Bushmen Of The Kalahari

The San are the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20 000 years. The term San is commonly used to refer to a diverse group of hunter-gatherers living in Southern Africa who share historical and linguistic connections.

The Story

Throughout history they thrived in one of the most hostile environments in the world, living as semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers in the arid areas of Angola, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Well known for their rich legacy of rock art that can be found leaping off the walls of mountain ranges across the continent, the San have strong cultural traditions that until recently remained relatively untouched.The San were also referred to as Bushmen, but this term has since been abandoned as it is considered derogatory – sorry for the title of this CD.  There are many different San groups – they have no collective name for themselves, and the terms ‘Bushman’, ‘San’, ‘Basarwa’ (in Botswana) are used. The term, ‘bushman’, came from the Dutch term, ‘bossiesman’, which meant ‘bandit’ or ‘outlaw’.

This term was given to the San during their long battle against the colonists. The San interpreted this as a proud and respected reference to their brave fight for freedom from domination and colonization. Many now accept the terms Bushmen or San. Like the first people to inhabit other countries in the world, the San have an unfortunate history of poverty, social rejection, decline of cultural identity and the discrimination of their rights as a group. Yet, the San have also received the attention of anthropologists and the media with their survival and hunting skills, wealth of indigenous knowledgeof the flora and fauna of Southern Africa, and their rich cultural traditions.

San people speak numerous dialects of a group of languages known for the characteristic ‘clicks’ that can be heard in their pronunciation, represented in writing by symbols such as ! or /. Made up of small mobile groups, San communities comprise up to about 25 men, women and children. At certain times of the year groups join for exchange of news and gifts, for marriage arrangements and for social occasions.

In May 2001 four San musician !Gubi, Anna, Kuela and Marcela visited England to launch the SANSCAPES REMIX Project with intimate unplugged gigs at The October Gallery, workshops in schools across the City of London and to present the CD at a Club in EC2 in attendance of many of the producers who helped putting this project together under the wings of Phil Meadley.



I really can’t explain to you the feelings I had watching the San people the other night. So many contrasting emotions. Sadness at seeing what our ways have helped to endanger, and at the same time feeling very proud to know people who are putting their hearts into redressing the balance. You helped bring something special into everyone’s life, of both the Bushman people and us, their captivated listeners. Hearing the rhythm of true hearts beating is something that no being can resist for long. George Barker – Director of Flying Rhino Records

It was such a privilege and so fantastic to play with the Bushmen and Pops. I’m still flying off that! Youth (Killing Joke)

What a great night! Such a good vibe beaming out to cynical London. Well done indeed. Diarmid Harrison Murray (musician)

A quick note to say THANKS for Thursday night- I feel like I’ve been walking on Namibian air ever since. I just thought the vibe in the room was amazing and so funny to see all those hardened geezers sitting and clapping like meek little children ….. Alex James

The event was stunning. Thanks so much for giving us all the opportunity to experience such an exotic people on our doorstep. Katy O’Rorke

Just a quick note to congratulate you and thank you for a brilliant evening yesterday.Also, thanks for asking me to be involved in such a truly moving and worthwhile project – you have done a fantastic job for which you should be extremely proud. I was very pleased and flattered to be involved,and I’m sure it will do nothing but good – also it was an amazing experience to meet the Bushmen at the farm on Saturday , it was a real one off to meet the man whose song I had remixed and I’m glad he thought I had done it justice ! Bob Holroyd

Many many thanks indeed for a truly Wonder-Full evening last night! I feel honoured to have shared the Space, Time and Songs of the San people. Thank you for your energies to allow us all to gather together and share this experience. Many friends and I were enchanted by the Honesty of the San people, and their ancient Musical Magic has touched us very deeply. Thank you all. Darren E.S (DJ)

Just a note to say that we all really enjoyed last night. The atmosphere was great! I think it is great that Melt2000 decided to support the ‘Bushmen’ and raise awareness of their struggle. We will continue to keep you updated with our campaign. We have received over 80,000 signatures in opposition to evictions and torture of ‘Bushman’ in the Central Kalahari. We are hoping to receive 100,000 to hand in the Embassy this year. When we do this, we will obviously contact you all so we can make it a big occasion. Liberty Bollen (Survival International)


“In the late eighties I saw the slow death and vanishing of indigenous music on radio stations as South Africa was entering a new era which was dubbed the New South Africa, or better known as the Rainbow Nation. Everybody was looking forward to this new future with high hopes and dreams BUT, some of us forgot where we were coming from. In the beginning of the nineties I decided to help save traditional music from disappearing and started looking for music from the Kalahari to study, but couldn’t find anything in record stores. I wasn’t interested in reading the many books that were available because no matter how much I read these books it still wouldn’t bring me any closer to this music and it’s people. It was time to go to the Kalahari myself to see why this intrigued me so much. So together with MELT2000 we set off to the desert.

It became immediately apparent that these were among the most peaceful people in the world. Their music blew me away. The trance dance of the San people is something out of this world. The San people have been ripped off in many ways – their lands and rights taken away from them. But, the one thing no-one could, or can take away from them is their pride, their culture, their traditions and most of all…their music. This has been with them for over 45 thousand years and will be with them until this world comes to an end. The medicine dance will ‘heal them into the future’ as it has done in the past.

I firmly believe this music should be kept alive in all art forms, ‘cos that’s the only way we can educate the younger generation of tomorrow. To bring the culture to them in a way they can relate to and understand while at the same time providing access to the original music. I feel honoured to be performing this music with them- for being taught the way of the San, and I want to thank you, the listener from the bottom of my heart for helping us fight back. Your contribution will help protect this music from disappearing. What you have in your hand is musical history of the first mankind…The San. Enjoy and spread the word of music from ‘Ancient Ambient Africa’ (AAA).

Pops Mohamed, Artist & Project leader of the “Bushmen of the Kalahari” recordings December 2000, Johannesberg, South Africa


Bring me water cos I am thirsty for some humanity

Come carry me the bushman story
Let me drink the khoisan mystery

the elixir of the ultra African
45,000 years of Homo sapien sapien
a bloodline millennia strong

whose ears are attuned to the desert silence
a silence where the four winds rest
imbued with the voices of the moon the sun and the stars

in the east echoes the cockerels crow over the Kalahari plains
summoning the San sun to rise and chase the stars into tomorrow
in the south the rain sorcerer strikes his mouth bow
and the polyphonic tones hypnotise the clouds to drop their precious liquid load

in the north the hunter waits with patience as wide as the lands vastness where the lions and the eland run – where the hunter gatherer has love affair with the veldkos
his presence melts with the long grass shrub and sand
glowing ashes thrown into the sky become the milky way and the
moon a hunters moon illuminate the eyes of a springbok

alert my ears with the ancients other worldliness of their clicking tongue the wind crackling and rustling the dry silver leaf on decrepit trees hot rock and sand grain rubbing sand these sounds pass between their lips

in the west dance silhouettes of small bodies housing large hearts
and the cosmic sense of oneness a cow yawns and a skinny dog barks and a fire flickers
a fire that induces the birth of stories about the Mantis the trickster and hero
chants and songs chants and songs, notes in a strange and peculiar combination escape their throats
a joyful noise to their creator that still remembered them
they dance, yodels and circle songs reach a fervent peak and the stars begin to fall
a jerk on the jugular string, the umbilical anchor to the universal mind
brings on trance
khoisan is led by the hand of the ancient to the realms of the forbears
become stars and sit to the left of Sirius,what ancient to future wonder is this ?





SanScapes - Bushmen of the Kalahari

Bushmen of the Kalahari


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