Where Global Contradictions Are Sharpest ~ Reverse Cultural Studies: Field Methods, Power Relations and 4X4sNo Comments yet
When you visit Africa, be careful. It is an extremely dangerous place: you will lose your soul to it forever.
Boesman (‘Bushman’) (Safari brochure 2001)
When we arrived at dusk at Ngwatle in July 2004, we saw a 4X4 sporting the sign, ‘The Jesus Film Project’ (JFP). A number of locals were dancing on the sand to religious pop music blaring from two loudspeakers. Later that evening, five missionaries from Kimberley screened an evangelical film to approximately fifty villagers who had braved the bitter cold. It was much like passing an old-time drive-in as Mick Francis and I returned to Hukuntsi to collect two of our party who had arrived there by car. The next day, we visited the JFP missionaries who told us that they were hoping to make the Bushmen into the Children of God. Far from losing their own souls to Africa, the missionaries were hoping to claim new ones to an indigenised kind of Christianity. The dangers confronting JFP, they told us, were witchcraft, immorality, and Satan. Our own concerns, however, were water, fuel, and time.
We learn that a different organisation, ‘Serving in Mission’ (SIM), had set up a large semi-permanent camp at Ngwatle, with the aim of translating the Bible into Sesarwa (a generic of !Kung commonly spoken by the !Xoo/Basarwa of Botswana). Their camp was, however, deserted for the week we sojourned at Ngwatle. We wonder whether these messianic initiatives will have any development implications for Ngwatle. Will jobs be on offer; will Ngwatle perhaps become more permanent, lessening the threat of removal, resettlement, and the destruction of their sense of community? Only time will tell.
A theorised diary: Making sense as we go
This chapter offers a diary of roughly fifteen visits to the Kalahari, between 1995 and 2005. In reflecting what I learned from the field, this book (and especially this chapter) is largely composed as a theorised diary through which I:
– critically address academy-bound scholarship claiming to be studying the ‘popular’;
– argue for a space in cultural studies for a greater acknowledgement of fieldwork done in the Third and Fourth Worlds vis-à-vis theory development in the Western metropoles;
– develop a multi-layered narrative through the main text supported by extensive illustrative and explanatory footnotes. I attempt to forge a space in the global publications industry for the kinds of cultural studies done in Africa, in which texture and experience are as important as theory, in which human agency is described and recognised, in which individuals have voices and personalities (cf. Wright 1998; Stanton 2000; Tomaselli 1998; Bozzoli 1987). Contradictions at the centre are usually much sharper in societies where scrambled developmental periodisations are the norm (Chapters 2-4); I also intend to:
– offer some passing comments on how media globalisation impacts Third and Fourth World societies, and how local ontologies are articulated into notions of ‘science’, ‘conservation’ and ‘preservation’ (Chapters 5 and 6).
– argue for an approach to cultural studies in Africa which starts from the signs and codes of Africans themselves, one which critically engages Western thought shops which impose themselves on local discursive contours in complete disdain for, and/or ignorance of, indigenous ways of making sense, coping and doing.
Post-millennium cultural studies: Getting dirty
For me, post-millennium cultural studies largely conjure up images of highly educated, extraordinarily articulate scholars at work in their offices, often over-theorising their arguments, and conversing via well-rehearsed exquisite performances in air-conditioned First World conference environments. Amongst these are a few academic celebrities who charge high appearance fees on the conference and lecture circuits. These are the ‘scholarcrats’ of the international ‘academocracy’ who often pour scorn on fieldworkers who write about their research experiences in terms of arrival tropes, environmental hardships, and basic survival in remote and often dangerous places. As will become clear, the grassroots informants of many of these now generalized presentations and books also want payment and royalties, recognition for the knowledge they have imparted. Belinda Kruiper commented, for example, that without Ouma Una!, the linguistic studies of the ≠Khomani language would be nothing (25 July 2001). ‘Ouma Una! is now dead and has lost control of her knowledge’, lamented Belinda. How knowledge is recorded, archived and copyrighted is a key element of our field research. How it is used and abused is also a pertinent question. Who gets to own indigenous knowledge and benefit from it is of concern to both informants and researchers.
When selecting students to visit Ngwatle Pan in south central Botswana, I make it known from the outset that the temperatures are extreme, sometimes sub-zero at night and early morning in winter, and 40 degrees plus Celsius during summer days. And when the wind blows it is extremely unpleasant at any temperature. Scorpions and snakes are ever-present, though malaria has receded. Students are informed that the nearest primary clinic from Ngwatle is 47 kms away, between one and three hours drive, depending on the condition of the tracks. Our food and water intake depends on the number of vehicles in the convoy, and getting there could take two or three days driving time. The water ration, whatever the season, is only five litres a day (for washing, drinking and cooking). At this point the less adventurous drop out, realising that five litres is less than a single flush of a lavatory cistern. Moreover, there are no lavatories where we are camping.
Waar kan ek ‘n draai loop? translated literally means, ‘Where can I walk a turn?’ This is a phrase understood only by Afrikaans speakers. One of Nelia Oets’ friends once caused much confusion by asking this question of a local man for directions to the local public convenience. This misunderstanding became a metaphor for our sojourns, as we summed up and tried to make sense of all the conflicting information given to us by all of our sources. ‘Walking a turn’ on our travels means finding a suitable patch of sand, behind a bush, and away from the campsite. In April 1995, my hygiene-obsessed mother asked if we were staying in a hotel. My 11-year-old daughter Charlize[i] replied, ‘No, we are camping’. Her grandmother probed, ‘Oh, are there ablution blocks at the camping site?’ ‘No’, replied Charlize, ‘there is no camping site and there are no bathrooms’. ‘Oh dear’, grandmother responded, ‘how do you go to the toilet?’ (This is perhaps an unasked question, which fascinates most Western tourists visiting the Third and Fourth Worlds.) Charlize went to the 4X4 Nissan Sani and returned with a spade and a toilet roll. By this time, her grandmother was speechless.[ii]
I mention this lavatorial anecdote not to dwell upon the hardships of fieldwork, but to point out that when cultural studies scholars talk about studying the ‘popular’, this refers mainly to relatively sanitised and developed First World spaces, places and people, where daily conveniences and luxuries taken as the norm by researchers, are simply beyond the experience of most of the world’s impoverished population. Even five litres of water, drawn from the 240 transported by us, in and on our 4X4s to Ngwatle, could mean the difference between life and death. When we drove to the hunting grounds during the 1995 and 1999 visits, the hunters told us about how they nearly died of thirst at various places. They told of how they struggled to find the plastic water containers that they had stored in trees along the way and at the Pan. In the week after our July 2000 trip, no water was to be found in Ukhwi,[iii] one of the three KD/1 settlements. In July 2002 we videoed the goats, horses and donkeys as they tried to climb into and onto the water truck as it emptied 10,000 litres into the empty tank at Ngwatle. On arriving in July 2003, we observed that the remaining water tank was not on its concrete pedestal. It had been blown off its base, and water had not been delivered for many days. The borehole piping had still not been installed. Kort-Jan (Baba) Nxai asked us to donate spare water to them when we departed. We were already short on water rations because of the size of our party that year: thirteen in all. This water shortage is the obverse of the Andriesvale Molopo Kalahari Lodge’s advertising catchphrase, ‘An Oasis in the Kalahari Desert’. The Lodge might be an oasis in summer, but it was until 2005 unheated in winter, and the water’s chemical composition makes it taste and feel like soap. When the water did arrive at Ngwatle, it was decanted into two new large tanks located in the pre-primary school ground. Pedris Motshabise told us that they would be empty by day’s end as all of the people and animals would fill up on water. Thirst is a constant problem.
Celebrity[iv] scholars rarely permit the messy details to get in the way of their well-crafted, wonderfully manicured cultural studies patois in which they appear to be negotiating their own subjectivities and self-identity as much as anything else. In contrast, field researchers are often confronted by the facts which are disparaged by the theorists: vehicle breakdowns in the middle of nowhere; subject-communities destroyed by structural and political conditions beyond their and the researchers’ control; and student researchers who, unable to cope with poverty and degradation on mass, or even small scales, unadvisedly take on the liberal guilt of centuries of Western colonialism. Some of these white middle class students have been known to accuse their research leaders of all kinds of exploitation, as if their professors’ class determination alone is the cause of these terrible, historically derived, structurally induced conditions.[v] This is one response to field trips that is not often discussed in the scholarly literature. My own initial naiveté was in not realising how cocooned some of my black and white students were from the material realities of most rural Africans. One international student complained about the stench in a long drop built for the Ngwatle pre-primary school, for example. How to deal with this encounter between petty bourgeois students and the desert Lumpenproletariat is partly resolved by seminars held prior to visits. Yet, their shouts of joy when we arrive at a camp site with hot showers and flushing toilets, after a week in the bush, is indicative of just how difficult it is for them to live like the other – even for a short period.
The ‘hardships’, about which so many American visitors to ‘Africa’ complain, are unimaginable luxuries for many of our subject-communities (limited or no access whatsoever to phones, TV, medical care, heaters and air-conditioning!). Two American women from Boston, whom we interviewed at the Safaris Botswana Bound (SBB) luxury tented camp at Kaa in 2001, were delighted with the solar powered amenities provided for them by the company. They had taken every ‘shot’ imaginable to protect themselves from diseases that did not even exist in the areas they were visiting. In addition, they made no distinction between Tanzania, Victoria Falls, Johannesburg or southern Botswana, where their husbands had hunted, or through which they had passed, to get to Kaa. One had even brought a packet of mayonnaise with her, fearing that this product would not be available in Africa. (In 2004, we learned that mayonnaise is included in the ‘destitute rations’ to five Ngwatle orphans.) They asked if we were from ‘AAAfrica’. The tented camp at Kaa was home from home. But they did complain about the 11- and 18-hour flights it had taken them to get to Johannesburg from Europe and New York respectively, and then about the shorter hops, and finally the four hours on an open 4X4 to get to the camp. (Belinda Kruiper pointed out that it sometimes took six hours by donkey cart[vi] to get from Blinkwater to Welkom, five or six kilometres away, or to get to a reception area for her cell phone.) Getting anywhere in Africa takes time and effort, and both donkeys and motor vehicles can be temperamental.
Despite the reified position taken by many postmodern literary critics, poverty and hardship cannot be easily reduced to a ‘text’. Few in the Kalahari read, and even if they can read, they don’t get much to read – although JFP distributed small booklets at Ngwatle from 2004 onward. However, a small and tatty Tswana Bible lay discarded in the sand and muck outside one well-to-do homestead, which doubled as a shebeen (informal drinking place). Newspapers and magazines are used for making cigarettes or pipes, and for toilet paper. Hunger is real, malnutrition is debilitating, and thirst is excruciating. Inappropriate development strategies are sometimes the cause, as Belinda Kruiper told us when we visited her at Welkom on 20 July 2001. The pleasure of ‘writerly texts’ has nothing in common with the pleasure of a full stomach, of a successful hunt, and of bringing home the meat. The context of my own film making and academic work has largely been conducted in terms of human rights, whether critiquing the apartheid film industry from a political economy perspective, or in discussing issues relating to the San. This orientation has sometimes drawn stinging attacks from those who prefer that I elevate Form over content, Text over context, and their pleasure of reading over ‘the popular’s’ daily struggle for survival, democracy, human rights and dignity (cf. Willoughby 1991).
Perhaps this chapter might qualify as a ‘writerly text’, or a ‘readerly’ one after all. Norman Denzin, the editor of Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies,[vii] told me that he could ‘smell the dust’ when reading this story in an earlier incarnation. Then the British publishing company, Sage, Americanised my spelling, expression and punctuation. In addition to this, they edited out some of my more pungent comments on Derrida and Foucault, thereby vitiating my South African inflections, and removing some of the ‘dust’ from my expression composed and typed on my laptop in my Nissan Sani, in the bush, at camping sites and hotels. Mary Lange (2003a) similarly commented about the US copy editor’s lack of understanding of local connotations relating to the word ‘Bantu’, for example. The editor had substituted ‘Bantu’ for ‘black’, not realising that Bantu in South Africa carried with it negative apartheid connotations. I too had negotiated with the editor about my use of lower case ‘w’ and ‘b’ when referring to whites and blacks. These had been converted into capitals. I explained that in apartheid semantic engineering, the use of capitals had been part of the discursive weaponry used to objectify races and legitimise racism (Tomaselli, Tomaselli and Louw 1989). The editor’s response was that this was what the APA (American Psychological Association) system required. She agreed to use lower case where I had indicated, but on publication the capitals remained, thus stylistically implicating me in the very racial objectification I had fought so hard to oppose.[viii]
Doing fieldwork around the 4X4
The (Land Rover) Discovery is Britain’s most significant contribution to good posture. Even if the driver is four foot six he is tall behind the wheel of a Disco. No opportunity is lost as this superlative 4X4 cruises around the most expensive malls (…)
(Andrew St Pierre White, The Psyche of 4X4 Drivers, (A Nissan Sani website)
I wrote the original article as four students and I were holed up in a dusty Botswana crossroads in July 2000 (Tomaselli 2001a). Jwaneng sits on the world’s largest diamond deposit, mined by the Anglo American Debswana Company.[ix] Anglo is a South African conglomerate listed in the Fortune 500 and is seemingly implicated in attempts by the Botswana government to dispossess communities from the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) (Good 2003).
In writing this diary I need to distinguish between the continuous present (the Jwaneng story in 2000) and our other experiences both before and after this event. From this point on, I will write about our 1995, 1999 and 2001-2004 trips in the past tense, retaining present tense for the 2000 experience.
