SAN CULTURE: BOND OF KINSHIP
Dorothy Nash Joslin
ANT 101 Introduction to Anthropology
Instructor James Turner
October 1, 2012
Throughout the southern land of Africa live the native Bushmen, also known as the San (some have referred to them as Khwe or as the Basarwa, as well); they are recognized as one of the oldest cultural societies that still remain active. The term “San” was historically applied to Bushmen by their ethnic relatives and historic rivals, the Khoikhoi; this term mean “outsider” in the Khoikhoi language, and was derogatory. For this reason, some of this group still prefers to be called Bushmen, even though opinions vary on whether the term “Bushmen” is appropriate ...view middle of the document...
Since the San believe in strong bonds with related kin, the choices made in their communities are decisions made as a group; their preference for leaders comes from within their kinships (Godwin, 2000). Since both genders are equally respected for their contributions, the leader can either be a male or a female (Wannenburgh, 2000). When anthropologists examine kinship, they pay particular attention to descent; this is a cultural rule defining social categories through the parent-child connection (Nowak & Laird, 2010). In general, there are two basic patterns for reckoning or calculating descent: unilineal and bilateral (Nowak & Laird, 2010). A unilineal descent, kin relations are traced through either the mother or the father; in bilateral descent, the kinship connections through both the mother and the father, as they are equally as important, for example in the United States and 70% of all foragers (Nowak & Laird, 2010). Due to this kinship relationship, a San will find a relative in every band he or she visits.
Among the San culture, there is prohibition against marrying any relative who is a second cousin or closer; a man is also restricted from marrying a woman who has the same name as his parent or sibling (Nowak & Laird, 2010). San girls usually resist marriage, feeling they are too young; parents pressure their daughters into acceptance (Nowak & Laird, 2010). The groom moves into the bride’s family’s band which is called martrilocality; this is done because the bride is too young to leave her family (Nowak & Laird, 2010). The groom contributes meat to the bride’s band which is called brideservice and he will stay and do this for as long as 10 years (Nowak & Laird, 2010). The bridservice is also helpful in bringing the two bands closer together; the bride’s family tries to make their son-in-law’s life enjoyable so that he will stay even longer, which in turn ensures a provider for meat for the bride’s parents in their old age (Nowak & Laird, 2010). In our culture, we do not involve ourselves in traditions such as these. I do know that we raise our children in hopes that they become responsible, productive adults who will in turn raise their own family; we all are aware that at some point, our own parents are going to need help in their older age; some people will be there for their parents, so will not. The San groom must learn or accept patience as he has to wait as many as 5 years to consummate his marriage due to the bride needing to mature physically and emotionally, she is just far too young (Nowak & Laird, 2010). I find it repulsive for any culture to have their young girls be married off at an age where they cannot even consummate their marriage; I guess I should be grateful that I chose a culture that at least respects the fact that she is young and has the groom wait until she is more mature, but in our culture, men and women are waiting even longer nowadays to get married. ...