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Sharers   -   `Bushmen of the Kalahari'   (1974 film)

"The National Geographic Society sent John Marshall [born 1934] to Botswana (he was not allowed to return to Namibia until 1978) in 1972-74 to update the film story of the Ju/'hoansi."
From `The Cinema of John Marshall', 1993 edited by Jay Roby) [CSUC: GN/21/M258/C56], p. 265.

FILM: John Marshall & Kerewele Ledimo seek the village of !Kadi and ask the question  "Do the people still pursue their ancient way of life and freedom of the Kalahari? ...

"The people I lived with in the Western Kalahari called themselves "zhu twa si" [the harmless people; they also call all strangers "zhu dole" or dangerous people]." ...

"Beyond satisfying hunger, hunting confirmed kinship ties ... drawing them together." ... "Kinship has always been the key to Bushmen survival."

"The Kalahari is never well watered, so the !Kung are used to long dry spells, during which they fall back on the most reliable water holes and eat a far wider range of plant foods. ...

Each family creates ties with others in a system of mutual reciprocity called "hxaro".  Hxaro involves a balanced, continual exchange of gifts between individuals that gives both parties access to each other's resources in times of need.  Hxaro relationships create strong ties of friendship and commitment.  Hxaro distributes risk by giving each party an alternative residence, sometimes up to fifty to two hundred kilometers away.  Each family has options when famine threatens."

Brian Fagan, 1999, `Floods, Famines, and Emperors', page 78.

FILM:  Mentions John Marshall's sister Elizabeth Marshall (who wrote a 1958 book entitled `The Harmless People'.  "Most respected for scientific work would be Lorna Marshall, John's mother.

Note:  John Marshall wrote that "from ĒToma (1911-1988), I learned as much about observing as I did about hunting and gathering.  ĒToma taught me how to watch, listen and suspend judgement. ...

ĒToma stressed the importance of telling the truth and being specific.  For obvious reasons, Ju/'hoansi could not rely on magic and belief to survive in the Kalahari where rain is local and erratic, bushfoods are hard to find and the game is hard to track;  arriving where water had been mistakenly reported could be fatal.  Knowledge had to be extensive, objective and accurate"

`The Cinema of John Marshall', 1993 edited by Jay Ruby [CSUC: GN/21/M258/C56], p. 34-35.

From:  `The Harmless People':

the Bushmen knows "every bush and stone, every convolution of the ground, and have usually named every place in it where a certain kind of valid food may be. ...

If all their knowledge about their land and its resources were recorded and published, it would make up a library of thousands of volumes.  Such knowledge was as essential to early man as it is to these people. ...

They have no chiefs or kings, only headmen who in function are virtually indistinguishable from the people they lead, and sometimes a band will not even have a headman.  A leader is not really necessary, however, because the Bushmen roam about together in small family bands rarely numbering more than twenty people. ...

Their culture insists that they share with each other, and it has never happened that a Bushmen failed to share objects, food, or water with the other members of his band, for without very rigid co-operation Bushmen could not survive the famines and droughts that the Kalahari offers them. ...

Trust, peace, and cooperation form the spine of Bushmen life. ...  By maintaining these three virtues, Bushmen live where otherwise people might not"

Note:  John Marshall wrote that - "In order to understand the problems Ju/'hoansi have faced in the last thirty years, and the changes in their economy and society they have endured, it is important to know where they started from.  But people do not start from scratch;  the invisible reality of history shapes their present and future"

`The Cinema of John Marshall', 1993 edited by Jay Ruby [CSUC: GN/21/M258/C56], p. 64.

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