When announcing that she would be joining the 2002 visit to Ngwatle in my Nissan Sani, Mary Lange asked: ‘Yes, but what are you coming back in?’ (The Southern African 4X4 fraternity dismissed the Sani as a ‘soft’ vehicle, lacking machismo and durability.) This joke was told to me two years after my Sani had broken down in the Kalahari. In July 2000, Jwaneng Motors is stripping and repairing the Sani. Fortunately, the engine stalled near a Government Department of Transport road camp, at the Sekoma crossroads. No one at the camp was interested in our problem, even when two of our Tswana-speaking students, Jeffrey Sehume and Gibson Boloka, spoke to them in Botswana’s official language (alongside English). The workers pointed to where a mechanic lived but declined to drive us to him. Sehume and Boloka walked four kilometres only to learn that the mechanic was elsewhere. On returning, they went to the settlement’s only shop/bar and bumped into a passing mechanic from the Botswana Agricultural College. Phatudi brought them back and checked our vehicle, while drinking Castle Lager.[x] A faulty spark plug might be the problem, he concluded. Off he went with Jeffery and Gibson in his Toyota 4X4 – someone in this remote rural area must surely have an old plug. They returned an hour later with another three passengers. They were members of the local kgotla (Tswana – ‘council’) and were clutching three old plugs and more cans of Castle. The three kgotla members had been playing pool in the shop/bar. No one at the road camp had yet taken any notice of us.[xi] Jeffrey suggests that Botswanans, known for their ‘surliness’, are ‘kind hearted, but not light-hearted’. The five kind hearts are huddled over the Sani’s engine, all entertained/frustrated by the diagnostic process, while Anthea Simões constructs sculptures in the sand and Caleb Wang reads poetry. I suggest that this is a good time for him to catch up on reading for our Ngwatle visit.
An abiding image of West and East Africa, apart from ungainly heavily loaded roof racks (as is the case with our Sani) is all manner of vehicles being fixed by groups of amateur mechanics on the side of the road. The mechanic tells us that the plug is not the problem; it is much more serious. We need a tow back to Jwaneng. We then phone the Automobile Association (AA), from one of the two phones (card and coin) serving the district. Because it is night, we flag down every passing vehicle with a torch, most of which turn out to be 18-wheeler freight trucks hurtling through the newly opened Trans-Kalahari Highway. Not one stops. Eventually a 4X4 with an exhausted German tourist couple draws up to ask us where they could camp. We tell them the next camping site is 300 kms north, or 84 kms back. This is a road construction camp, not a tourist spot. They drive away slowly, shaking their heads. I think of the many clothes and shoes stuffed into every nook and cranny in and on the Sani. We are hoping to give these in exchange for camping rights to the poor Ngwatle community to help them ward off the winter cold. The AA-van arrives three hours after the telephone call.
Jeffrey rides in the AA-van, which tows the remaining team in the Sani. He tells us, after we get to Jwaneng, that the AA mechanic talked incessantly to his girlfriend on his Association’s cell phone for much of the two-hour haul back to Jwaneng Motors. Is this perhaps why I have to pay an outrageous fee for the tow? (I was incorrectly told that I could claim back a portion of the fee from the AA in South Africa.) I insist that the Sani be parked where the petrol attendants can watch it – packed as it is to the hilt. The AA-man says not to worry: ‘There’s no crime here’. Coming from South Africa – the murder, rape, mugging and car hijacking capital of the world – we are disbelieving. Seven days later, we leave Jwaneng without a single item missing. This reminds Jeffrey, Gibson and myself of the 18-wheeler furniture truck we came across in June 1999, shortly after it had overturned on the Trans-Kalahari Highway on the way to Ghantsi. The goat herder who had caused the truck to swerve, had no inkling, or concern, that the accident was due to his animals crossing the road without looking for oncoming traffic. He carried on as if nothing had happened. Life in the fast lane simply did not connect with his slow mundane herding existence. The furniture that had spewed out of the truck was still lying next to it a week later when we returned. In 2001, at the Ngwatle campsite, one of the first-time student visitors fastidiously locked his luggage in the Sani on his first night. He would not believe that nothing would get stolen, not even our alcohol or money, notwithstanding the extreme poverty of the community. Gibson later remarks that he now knows that poverty does not necessarily lead to crime.
However, one early morning in 2003, our camp was raided, and an entire bag of oranges and some smoked venison stolen. Later that day we noticed the oranges being traded within the community. That night we secured our perishables, and chased away foraging dogs, goats and donkeys. On discussing the disappearance of our food with our informants, we were told that the thieves might have been those ‘slegte Boesmanne wat Tswanataal praat’ (‘degenerate Bushmen who speak Tswana’), whose abodes were near our camp. Only the food was taken; the beer, wine and sodas were left untouched. We decided next time to take locks but we neglected to follow our own advice and one night, dogs ate an entire cooler bag of cheese. In July 2003, Belinda told us that new people claiming to be Bushmen were moving into the Witdraai area and that nothing was safe anymore. In July 2004, in rural Botswana, we noticed that public buildings now have burglar bars. In January 2005, we learned about recent armed robberies in Maun and Shakawa, blamed on Zimbabwean refugees by the local Botswanans. Like the thousands of elephants that have fled that strife-torn country into the Chobe Game Reserve, Botswanans were now also feeling the cold criminal chill.
The extraordinarily expensive and run-down Mokala Lodge next to Jwaneng Motors, where we are staying, boasts state-of-the-art integrated showers and taps, badly installed, and often the wrong way around. ‘Blue’ indicates ‘hot’ water; ‘red’ indicates ‘cold’. The idea of ‘reverse cultural studies’ came to me while I was having a bath in our room. At the ¹Khomani Tentepark (‘camp site’) at Witdraai in the Northern Cape, the blue and red on the taps in the shower and basin only spewed lukewarm water.[xii] Similarly, when I was at Johannesburg International Airport in October 1999, one of the public phones identified the card phone as coin and the coin phone as card. In July 2002, the Witdraai public phones at the entrance to the Molopo Kalahari Lodge had their own particular quirk. I used a card phone marked coin, and asked my Administrator in Durban to call me back. Her reply rang the coin phone on the other side, which had a one digit number difference. I now remember a PhD anthropology student from Cape Town, telling me on my arrival in North Carolina in January 1990, about directional arrows at traffic intersections. He found it incredible that when the lights changed to green, the car in the left lane turned left, the car in the centre went straight, and the vehicle in the right lane turned right, each obeying the three respective arrows. This student had been in the US for two years and still had not fathomed why American drivers followed the arrows, even though the rules are similar in South Africa. (Perhaps this is one reason why our road accident rate is amongst the highest in the world.) But Kort-Jan Nxai, an illiterate hunter, joking about having travelled said, ‘I’ve been around. I know what a robot (traffic light) is. When it’s red it means you must stop. When it’s blue (i.e. green) it means you can go. I’m not like the other Bushmen. When they see red they think it’s meat, the blood in the meat, and they go, and they will, bang, get knocked over just like that!’ (July 2004).
There is no consistency of signs and signifiers in Africa. Conventional Western signification is often reversed, if not totally confused in the doing, installation, and in the reading. Doing fieldwork in Africa often locates one in a kind of reversibility and liminality – nothing is as it seems – while what is is what is. Researchers are constantly ‘walking turns’, inappropriately looking for forms of logic that do not exist in the behaviour of the popular. The SBB-camp had circumscribed the reversibility of the bush by providing solar power, Western food (along with re-textured African cuisine), proper beds, sheets, blankets and bathrooms in their tents. AAAfrica was the same in Tanzania, where similar amenities had been previously provided by one of the hunter-husbands of the two women.[xiii] That’s why they knew they would cope. McDonaldisation indicates stability, predictability, and assurance.
Reverse signification occurs partly because the African labourers who install plumbing, telecoms and electrical devices do not always have the wherewithal to purchase or use them, or do not understand the colour and spatial codes of the West. Or, they don’t care. Apartheid’s white supervisors hardly ever got it right either, mainly because blacks had the technical skills, while the incompetent, ill-educated white labour aristocracy had the supervisory power, and didn’t care either.[xiv] It is also partly because indigenous forms of reasoning often subvert Cartesian logic. These tend to operate on circular, cyclical and non-linear patterns without the clear dichotomies found in industrialized societies (Masolo 1994; Tempels 1959). Heaven/hell, God/Satan, and saved/lost are binaries that clash with the African concept of ancestors, ancestor worship, and the ancestors being amongst us (cf. Kasoma 1996). The collision of these different forms of reasoning often has bizarre results which none of the parties in the encounter can easily comprehend. In the context of this discussion at Jwaneng, Jeffrey reminds us that Stuart Hall’s (1981) encoding/decoding model has little validity under these conditions (cf. Conquergood 1986).[xv]
The new Lodge manager and his girlfriend have been in Jwaneng for just four days. They are fixing the plumbing, getting the TV-sets to work, gardening and cleaning. They call a meeting to persuade the staff to improve service. The service gets worse even as the receptionist tells us that the Lodge is now ‘customer-driven’. I ask who owns the parked Mercedes. ‘The owner’, I am told. He is doing okay even if the Lodge is in need of major refurbishment and urgent staff training. The new manager, embarrassed at the exorbitant room prices, takes pity on us and, on the condition that all five of us share one twin bedroom, he charges us for only two guests each day. Every day it’s a lottery to see which two get to qualify for the hotel breakfast, not much better, but vastly more expensive than the local eating houses in the strip mall across the road. A Lodge questionnaire asks: ‘If we were not the only restaurant in town, on today’s (sic) performance would you return?’ When we returned a year later, in July 2001, the receptionist was no longer there, and neither was the manager nor his girlfriend. We were disappointed, but pleased that some improvements had survived their departure. Perhaps they had worked too hard and threatened the owner’s complacency and his insistence that his family be employed no matter their skill or performance levels? By 2004, the Trans-Kalahari Highway had made the construction of a second lodge at Jwaneng viable, and we also noted the massive expansion of the Mokala Lodge itself.
Instead of contemplating our navels as the Sani is stripped in the garage, we help the two mechanics. I am initially concerned as they ask me for my tools. We later learn that neither of them had ever worked on an engine that size – and that they were as apprehensive as were we! The engine is progressively stripped in three different places: the forecourt, the outside workshop, and eventually in the garage itself. My now flat battery is switched with another belonging to a policeman’s vehicle. We’ll get it back later, one of the mechanics, Wafula, tells us. We never do. It gave up the ghost the night before we were to return to Ngwatle in 2001. I hoped that this was not a sign from the gods on the portents of our forthcoming trip. I bought a new, much bigger battery, and fitted a split battery charger system and inverter, which would not run down or blow fuses when I recharged my laptop, lights, cameras, fridge, and other equipment from the cigarette lighter.
It takes another day to fetch the spare parts, from a variety of places and towns, and two more days to reassemble the engine. We begin to wonder if we will ever get to our destination – or home again. So we start looking for individuals with San features in Jwaneng. One woman working at the Lodge assures us that she is from ‘here’, and that she is a Tswana. In the Lodge reception is a calendar. The calendar’s montage contains pictures of various Botswanan presidents. Happy children’s faces are contained within a map of Botswana with a caption stating that they are ‘our future’. A vignette of President Bill Clinton, standing in a safari truck in the Okavango swamps, shows him pouting for the camera rather than observing the elephants behind him. He is not an average tourist. Elephants, not cameras, are what most tourists have come to see in this land of Eden. Clinton comes to see the camera – or perhaps the camera comes to see Clinton? The calendar, issued by a chemical company, also sports a picture of a group of naked dancing Bushmen, labelled ‘Traditional Dancing’.[xvi] Is this as close as we will get to the San?[xvii] A local hairdresser tells Anthea of a woman who once maintained that she was a ‘Bushman’. Is this response indicative of identity politics in Botswana? We think of talking to the garage pump attendants, who have some San features. Is this wishful thinking perhaps? Or, are we simply and opportunistically trying to create the object of our study? Maybe we will be able to justify our grant after all! I tell the students about a book called The Innocent Anthropologist (Barley 1983), where the author writes about his year-long run-in with bureaucracy when trying to get a permit to study a remote village in Cameroon. He never gets there. How will he explain this to his funders? It’s a false relief for us.
We actually need to get to Ngwatle, where we have been twice previously (Boloka 2001). So, we decide to write this and other papers to justify my research grant, hoping that Ngwatle, a mere 350 kms away, will be eventually reached. I send the students out from the Lodge to undertake micro-ethnographies of the Jwaneng shopping area. Caleb does an olfactory semiotics, and Gibson helps the mechanics. Here are topics, which will intrigue and possibly bewilder the Faculty’s Higher Degree and Research Committee! Caleb, on submitting his olfactory study to a local journal, is told to use Umberto Eco, rather than C.S. Peirce, in developing his phaneroscopic table derived from my own work (Tomaselli 1999b: 37). In literary circles, Eco obviously has a higher ranking than Peirce, and certainly myself. Caleb’s paper was later published without modification in a specialist semiotics journal (Wang 2002). We run seminars every day in the Lodge’s dining room. How can we justify experiential knowledge? Form, derived from the preferred gurus, rules theory we conclude.
While in Jwaneng, we eat where and what the locals eat – much to their amazement and delight. The food is basic, filling and because it is cheap, eating here twice daily will help limit the project’s spiralling accommodation and subsistence budget deficit. We think of requesting a frequent dining card. The owner of the Menoa Masweu take away is unaware of this customer loyalty device, but he does have a computerized cash register. The cashier goes to great lengths to write up receipts that I can submit to the University’s Finance Division. We feed the mechanics breakfast and supper. Wafula Nerubucha is a Kenyan and Richard is a Zambian, both doing sterling voluntary overtime. Their mission is to fix my Sani.
Soccer, digitalisation and markets
We punctuate our days talking to the mechanics as they work and explain what they are doing. On TV, the South African cricket and rugby teams are trounced in Sri Lanka and Australia respectively. The hotel room television offers only a fuzzy picture that keeps losing the satellite feed, irritating the manager, a rugby enthusiast. We learn from extended news leads on all three South African public service channels that South Africa was not awarded the 2006 Soccer World Cup Bid. Nothing seems to be going right. To us, stuck in another country, South Africans seem obsessively fixated on failing to secure the bid, and on looking for conspiracies on the part of the six-nation Oceania delegate from New Zealand who abstained, thereby ensuring that Germany wins by one vote. The media inexplicably fastens on this single beleaguered delegate rather than targeting the majority who voted against South Africa. The New Zealand Foreign Minister apologises to South Africa and his ambassador in Pretoria complains about abusive telephone calls. South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki insists that relations between the two countries will not be harmed. The South Africans have requested an international inquiry. This continues for days on end and resembles the repetitive and self-indulgent tedium of US presidential election coverage. Africa has been spurned yet again by the racist west; scream the South African media (Mail and Guardian, 7-13 July, 2000: 24). A South African brokerage firm comments that ‘the market’ has responded negatively. South Africa is thereby punished for losing the bid. The Third World is always being punished by the West’s financial institutions for failing, for not playing ball, and for being unable to compete globally. We live at the mercy of the world’s financial markets. South Africa, however, won the bid in 2004 for the 2010 event, despite the lack of support of many African FIFA-delegates. This time, South Africans looking to attribute blame demonised a hapless Botswanan delegate of Indian extraction. I ask myself if South Africa is becoming the imperialist of Africa. Are we becoming like Americans? In 2004, the press ran articles on the still beleaguered Oceania delegate who stalled the earlier bid. Perhaps the South African bid committee should ‘walk a turn’, contemplate their arrogance, and shit for a while.
