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i-con2 Ethnic Groups in Namibia : San (Bushmen)

The indigenous inhabitants of Namibia are the San, also called "Bushmen". Indications are that they have lived here for as long as 20.000 years already. The number of the Bushmen still living in Namibia is estimated at 40.000.

Traditionally the San lead a nomadic life in groups of family members with equal rights. They don't know personal possessions. Everybody gives what he has, and takes what is offered. The women collect edible plants, wild fruits, berries, nuts, bulbs and roots. The men do the hunting with bow and poisened arrows. The San people has detailed ecological knowledge and take care not to damage nature.


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Photo: San bow hunter

Ethnic groups in Namibia Nama Rehoboth Baster Herero San (Bushmen) Damara Caprivians Kavango Ovambo Himba
The South African Apartheid administration assigned the area west of Tsumkwe to the San as a homeland. The forced sedentary way of life did not suit their nature and tradition. Their scattered settlements in former Bushmanland, at the margin of the basically waterless Kalahari, today make a desolate impression. Alcoholism is rife. And the Hereros time and again herd their cattle into Bushmanland. The San don't have much of a lobby in parliament in Windhoek. During the struggle for independence the South African army had used the San as trackers, which SWAPO still haven't forgiven them for. But at least there are some NGOs nowadays speaking up for the Sans' interests.