Mains World Tribes -Bushmen, Kirgiz


The indigenous people of Southern Africa, whose homeland covers much of Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Angola, are often also known as Bushmen or the San people. They are traditionally nomadic hunters and gatherers who moved over vast areas of land throughout Southern Africa. The Bushmen are split into northern and southern bushmen due to their differences in language. The most significant populations are divided between Botswana (55,000), Namibia (27,000) and South Africa (10,000) with most being based around the Kalahari Desert.

They have a fairly egalitarian society with women being accorded much respect and authority. Kinship and family is very important with large family groups living together. Leisure time is important as they spend a lot of time recreationally in family and kin groups. Most important of all is the hunt for food and for water as they live in an arid and barren desert region. Drought is a real threat to them and their way of life and one of the reasons various governments have tried to force them into farming. The Bushmen of Botswana have been involved in long running legal battles to be allowed to return to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve one of their most important and protected homelands.

The Bushmen of the Kalahari or San people first came to worldwide prominence when Laurens Van Der Post  filmed a documentary series on the Bushmen for the BBC in the 1950s. It was a huge hit and triggered a worldwide fascination with this ancient and forgotten tribe of Africa. His views of them were very European but led the way to a deeper understanding and respect of their way of life from later anthropologists and academics.

The further investigations of Bushman culture and traditions have demonstrated a common link with other ancient races such as the Native Americans and South American rainforest tribes in their experiences with trances and “soul quests”. Many anthropologists are very excited by the fact that these seem to be common experiences amongst early man despite never having been in contact with each other.



Kyrgyz, also spelled Kirgiz or Kirghiz, Turkic-speaking people of Central Asia, most of whom live in Kyrgyzstan. Small numbers reside in Afghanistan, in western China, and in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkey. The Kyrgyz language belongs to the Northwestern, or Kipchak, group of the Turkic languages, a subfamily of Altaic languages. The people are largely Sunni Muslim in religion.

Like other Central Asian peoples, the Kyrgyz were traditionally nomadic and pastoral. During the second half of the 19th century, Kirgiziya (the country’s Russian name) became a major area of Russian colonization, and much of the best land was given to Russian settlers. This was a major cause of the revolt of 1916, in the suppression of which the Kyrgyz suffered very heavily; whole villages were put to the torch, and nearly a third of the Kyrgyz fled to China. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Kirgiziya was the scene of much guerrilla opposition to the Soviet regime. From 1926 to 1959 there was a heavy influx of Russians and Ukrainians into the area, and the proportion of Kyrgyz in the total population fell from about 66 percent to 40 percent. The development of agriculture and heavy industry, along with the growth of cities, did much to change the traditional Kyrgyz way of life.




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