In June 2000, we remember a sign at the Botswana border post warning visitors that corruption is not tolerated. After our return in January 2005, I found a package addressed to me personally from the Office of the Botswana President. His Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime had sent me pamphlets and details of its education program, which includes primary schools. Why I am a recipient is not clear. But I affixed the enclosed decal to my Sani anyway. It might protect me from corrupt Botswanan traffic officials. The decal depicts a horse-drawn cart against a no-go red circle with the catchphrase: ‘Don’t give corruption a ride’. Curiously, the picture looks more like an English milk cart than an African donkey cart.
Three days after the World Cup vote in 2000, we watch on TV as pandemonium erupts at Zimbabwe’s Harare soccer stadium. Overly zealous fans throw bottles at South Africa’s goal scorer. The Zimbabwean police react by shooting tear gas into the crowd. The game is abandoned, with players and spectators alike fleeing the continued firing of canisters. A Zimbabwean soccer official tells the TV-interviewer that ‘Africa is a fishbowl, the world’s looking at us to see if we can deliver; the spectators came here to enjoy a game not fight a war’. Would this have happened in the First World, we ask ourselves? No one knows how many are injured. Will Africa ever grow up, asks the official?
We just want our engine fixed. The Botswanan press barely mentions South Africa’s loss of the World Cup bid, but lauds its own team’s win against Madagascar. Botswana does not yet have a TV-station, but in the paper we find an advert for a professor and lecturer in media studies, to be appointed at the University of Botswana.[xviii] The satellite transmissions of the three SABC channels and M-Net, the now black-owned South African pay-TV channel, which we watch in our Jwaneng Lodge room, are constantly interrupted by a message headed ‘Analogue to Digital Exchange’ – ‘If you don’t get your new subsidized digital decoder now you will have to pay full price after October 31st’ (2000). The accent of the voice-over is white South African. Is this multiracial post-apartheid imperialism at work, I muse? Some of my more deterministic political economy colleagues would think so. This notice interrupts just about all important news items and other programs during the six days we intermittently watch TV.
They don’t want to work.
(Manager, Molopo Lodge 2002, on the Witdraai ≠Khomani)
We loan a jerry can to a South African whose car ran out of petrol 30 kms away, and who had hitched into Jwaneng and found us at the garage. He works for a laser printer refill company. His colleague, still in the car, is missing a leg, lost when hit by a petrol tanker while cycling. They give Wafula a lift to Gabarone to fetch some spare parts. We watch as Wafula, holding the two Sani cylinder heads on his lap and sitting on a cushion where the back seat should be, is driven off in a clearly unroadworthy vehicle. I wonder if I will ever see my cash and cylinder heads again. My students reassure me. Wafula returns a day late with the spares. My students are cleaning the engine. Caleb is learning to use a new digital video camera. He is chased away by some of the hawkers who do not want to be videoed. In 2001, at Tsabong, Darryn tried to take a photo of a man on a camel in the parking lot of a small shopping centre. He was warned off by the rider, ‘Hey bra,[xix] pula talks!’ In 2004, the manager of Kutse Lodge told us that we must get permission to take a photo of the hotel. Isn’t tourism partly about taking pictures, I asked a local Botswana man in 2001. He agreed and was unable to explain why some Botswanans object to their pictures being taken. None of the roadside shop staff object. Perhaps they understood the value of promotion, or maybe they wanted to be famous. In 2004 at Ngwatle, Charlize learned that a digital camera was acceptable, but a film camera was not. She mused that digital cameras enable interactivity; the subjects can see themselves immediately, whereas a film camera is remote, alienating and mysterious. In the Central Kalahari Game Park (January 2005) we interviewed residents of two villages who were being hounded out of the Park by the government. They were more than happy to talk to the camera in the hope that their pleas for domicile restitution would be recorded. But they refused to criticise the government, having been so warned by visiting officials. We listened apprehensively for approaching vehicles while we videoed.
Wafula, I am told by Jeffrey, has a philosophy on cars, Botswanans and society in general – since we are stuck here we should be interviewing him. Wafula has been in Jwaneng for two weeks. He was retrenched in Kenya, eight months earlier, from his job as a quality controller in a vehicle assembly motor plant. We are sad that he lost his managerial job but we are pleased that he is working on the Sani, especially as he has a Higher Diploma in Automotive Engineering. He has also worked as a desert rally mechanic. His approach is deductive, systematic and contemplative. Wafula also has a teacher’s diploma, and regales us during supper with stories about his inability to write 500-word-essays. Calculus and calculations are his forté. He thinks Botswanans are lazy and lethargic and sets the standard with his Zambian colleague by working 18 hours a day. I worry that they are not getting enough sleep or food. Wafula asks me if Natal University has a distance learning section; he wants to study management, as being an engineer limits one’s upward mobility. The following year I invited Wafula to Durban, and liaised with my Nissan service station on the possibilities of his employment there. I suspect that he got a job en route as he never showed up.
We have attracted a lot of attention since our arrival. The playschool children next to the garage tell us that they really like the ‘big car’. They show us theirs – steering wheels connected by a pipe to a rubber wheel, which they push and pull around the playground – metonymy in action.[xx] Caleb also fascinates the locals – a white person walking barefoot (in the middle of winter) is exotic behaviour – most black adults wear shoes all year round. Once, in Johannesburg, I was refused a credit card application because a colleague had applied the week before, barefoot! I think of signs I have seen at the entrances to US shopping malls: ‘No shoes, no shirt, no service’. The two Americans on our 2003 trip, Matthew and Laura Durington, told me that they have noticed this lack of dress in the best upmarket Durban shopping centres. They speculated on whether the laxity here was due to our less litigious culture.
The Jwaneng Motors manager seems uncomfortable with the professionalism and productivity of the two mechanics. We later learn that he employs neither. They have declined a low salary offer and prefer to work independently, using the garage’s facilities. The Kenyan manager instructs the mechanics to curtail their hours of work and locks them out of his small house where they are living, sharing a bedroom and a single bed. On another night at 9.30 pm, he turns up at the garage in his pyjamas demanding that they cease working. They are employed by the manager to work on his car, not mine. So, they fix his car at 5.30 am the next morning. I wonder about my legal status as a ‘client’, and whether the mechanics will get paid at all.
I remember my own professional experience as an employee in the film industry. Initiative tended to be distrusted by the company’s chairman. In the mid-1970s, covert and overt surveillance of my daily expenditure, correspondence, telephone calls, and movement, was the result of my instituting cost saving measures, and working 18 hours a day including weekends, to help a new company get onto its feet. The owner refused to pay service providers until sued. Months later he would whip out his cheque book on the steps of the Supreme Court and sign, deducting ten per cent for cash (sic). Thus were productivity and company income impeded, national economies stifled, and competitiveness destroyed. Is this business practice in reverse? The broader African response is to blame the West for its resulting woes, not itself. Botswana, however, is a wealthy country – diamonds, cattle and ludicrously expensive safari tourism – which, with a small population, means that employed people don’t have to work very hard, though poverty is rife.
For the Kruipers at Witdraai, who rank amongst the highest profiles in world media on indigenous peoples, ‘talking is our profession’, Anna Festus told Simões (2001a). Actually getting things done may be less important. Millions have poured through their hands, yet they remain visibly and horribly destitute. They complain that everyone with whom they have had business partnerships has ripped them off, though they do comment positively on the help they have received from these same individuals. In 2001, I warned my students camping at Witdraai to be ready to pay for seemingly friendly encounters with the traditional ¹Khomani, or to curtail such interactions if they did not have any money with them, or didn’t want their casual conversations with passers-by commodified. Sure enough, Caleb and Darryn returned to camp with a story of one such encounter. The traditional ¹Khomani have managed to commodify casual face-to-face conversation in the bush, which for big capital requires a phone, videoconference or other technology and signal distribution system. Just how real can this ‘Unforgettable Kalahari experience’ be? (Witdraai pamphlet).[xxi]
‘Can I pay Jwaneng Motors by MasterCard as I am running out of pula?’ My question is met with a cautious ‘yes’ from the manager, who tests me anyway by insisting that I pay cash for the parts which have to be fetched from Gaborone, 157 kms away. He drives us to the South African-owned First National Bank where I draw the money. A few days later I phone my wife, Ruth, and ask her to ensure that my credit card account is liquid. When I do pay I tell the students that the huge repair bills will have to be borne by myself. If my research grant covers these costs I get taxed at the marginal rate of 43 per cent. I bite the bullet and cough up. Academics are the only class of professional in South Africa who were forced to pay tax on expenditure in pursuit of their profession. When some of my colleagues at the University of Natal were faced with this double taxation after 1998, they simply stopped doing field research and even private contract work.[xxii] I think of the economic consequences for the Ngwatle community of my following suit. In 2003, the community had already started wondering when we would arrive, as we were, at that time, its only regular buyers of their crafts.
In contrast to Ngwatle, the community at the repossessed farmhouse in Erin, Northern Cape, is a hive of cottage industry activity. While I was waiting in 2002 for Nelia to conclude an interview with Rosa Meintjies, I observed adults cooking, washing clothes, painting linen and making duvets and pillowslips. Teenage children were scrubbing shoes, raking the sand outside the house, and the younger ones who could count were manning the craft stalls at the roadside (when not at school). Only the toddlers were not working, playing with their homemade toys. The community also sold its wares at a trading store in a village 14 kms south, and were very impressed when Nelia gave them an order for a queen size duvet. An official order! We also learned from a SASI Annual Report, and via the grapevine, that the area had become a conduit for narcotics and that domestic violence was not unknown. I wonder how Erin’s TV-set, VCR and music centre were paid for? I am hopeful that it was from the proceeds of their vibrant cottage industry.
Apart from filmmaker Rob Waldron,[xxiii] between 1995 and early 2000, we were the only visitors to the jobless, displaced and poverty-stricken Ngwatle community, though the situation was looking better in July 2004. Bookkeeping procedures and institutional financial practices have no way of quantifying or understanding hunger; though readerly texts might provide some emotive insights on what hunger feels like. After all, Richard Hoggart (1959) does argue that literature, like social science, is a way of knowing. Literature is particularly good at re-creating a sense of ‘being there’ (Peirce, not Eco). Fiona Archer, who accompanied us in 2003, admonished us for not drinking the remnants of water in our mugs, reminding us that the villagers and donkeys were dehydrating for the lack of it. Others of our party regularly washed their clothes, seemingly oblivious of the broader camp intention to donate as much water as possible to our informants on our departure.
Few of the Ngwatle people wash regularly because water is for drinking – by people, donkeys, goats, horses, and dogs. (In 2001 and 2004 there were cattle as well.)[xxiv] Dogs are underfed and mistreated animals used for hunting. In civilization, at the Mokala Lodge in 2000 where the supply of water is not a problem, our few clothes are beginning to reek, and Lodge guests are looking at us askance. Part of this response, however, might be our group’s composition: two white men, one white woman, and two black men. The Lodge’s reception staff couldn’t initially understand why we suggested staying in one room late on the first night, all the other rooms being occupied. The racial and gender composition suggested that we were from two or three separate parties which had arrived simultaneously.
The two Tswana-speakers amongst us broke previous social and linguistic boundaries, and the Ngwatle villagers opened up to us much more than before. We still needed banks of interpreters when trying to make sense of Tswana dialects mixed with all these languages as well as Sekgalagadi (Tswana dialect), Selala (Tswana and !Kung), Sesarwa (!Kung), and various other dialects, including Nama. On the 2003 trip, Vetkat and Belinda accompanied a four-vehicle convoy consisting of a Natal University contingent, and a group of Italians working for an environmental organisation, Legambiente. Introducing the two groups from geographically contiguous parts of the Kalahari, now separated by fences, passport and customs offices, and boundaries of nation-states, seemed to us to be a much more interesting project than bringing an Inuit to the Kalahari and taking a Bushman to the arctic circle as suggested by a film proposal I had been asked to read just prior to our departure. The Kruipers and Ngwatle folk instantly recognised that they spoke the same languages, Nama and Afrikaans, though their indigenous dialects differed – the Ngwatle !Xoo speak to each other mainly in !Kung, whereas the ¹Khomani language, N/u, has hardly survived at all. The !Xoo, who attract little anthropological, and no media, attention, had told the missionaries that other Botswanans call them ‘undesirables’. The Kruipers imported a wonderfully essentialist narrative romanticism not really understood by the !Xoo, whose hardships of daily life inevitably focused their attention on food, water and habitat. Belinda said that the reason Kort-Jan knew of our coming was because a bird had told him. Kort-Jan had a more plausible explanation: it was winter, the sterre (‘stars’ – milky way) were bright, and that’s when we usually came. Just the previous week, he had asked Miriam (Masebene) Motshabise when we would come; she had replied, ‘This week or next week’.
The next section attempts to develop a theory to explain this kind of essentialist/ materialist category confusion.
Theoreticism: Cultural studies critiqued
In July 2000, we discuss two articles during our morning seminars at the Mokala Lodge. One is by Gareth Stanton (2000), an extensive review of Paul Stoller’s (1997) Sensuous Ethnographies. The other is a draft of an article on tracking by a Canadian, Ted Chamberlin (2001), whom we are supposed to meet at Witdraai, after our stint at Ngwatle. We have no idea how we will get there from Ngwatle, as there are no maps of the area. In fact, in July 2001, in both Botswana and the Northern Cape, we sketched roads and towns onto our various maps, based on our compass observations.[xxv] We will rely on Jeffrey and Gibson in 2000 to get directions from the Botswanans. We never got to Witdraai on that trip because I was fearful that my vehicle would break down again, so we went home to Durban on the tar road. As it turned out, in 2001, we gave a lift to Jon-Jon Nxai.[xxvi] Jon -Jon worked at the SBB-camp and was able to show us the way. Every year we get different directions to Ngwatle, depending on the state of the roads, and whether the Botswana Parks officials will let us use them (being restricted mainly for their own use).
