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The Bushmen Tribe of Tsumkwe (Photo Diary)

We met and Bow Wow licked the Ju/’hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia. Bow Wow impressed the tribe with his tricks, while I learnt how to make jewellery out of ostrich eggs and Lachlan considered ditching his Calvin Kleins for some Bushmen budgie smugglers.

Young bushmen children, Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

On our arrival, these spirited youngsters greeted us in threadbare, western clothing. In the heat, wind and dust, it wasn't long before we too were similarly begrimed.

 

Baby Bushmen. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

San people are the most ancient tribe in Southern Africa and our closest link to stone age man. For 20,000 years they have survived as hunter gatherers.

 

Bushman with bow ready for hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

However, the modern world has encroached on their land and there is very little game left to hunt. When we arrived, they told us that they had only caught one kudu that month.

 

Bushmen with Bow Wow on a hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

To supplement their meagre lifestyle, they rely on travellers like us who pay to experience their ancient bush culture.

 

Bushman bum showing traditional buckskin loincloth with ostrich shell button. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

This means proudly donning their traditional buckskin loincloths, much like a Scotsman wears his kilt on a special occasion.

 

Bushmen group off foraging. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

On a foraging expedition...

 

Bushman baited bird trap. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

they showed us how to set a berry-baited bird trap. Once caught in the noose, the bird strangles itself trying to get free. Later they cook it in ash, still in its feathers.

 

Baby bushman. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Bush baby with pepper corn curls.

 

Mature woman bushman showing bush potato. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Shadow dance. Traditionally, while the men are hunting, the women collect wild fruits, berries and root vegetables like this certifiably organic bush potato.

 

Bushman showing bush potato. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Their arcane knowledge of medicinal and water bearing plants has been passed down through the ages.

 

Our bushman guide. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

They speak in sharp clicks and pops which we found impossible to get our graceless, western tongues around. We couldn't even say some of their names.

 

Bushman standing with bow, arrow and walking stick on a hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

San people are expert archers.

 

Bushman showing poisonous beetle larvae. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

They coat the tips of their reed-shafted arrows with a highly toxic poison which is obtained from the beetle larvae pictured.

 

Bushman making a sharp arrow. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Even a tiny amount of this larvae juice is fatal to humans and so it is handled with great care.

 

Group of bushmen making bows and arrows. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

The chief of the Tsumkwe tribe used his foot for leverage to strip leaves of their pulp, leaving long fibres which were then twisted together into a durable twine to make bow strings.

 

Bushman making a fire with smoke in his face. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

No matches here. Flames are created by rubbing sticks together over dry grass and calling on the fire spirits.

 

Young bushman girl. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Since meeting at the water pump earlier that day, this little girl and Lachlan had struck up a wordless friendship.

 

Mother holding her baby. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Without the pressures of the modern world, the women are enviably at ease with their bodies. We forgot to ask what they keep in the tortoise shells that hang from belts at their waists.

 

Group of women making jewellery with baby in the middle. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Gossiping in their musical language of clicks, the women formed a production line for making beads out of ostrich shells. Once the shell is chipped in to small circles, a hole is hand drilled through the middle. It was much trickier than it looked.

 

Elderly lady putting holes in ostrich egg shells to make jewellery. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

The chief's wife wore the most ornate ostrich headband with a fringe of beads. The white beads are ostrich shell and the black ones are seeds.

 

Group of children. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Age-old traditions are being passed on to the next generation.

 

Women dancing. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

We will always associate the San people with the sound of laughter. In this game, if you drop the monkey orange, you're out!

 

Bushman stalking his prey on a hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Bushmen can read tracks on the ground in the same way that we can read words in a book.

 

Bushmen creaping up on their prey in a hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Armed with quivers full of arrows, the men performed a hunt.

 

Bushmen shooting arrows at their prey on a hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

And fire! The San people are known for their stamina and will run their prey down until it drops with exhaustion.

 

Bushman standing with his bow after the hunt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

The winning shot. The tribe all had a humour that danced behind their eyes and required no words.

 

Bushmen hunting using spears. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

They also demonstrated how they hunt using spears.

 

Bushmen hunting prey using spears. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Bow Wow narrowly escaped being impaled when he mistook this as a harmless game of fetch.

 

Young bushman girl standing. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Lachlan's friend watched on, absorbing the heritage of her people.

