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The People of the Kalahari Desert
Introduction, Location and EnvironmentThe people of the Kalahari desert are extraordinary people. For centuries their hunting and food gathering techniques have enabled them to survive in the difficult environment of the dry, hot and barren Kalahari desert. They are known as the Bushmen. Or the Kung or the Gikwe since Bushmen is rather discriminating because the "Bushmen" live among shrubs and trees and sand and such. The people of Kalahari Desert live in a dry bush desert in South-West Africa and western Bechuanaland, bordered in the North by Lake Ngami and the Okovngo River in the South by the Orange river and west by the Damera Hills. The Kalahari is there all low with sand dunes and great plains. A hostile country of thirst and heat. A country with scorpions, thorny bushes and of course sand as far as the eye can see and perpetual dust. In the hot months it the temperature goes up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. In the months of winter, which are June and July, the winds from the Antarctic cold blow at night. But during the day it eventually rises up to around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and drops down in the evening. There are only three months of winter and these begin in December and in March the drought season starts and by August all the water holes that were made during the rainy season are dried up. It is not dead, the desert. There are boabab trees that give pear shaped fruits, flowers, and blossoms resembling gardenias. There are tall grasses. There are bushes flowering either red, white or violet flowers, tsama melons which very much look like watermelons and are the size of a small cantaloupe. There are also mogongo nuts that are very high in protein. When in season one person can eat as many as 400 nuts. These people who inhabit the dry, barren Kalahari have a hard life, so it seems... But, really, do they?
Food Resources and TechnologyLiving in the hot sandy Kalahari might seem very difficult, even impossible. But if one knows the secrets of the desert. The desert will give you a living. The people of the Kalahari know these secrets. No fancy machinery necessary. No modern technology needed. Only simple handmade tools and weapons such as digging sticks, little axes, bows and arrows, small traps or snares, knives. Not to mention their senses and their wits. They poison the arrows so the game will die faster when hit. The poison is extracted from a certain grub. Great hunters know where the best place to shoot an animal so the poison will work best. Great hunters also know how to make the finest arrows. They also know all the habits of all the animals from the mice to the antelopes, they know what time of day that is best for hunting, too. There are quite a few food resources such as tsama melons, mongongo nuts, roots, berries, wildebeests, kudu, gemsbok, antelopes, steenbok, porcupines, elands, small animals like the mongoose and the chicken fowl, birds-even babies-, wild boars as well as honey from the bees. And of course there are a couple of temporary and permanent water holes around. They use digging sticks to dig up roots, they gather tsama melons, mongongo nuts, and berries. They hunt game with bows and arrows and spears on foot. They cook mongongo nuts in hot ashes, eat the entire animal from the hide-which they work into leather sometimes- to the marrow inside the bones. Of course this might seem like a lot a meat since the game is plentiful but really 80 percent of their diet is vegetables. Sometimes when cooking meat they cook it in the rind of the tsama melon with the liquid still inside and it makes a stew. The people are smart and know their land very well. Therefore as long as they know the secrets the hot desert holds, the desert will give them a living and they'll never go hungry.
Social System and Leisure The size of the groups vary from 20 to 100 people or even 200 people per group. The groups have to be small or else moving from place to place will be extremely difficult. The roll of a man is to hunt and gather honey from the bees. The roll of the woman
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San people, Ergs, Kalahari Desert, Ethnic groups in Botswana, Ethnic groups in South Africa, Mongongo, Desert, south west africa, pear shaped fruits, thorny bushes, kalahari desert, shrubs and trees, tall grasses, dry bush, damera, water holes, violet flowers, drought season, cold blow, course sand, orange river, hostile country, bushmen, gardenias, food resources, watermelons, cantaloupe
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