Both Stanton and Chamberlin[xxvii] are hostile to theoreticist cultural studies. Chamberlin, for example, argues that reading animal tracks assumes a skill similar to literacy. These are amongst a number of articles now beginning to appear in the anthropological and cultural studies literature on the value of anthropology to the field. Some question the assumption of Western Cartesian logic in studying the Other as well (Stoller 1992; Tomaselli 1999a; Muecke 1999; Stoller 1984; Young 1995; Katz et al. 1997). We note that Stoller claims to have become the Other; we have yet to get to the Other (on this 2000 trip). And, amongst us is the Other (the two black students) as well as the European Same (the three whites). Hence, the interest and confusion at the Lodge and the eating houses, by the German tourists, and by the two families inhabiting the two overcrowded Land Cruisers, on distinguishing who was the Other and who was the Same (see Chapter 3).
Stanton (2000; 1996) sees little point in academy-bound learning only, and draws attention to the lesser known, but much more significant, empirical studies of those anthropologists whose theoretical work has been feted by cultural studies – James Clifford (1982), Clifford Geertz (1979), Paul Rabinow (1977), and Pierre Bourdieu (1979). But it is in their fieldwork, beyond the academy and the First World, in the dust, dirt, sounds, and often obnoxious smells of the Third and Fourth Worlds, that the seminal theories of these scholars were originally forged. It is in the South and East from the North Atlantic that the most populous ‘popular’ is to be found, where ‘thick’ descriptions disrupt the neat and clean continuities of cultural studies and anthropological theoretical banquets (cf. Geertz 1983; Stanton 2000: 260; Stoller 1992). The non-European world is examined by these scholars for its conceptual use-value. Cultural studies’ tendency towards synchronic theoreticism ensures that this historically discursive Other dimension is largely erased from further analysis when abstracted into theory in the First and Second Worlds. This is one reason why South African culturalists like Ari Sitas (1986) are so hostile towards structuralism and semiology, arguing that it inflicts analytical violence upon individuals who live and negotiate social structures. The individual, human agency and experience (in E.P. Thompson’s  sense) is theoretically negated by such forms of analysis.
Contemplating the idea of conceptual use-value, I now think of the reasons given by eminent Western radical and conservative scholars alike for avoiding conferences in Africa. The discomfort of only temporarily ‘being here/there’ is not really balanced by the use-value of the conceptual return. Unpredictability, crime, grime, foul odours, lack of air-conditioning, refrigeration[xxviii] and filter coffee, heat and dust, is discouraging. In 2003, our new post-doctoral fellow from the United States, Matthew Durington, on a particularly unpleasant and windy day, was conducting a seminar on autoethnography with CCMS researchers in the icy and draughty Molopo Lodge lounge. He commented, ‘You’re sitting in an armchair in the Kalahari, not London. You’re getting your hands dirty’ (Durington, 9 July 2003). He was discussing the merits and discontinuities of autoethnography in the context of what he identified as CCMS’ rather episodic narrative-collecting participant observation. This he labelled a kind of ‘applied cultural studies’ which produces ‘ethnographic epiphanies’. We talked about the Ellis and Bochner (2001) chapter on autoethnography and agreed that what differentiated our approach from theirs, was that ours does not have the appearance of fiction. Nor is it conceptually clean, but it is messy, ‘just like culture’ (Durington 2003). Our narratives can be checked with our sources, with reference to dates, times and places, people, interview transcriptions, in both the language of the interview, and the English translations. Ellis and Bochner suggest that autoethnography is:
… an autobiographical genre of writing and research that displays multiple layers of consciousness, connecting the personal and the cultural. Back and forth autobiographers gaze, first through an ethnographic wide-angle lens, focusing outward on social and cultural aspects of their personal experience; then, they look inward, exposing a vulnerable self that has moved by and may move through, reject and resist cultural interpretations (2001: 739).
With boeremusiek (Afrikaner country music) playing in the background Matthew responded:
There is a step missing here after the ‘autoethnographer’ looks through a ‘wide angle lens’ if they truly want to call what they are doing ethnography or anthropology or informative at all … there must be a discussion of the political economy of the culture, the actual setting, the actual people involved and some of the participant observation which is then highlighted by ‘personal experience’, etc. (9 July 2003).
Matthew told us that political economy is both a lack of and an advantage in our own research. We can get away with this in cultural studies but not in anthropology, he concluded. On our 2004 visit to Ngwatle, we took along Nyambura Ganchette Njagi, a development studies MA-student, hoping to add the conventional dimension of how livelihoods are organised at Ngwatle. Her clip board and interview schedules seemingly attracted attention from the Botswanan authorities, who were apparently concerned that we might have been supporting the Bushmen in the context of the Survival International court case brought against the Botswana government with regard to its eviction of communities previously living in the CKGR. Someone in our party suggested that in 2005 we return to autoethnography so as not to again expose ourselves by doing formal survey research.
Autoethnography as discussed by Ellis and Bochner (2001), provides a beguiling justification for being descriptively self-reflective, rather than rigorously theoretical through self-reflexive, applied and empirical research. The latter is our aim, one in which we explain events and processes in terms of broader social theories and critical methodologies. The diary is merely the narrative form; the content requires as rigorous an apprehension and understanding of the empirical world as does any analysis. Later, Matthew suggested that if the subject communities find our work useful, then that’s really what counts.
I remembered a meeting I had with the TV-director a few days before leaving for our 2003 trip. ‘No politics!’, exclaimed the producer of Sand and Snow, who had approached me to advise on his production where he would interface Inuit and San hunters in the Kalahari and northern Canada respectively. My point had been that the political economy of tracking and hunting in Botswana had been fundamentally linked to the safari industry, Botswana government land, (re)settlement, and national development policies, dispossession, and the second class status of Bushmen in that country after 2000. Just making the programme would have consequences for the participating communities. He needed to take these issues into account when scripting the movie (cf. Biesele and Hitchcock 1999). The metaphor of sand and snow took on a far more significant resonance in 2004 when Oyvind Mikalsen, a Norwegian studying in CCMS, linked his encounters with the ¹Khomani with his own Sami identity and experience. A ‘white’ representative of a northern First People meeting darker individuals claiming a Bushman identity generally resulted in confusion, discussion and initially, scepticism: how can this ‘white’ man claim to come from an oppressed, poor and marginalized group, was their recurring question. As Mikalsen (2004) suggested, things are not all that different in Europe. In his experience, ‘… being approached for money by a shaking drug addict in Oslo who looks more like Gollum, the creature from Lord of the Rings, than like a human being, is scarier and more dangerous than being stopped by anyone in Durban’.
Places where ordinary people eke out a basic existence have adapted First World inventions and behaviours to their Third World conditions. Working with TV-producers is one way of earning income, attempting to communicate their plight to the world, and exerting political leverage at a variety of levels. In 2003, the Ngwatle villagers were instructed by Botswana Parliamentarians not to ‘make photos’ (videos or TV-programmes), as these are then used by their makers to reveal their actual material conditions, the denial of their hunting and land rights, and the elevation of animals over people. Piet, who asked us to intercede directly with the government, supplemented these observations. Politics, as he realised, is always involved. Economy is ever-present. The enforced resettlement of the Central Kalahari Bushmen by depriving them of their livelihoods while claiming to be ‘civilizing’ them – is just one example of political economy (cf. Good 2003; Hitchcock 1985; IWGIA 1999-2000: 362-5). As Lesotho journalist Mkimzulu Sithetho commented on the 2005 trip, the CKGR folks have an excellent analysis of their situation. They don’t need ‘civilizing’.
In fact, the consequences of state policy usually contradict the advertising hype of the tourist industry, with its emphasis on peace, tranquillity, and timelessness. Tourists are able to purchase these protected, constructed, and commodified liminal ‘wilderness’ peace experiences, sometimes in the midst of social, cultural and political chaos, from which even the elephants flee. However, the indigenous people and Third World countries which are claimed to facilitate these states of altered environmental, psychological, and social consciousness, are themselves often cauldrons of instability, violence and poverty; ineluctably trapped in scrambled development periodisations, and irresolvable historical conditions. Overseas white hunters are charged fortunes by the Botswanan government and safari companies for their sporting activities, while the real hunters, those who hunt to survive, are denied their individual hunting rights in order to link national economies with global consumers/hunters. A few white hunters have sole entrée to tens of thousands of square kilometres. The Ngwatle villagers seem to be in the way of this global hunting economy, which is why they tell us that the government wants them to relocate to other better-serviced settlements in the KD/1 area. In the CKGR, hunting is not permitted; but the prospecting for diamonds is. People to whom we spoke within the Park asked us to remove the now empty Fanta cans we had given them, lest the government know they interacted with passers-by. The government claims it wants to protect the villagers from the lions, but the people now use lions as part of the food chain – since they are not allowed to hunt, they follow the lions and claim their prey. The hunters have been turned into scavengers by state policy.
Survivalist micro-economies are grist to the development studies mill. But development theory is often unable to integrate the confusion of actual practice/s in situ with the logic of development strategies. The Ngwatle villagers would get all the services they want if they relocated to Monong, Ukwi, Zutshwa, Monong or Ncaang. But such piecemeal fragmentation would shatter their deep sense of identity, of Bushmanness, of community (cf. Simões 2001a). Pedris told us that in 2003, they would move back to the Masetleng Pan, the hunting grounds, if a year-round water supply could be arranged. Many years previously, a Canadian Petrol exploration company had sunk a now disused borehole. But after 2001, this became the new playground of the great white American hunters, now the key commercial factor in the longer-term economic development of KD/1 and KD/2 in terms of national policy. In 2003, Giorgio Menchini of Legambiente tried to persuade SBB to expand its operation to include cultural elements for its members who wanted to track and hunt with the Bushmen, but not necessarily shoot anything. Thus would SBB increase its turnover – fixed by the animal quotas it bought from the Trust – but it would also provide a Bushman experience for Italians, while also helping to resuscitate Bushmen culture, simultaneously providing them a direct, if perennial income. SBB was not biting: cultural tourism means more tourists; more tourists irritate the hunters.
People on the ground have their own strategies for development. In Ngwatle, this is partly to prepare crafts for our annual visit, to sell to other passers-by, and to take on migrant labour where possible, working for the Trust, running small informal shops (keffietjies) and being dependent upon government and Trust-supplied rations and pensions. In Jwaneng, a much greater degree of economic activity is possible. Informal shopping stands in Jwaneng face formal shops and South African-owned chain stores. These stands are evenly spaced along the alley from one side of the business district to the other, anchored by South African-owned First National Bank on one end, and a British Petroleum filling station with a South African franchised fast food outlet called Chicken Licken, on the other.
Jwaneng’s informal shopping stands are covered with shade cloth. Each boasts a large ghetto blaster powered by a motor car battery. The hawkers sell scarves, belts, cheap jewellery, purses, make up, toiletries, sunglasses, jackets and bags. Individual stores display the same assortment of music. The music is West African, but with Tswana titles overlaid on the tape sleeves. In strolling down the alley, one’s ears are assaulted sequentially by each radio-tape playing different tracks. Each stand has a wheelbarrow parked next to it. The barrows are used by the hawkers to transport their wares. They become mobile music carts as they push their still playing radio-tapes and unsold goods home, to the surrounding shiny corrugated iron shack settlements around the shopping area. At night, the music continues in these dark candle-lit abodes. The garage recharges the batteries. A laser-printed note in the workshop informs battery owners that upfront payment is now required to recover electricity costs lost when owners fail to collect if they suspect the batteries are damaged.
In Accra, Ghana, drivers can do their shopping from their cars, stuck in endless traffic jams, as street hawkers ply their goods up and down the arterial roads and intersections. This is how most people in Third World cities earn a living and do their shopping. In Durban, such vendors were prohibited in 2004. I think of my previous life as an urban geographer, constructing complex computerized mathematical consumer models of retail attraction, and how inappropriate these are in places like Jwaneng. Even post-apartheid Johannesburg, a mini-New York in its formal architecture, has the flavour of West African street markets as its hawkers jostle and struggle with formal shop owners whose customer access they impede and whose goods are cheaper and untaxed. The hawkers are often homeless and live on the street, or they are political and economic refugees from other African countries. They may even be illegal immigrants with entrepreneurial flair. But, as is pointed out in a SABC-programme I watch in July 2000 at Jwaneng, the new democratically elected South African government treats hawkers and the homeless as a disease. The sanitary syndrome by which the earlier apartheid government tried to rid itself of black and Indian street sellers (Tomaselli 1983) continues in the post-apartheid era. Everything changes but nothing is different.
In Jwaneng, however, there are no homeless, and the hawkers are part of the shopping choice. This is the mathematics of the street, not of big capital, though big capital in the form of South African owned retail stores and franchises seem to have found a happy solution with the hawkers in Jwaneng. South Africa is Africa’s economic powerhouse, the imperialist neighbour, whose homeless immediately accosted Gibson and myself on our arrival at Upington in mid-July 2001, after our travels south from Ngwatle. ‘Times are hard’, said the young white Afrikaner man who served us at the town’s Spur Steakhouse, a South African franchise using American country and western iconography. The coloured homeless man and his three urchins that were harassing car parkers, had uttered exactly the same comments as this young white part-time waiter, who told us he had to support his three-month-old baby. Though we had spent a week at the always-lit campfire at Ngwatle, I found myself slipping into old habits, complaining to the waiter about the obnoxious cigarette fumes wafting towards the non-smoking section. On handing out tobacco packets to our Ngwatle helpers and informants, Gibson and I pleaded that they not be given to the children, who smoke via metal and bone pipes from almost the time they learn to inhale. I explained that in South Africa, it is illegal for children to buy tobacco. In 2004, Pedris told us of a group of missionaries who confiscated tobacco from those using it, symbolically burning it. In 2003, I worried about the size of Vetkat and Belinda’s nightly fires, remembering Waldron’s admonishment of our consumption of wood on a previous trip: ‘Each and every “dead” log on the ground is a small ecosystem in and of itself’. I recalled Waldron’s comment about ‘fiscal creep’, where large visiting parties consume the resources belonging to our hosts, even as we bring more income to the area. Our seemingly excessive consumption of wood on the 2003 trip did not seem to bother the three members of the Italian environmental NGO. We ate and drank merrily, burning up wood from this currently drought ravaged, grassless, sandy environment. That the Kruipers joined in this consumption seemed to make our (over)use less questionable. Members of the team talked about the need for gourmet cooking on hard trips like these. The Italians even brought an espresso percolator. Camp life would have been unbearable otherwise, I heard around the campfire. I kept my silence, limited my alcohol intake, and thought that wearing more clothes with a smaller fire will both keep the cold at bay and the ecosystems intact. This is First World consumption in a Third World environment. But the food was magnificent. Why did I feel guilty? Good food and good cooking was a necessary condition in keeping our students and associates happy and productive. So be it. Later we donated our uneaten meat, cans of food and unused water to our informants at Ngwatle. There were some benefits for the community after all. But one man asked for money instead; I later realised that money was needed to purchase alcohol. The JFP-missionaries reminded me of this when we discussed the nature of our exchange with the community.
