I have a most unusual editor. Charlotte Firbank-King is not only a great editor, but she is also an author and does whatever else an editor does, balancing clients well (I know, I am one of them), but she is a brilliant, I mean mega brilliant, amazing, well-known, South African artist.
Charl, as she is called, has taught me about South Africa, and continues to intrigue me with bits and pieces of her land and its people, where fossils are found from millions of years ago. She has been asked to create a painting for a national show to promote Port Elizabeth and the Eastern Cape. I can’t wait to see what she will paint. One of her works that she directed me to on her website, and to use, is called The Ethnic Map of Southern Africa. Her painting is meticulous and depicts the ethnic people and their villages as they are traditionally.
The map covers South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and the southern region of Mozambique. The original people of these areas are represented in their traditional dress, there are 121 human figures–each one is three+ inches (8cm) high in the original painting. The artist also included the flora and fauna relevant to each area and historical shipwrecks and buildings. The map is surrounded by a border drawing from the designs and objects of the ethnic people. Some of the more intricate sections were painted using a magnifying glass. The original work was sold in 2000 and can now be seen in the museum on Southfork Ranch, Texas, USA. The print comes with an indication map, which names all the subjects and a booklet provides information on everything in the painting. In order to purchase, please contact the artist. The website is currently being updated, prices, shopping cart, etc, and is available only for viewing. To purchase, please refer to her website link below and go to contacts to communicate with Charl.
The terminology—ethnic—refers to a social group of people who have various things in common, like culture, ancestry, history, religion, dressing, physical appearance, and of course, language. Which brings me to talk about a group of people that speak with a tongue click. When Charl mentioned these people to me recently, I remembered hearing them speak when I was at the Rift Valley in East Africa visiting missionaries. The Khoisan language has click consonants. The sound is quite musical and has a rhythm. If you want to explore further, Google Khoisan language.
There’s a perception people generally have of the indigenous people of the world, seeing them as inferior with no knowledge of what is happening in the world. It seems there is some kind of seclusion as they are looked at as uncivilized. Today, South Africa is a country of many cultures, languages and traditions. Yet, at one time, the country was populated only by the Khoisan. Please see and hear the Khoisan people In the video link below.
The Khoisan people were hunter gatherers, living in harmony with the ecosystems of the time, a magnanimous variety of plants, and teeming game provided them with everything they needed for a harmonious life. Today, the Khoisan are a small group of nomadic hunter gatherers who still strive to live in relative harmony with nature.
They live in small groups and settled in beehive huts made from available materials such as twigs, grasses or reeds until resources become scarce. The search for new resources will move the group to a new site.
Men are the hunters, using bows and poison tipped arrows, and bring home game, while the women gather wild vegetables, fruits, berries and water, as well as the materials used to provide shelter. Men are highly respected for their hunting and tracking skills and their knowledge of the natural environment. Women are equally respected for their knowledge of edible plants and abilities to find water, and especially their ability to give birth and nurture their young. Khoisan tribes who have been studied by anthropologists, has shown that not only do they have a vast knowledge of the plant and animal life, but also a sound knowledge of women’s monthly cycles according to the moon, knowledge that pregnancy occurs through sexual intercourse and knowledge of the average length of a pregnancy.
Motherhood, in Khoisan culture Bushmen, brings status and social recognition to the woman after she has navigated the journey of pregnancy and birth. Unlike our attitude in the modern world where women are offered pain relief at the slightest twinge that labor may have begun, a young Khoisan woman is actively taught that she must face the pains of natural childbirth with courage and fearlessness. Most women will give birth alone in a squatting position, a short distance from their settlement. This is regarded as ideal, although mothers giving birth for the first time may have a helper at hand.
Bringing a child into the world is a gift to the tribe and a young mother is taught that how she feels and thinks during the pregnancy will affect the labor and birth of the new baby. Other members of the group will assist by helping to carry other children or food. A pregnant woman is expected to continue with her normal duties such as gathering food, cleaning, caring for other children and should not complain. This renders a woman fit and healthy during her pregnancy – there is no room for slothfulness or overeating in this society. A pregnant woman is rarely overweight and an unborn baby is likely to grow to be the right size for the mother to give birth. After the arrival of other African tribes, the Khoisans’ hunter gatherer way of life remained predominant west of the Fish River in South Africa and in deserts throughout their region, where the drier climate precluded the growth of crops suited for warmer and wetter climates. With the arrival of the Europeans, Mediterranean crops in the 17th century became more popular with African farmers and later white Boer farmers, to spread to the rest of the country and began replacing the Khoisan population. During the colonial era, the Khoisan survived in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. Today many of the Khoisan live in parts of the Kalahari Desert where they are better able to preserve much of their culture and lifestyle.
It is a sad part of South African history that these vibrant and culturally-rich tribes are now almost extinct, with Khoisan culture pushed to the periphery of society. But they have left an indelible mark on Southern African society.
The distinct clicks of their language, once found nowhere else in Africa, have been incorporated into Zulu and Xhosa speech. They have also contributed to the richness of Afrikaans and South African English with words such as ‘eina’ (ouch) and ‘aikhona’ (absolutely not). And place names like Karoo and Keiskamma.
Beyond the sphere of daily chores, Khoisan traditions include snuff and makaranga tobacco. This is a very strong tobacco that is mixed with wild honey and made into a paste before being allowed to dry. In Namaqualand, traditions include distinct dress and music adapted from their heritage and early Boer influences.
What do you think of their methods of childbirth? No one seems to need to lose weight, why is that?
Have you checked out Charl’s website? http://www.charlottefk.com