 

Baby suckling mother. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Babies are carried in leather slings. Rather than being strapped to their mother's back as we had seen elsewhere, these tots face out to take in the world around them and in easy reach of a constant milk supply.

 

Young bushman child. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

This baby has a typical Bushman bottom, just like the ones seen on cave paintings and perfect for life in the desert.

 

Lucie dancing with women. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

I joined the San women in their Elephant Dance.

 

Lucie dancing with women. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

This ancient dance depicts the female chain of communication that takes place when someone comes across a dangerous animal and the warning of its location spreads from one woman to another.

 

Lucie dancing with women. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

The tune is still imprinted in our minds.

 

Children dancing. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

The bonds of time.

 

Baby lying in the sand covered in dirt. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

There is a solar panelled water pump ten minutes walk away. Surrounded by butterflies enjoying the mud, we washed there in the morning but almost immediately dust stuck to our sweat again. It was quite impossible to keep clean.

 

The chief. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

The tranquil chief is respected and loved.

 

The doctor healing a patient by performing a special trance dance. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

We were honoured that the tribe's doctor contacted the spirits of his ancestors for us.

 

The doctor healing a patient by performing a special trance dance. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

As the rest of the tribe clapped and sang, he transcended to a trance like state and his whole body seemed to vibrate.

 

The doctor healing a patient by performing a special trance dance. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

A different energy was palpable in the air and it gave us goosebumps.

 

The doctor after performing a special trance dance for sick patient. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

For a few minutes afterwards, the doctor seemed detached and totally drained.

 

Doctor with child. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

He had travelled to the spirit realm before our eyes.

 

Lucie, Lachlan & Bow Wow from The Vagabond Adventures and the Tsumkwe Bushman Tribe. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

If only Bow Wow had looked at the camera!

 

The chief and his wife. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

The chief and his wife were such kind, gentle people.

 

Lucie wearing ostrich shell and blue duiker headband. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

They gave me this headband made from the skin of a blue duiker and ostrich shells. Lachlan was given a bow.

 

Lucie, Lachlan & Bow Wow from The Vagabond Adventures. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Watching the great goddess moon rising over the desert on our last night in Tsumkwe.

 

Bushmen off to check the baited bird trap in the morning with Bow Wow. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Morning walk to check the baited trap but no birds had fallen for it.

 

Two bushmen in the roof top tent on Lula the Landy. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

These Bushmen were curious to see our home-on-wheels.

 

Lachlan, Bow Wow and two Bushmen. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Lachlan gave them a grand tour.

 

Lachlan showing our website to two bushmen. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

"And this is the office." They liked our website.

 

Lucie, Lachlan & Bow Wow from The Vagabond Adventures with a group of Bushmen children in normal clothes. Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Saying goodbye. Bow Wow is so sweet in this picture! I am convinced that he has been trying to imitate my facial expressions.

 

Lucie, Lachlan & Bow Wow from The Vagabond Adventures hugging a giant baobab tree with Lula the Landy. Near the Ju/'hanse San people, or as they are more commonly known, the Bushmen, near Tsumkwe, eastern Namibia.

Huggable baobab on our way to Botswana.

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8 Responses to “The Bushmen Tribe of Tsumkwe (Photo Diary)”

  1. damo says:

    Love reading the updates guys – you’re living the dream!
    Looking forward to your reports on Botswana – I hope to be there next year.
    Cheers,
    damo

  2. ayngelina says:

    What precious faces, I love the photos in this post.

  3. this is a very interesting post, i love your pictures.the tsumkwe bushmen look very happy. how long did you stay there?

  4. bilety autokarowe says:

    I’m impressed, I need to say. Really hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Your idea is outstanding; the issue is one thing that not enough persons are speaking intelligently about. I’m very comfortable that I stumbled across this in my seek for one thing regarding this.

  5. Dasymad says:

    Interesting traveling in the land of bushmen. I really enjoy looking at the pictures posted. Thanks

  6. This is a wonderful candid photo essay. I love the diversity in your shots and vantage points :)

  7. Maya Photoshop says:

    I stumbled upon a good travelogue here. I really loved this site. The faces in the pics seem so friendly. I enjoyed the video that is uploaded. Looking forward for more such posts.

  8. Mariah says:

    This is a very interesting post, i love your pictures. Interesting traveling in the land of bushmen. The faces in the pics seem so friendly. I also enjoyed the video that is uploaded. Thanks

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