Beating about the (bush)-text
A mystical place! A world of adventure and magic. The sky is azure blue, the sand iron red. As you travel this magical land, you will become part of the seemingly endless dunes.
(Molopo Kalahari Lodge brochure, 2001)
In July 2002, at the Molopo Lodge, the CDs playing were recycled medleys and poor cover renditions of the original Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard and other 1950s hits. These were supplemented with tacky Afrikanerised versions – Johnny be Good becomes ‘Swem Jannie Swem’ (‘Swim Johnny swim’), Achy Breaky Heart became ‘Dik Bek, Lang Gesig’ (‘Sullen mouth, long face’), and Wild Thing was rendered as ‘Gau-teng’ (a province in South Africa). In 2003, Matthew and the CCMS-students commented on the continual replay in the pub of Ver in die ou Kalahari (‘Far Away in the Old Kalahari’), an old Afrikaner country song. I told them that the song was made famous by American singer Jim Reeves, in the 1960s, when he cracked the Afrikaans-speaking music market with an album of Afrikaans folk songs. Reeves was yet another foreigner who wanted to understand South Africa’s apartheid experiment. Those who sought international approval for apartheid promoted him locally.[xxix]
In early 2002, the Molopo pub had, we were told by the previous manager, evicted some ¹Khomani customers who wanted to keep their hats on, despite the fact that the boere (‘farmer’s’) veld-hats were okay, and Caleb’s bare feet in the dining room hardly caused a ripple. Betta Steyn, who managed the Sísen craft project, told us that the new Lodge manager was fair but tough on inappropriate customer behaviour, regardless of who was concerned. The white clientele with whom we rubbed shoulders in 2003, under another new, more urbane, manager-owner, was sometimes rougher, tougher, and socially cruder.[xxx] In this otherwise family-oriented setting, fathers were seen to encourage their underage children to down hard tack in the pub, and engage in sexually offensive banter with female CCMS students, and on occasion, mildly abuse black patrons and staff. The white drinkers/hunters/flirters, after being told off by Charlize, called the CCMS-students rooinekke (pejorative, ‘redneck’ – British/enemy/invader), and started shoving them. The students then left the pub. In 2002, we learned that no Bushmen were allowed into the pub, though they are permitted to purchase alcohol from the liquor store at the entrance to the hotel grounds, and some coloured employees offered to evict those who were begging from us in the campsite. Charlize believed that it should have been the white hunters who should be evicted. Next year she wanted to stay at the Witdraai camping site. Fending off drunken Bushmen is much less onerous than protecting oneself against offensive white hunters – she suggested.
American hunters in KD/1 and KD/2, contribute fifteen times more income per capita than do other kinds of tourists in Botswana. At Molopo Lodge, the hunters are what the manager of the SBB camp site describes as a bunch of hooligans with cooler boxes, who own rifles, who are running away from their wives, and who would shoot five animals before successfully killing one. In KD/1, hunters are well-behaved professionals, he informed us. This is ensured by close government surveillance provided in the form of environmental and game officers who ensure that each party adheres to Botswanan law. Having to employ such regulatory personnel, and pay a welter of hunting fees, licenses and other charges, makes hunting in Botswana extremely expensive but well-managed.
The publishing mill
Body, Mind and Soul – unbeatable value at the place abounding with Candle-Pod Acacias.
(Wilderness Safaris brochure, 2001)
As I contemplated the wretched prose of the Kalahari marketing brochures, I think about academic publishing. We are told that studies on the south are of limited interest to readers in the north. I ask myself two questions: has big international publishing capital at last realised the use-value of this kind of book? With academic publishing now largely corporative, the publisher, not myself, has any substantive rights over our published intellectual labour. Capital rules. Why do academics publish in these journals? Because we, like the San, are locked into multiple exploitative relations of production and reproduction, where taxpayers indirectly subsidize multinational publishing firms. We are the workers who provide them profit. Perhaps the ≠Khomani and Botswanans who demand payment for tourist photographs of themselves (‘Hey bra, pula talks!’) are more discriminating and more effective than we as academics when it comes to getting payment for their labour (being photographed)?
I began to wonder whether ‘the facts’ are as important as the theory. I thought of the overseas PhD-theses, books and articles I have evaluated, in which argument often prevails over empirical accuracy. Some supervisors do not seem to care about detail when compelling arguments can be constructed in the face of, and sometimes despite, the facts. I remember critiquing the notion of ‘fact’ in my journalism classes in the early 1980s, but now I find myself reassessing my previous relativistic position. Hunger is a fact. Thirst is a fact. Slow alcoholic-induced communal suicide is a fact. Domestic violence is a fact. Dependency is a fact. AIDS is a fact. These are not only texts; more pertinently they are debilitating social conditions. Only well-fed readers can see them only as texts, reified beyond material hardship. As I wrote this sentence at the Molopo Lodge I could hear a drunken ¹Khomani shouting in the road, 100 meters away. The shout is a text, the individual’s condition is real, and the context in which he finds himself is historical. Structuralism does have explanatory value. The individual, whether they be Bushmen, offensive racist white hunters, or attractive female students, act out their individual, gender, and class agency within predetermined social, economic and political structures.
In much that calls itself cultural studies, form prevails over content (cf. Stanton 2000; Tomaselli 1998). My graduates, who study and work in the UK and the USA, are often discouraged by the dismissive response of their supervisors to the ‘slight’ African research topics they propose. Doing reception analysis of Homicide, Life on the Streets in Baltimore, gets a much higher ranking than reception analysis in South Africa of Suburban Bliss, a highly-rated Archie Bunker-derived sitcom designed to foster intercultural communication on prime-time South African public television (cf. Roome 1999/2000). Thus is academicism linked to racism, and an exclusion of some of the most popular parts of the world from visibility in the Western academic enterprise.[xxxi]
I thought then of the problems we have with external examiners from the First World. African PhDs are expected to include rich detail, extensive empirical data, and textured paradigmatic overviews. Certain overseas examiners complain when they receive 400-500 page theses. They further insist that they are being underpaid, when they are usually paid seven to ten times more than the internal and external examiners in Africa. Amongst the wingers are leftists in cultural and media studies, the very people who constantly jabber on about democracy, resistance, the popular and the value of difference. External examination and peer review is a major investment for most African universities. In the PhD-theses I have marked from overseas, I am constantly struck at their terseness and brevity, often lacking in detail, corroboration, sufficiently convincing empirical data, and cross-referencing. This is cultural studies as a personalised literary form of writing; it is not necessarily a form of critical pedagogy as it would have to be to qualify as cultural studies in Africa (Wright 1998). It is more of a contribution to speculative theory or analytical philosophy and argument, than to knowledge. It mediates personal rather than collective experience; it is largely lacking in strategy and development use-value. Its brevity retains the attention of examiners however. Its use-value is the degree itself, the publication, and not necessarily anything that will make a difference to the subject communities involved, if any. Everything is different but nothing changes.
English-language book publishers are not interested in the non-European world, lamented Larry Grossberg at the Birmingham 2000 Crossroads Conference.[xxxii] I tell my students here in Jwaneng in July 2000, that James Curran and Myung-Jin Park (2000) managed to persuade Routledge to publish their anthology, De-Westernizing Media Studies. I had assumed on invitation to submit a chapter on non-Western theory of political economy.[xxxiii] As it turned out, the Korean co-editor preferred the object to be non-Western, but the method and theory were to follow the familiar Western theoretical contours. Yet, the non-European world is where most of the globe’s population live, where even the remotest of communities are impacted by a rampant post-Cold War capitalism and the often-disorganised impulses of postmodernism. Even where the products of capitalism are cast-offs, like the Coke bottle in Jamie Uys’ film, The Gods must be crazy (1980), the signs of globalisation are everywhere: a prepubescent Tarzan, Goofy and Mickey Mouse, with a youthful Nelson Mandela, painted on the wall of a pre-primary school in the remote Monong settlement in Botswana; Adidas labels on hand-me-downs given to the Ngwatle community, and other brand names on all manner of clothing worn by villagers in the middle of nowhere. We find ourselves reading their T-shirts and caps, and commenting on them. The wearers find this amusing – clothes and their labels are not necessarily signifiers for them before they are apparel. Clothes are mainly for combating the cold winter weather, and perhaps looking Western in a general sense only. One faded brand is as good as another. Only the upwardly mobile gate guard at Ngwatle has a fur lined leather jacket, purchased at Hukuntsi. For her, it’s a fashion thing.[xxxiv] Now, the villagers at Witdraai, Kagga Kamma and Ngwatle make necklaces for tourists, not always based on any indigenous craft pattern. They too have learned what will sell; what these crafts tell or signify is no longer important. Since 2002, they have learned to make the crafts larger, to fit bigger Western heads, necks and wrists. Postmodernism rules even in the Kalahari Desert. Meaning is evacuated from the rituals of production. Form and content lose their meanings. Only the sale counts.[xxxv] On a brochure for a facility in Namibia, it states, ‘The layout’, and architecture at Gocheganas Wellness Reserve in Namibia which ‘incorporates local arts and crafts’, ‘follows a body, mind and soul format: The hierarchy of courtyards leading up the hilltop to the main Wellness citadel forms a spatial metaphor for the body’s energy points’. This New Age type discourse is obviously aimed at well-heeled tourists. But it also has resonance amongst cultural performers. Commenting on the social function of cultural tourism, Isak Kruiper pointed out that dressing in authentic gear, even if for tourist consumption is itself a form of homage to the spirits (10 July 2003). Cultural tourism was not for him simply a way of making money; it was also a preservation of an older, more spiritual, traditional, way of life. Thus did a performer in the tourist spectacle invest existential and cultural meaning in a work role denied him by critics of cultural tourism who argue that the debilitating hegemony of the spectacle victimises the observed (cf. Buntman 1995) (see also Chapters 5 and 6).
Back at the Jwaneng Lodge in the year 2000, I mention Appropriating Images (1999a) to my students. It is a book about being an African scholar. Not a scholar in or of Africa, but about being an African who is also a scholar, writing from African perspectives, from within Africa, who is also trying to understand Africa from the perspective of the Western Other. That’s why we appreciate meeting South African Afrikaans-speaking whites and coloureds, and Americans, lost and not lost. At the Molopo Lodge in July 2003, some white South Africans now living in Switzerland assumed that Charlize was as racist as they were. Having established that she lives in Durban they told her that there are too many blacks on the Durban beaches. Charlize responded, ‘You are talking to non-racists’, and gave them a ticking off. In the Northern Cape Kalahari, people of colour are mainly Bushmen and coloureds, perhaps less threatening (romanticized?) to expatriates now living overseas.
I am trying to study the nature and semiotics of the encounter between observers and observed, and of course my own subjectivity, especially when I am identified by our subjects as being the Same and/or Other. ‘Are you all from AAAfrica?’ still resonates as I wrote my impressions, after we reached Witdraai (July 2001). My broader study is therefore also about the semiotics of identity, and how that subjectivity is inscribed into one’s research, writing and publication – and experience (see also Simões 2001b).
Appropriating Images is my attempt to come to terms with Africa, my fellow Africans and the often weird, wonderful, and contradictory occurrences on the continent. It’s about indigenous concepts of the soul, not attempts like JFP’s to remake the soul in the Western Christian image. (It’s not about azure skies and the Red Dune Route. It is not about how tourist capital could McDonaldise the pans, the dunes, the trails, and the rivers. The fast traveller process has begun, the Molopo Lodge’s Bimboisation,[xxxvi] being the start). In the Okavango we stayed at the Sepuma Swamp Stop, ate Swamp Slop, and were required to watch/listen to VH1 pounding from the open-air bar in a Tropical Heat type location[xxxvii]. This TV series was made by a Canadian company, and was filmed in South Africa. ‘Tourists like MTV’ I was told when I commented on the incongruity, ‘if they want peace and tranquillity they go out on the water’.
Appropriating Images is about trying to come to terms with power and power relations, its idiosyncratic discourses, and about the scientifically unexplainable.[xxxviii] It’s about my experiences and my colleagues’ experiences in making movies on situations and people whose discourses and achievements are often incomprehensible – to us at least. It’s about peoples, countries and a continent, in a double millennium-old asymmetrical engagement with Europe, in which nothing is as it seems. Everything is different, and sometimes it is actually the same – but the African Same sometimes also needs African-derived methods and theories to make sense of things, behaviours and processes (cf. Mudimbe 1988). My aim is also an attempt to reconstitute these two methods – semiotics and visual anthropology – from the perspectives of the Other, the Third World, and Africa. Cultural Studies in the 1970s, early 1980s and post-millennium emphasised method (Willis 1981; Tomaselli et al. 1988; Gray 2003), and proposed strategies to overcome repression. This strategic thrust was much less visible within the field for a while, however, especially since Cultural Studies became an undergraduate teaching syllabus. It has therefore, in some applications, lost some of its original methodological, political and critical thrusts, though method has recently come back onto the agenda (cf. Gray 2003; Saukko 2004). This is why we have developed the notion of dialogical autoethnography, to reinsert the dialectic into ethically based, politically charged, applied cultural studies, in which we get our hands dirty. In Appropriating Images, Africa is an issue from the start. The US publisher wanted me to erase the lesser-known Third World film examples. Its referee – who was solid enough on the concepts – missed the African orientation. The second referee, who would have picked up the African orientation, unbeknown to the publisher, had inconveniently died before submitting his report. The subsequent Danish publisher had worked in Mozambique as a development anthropologist, where everything was stolen from his 4X4, including its wheels. This is African socialism at work: ‘what’s yours is mine’. At Kagga Kamma, a ≠Khomani man working in the Park’s cultural village stole a PC hard drive, thinking it was a cash register. At the Molopo Lodge, an artist allegedly stole R1,600 worth of expensive wine and hard tack, and then was surprised that his ‘friend’, the manager Roger Carter, charged him with theft. A young white man, who had joined the Witdraai community for a period in 2003, looking for healing after a break-up with his girlfriend, observed that his food and other belongings were sometimes stolen out of the hut he was sharing with the local community leader. Being ‘friends’ would appear to legitimise redistribution without the owner’s consent. This is a malady that plays itself out on a national scale in South Africa, beset as it is both by violent and white-collar crime on unprecedented scales.
