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October 29 , 2008

The Ju/’hoan San of Nyae Nyae and Namibian Independence

Development, Democracy, and Indigenous Voices in Southern Africa


The Ju/'hoan San, or Ju/'hoansi, of Namibia and Botswana are perhaps the most fully described indigenous people in all of anthropology. This is the story of how this group of former hunter-gatherers, speaking an exotic click language, formed a grassroots movement that led them to become a dynamic part of the new nation that grew from the ashes of apartheid South West Africa. While coverage of this group in the writings of Richard Lee, Lorna Marshall, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, and films by John Marshall includes extensive information on their traditional ways of life, this book continues the story as it has unfolded since 1990. Peopled with accounts of and from contemporary Ju>/'hoan people, the book gives newly-literate Ju/'hoansi the chance to address the world with their own voices. In doing so, the images and myths of the Ju/'hoan and other San (previously called "Bushmen") as either noble savages or helpless victims are discredited. This important book demonstrates the responsiveness of current anthropological advocacy to the aspirations of one of the best-known indigenous societies.

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