12. The Ju/'hoansi Today

(A brief Summary)

Food for thought:
What is progress? Is progress defined as simply material, technological and industrial development where you see that people are getting richer? How about the implications which inevitably follow, such as environmental degradation or social changes? Are they considered negative externalities which are unimportant to determine a society's progress?
Ju/'Hoansi Today

Previously foragers which live peaceful lives, gathering nuts and berries who place high emphasis on the harmony of their tribe, these foragers have given in to the power of modernisation and have since, been 'manipulated' and transformed. Their Hxaro exchange had been disrupted by the introduction of 'cash', leading to more cash flow yet there were more poverty. The culture of sharing and 'joking' interpersonal relations have unfolded more interpersonal conflicts instead, fueled by vices likealcoholdrinking. Closer interactions with the state have developed more reliance and requirements from the state, its investment capital and development plans. The infrastructural development in the Dobe area improved as well, seeing more schools, administratives and service centres and amenities such as a piped water system which were built in order to lessen the reliance of the people to the environment but instead, rely on the state resources.


The rapid social changes within the 3 decades

Due to the installations of the various social insitutions, they Ju/'hoansi tribe has been transformed from their society of foragers to a society of small-holders who eked out a living by herding, farming and craft production, along with some hunting and gathering. More political voice was attempted to be given to theJu/'hoansi to enable them opportunities to participate in local affairs, yet their opinions were often disregarded by the emerging (local) Herero elites.
The beehive-shaped grass huts were largely gone and replaced by semi permanent mull- walledhousesbehind makeshift stockades to keep out cattle. These evolving settlement patterns have separated previously circular, tight knitted villages into one- line houses which and scattered and filled with space between all of them. A symbolic shift from reliance on one another with that strong sense ofneighborlinessin the village has now shifted to reliance on one's property (in a form of herds) instead.
The way of life in terms of theJu/'hoansi's eating habits have changed as well. As a result in rearing animals like cattle, they rely more on animals now for their diet and food which replaced the healthy source of their calories which came from hunting and gathering. Hence, the rate of medical conditions heightened among people due to the shift in diet to encompass of more refined carbohydrates, heavier smoking, alcohol consumption and changes in lifestyle.Undoubtedly, theJu/'hoansi's hunting skills may have deteriorated due to the lower frequency of practicing their hunting skills. We can see that the increase of reliance on external factors such as the state resources which could possibly be disturbing because that will mean that the rate of survival of theJu/'hoansi people in their habitat in general is slowly decreasing..
Ju/'hoansi people's perceptions of gender and sexuality have changed as well. In the course of development, they have abandoned some of their traditional ways to suit a 'better standard of living' and presumably more promising ideals set by modernisation. No longer will you see them in skin clothings covering their privates barely and engaging inunrestrictedsexual engagements. They are transforming more and more similar to the 'white man' who first visited them..


Commentary








More pages