In 2003, Dawid Kruiper told Nelia that he had been neglecting us, and told her that the time was now right for a more in-depth discussion, which had occurred with regard to a photo-elicitation of a group portrait of the Kruipers with Lokkie Henning, taken in the early 1980s.[xxxix] Only the night before, both drunk and stoned, Dawid had crudely propositioned Charlize in the company of his wife, child, and three of the CCMS research team, which had been invited to eat at Witdraai by Dawid’s white sojourner. Charlize’s hostile response to Dawid: ‘Jy is mal’ (‘You’re mad’). The community saw this retort as a sign of strength. It earned their respect, as it did Dawid’s. The following day, a perfect gentleman, Dawid permitted Charlize to video him without any demands for payment. Neither did he proposition her. In September 2004 Jo-Ann Hen-Boisen complained that the Kruiper men demand ‘respect’ from us, but they fail to reciprocate the gesture where our female researchers are concerned.
Reverse cultural studies
In the meantime in Jwaneng (June 2000), we discuss Chamberlin’s critique of cultural studies and Walter Ong (1982) in particular. Now I remember that although I have relied heavily on Ong’s theory of orality in my own analyses of African cinema, I was never very comfortable with his binary functionalism (Tomaselli et al. 1999). Chamberlin had helped the penny to drop. On my fourth visit to Ngwatle (2000), I remember being criticized in March 1996 by a post-LitCrit scholar, an Indian expatriate. She questioned me after my lecture at a US University and asked ‘What about Derrida’s critique of Ong?’ This was in response to my presentation on orality and film in Africa (Tomaselli and Eke 1998). Perhaps it took me five years for this question to penetrate my consciousness, but Africans in my audience seemed to appreciate my trite response at the time, something about ‘Wot about the workers?’ Perhaps I was irritated that she was trying to pin me down with a Western theory of deconstruction, rather than trying to understand the African theory of representation Maureen Eke and I were trying to develop. Ong’s theory was simply a means to this end.
Our group at Jwaneng eventually agrees that the West has not the faintest idea of what goes on in the rest of the world: It’s the West versus the Rest. In 2003, Matthew kept telling us how Saddam outwitted Bush: more US soldiers were killed after the war than during it; God knows how many have died in the three weeks we’ve been in the Desert. In July 2005 we were still counting. I relate some of my experiences at the 2000 Birmingham Crossroads Conference, where even the activist sessions tended to ensnare themselves in sterile book-bound rhetoric. Keynote speaker Daniel Mato critically regaled the 950 delegates with stories of how cultural studies has a much longer pedigree in Latin America than in Europe and the USA, certainly longer than the Birmingham trajectory. A similar argument was made by Sierra Leonian, Handel Wright (1998), then in Tennessee, for cultural studies in Africa, at the first Crossroads Conference in Finland in 1996. Why is it, both asked, that the great Western gurus are automatically assumed to have had an influence on the Third World non-English-speaking scholars? We were doing dialogical autoethnography before I was even aware of the Ellis and Bochner chapter, to which Denzin referred me. In reversing the gaze Mato questioned the influence of these Third Worlders on the First World scholars. The audience laughed, perhaps a little embarrassedly. In this context Jeffrey mentions Manthia Diawara’s video on Jean Rouch, Rouch in reverse (cf. Harrow 1999). A defensive Rouch in the Parisian metropole frustrates Diawara, a West African teaching at Columbia University. Like us in Jwaneng, Diawara returns ‘home’ to the USA, wondering about how to implement reverse anthropology. We do this by finding our inspiration in improbable places like Ngwatle and the Molopo Lodge where contradictions are often at their sharpest and, therefore, most visible.
I remind my students that during apartheid, our Marxist sources were as much African, Latin American, East European and Russian, as they were European and American. We are reassured in our diachronic theoretical cosmopolitanism. Now we are developing African approaches to cultural studies (see Critical Arts, 13, 1999; Wright 2002; 2003), the latter edited from the African presentations at Crossroads 2000. A longer South African version deriving from culturalism has, however, existed since the early 1970s (cf. Sitas 1986; Van Onselen 1996). Many of us are surprised that no mention whatsoever is made of this historical and labour-orientated strand in a new South African post-LitCrit book, Senses of culture, subtitling itself 25 culture studies (Nuttall and Michaels 2000). It appears that Raymond Williams is now the new guru, to be applied in South African literary and anthropological appropriations of cultural studies.
I tell of the South African Vista University delegate, Jane Starfield (2000), who offered one of the few strategic papers at the Crossroads Conference. Couched in the discourse of resistance, Starfield spoke of how an undergraduate cultural studies curriculum was developed to break the hold of apartheid’s Fundamental Pedagogics on this national eight-campus university. She explained that Vista’s students were black, disadvantaged, and brought up via rote learning through which all initiative and critical thought was institutionally and administratively stifled. She implicated the new black post-apartheid university administrators in perpetuating the problem. Rather, we are told, education must start from the students’ experience. But then she added, the students will read Foucault and Bhaktin! In South African universities, the post-LitCrit crowd teaches cultural and media studies from their white, middle class, sanitized Western perspectives, rather than also incorporating African approaches, and the dirt and the muck of this Third World society (cf. Nuttall and Michaels 2000; Cooper and Steyn 1996).
I suggested that Franz Fanon (1972) and Paulo Freire (1970) might be more situationally appropriate starting points for Vista, as their work derives from the kinds of experiences that should be instantly recognised by the Vista students. I am reminded of a large architectural impression stuck on boarding concealing building operations at the Johannesburg International Airport in 1999. The impression promises ‘Your world class duty-free shopping mall’ – ‘Your patients (sic) will be exceptionally rewarded’. I think I must be negotiating a Foucaultian nightmare. Are we indeed still unwilling prisoners and patients of both Eurocentric theory and the Airports Company? The latter was in 2000 the most profitable firm in post-apartheid South Africa, but was also at times the most inefficient and the most insensitive to the needs of those who used its facilities. Capitalism rules in both academia (the books we prescribe) and business (surplus value is God). At Zhutzwa in July 2001, when we were looking for Pedris Motshabise, one of our 1999 and 2000 informants, the clinic’s sister asked me for a job. Does she really want to immigrate into the mad Western world that I represent in Africa? In 2002, an old man came up to our parked vehicles. He said he was sick. I referred him to the well-equipped clinic. I wondered if the same nurse was still there. Kort-Jan told us that only white people cared about the Bushmen. Belinda Kruiper concurred, blacks look after their own, not others.
The Vista delegate at the Birmingham conference responded to a question on where to start by referring to the popularity of the US-made soap opera, The bold and the beautiful, which pulls in the highest black TV-audience rating in South Africa. I confirmed that this could be a point of departure as research shows that this programme, amongst others, offers a way in which black South Africans negotiate their encounter with the wider globalising world. I explained that Zulu-speaking viewers in KwaZulu Natal sometimes read the program in terms of gender struggles related to their own, often repressive, patriarchal circumstances (Tager 1997). Disbelief, I think, was the response of most of the delegates. But, I am pleased to reveal, Tager’s study did get a lot of play in the South African Sunday papers, where the ‘popular’ is reported. At Crossroads, however, we moved on to the next speaker. The pregnant moment sparked by Starfield was lost in First World conceptual irrelevance. The visual imperialist thesis ruled. We never returned to Starfield’s crucial intervention.
Cultural Studies laud the ‘popular’, but reject it when it comes to the Third World. How would my First World female colleagues have responded if Dawid had propositioned one of them? A court case? Withdrawal from the project? Blaming the project leader? Demanding a lift home? Some choice expletives recorded on tape after the event was Charlize’s response – then going back to talk to him the next day. She’d now taken sides in the internal politics between Blinkwater and Witdraai, for Dawid had similarly propositioned Belinda, who was told that in order to marry Vetkat, Dawid’s half brother, she needed to sleep with him first. This story, amongst others of domestic violence and sexual abuse, was known to the group prior to Charlize’s first encounter with Dawid, which had also led to some discomfort amongst some of our September 2004 party in talking to Dawid at all. However, some of these same female students deflected similar offensively crude sexism and sexual innuendos directed at them by the white hunters in the Molopo Lodge pub in 2003. Does the discursive location of sexually offensive male behaviour seem less threatening in a more familiar environment? The pub, rather than a home with family or the Lodge’s parking lot, may be a more appropriate site for such banter. Ruth Teer-Tomaselli, who accompanied us in June 2005, certainly thought so, having been one of our three middle aged collaborators to fend off unwelcome advances from both young and old white men. The appropriate delimitation of discourse (Therborn 1980) is tolerated in one setting but not another. Our CCMS-contingent found neither setting acceptable. Charlize mused that her people skills might be lacking; perhaps she should study physical rather than social anthropology? Her own conduct and responses could not be faulted, however.
Ngwatle always offers a different experience.
Ngwatle: ‘Being there’
In 1995, it took us three days of driving in deep sand, after crossing into Botswana from South Africa, to get there. In 1999, it took one day, mostly on tar. The last 80 kms took us three hours to traverse in a four-wheel drive. While in Ngwatle in 1995, we saw only two other vehicles during the whole week, apart from the weekly water truck, its pistons screaming as it struggled through the sand to the 10,000-litre water tank. In 1999, vehicles were passing through every second day. By 2001, there was a veritable traffic jam with three or four vehicles over a two-day period.
During the first few mornings in 1995, everyone turned out to greet us. We videoed and photographed the interactions, especially between Miriam[xl]and Charlize [xli] who immediately befriended each other. The small children referred to our 35 mm still cameras as ‘snappies’, but paid no attention to the video cameras, possibly because of Rob Waldron’s previous visits.[xlii] In 1999, they referred to his large Betacam camera as ‘video video’ and made up a song with these words. In 2001, one of the students was told not to take photos, but to pay P10 for the privilege, unless he first secured the consent of the subject. The power of agency had begun to assert itself, as exemplified in the camel rider’s comment, ‘Hey bra, pula talks!’, Darryn later tried to photograph some game park workers as we exchanged heated words between my Sani and their Land Rover. We’d nearly had a head-on collision in the middle of nowhere! (We were at fault.) He was emphatically told that the consent of the photographed was necessary. In the West, the picture taker in public spaces has the power and the copyright; here those being photographed assert their power and demand payment. They believe that the imaged have the power of copyright over those who frame the picture, even in public spaces. At Witdraai, the cost in 2000 was R50 if in traditional clothes and R25 if in shop-bought clothes. We negotiated these costs in Ngwatle by purchasing far more artefacts than we needed, and by offering to send copies of the pictures to the Trust. In the West, ordinary people will do anything to get their faces on TV, thus ensuring their 15 seconds of fame; in parts of Africa, people are so irritated with cavalier tourists photographing anything and everything that they want payment or voice disapproval. The payment is demanded also because amongst the amateurs are professionals who make money off their photography, but who return little or any of it to the person or community photographed. By 2003, no one at either settlement asked us for payment as we returned stills from the videos made to our host communities and also screened videos for them. We discussed their impressions of the senior primary school children in Durban, and the latter’s gratitude for being able to communicate with the !Xoo via Mary, and ourselves and Charlize in particular.[xliii] These symbolic exchanges allowed our hosts to get a sense of our work with them, though their prime motivation for hosting us remained economic.
In 1999, Gadiphemolwe Orileng (Gadi) told us about a mobile video van operated by a missionary organisation that had passed through the community. They showed a film on Jesus Christ. ‘Now I know what he looks like,’ Gadi told us in June, delightfully collapsing the signifier into the signified. In 2004, Jakobus succinctly explained the underlying message of The Lazarus phenomenon, though its graphic and violent scenes of hell freaked out my Islamic, Tamil and Christian students. This did not seem to worry Jakobus, in the informal reception analysis we conducted with him the next day in which he detailed the film’s argument clearly.
In 1999, Tshumo, an elderly hunter, fixed my snapped audiotape which Durban’s finest technicians could not. He declined my offer to buy it back from him. Now, 1950s rock-and-roll complements the South African 1990s Kwaito music at this Pan. He still had the tape in 2000, which he played for us when we finally got there. Every family has a radio and they listen to the Botswana radio stations. The skerms (grass huts) of the community in Ngwatle, and D’Kar further north, sport centrefolds of South African soccer players. On inquiry, we were told that this was a protest against repressive Botswana government policies regarding the San. South Africa was the Ngwatle villagers’ model in the light of its new democracy and its progressive indigenous minorities policy. Miriam, whom we tracked to another settlement, Monong, in 2001, wanted her new baby, Patience, fathered by a Remote Development Area official, to speak English and Tswana so that she could work in South Africa. The Kgalagadi language was not on her agenda, given the discriminatory way this group behaves towards the Basarwa. The 1999 centrefolds were an indication of resistance, rather than of South African imperialism. This reversal of the visual imperialist thesis would not find easy acknowledgement amongst some scholars, who see a loss of agency everywhere.
Afrikaans had been learned by the men who had worked on Afrikaner-owned farms in Namibia, particularly //Kuru!ka (Petrus) Nxai and his brother Baba (Kort-Jan) Kies Nxai. The names in brackets are the ‘white’ names that they gave themselves. The two brothers spawned a group who speak Afrikaans, initially surprising, but less so in 2001 when we met some Park rangers and when we stopped to fill up with petrol at Tsabong. My Durban number plate was like a magnet, drawing South Africans working in these areas, and Botswanans, all speaking Afrikaans to me. South African farmers who had moved into Botswana after 1994 had taken the language with them, teaching it to their labourers. In 1999, Kort-Jan identified the melons Charlize had collected along the route as ‘Boesman se water’ (Afrikaans – ‘Bushman’s water’), although they were too bitter to be eaten. But in 2003, we learned that not all the Nxai children had learned to speak the language. Afrikaans was used when necessary with visitors like us, or when the family wanted to communicate in a language not understood by others in the community. The children speak !Kung at home, and learn Tswana at school in Hukuntsi. Vista Jan, who thought he was 22 in 2003, has five children at boarding school in Hukuntsi.
