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The San People of Namibia and Their Life Essay


The San people live in a country called Namibia, which is located at the west coast of the southern part of Africa. The country covers about 318, 261 sq miles with its size being twice that of Japan or California. The first time I heard of Namibia, I was quite unfamiliar with this country. However, I came to learn that it was the last colony to gain its independence in Africa since it was attained in 1990. The country has rich resources with a lot of diamonds, lead, zinc and Uranium. Its fishing industry is also thriving making the country fall under the category of middle income state in Africa.

The San people of Namibia were hunters and gatherers, and they lived in small groups. The San people never stayed at one place, but often moved in search of food and water. They could stay in one place for just a couple of months after which they moved on to another place in search of food and water. They did not have rules languages or even money. This made the anthropologists to give them the name Bushman. Most of them lived in the Kalahari Desert, which is an extremely hot and dry land which lacks water and have no fertile soil. The rainy seasons in the desert are very few, and when it finally rains, there appear some water pools, and the landscape becomes green. That is the reason why the people lack fruits, seeds and berries.

I have learnt a lot about their way of life by reading a chapter about the San people. For example, I have found that they share everything they have given the fact that they have to survive in the harsh environment. Sharing is a virtue they must maintain since it helps them establish and cement relationships. I have also learnt that they have no money to buy anything, meaning that they do not have things to store since they exchange all the things they have. In most cases, their life is threatened by food scarcity.

Looking at the San society, we can see the roles’ distribution because the work of men is hunting, while that of women is picking vegetables and manufacturing things. A comparison of the San people with our society poses a question of whether sharing still exists. In most cases, only a few people will help the beggars in the street who beg for food. I have even heard that people give or lend money only because the borrowers are in a position to give back the money. This means that it is hard for the poor to obtain money from their friends or even relatives since they cannot provide proofs and guarantees that they are capable of returning the money (Lee 425).

A look at sharing practices practiced among the San people shows that they never blame one another. One will never find them telling each other of how stupid or foolish the others are. Another good thing about these people is that they do not have prisons. A comparison with our society shows that it is very different from that of the San people. There are numerous constitutions and laws that protect and limit us. People often kill each other, steal from each other and hurt one another.

This means that we cannot survive without legal penalties, such as prisons, and laws that guide our society. This does not mean that I am talking against the policies. However, what I mean is that we need to consider this seriously. We should think why such a group of people can make it in the desert without laws, prisons, money or even hospitals. The main question that arises is what we, as the society, would have done if we had lived in the desert like the San people. The most common behavior, which we would have obtained in such a situation, would have been fighting to get the food and water resources for ourselves. It is also possible that most of us would steal food and other goods from one another and from different groups.

However, this does not mean that the San are ideal people since they also have their own disadvantages. As discussed earlier, one of the good virtues they have is that they a friendly and enjoy their lives. They also have high values like sharing and also taking care of their environment.

A look at their life reveals various disadvantages. For example, they only have one form of entertainment, which is dancing. On top of this, they cannot even satisfy their basic needs as well as they are unable to enjoy benefits given by progress, such as electricity, drugs, hospitals, and other comforts. Despite this, the San people love each other and enjoy life as it is. They also uphold the value of sharing their resources among each other (Lee 336).

However, comparing them to the modern societies shows that they do not have technologies and industries that can help them. They also lack education systems to educate themselves meaning that they are illiterate and uneducated. Because of these facts, they can rarely recognize how many comforts the modern society has.

Works Cited

Lee, Richard Borshay. The !Kung San: Men, Women and Work in a Foraging Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1979. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 18). The San People of Namibia and Their Life. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-san-people-of-namibia-and-their-life/

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"The San People of Namibia and Their Life." IvyPanda, 18 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-san-people-of-namibia-and-their-life/.

1. IvyPanda. "The San People of Namibia and Their Life." August 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-san-people-of-namibia-and-their-life/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "The San People of Namibia and Their Life." August 18, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-san-people-of-namibia-and-their-life/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The San People of Namibia and Their Life'. 18 August.

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