The San – or the Bushmen of the Kalahari – are several lingual groups in Southern Africa, who kept their traditional nomadic way of life until the second half of the 20th century. Hunting and gathering in one of the most deserted places on earth, the San survived for thousands of years in a sustainable egalitarian way of life of equality and sharing. Lately, their lives have been radically altered while they were required to settle and prohibited from hunting on their historical land.
In the last 30 years, non-profit and other organizations encouraged San makers to sell their crafts, focusing on ostrich eggshell beads and hunting tools. The works are collected in the villages, before being distributed to central markets and stores.
I hope to share the story of the San makers. Being an external observer for a few short visits, this is not meant to be a critique or an in-depth analysis. This is a craft story of a tradition that lost it's cultural independence in global economics. The San were forced to adapt, and today many of them depend on others interest for what used to be their culture, commoditizing the heart of their tradition in an effort to survive.
I would like to add a special thank to:
Besa Abuse, Namibia
Paul Wellhauser from Nharo, Toronto, Canada
Masweta Heinrich and Marta Mulukoshi, Nyae-Nyae conservancy, Namibia
Karin le Roux from OMBA Trust, Namibia
Kuru Art, Botswana
Ghanzi Craft, Botswana
Sebastian Dürrschmidt from The Living Culture Foundation, Namibia
Lee James Pratchett, Germany
Megan Biesele, USA
Polly Wiessner, USA