In 2000, Wafula and I returned to Hukuntsi to find some gear that had fallen off the Sani en route, and to fix a shock absorber. Knowing that the community had not received its weekly water delivery, we collected scores of melons for them on the way back. Only the donkeys ate them, however. Delivered water is better than the age-old method of securing one’s H2O by sucking it up through the sand, a lengthy and tiring procedure, as Johannes told us in 2003.
In 1999, the adjacent Pan was where the community had to dig deep to find water during winter to complement the water truck’s ration. Meredith Regnard, my niece from Australia, helped with the digging, but it was backbreaking work. We did not use the community’s water; that is why we take our own. However, the more donkeys, goats, cattle and dogs which drink the water, the more water is needed. Donkeys are the prime means of transport. They pull carts and are ridden to the hunting grounds. They are used to transport water from the water tanks to individual homesteads. In 2000, a number of horses had been added to the transport mix. Ten had died in 2001. Kort-Jan’s horse, he said, was retired in 2003; it had lost its teeth. The government had, in late 2000, paid the community to dig for water in the Pan, and put a fence around it to keep out the cattle, goats, horses, and wildlife. By July 2001, these animals had contaminated the pan’s water as no one bothered to lock the gate. The truck will come, or perhaps the borehole being sunk will start soon. Tomorrow’s another day. The borehole had been sunk by 2002, but a pump had yet to be installed. Piping was not being laid at Ngwatle, though the other settlements were being fitted with pipes. Everything changes but nothing is different. Thus does dependency develop.
When we met the Trust in 2002 at Ukwi, KD/1, the committee insisted that we work with all three villages. We explained that our work was not of a hard socio-economic data kind, but was historically linked to the experiences of two families and a few individuals in Ngwatle, and that spreading our research across the other villages would interrupt our objectives. The Trust was also concerned that our resources (crafts purchasing in particular) was benefiting only one of the three villages and that we should work through the Trust on such purchases other than for personal use. We agreed. But the Trust never responded to our queries, so again we bought the crafts in Ngwatle. SBB similarly complained. In terms of an unsigned agreement with the Trust, SBB was supposed to buy crafts for resale to their guests from the Trust. But the Trust never facilitated this purchase. So SSB bought crafts from the Trust managing KD/2, and also from those brought in by their workers, much to the KD/1 Trust’s displeasure.
Our best interviewee is Gadi. He has a story to tell, something about a muti (‘sorcery potion’) murder of his brother in Hukuntsi, 80 kms and 3 hours drive south. His tale is deeply compelling, plausible, and it commanded the attention of Waldron’s camera and all the visitors during our June 1999 visit. We listened spellbound and felt his pain and frustration at the lack of progress on the part of the Police. Then he asked Waldron for a job. The power relation was instantly inverted. Waldron agreed to employ him on his game farm in South Africa’s Northern Province. Gadi later phoned Waldron twice from Hukuntsi, the nearest phone to Ngwatle, saying he could not take up the offer. We wanted to ask Gadi why he was unable to take up the job. But, lest my narrative get ahead of me, we are still in Jwaneng, where the manager is working frenetically to upgrade the Lodge even over the weekend. I see a notice in the kitchen banning employees from playing casino at any time, or drinking alcohol while on duty. He has a difficult job ahead of him.
It’s a man’s world
After time passes through the valley of the Camel Thorn Tree, the sun sets in the distance … Silhouettes against the early evening star, man alone, eyes forward, dunes like the motion forever, just you and the African sky, you alone walking … experiencing … AFRICA!
(Boesman (‘Bushman’) Safaris brochure 2001)
Our visits primarily occur within a masculinist discourse, though female students are often in the majority. A bumper sticker distributed by the Viljoen family’s Hukuntsi Trading Store (on the way to Ngwatle) reads ‘Hukuntsi: A Mans (sic) Paradise and a Woman and Vehicles (sic) Hell’.[xliv] The sticker gives some idea of the state of the roads, little more than cut-lines through the bushveld – on which in 1995 we had to travel often at little more than 10-25 kms per hour in a four wheel drive – to get to our destination. An improved 4X4-suspension saw me drive much faster from 1996 on. In 2003 the driver of a Land Rover berated me for travelling too fast. Another at Kutse in 2004 told us that his Land Rover Discovery is ‘dangerously comfortable’ and glides through the desert, unlike the Sani, which gives a bumpy hands-on experience. The phrase ‘A Mans Paradise’ invokes the stereotypical notions usually associated with safaris through inhospitable terrain, which the Camel cigarette company popularises in the masculinist, environmentally destructive ‘Camel Trophy’.[xlv] The 1994 trip, however, was everyone’s hell, as my vehicle’s factory-fitted suspension – made for tar – was much too soft off-road. As driver of my Sani, I grittedly held onto the steering wheel while the four female passengers bounced and banged their heads against the roof and sides over an 80-kilometer stretch. I replaced the suspension before my next trip to the Kalahari, this time to Namibia; and again with a bone fide 4X4 Old Man Emu system in August 2000. That’s why I was able to travel so fast in 2003. (It now has its third suspension, second gearbox and radiator, and a new engine.)
Hunting: Trophies or bonding
The tracking ability of the local Bushmen can only be appreciated when personally experienced while on safari.
(SBB web entry (www.africanhuntingadv.com/kanana.htm))
The Boesman Safaris’ brochure has a large colour picture of two American hunters (wearing caps) posing for the camera, seated behind a huge dead kudu, still bleeding at the mouth. The caption reads: ‘There is a chance to get a perspective on your own life as you share Africa’s secrets and emotions. Experience what few have ever done. Find your own sixth sense’. ‘They come here to kill things’, commented Mick Francis, on talking to a bunch of Swiss hunters, visiting ‘savage’ Africa, at the Molopo Lodge. AAAfrica’s the place to find oneself, by killing something else simply for the trophy photo, and the export of the buck’s head, horns, and skin to show one’s friends back home. No wonder audiences everywhere think that Uys’ 1980 film The Gods must be crazy, is an ethnographic documentary! They’re living in it.
The ‘Great White Hunter’, e.g., Robert Redford in Out of Africa (1985), usually a man of integrity and cultural understanding, is in cinema, a classless individual who often represents counter-racist tendencies (Cameron 1994). Now, in the guise of adventure tourists, they tend to be lazy slobs who kill from the comfort and safety of 4X4s and helicopters, after spotter planes have located the prey. At the Molopo Lodge a successful hunt is bizarrely ritualised in which the bloodied and messy hunters sit on a barber’s chair in the pub, downing tots, and having their heads shaved. This connotes their new identity as a hunter (Man), while their mates sing and shout unspeakable obscenities at them. This we learned from the young white man who was living with the Kruipers at Witdraai. We witnessed this behaviour in 2005. Matthew surmised that the hunters return home with the symbolic marker of having passed through a liminal state (hunt/ritual). In between, they came on to the CCMS female students.
A bartender in a previous life, Jason Arther hinted at this and all sorts of tantalising ethnographic titbits, but he was very coy in going on the record. We all agreed, Jason was the ‘real’ anthropologist amongst us: he’d been living with Dawid for three months, was building his own hut, and he had the inside story of just about everything: unconventional sexual practices, domestic violence, and local politics. He described the hunters’ head-shaving ritual as ‘really scary’. Then he clammed up. One of our group drew an analogy with Star trek. This series is about ‘anthropologists, in space, with guns’. We were reminded of the SBB-manager’s description of these hunters as armed hooligans with cooler boxes. Is there any real difference? Anthropologists in space do not get drunk, and the crew does not interfere with the order of things, Mick Francis reminded us.
As Gadi told us in July 2000, when he was working for SBB as a tracker, the white hunters simply pulled the trigger. They were more interested in trophies and pictures of their ‘kills’ to show off back home than in the meat and its life-sustaining qualities, social means of distribution, and cosmological meaning. ‘God provided it for us’, was what Kort-Jan told us while skinning a fox in 1999, adding that all animals belong to God. We wondered about issues of dependency and cultural cohesion notwithstanding the benefits of having entire carcasses delivered to family abodes. Waldron explained his interest in Ngwatle in terms of a much more existential understanding of hunting:
I am particularly interested in the bonding that happens between men when they go hunting. I believe that this bonding, harmony and great friendship and deep love for each other that is evident and is echoed in their statements about each other, is a very valuable thing that we could learn something from and that all of us, having probably derived from hunter-gatherer societies at some time or another, would have had that would have united our societies rather than disintegrating them (in Jeursen and Tomaselli 1999).
The women were discouraged from accompanying the two vehicles on the 1994 visit to the hunting grounds that were three hours drive away. This male activity is fraught with danger, while trust and ability are crucial survival mechanisms:
I went hunting with Petrus Nxai, also called //Kuru!Ka, which means greenery … Just myself and him went off with assegais, and whilst I have been on hunting trips with Petrus before, I have never been an active hunter. This time I was and we ran off with his dogs. It soon became apparent to me that he needed my reassurance that we could work together. His phraseology was ‘Saamwerk, saam lewe’ (Afrikaans – ‘Working together, living together’), and he was giving me a brief bonding and education lesson about this as we were running after the dogs, telling me what to do with my spear. Once we saw a gemsbok that was brought to bay by the dogs I was to throw my spear into the hindquarters of the animal while he dealt with the ‘working end’. We walked sometimes, we ran sometimes, and we did follow the dogs which eventually brought to bay a Bat-Eared Fox which we killed and ate later. But what was particularly interesting was how we could converse while we were hunting and the camaraderie which developed between us, which was quite unique because I had a very strong sense of a longing fulfilled. I felt a deep sense of relevant meaning and I think that he did too. In that situation when two men are helping each other to survive and at the same time to find food for their brethren there can be no room for dissent, there is great pressure for harmony and brotherhood. I believe that that can be a great healing factor for all types of people, uniting in a common cause that goes beyond many of the so-called western bonding processes (Jeursen and Tomaselli 1999).
In 2002, Kort-Jan suggested a visit to the hunting grounds at the Masetleng Pan. I suggested that Mary and Nelia join us as Mary had a particular teaching interest, and Nelia was the owner of the second vehicle. Kort-Jan indicated that the visit was a man’s activity and that the presence of women would be inappropriate. Mary indicated that female presence would not be inappropriate as both were ‘past our time’ (no longer fertile). But they declined to join the men at the Pan when we went off tracking. In 2003, the men reluctantly permitted a young woman from Legambiente to accompany us to the Pan. The Legambiente team had wanted to assess the potential of the area for cultural tourism. After some discussion between Johannes, Kort-Jan, Vista, Jon-Jon and myself they agreed to permit the female to accompany us if she, like Nelia and Mary, did not join the tracking. However, it was clear that the trackers felt inhibited while she was in the vicinity. The men only opened up with stories about hunting, and how hard this activity was, when she was not within earshot. In interviewing them for Matthew’s camera, they discussed hunting as a dangerous, difficult and thirst-quenching activity, quite without any reference to existential meanings evident when John Marshall made The hunters (1958). The gnawing of hunger, the need to quench one’s thirst, and the time taken to hunt, suppressed any spiritual meaning which may once have been encoded in the practice.[xlvi]
Craig Foster’s film, The great dance (2000), also revisits the hunting hypothesis in a search for essential ‘man’, which in African communalist terms requires community, and hence bonding rituals and behaviour. This enchantment with the Other, with hunting, with the kill, and the camaraderie that goes with it, perhaps helps filmmakers like Waldron and Foster to momentarily become the Other, to communally experience what is otherwise lost to individuals in modern civilization – and to indigenous hunters whose habitat has been reduced, concessioned out, and restricted. Male bonding via the stalk is as important as the kill itself, if not more so (cf. Wieczorek 1999; cf. also Young’s  film). Where in 1995 we went hunting, in 2002 the prime activity was tracking and, as with 2001, reminiscing was the main discussion between us, Kort-Jan and Johannes in the back seat of the Sani. In 2003, the romance of hunting had worn off and they complained incessantly about being hungry, thirsty and ‘swaer kry’ (‘hard life’). They told of being monitored by a spotter plane that reported their presence at the Pan, and of their arrest and fining if they were caught, even if they had not been hunting. Their dogs were shot, though the Trust sometimes bailed out arrestees. If locals were seen to be wearing shoes made from wild animal skins, they were asked for their hunting permits. Gadi told us that when he was tracking for SBB he was also instructed to keep a lookout for Bushmen tracks. In 2003, Kort-Jan told us that the hunters were tracked to their very houses; the meat was confiscated, and the hunter sent to jail. While at Masetleng Pan in 2004, we found donkey tracks and the residues of small fires, clear indications of ‘poaching’. The impression amongst the community was that the hunters had become the hunted.
They enjoyed recounting stories of hunting, and following the tracks of gemsbok, leopard and other animals, which they had found in the vicinity of the fourth pan where the camping site is located. Vista told us that since hunting had ceased, the sense of community had declined and that each household now fended for themselves. In 2003, Johannes told us that the white hunters with guns can kill from a distance, quickly, and without danger to themselves. The real hunters don’t have guns and cooler bags, and they are not hooligans.
In 2001 and 2003, Gadi said that in working for SBB, he did the tracking while the tourists followed in the Toyota. The tourists would simply pull the trigger. Johannes complained that white hunters ate more than the Bushmen, yet the Bushmen would be the ones accused of negatively impacting the environment. Something had been lost in the process; Gadi seemed to be telling us. Like some anti-apartheid academic tourists, some great white hunters perhaps wanted to have the experience of ‘being here’, but to simultaneously be taken ‘there’ without too much effort or danger, in as short a period of time as was possible. The Ngwatle hunters often took three days to corner their prey, with nothing but their donkeys, dogs, a spear and some water. That’s NOT what tourists pay for – solar power, electricity, hot showers and gourmet meals accompany high powered rifles, binoculars and 4X4-transport. SBB distributed the meat to the three villages and sent the trophy items (head, horns, skin) to a taxidermist in Maun, which did all the health and export paper work for the hunters, who wanted to put the heads of these animals on their walls back home.
In 2002, hunting was no more, except perhaps clandestinely. Meat was delivered about once a month, and eaten immediately. Sometimes people were so hungry they simply chopped off meat from the carcass, eating it raw. The Ngwatle hunters were unable to pay for hunting permits. The Trust sold the permits to SBB. SBB also made two-thirds of the meat available to the Trust, which now sold it to the villagers.
What are the implications for political economy, we wonder? For dependency? For self-esteem? The Bushman’s act of hunting has historically been more than just obtaining food. It was a process, an existential activity, a psychospiritual relationship with each other, the environment, the sand, and the wind. When replaced with another form of economy, it becomes just another commodity and handout, possibly lacking in any kind of ontological significance. The new economy as described to us by the four Ngwatle hunters was simply based on need, with no reference whatsoever to the cultural and social significance of hunting. Such a lack of existentialism contributes to cultural breakdown.
