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The Bushmen of South Africa

Religion of the Bushmen


Home | Political world of the Bushmen | The Intellectual Bushmen | Religion of the Bushmen | Conclusion | Works Cited

The religion of the Bushmen or San people was in a way similar to that of the Ibo people. They themselves had many gods that they prayed to. There was the god of life, the god of death, and the creater Kaggen. They also practice polygamy, but few men actually did have more then one wife. Both boys and girls had to go through an initiation before marriage. The girls' takes place at the time of her first menstruation when the dance called the "eland dance" and is performed by the women of the tribe. The boys initiaten only begins after he has proved himself to be a good hunter. A husband for a girl is chosen, and with great care to make sure that this marriage is a good one for both families. An interesting note is that although incestuous marriages are not allowed, if the girl is not against it, the marriage may happen. The marriage cermony is simple compared to most. The girl's face willl be painted red and the boy will present to his new in-laws an animal that he has hunted and killed. The new couple will then build their own shelter with their own campfire and the marriage ceremony is over. Divorce is another part of their religion which sets the Bushmen apart from the other neighboring tribes. If the woman is unhappy she only has to return to her parents and the marriage is declared over. The Bushmen have their own story of creation. They say that the god Cagn had an argument with his swife who ended up giving birth to an eland because of his temper. His sons killed the eland and each drop of blood produced another eland.l The hyena and the black backed jackel where created last. The hyena represents death, while the black backed jackel is said to have been burned by a cooking pot. Each animal is distinctly marked by the branding tools heated in the fires of the Everlasiting Fire.

after she first menstruated, this bushmen girl is put into the traditional dress of "womanhood"