The eland is their most spiritual animal and appears in four rituals: boys' first kill, girls' puberty, marriage and trance dance.
A ritual is held where the boy is told how to track an eland and how the eland will fall once shot with an arrow.
In the girls' puberty rituals, a young girl is isolated in her hut at her first menstruation. The women of the tribe perform the Eland Bull Dance where they imitate the mating behaviour of the eland cows. A man will play the part of the eland bull, usually with horns on his head.
As part of the marriage ritual, the man gives the fat from the elands' heart to the girls' parents. At a later stage the girl is anointed with eland fat.
In the trance dance, the eland is considered the most potent of all animals, and the shamans aspire to possess eland potency.
People without rulers!
The Bushmen have no formal authority figure or chief, but govern themselves by group consensus.
Certain individuals may assume leadership in specific spheres in which they excel, such as hunting or ritual curing, but they cannot achieve positions of general influence of power.
White colonists found this very confusing when they tried to establish treaties with the Bushmen
Smoking and drinking
The Bushmen are fond of beer and smoking.
Khoisan is the name by which the lighter skinned indigenous peoples of southern Africa,the Khoi (Hottentots) and the San (Bushmen) are known. These people dominated the sub-continent for millennia before the appearance of the Nguni and other black peoples.
This is evident from their marvelous animated paintings on rocks and caves walls as far afield as Namaqualand, the Drakensberg and southern Cape. The many clicking sounds used in their speech had influenced the language of some of the African-speaking nations well before the arrival of the white colonists in the 17th century`
In the past they were hunter-gatherers, living largely off game, honey and the roots and fruits of plants. They lived - and some still do today in total harmony with nature, posing no threat to wildlife and vegetation by over-hunting or gathering. The semi-nomadic existence of the San was (and is) governed by the seasons and the movement of game.
The San have short, slight bodies, small hands and feet and yellow-brown skin that wrinkle early. The women tend to store fat in their buttocks and have sharply hollowed backs. They look exactly like the characteristic profiles depicted in the San rock paintings. They store fat in their buttocks - a natural adaptation to their precarious existence in a harsh environment.
In time the whites encroached upon the San's traditional hunting grounds. Some Bushmen went to live with them and others moved on west and north in search of land where they could live freely. Today they are found only in the northwestern Cape, the Kalahari, Namibia and Botswana.
Most groups today are less nomadic than their forebears are. However, the desert San lives much as their ancestors did. They move in small clans, each with its clearly defined territory. The women gather wild melons such as tsamma - a source of food and water, roots and edible berries. The men hunt with wooden bow and arrow and use clubs and spears if necessary. The arrowheads are tipped with poison made from insect grubs. It acts slowly on the victim's nervous system.