how they group lived including their day to day activities. The articles were vital since they helped in understanding the period they have lived in addition to comprehensively explaining what was captured in the documentary. The combination of the two sets of sources ensured the information gathered was comprehensive.

Results Summary

The Bushmen of the Kalahari were hunters and gatherers who mostly lived in parts of Southern Africa. Their diet comprised of wild plant food such as wild berries, nuts, and roots among others. Their men went hunting for the wild animals like giraffes and antelopes, which they ate as meat. They hunted using arrows that were smeared with poison to kill the animals, which they killed could serve them for several days. Their homes were mostly made from wood, which they had gathered. Women were regarded as significant people within the group, with their opinion taking precedence particularly in matters family and food (Lee, 2017).

Lee (2017) explains that their social structure is not tribal since they do not have a paramount leader, and thus, their ties of kinship are relaxed. Their family culture is loosely knit, and decision-making process is universal; agreements are reached via consensus. The language is common within clans. Additionally, there was some degree of similarities and understanding between different clans of the group. There were no strict boundaries between the clans, and the various clans could relate well to each other, going as far as hunting together as a group.

Birth is not a big issue amongst the Bushmen. Their women did not prepare or go to a hospital when they were about to give birth (Lee, 2017). They gave birth in homes or bushes with the help of senior women in their clans. The birth of children, however, was signified by celebrations and the children were loved by the group. Death occurred naturally, and when one died in a particular camp, the group moved away from the camp after burying the dead person.

The Bushmen faced some problems including invasion of their homes by cattle herding Bantu as well as the white colonists who wanted the lands (Nielsen & Tomaselli, 2010). They were discriminated and evicted from their ancestral lands by the colonists.


The Bushmen of the Kalahari lived in the Southern parts of Africa and were hunters and gatherers. Despite their structures being relaxed, they lived in harmony and performed their duties in unison. The men and women had their roles that were clearly defined. The men were tasked with hunting while the women were tasked with taking care of the families. They were however evicted from their ancestral lands by the colonists, and these characteristics have diminished. The group is slowly fading away.


Lee, R. B. (2017). What hunters do for a living, or, how to make out on scarce resources. In Man the hunter (pp. 30-48). Routledge.

Nielsen, M., & Tomaselli, K. (2010). Overimitation in Kalahari Bushman children and the origins of human cultural cognition. Psychological science21(5), 729-736.

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