What Do The Khoisan Eat?

The Khoisan are a group of people who occupy parts of the Southern African region. They can easily be spotted especially in the drier regions of the Kalahari desert. It would be easy to know them due to their mode of dressing and also the clicking sounds they make when communicating with others. The Khoisan is a larger group comprising two communities which are the Khoikhoi and the San. These two communities share some similarities although there are differences in what they eat.

Khoisan Tribesmen  Lighting Fire
Khoisan Tribesmen Lighting Fire

What any community eats largely depends on the economic activities they practise. The Khoikhoi and the San are two communities with different economic activities. The Khoikhoi were mainly pastoralists therefore they kept large herds of cattle. They depended on the cattle for meat and also milk as food. Milking in this community was mainly done by the women. The family that had a lot of cattle was considered to be very wealthy. Sharing was highly practiced whereby the wealthy family gave the less fortunate families foods such as milk.

On the other hand, the San were not discriminative about what they are. They ate a wide range from vegetables to animals including antelopes, wild hare, snakes, lions and porcupines. They were mainly hunters and gatherers therefore they ate whatever edible they found on the way. They normally poisoned their arrows which eased their hunting methods.

Where Do The Khoisan Get Their Food?

As mentioned earlier the Khoikhoi mainly engaged themselves in pastoralism. They kept large groups of cattle, sheep and also goats. These domesticated animals provided them with their milk and the meat they ate. Due to their pastoralist nature, they moved from place to place looking for greener pastures for their livestock. The different seasons led them where they went. Surprisingly, it was not common practice to find the Khoikhoi slaughtering their animals now and then although the meat was a major food to them. If they did this their livestock would be finished very fast and they would be left with nothing to eat. The Khoikhoi raided the neighboring communities where they stole their livestock. They prioritized this stolen livestock for their food. Whenever animals died in their community they were not entirely thrown away as they were also food for the KhoiKhoi. In other instances, the Khoikhoi also practiced hunting and gathering to get food. 

The San were primarily hunters and gatherers. In the area, they lived there were many animals which were most dangerous. They could slowly follow the animal to where it was going. They could do this as a group as it was more secure. They used arrows which had poisoned heads to shoot at the animals. The shot animals could go for only a short distance and fall since the poison affected them. San had a lot of knowledge of edible plants. They used this knowledge to find food.

How Do The Khoisan Cook?

The mode of cooking is influenced by the kind of food which is being cooked. The Khoikhoi had their major food as meat and milk. The Khoikhoi used fire which was lit by the men as it was their duty. They used sticks and also solid waste from the wild animals around to light the fire. The Khoikhoi had self-made vessels which they used when they were boiling the meat. The vessels had a curved shape and they were either red in color or black depending on the material used. Some of these vessels were also used for storing the milk. Apart from boiling the meat, they also roasted the meat at times. When the meat was a lot they preserved it.

The San also used sticks to light the fire. This was done by the men. Since they are different kinds of food they roasted them over the fire before they ate. They had cooking bowls which they used to boil foods which were mainly insects like grasshoppers. Some of the food was eaten raw.

Where Do The Khoisan Get Their Water?

Water is vital for any living being. Finding water in the Kalahari desert was a struggle for Khoisan yet they had to survive together with their animals. Water is therefore a treasure. The Khoisan could suck the little water contained in the grass straws. There was a plant known as the milk bulb which was cherished a lot by the Khoisan. It was a succulent plant which stored water. The Khoisan could pluck it off from the ground and then compress it so that it could release the water.  These plants were abundant here. Any little rain which poured in this region was highly regarded. The water has to be saved for later days.

In this place, there were fierce ostriches which laid large eggs. The Khoisan stole the Ostrich eggs and by making a tiny hole they would empty the yoke inside. There were small pools of water made after it rained. After cleaning the egg shell they would then fill it up with water and then close the hole using readily available beeswax. They would then bury as many such eggshells as possible in the ground so that later on when one passed through that way they would just have to dig up and find water to drink. The eggshells were marked according to the families owning them.

Khoisan Habitat

The Khoikhoi and the San practiced nomadism which entailed moving from one place to another. They could not stay in a place for a long time since they had to search for pasture for their animals. Due to this, their homes had to be simple so that they could easily be dismantled when they wanted to leave. The houses were easily constructed before an hour was through. Construction was done using simple pillars which were joined together using reeds. There was always a mat inside the house. When it was cold animal skins were fixed on the reed to create some warmth. In hot weather, spaces were created in the reeds to allow air circulation.

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