The San of Namibia
Location and Background: The term San is commonly used by scholars to refer to a diverse group of migratory hunter-gathers living in southern Africa who share historical and linguistic connections. This same group of people was formerly referred to as “Bushmen,” but this term has since been abandoned because of its negative connotations.
History: It is believed that San have lived in the area of the Kalahari desert for thousands of years and may be the first humans to have occupied this region. San rock paintings are among the oldest forms of art found on the African continent. There are numerous subgroups of San who live in small groups among their sedentary Bantu neighbors. They speak numerous dialects of a group of languages (Khoisan) known for the characteristic “clicks” that can be heard in their pronunciation.
Culture: San are generally defined as a hunter-gathers. As such, they live in small family groups and move about the land in search of food sources as well as water. In recent years, many San have begun to settle into larger groups around water sources, and many have also settled into the communities of their neighbors. In a hunting and gathering society, the women are usually responsible for procuring most of the food, collecting nuts and berries and digging for roots. The San have vast knowledge of flora and fauna and have a reputation as skilled trackers and hunters. Surviving for thousands of years in the Kalahari, San peoples have had to develop a keen awareness of their surroundings and have learned to benefit from a seemingly harsh and dry environment.
Religion: The San religions generally observe the supremacy of one powerful god, while at the same time recognizing the presence of lesser gods, and respecting the spirits of the dead. Among some San it is believed that tilling the soil is contrary to the world order established by the god. Some groups also revere the moon. San peoples have extensive oral traditions, and many of their tales incorporate stories about the gods that serve to educate listeners about what is considered moral San behavior. Of prime importance in all San groups is a ritual dance that serves to heal the community, harnessing a power which causes a trance and can be used to heal both physical and psychological illnesses.
Learn more about the San at http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_bushmen.html
Latest Prayer Updates:
After sharing the Jesus film with one family, we are now receiving requests from others who also want to watch it. Pray for this seed to be watered by the Holy Spirit and that the people’s hearts will be opened to understand what they see. Alongside this, the Bible story set is still in its infancy but the local workers are faithful and it’s going very well. Pray for this group of people as we wrestle with scripture, culture and sharing the good news in a clear, understandable and reproducible way.
There are encouraging signs that people are eager to learn and gather. They want more stories, but the story sets are not yet ready in their language. They want to meet with others but in the current circumstances this isn’t easy. Ask that God would move and draw many to Himself, even without the polished, perfectly articulated stories in their heart language…. and that all the glory would go to Him.