Feb 27, 2012

The Nama and the San

The hunter-gatherers and beachcombers of the early Cape

Of all the African people living in South Africa one can probably say that the only truly original indigenous people remaining are the Nama and the San – small-framed, apricot-skinned beachcombers and hunter gatherers who walked the land for food and fished along the rocky shores in turbulent waters more than three hundred and fifty years ago.

 With a tiny physique, an earthy complexion and wrinkled appearance, the San have good eyesight, can see great distances and were skilled trackers who could study a pile of manure or animal dung and tell you which animal had made the deposit, the age of the animal, and the direction it had gone. The San had rock paintings all along the coast as if to dress up the places where they had been and left their signature; they were hunter-gatherers with a wonderful sense of poetry, music, and art.  

 Remnants of the San remain, and have been made famous in the well-known film by Jamie Uys known as The Gods Must be Crazy – where a Coke bottle falls from the sky and causes a tribe member to start walking to the end of the earth to return it to the gods. The act of trying to give back a Coke bottle to the gods is evidence of their delightful nature. The San speak both Khoisan and Afrikaans and make a click sound when they speak. Hunted by the early settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, they fled north and disappeared.

The second group, the Nama, close in colour and stature to the San, who also had Mongolian features, originally lived around the Orange River in southern Namibia and northern South Africa in the mid nineteenth century. Before this, they lived in Namaqualand and were called Hottentots. 

Today, about 60,000 Nama live in Namibia, and an entire community reside in the four districts in the Richtersveld, a mountainous and stony landscape, in Eksteenfontein, Kubus, Sanddrift and Port Nolloth where they have houses along sandy streets with some trees, a café, a school, a church with a piano. The Nama, however, have their problems; alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, and fear that their culture and language will soon disappear. The children are uninterested in learning the language of their elders and many of them now speak only Afrikaans. 

What not to do on a first date

First dates can be mighty uncomfortable especially if you have just met the person at a party for ten minutes the night before and don’t know anything about him except his name and his dimpled smile. It is the hardest first minutes of a date and some people dive right into it and others take their time to sass out the situation. Remember that the other person is just as nervous as you despite a show of bravado and might be talking too much. There is a lot of self-consciousness on a first date. He is talking to you but wondering what you are thinking about, whether you find him attractive, whether you can see yourself with him. And you are tense as a guitar string wondering what the night will bring. It is a stressful, strangely sensuous sensation. 

Keeping on top of things

·                    Whatever you do, do not be bowled over by the situation and take him to your bed on this first date; not because you’re a prude or not a prude or because you might not come across as cool, but because you really do not know him and will feel disgust if you have sex with him and the date turns out to be nothing more than a one-night stand.

·                     Do not tell him your whole family history on a first date; in fact, there should not be a whole catalogue of events and family matters you discuss as you want to keep the date fun and lighthearted. 

·                    Don’t reveal your whole arsenal of tools; let him discover you slowly, hand out tit bits of information sparsely and keep the best portions for last. 

·                     Make an effort to look nice and don’t rush to tell him about the skin tag or wart at the side of your neck that is going to be removed. God knows what he has growing on his body and you as a woman will not run off scared by the sight of it.

·                    Do not pretend to be someone you are not. If you serve coffee and cake at the local café, don’t say something like, “I wait on people, but I also read books.” It says that you are embarrassed by what you do. He will know from your behavior that you are a girl of substance.

·                    When the date is over, thank him politely for a fun evening, and do not call him the next day to tell him what a great time you’ve had. He knows what kind of evening you shared. 

·                    If he does not call you and a week has passed, say quietly to yourself: ‘that’s why I don’t put out the first night.’ This is very old-fashioned stuff. A man who is interested in your spirit, is not going to wait for you to call; he is going to call you. We re social animals after all; we know innately how the game is played.