Dark Origins – African myths and legends: The San (previously Bushmen) Part 3Posted: March 23, 2022
In January and February, I introduced you to the San or Bushmen of Southern African and shared some of their cultural ways and traditional stories.
Part 1 provided an introduction to the San and some information about a specific rock art form of the human hand. You can read it here: https://writingtoberead.com/2022/01/26/dark-origins-african-myths-and-legends-the-san-previously-bushmen-part-1/
Part 2 provided an overview of the San hunting methods and I shared another traditional story. I also introduced you to the Bushman Heritage Museum in Nieu Bethesda. You can read it here: https://writingtoberead.com/2022/02/23/dark-origins-african-myths-and-legends-the-san-previously-bushmen-part-2/
Today, I am sharing a bit about the traditional religious beliefs of the San.
God and the afterlife
The bushmen traditionally believe in a greater and a lesser Supreme Being or God.
The greater God first created himself and then the land and the food it produces, the air and water. He is generally a positive power and protects, wards off disease and teaches skills to people. When angered, however, he can send bad fortune.
The lesser god is seen to be bad or evil, a destroyer rather than builder, and a bearer of bad luck and disease. The bushmen believed that bad luck and disease was caused by the spirits of the dead, because they want to bring the living to the same place they are.
Cagn is the name the bushmen gave their god. They attributed human characteristics to him as well as many charms and magical powers.
The bushmen believed in the afterlife and a dead man’s weapons were buried with him. They turned the face of the dead towards the rising sun, as they believed that if he was faced to the west the sun would take longer to rise the next day.
The bushmen heritage includes a deep belief in witchcraft and charms. They have a dread of violating them and bringing bad luck upon themselves. The hunters believe that if their shadows fall on dying game it will bring disaster upon them. No matter how thirsty a bushman is, he will not dig a hole in the bed of a dried-up stream until he has made an offering to appease the spirit of the stream. The spirit is thought to take the form of an enormous man with either red or green skin and white hair. The spirit can make himself visible or invisible at will.
San rock art
San rock art found in Namibia date back at least 25,000 years. The Bushmen continued with their rock art painting right up until the time of the European settlers. We know this because some of their more recent artworks depict wagons. Archaeologists believe that the San artworks were a way for the entire community to share mental images while in a group trance state.
The San artwork depicts non-human beings, hunters, and half-human half-animal hybrids. The half-human hybrids are believed to be medicine men or healers who performed healing dances.
Here are a few examples of San rock art we saw on our recent road trip to Nieu Bethesda:
San Bushman Moon Dance in the Kalahari Desert
About Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Roberta Eaton Cheadle is a South African writer and poet specialising in historical, paranormal, and horror novels and short stories. She is an avid reader in these genres and her writing has been influenced by famous authors including Bram Stoker, Edgar Allan Poe, Amor Towles, Stephen Crane, Enrich Maria Remarque, George Orwell, Stephen King, and Colleen McCullough.
Roberta has short stories and poems in several anthologies and has 2 published novels, Through the Nethergate, a historical supernatural fantasy, and A Ghost and His Gold, a historical paranormal novel set in South Africa.
Roberta has 9 children’s books published under the name Robbie Cheadle.
Roberta was educated at the University of South Africa where she achieved a Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1996 and a Honours Bachelor of Accounting Science in 1997. She was admitted as a member of The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants in 2000.
Roberta has worked in corporate finance from 2001 until the present date and has written 7 publications relating to investing in Africa. She has won several awards over her 20-year career in the category of Transactional Support Services.
Find Roberta Eaton Cheadle
Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Dark Origins” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.