Cultural Anthropology Essay

Submitted By kiburg5661
Words: 1098
Pages: 5

Kinship Organization of the Bushmen

Kimberly Burgess

ANT 101

Instructor Bowles

March 30, 2013

KINSHIP ORGANIZATION OF THE BUSHMEN Kinship can be defined as family or extended family. Family is always considered to be the best support system in most all cultures. In Western culture, “kin” is someone you are related to. Most American family’s are keep in close contact even though in this society families may live long distances from each other. However in other cultures, close relatives live in bands or small units of people. This paper will focus on the kinship organization of the people from Southern Africa called the Sans or the Bushmen. It will show how kinship impacts the way they live and how this compares to American behaviors in society. The Sans are a people who hunt or gather for their survival. They are also called foragers. They literally live off the land. They do not plant gardens or crops. Their forage is much like a scavenger hunt to find available food. Their women forage, and know where to find plants, fruit, roots and other edibles that make up their diet. The men, stronger than the women, hunt for meat. Meat sources may be antelope, wild pigs, and even small creatures of the territory. They are nomadic people, they move often to allow the vegetation and wild life to rebound, never gleaming all they can from the earth. Their bands are made up of kin or family. The organization of this family is significant not only for known by westerners but for survival. It starts with a family comprised of the Mother, Father and their children. Because this is a natural family unit, it is easier to do all things in the Sans culture. They can live together, work together and move together. A band is made up of several of these families. There is a relatively small population in a band of these people. The numbers range from 25- 50 members. Sometimes these families are related or extended families that include the parents brothers and sisters and their children. (Aunts, Uncles, and cousins). Other times these families are not related (Nowak & Laird, 2010). To be married, they cannot partner with their second cousins unless they pair with cousins on the paternal side of the family. In bands of San culture the kinship pattern is that of bilateral lineage and therefore they are most likely to find relatives to join with should there be a reason to leave their current band. Another requirement for marriage states that a man cannot marry a woman with the same last name as his parents. This also secures the proper linage lines for their children (Nowak & Laird, 2010). The beliefs and culture of the Bushmen have several affects on their behaviors, for instance how they handle differences, how they eat, and how they make decisions. The Sans do not have a government system in the band that lays down laws, They do however have someone in the band, usually and elder that will try to help everyone to see their way based on experience. If, however, the other members of the band do not agree, they agree to disagree and each one does things their way. When issues do escalate to arguments, they are usually about selfishness or pride. During a typical “argument” two people may yell at each other, but usually the tension is broken by a humorous comment, by distilling the tension, the whole band is once again at ease. The Sans are a gentle, peaceful people whereas kindness is a very important part of their lifestyle (Lee, 1972). Because the Sans live off the land, and hunt, often their provisions must be used quickly. It is important for them to share their food with all members of their clan to prevent spoilage. Even if a particular hunter did not kill game, it is okay, the philosophy is one day he will and another hunter will not. This is called reciprocity, and it is a very important custom among the Sans, each