A woman’s hell?
During our sojourns, the Ngwatle women visited us in groups with their babies, to be interviewed and videoed, and to individually sell us artefacts. Belinda Jeursen formally interviewed Miriam in 1994 (Jeursen 1996). In 2000, Anthea established a close relationship with Miriam, both in terms of a formal interview and informally. Charlize sent a gift with me in 2001, and joined the team in 2002, re-establishing her acquaintance with Miriam. Gregarious Meredith, who is not a researcher, and who speaks English and French, was a hit with all the women and a few young men in 1999. Somehow, she managed to transgress gender roles and age sets without offending anyone. Between 2002 and 2004, however, the presence of up to six women in the party, two of whom speak fluent Afrikaans, perhaps elicited greater female interest. Mary and the female students bought approximately P2000 worth of crafts on the first day there. Mary and Nelia’s empathetic demeanour contributed to warm visitor-visited relations; and for the first time the Ngwatle women seemed to be much more assertive in their interactions with us, both in their individual and communal roles. The clearest evidence of this occurred in discussions leading to our offer for Charlize to perform a fire dance (see Chapter 4; Sætre 2003; Reinhardt 2003).
In 1999, we played soccer at Ngwatle. The field was deep with loose sand, and the ball was old and limp. It did not bounce. The players were barefoot. Fortunately, it was winter, and the scorpions and snakes were hibernating. Meredith, my three students, together with Rob Waldron and his sound technician, and I were assigned four of the Ngwatle youth to make up our team. The Ngwatle women, who did not play, screamed their support for Meredith, but we were beaten hands-down.[xlvii] In 2001/2, we brought two pre-pumped soccer balls for the community. We donated new balls along with a pump. Will we be creating a culture of entitlement via these gifts, we asked ourselves?
Reversing the learning
Our journeys change people’s lives.
(Wilderness Safaris brochure)
What did we learn from our Ngwatle trips? This is the discussion in Jwaneng on the Saturday. Perhaps we learned more about ourselves than we did about the Ngwatle community. All student participants spoke of being changed by their respective experiences. On her return, Charlize told her primary school teacher that the San part of the Grade 5 syllabus taught to her prior to our trip, needed revision as the course content assumed the San of ‘old’, a static image of a people-caught-in-time. Ironically, her teacher had only used the politically correct term, ‘San’, in the classroom prior to our departure. Charlize did not initially know whom I was talking about when I used the term ‘Bushmen’. She had told me that I was wrong when I queried the sketches of ‘traditional’ Bushmen given to her by the School, prior to our trip. At Ngwatle, Charlize met, talked and played with children from the village where we camped. She learned their games – the melon tossing game, the kudu hunting game, and knee dancing in the sand. She taught the !Kung children English nursery rhymes and Spanish dancing and they taught her !Kung songs and how to gather wood. Charlize was surprised however, to be denied the opportunity of joining the kudu hunting game with the boys. Miriam told her that it was not ‘girl’s play’. On returning to school in Durban, primed with photographs, video, an ostrich egg and a variety of other artefacts bought from the Ngwatle villagers, Charlize became the teacher. Her school gave her the opportunity to tell of her experiences in the Kalahari. For Show-and-Tell day, Charlize bought some melons and, using the video record of the melon tossing game, she rehearsed the game with some of her friends in the lounge of our house. Came the day that the game was to be enacted at school, she returned home furious because one of the troupe had thrown the melons forward instead of backward. Charlize, if not some cultural studies scholars, saw clear merit in detail and factual accuracy. What we learned from Charlize’s experience and responses is that children:
– are outside of the encumbrances of the judgmental attitudes of ‘science’ and modernity;
– learn the ‘proper’ ways of doing things very quickly – but that experience overrules the romantic orthodox teaching that sometimes dominates the classroom;
– appreciate cultural difference to be an enriching element of existence, which is learnt when community-oriented tasks and cooperation over-ride individual preferences. This was why Charlize felt that some !Kung cultural convention had been broken when the melon was thrown forward rather than backward.
In 2001, Charlize was invited by Mary to narrate a reflexive re-edit of the VHS footage recorded at Ngwatle in 1995. Mary immediately assessed the value of the 11-year-old Charlize in the 1995 footage as a means through which to connect Durban English, Zulu and Indian South African senior primary pupils with a people whom they largely interpreted through myth and stereotype. Charlize narrates, introduces and discusses the video, and completed reception research schedules during the classes. An album of stills from Kalahari fires and Durban pupils’ before and after drawings was discussed with the Ngwatle community in 2003. On learning of how the video was being used in Durban, Kate, a Ngwatle woman, immediately suggested that some of them should return to Durban with us, to actually do the teaching.
Belinda Jeursen gave a seminar in the English Department on her return from Nyae Nyae in 1996, arguing implicitly for a greater emphasis of context over purely textual analysis and hyper-theorising with little allegiance to the material world (cf. Jeursen and Tomaselli 2002). ‘Being there’ (a term which draws on Peirce’s phaneroscopy), she confessed, was the missing dimension in her early work. An English professor who had written on San poetry disagreed: there was no need to visit the San to be able to write about and analyse their oral narratives, historical or contemporary. My first visit to Ngwatle disabused me of this misnomer. Context is important. On the 2004 visit, Mauritian MA-student Nasseema Taleb said that reading about Ngwatle and being in the context are two totally different things. Nasseema commented, ‘There’s just so much one can imagine’. Vanessa McLennan-Dodd, after her first visit to Witdraai in July 2001, concluded ‘It’s not just about asking questions and acquiring information; but it’s also about spending time with people’. Nelia observed: ‘Everybody seems to know where they want to go, but don’t know how to get there. One gets a lot of insight from literature, but it does not give you reality, it isolates you, it privileges the book’.
The two experiences were used by Boloka (2001) to discuss globalisation from Third and Fourth world perspectives, citing instances of political resistance through the mobilisation of the soccer images made possible by globalisation. Anthea applied Stuart Hall’s (1996) two models of identity, as developed by Grossberg (1996), in coming to terms with the diverse ways in which the two communities coped with a world largely destructive of their former open spaces where as ‘independent people’ (Marshall 1993) they roamed large tracts in search of food and water (Simões 2001). Jeffrey confronted the impacts of cultural tourism, and I answered some questions as to why some Americans see racism in The Gods must be crazy (1983; 1989) films, while the San themselves, as do many Africans, have completely different interpretations based on their own cosmologies (McLennan-Dodd and Tomaselli 2005; Tomaselli 2006b). Mary Lange, who was working with the ¹Khomani prior to becoming an Honours student in August 2001, used the 1995 video of Charlize and Miriam to educate primary school children in Durban, on intercultural interactions and culture. She also facilitates the purchase of crafts for curio stores and museums. We introduced a basic export economy for Ngwatle in 2002, much more sensible than setting up a store at the Masetleng Pan, in the hope that a few tourists will pass through every now and then. Waldron learned about myth and human rights:
… I’m also very concerned with their land rights … the group I visit most, don’t have any entrenched land rights … they have established that in their living memory, they have always lived in this area. When I talk about this area I am talking about one hundred kilometres in any direction from here, because when you are a hunter-gatherer you have to be mobile over those kinds of distances.
… My largest concern here is that if somebody comes along to you, for example, and asks if you own a piece of land and you then produce a title deed, you are enacting a role within a Westernised infrastructure. These people don’t have a piece of paper entitling them to land that they and their forefathers have been born on. It is rather like asking a tree for the title deed. Because of this, and because of their almost total unfamiliarity with Western systems dominant in the area, they are not informed about the number of choices that they can make, to enable them to make an effective decision, whatever that decision might be (in Jeursen and Tomaselli 1999).
Relocation and removal
The San, … still live a hunter-gather life in small communities … Despite the encroachment of modern civilization, throughout the surrounding regions, many of the San have retained their rich cultural way of life. Their unique understanding of the cycles of nature and desert life is legendary.
(Bajanala: A Tourist Guide to Botswana, p.10)
This statement is belied by the relocation, in early 2002, of the CKGP-dwellers who are being forced to ‘enter’ the 21st Century by being relocated from the Park, which was established in the early 1960s as a place for the Bushmen. The rationale offered is that they needed to be ‘civilised’, but the reality is that the area has been concessioned out to South African and Australian mining companies. Lest there be any doubt, a colour poster attached to a tree outside one of the CKGR-villages assured villagers that they have nothing to fear from the low flying aerial ‘minerals exploration’ survey planes.
In January 2004, while lecturing on this research in the USA, I was severely berated by a mature-age Botswanan student. She had no interest in the people concerned or the impact of my research, only on whether I had obtained the necessary government research permit to be in Ngwatle. Her other concern was the refusal of the Ngwatle community to be relocated. Ngwatle, we were told, is not ‘a recommended settlement’. But the inhabitants of Ngwatle want to remain there – those who identify themselves as Bushmen have a deep sense of their own identity, strengthened via their interactions with the incomers, the Bakgalagadi. I responded that forcing people to become ‘civilised’ is undemocratic and that this cultural arrogance marred the Botswanan government’s policy towards Bushmen. The day before we departed on the July 2004 trip the court case instigated by Survival International (SI) had started in Ghantsi. SI is a banned organisation in Botswana, and spooked the Botswanan government with regard to its support of the CKGR-villagers. The Botswana president, Festus Mogae, announced in a radio interview that the government would appeal the judgement if it lost its case to forcefully remove the Central Kalahari Bushmen from that reserve. Prof. Ken Good, who taught at Botswana University, and who had written on the dispossession of the CKGR-people, was expelled from Botswana in 2005. The police visited Ngwatle in 2004 wanting to know about the ‘white’ visitors (three of Indian extraction, one black, and seven whites), but were told by the community that we were just visitors on our annual trip. But they showed greater interest in the Serving in Mission (SIM) group, who were absent that week, who had set up camp in December, but had not spent much time in the village. Ngwatle became aware of the SI support for the Bushmen by reading local newspapers and listening to radio broadcasts. SIM was surely there with government approval. Christine Marcham’s questioning of health workers and Nyambura Njagi’s interviews with government officials may have sparked this interest. In any event, we liaised closely with the Trust on our work and all our reports and videos are part of its archive.
Reversing information flow
We always send offprints of our reports and articles to the various development and cultural organisations, and to anthropologists and filmmakers who are getting their hands dirty doing social action projects in Africa. We also send our transcriptions of interviews back to our sources, where possible. Sometimes authors receive the offprints as much as a year or more after publication. My appeal to Harwood Academic Publishers for Lorna Marshall, then 102 years old and living in Boston, to see this special issue on the pioneering work of her whole family in the Kalahari, failed to unscramble the delay of the Visual Anthropology (1999b) journal’s publishing multinational. No one seemed to know whose responsibility it was to send the offprints, or to supply the fully paid-for copies. Perhaps the Third and Fourth Worlds are not quite as perverse/reverse after all! When the company was taken over by Taylor and Francis in 2001, things improved immediately.
The NGOs always thank us for the written research we send them, as this seemingly minor gesture is a courtesy not often observed by academics who use the NGOs’ facilities, who ‘take’ information and pictures from communities and individuals, and who write up their results in expensive European and American journals, often beyond the affordability of those NGOs and development workers who take hands-on approaches.[xlviii] This is one of the reasons that the ¹Khomani and others like the camel rider demand payment for photographs taken of them. Dawid Kruiper, traditional leader of the ≠Khomani, told us in 2000 that in his international travels he saw his kith and kin staring at him from postcards sold in curio stores, news agencies and bookshops. He claimed that neither the photographers nor the publishers secured the consent of those depicted, nor have they returned any royalties to the community.[xlix] So now tourists have to pay for photographing them. Thanks to our regular return visits we have been somewhat exempted from these payments because our work is well known amongst ≠Khomani individuals at Witdraai and adjacent areas. They still demand payment from other visitors. Often quite aggressively.
Academic studies are often very useful for day-to-day policy planning on the peripheries, where the world changes faster, is often more diverse, and where people struggle against Herculean odds. A year’s delay in provision of offprints can occur against major social changes in even so-called ‘traditional societies’. The logic of time is reversed: in the First and Second Worlds ‘time is money’, and money rules; in the Third and Fourth Worlds, history is ‘timeless’, according to tourist brochures and promotional movies I made in 1975 for the Gametrackers safari company, but means everything where resources are concerned. In 1999, we were able to video the Ngwatle community as they hunted. In 2000, hunting by the Ngwatle hunters was no more than pampiere; the SBB and tourists largely governed this activity.
Filmmakers like Waldron and Foster,[l] see themselves as cultural intermediaries between the Fourth and the First Worlds, where audiences of hundreds of millions can be influenced by more sensitive depictions, through which the San speak for themselves. However, the video makers are battling on two fronts, firstly, with the global TV commissioning editors who often think in terms of Western stereotypes and myths of AAAfrica and Africans, and solely in terms of TV-ratings and global competition for audiences; and secondly, with restrictive conditions where the San are being systematically stripped of their hunting grounds, hunting rights, and water holes through officialdom, ‘incomers’ and by Western tourists who don’t want to see people living with the game they have come to photograph and/or hunt. European tourists especially are to blame for this – they don’t want to see Bushmen living with animals, they want the animals separate from the Bushmen in the national game parks they visit.
In July 2000, our extended delay in Jwaneng means that the hunting season at Ngwatle, where quotas by species apply, may have come to an end. Bows and arrows are not used for hunting any more in this part of the Kalahari. One JFP missionary wanted to buy a bow and arrow, I assume for its spiritual significance as explained by one of their colleagues, Elizabeth Jordaan:
The Bushman’s arrow points will clear the way for whatever needs to happen in this continent. And then the Lord said to us that he wants us to polish them so that when the time comes we can use them. We believe that when we go up now through Africa, we will take two sets of bows and arrows with us and we will shoot them somewhere in Jerusalem and ask the Lord to set them free … (2000).
Jordaan’s assumption of recent north-south migration is derived from Schapera (1930);[li] Hahn (1928: 83); and other early scholars. The missionaries were unaware of current accounts which contest this speculation, or that the Ngwatle hunters had never used bows and arrows. The hunters use dogs to locate the game, and then trap the animal, which is then speared. Until March 2000, single men riding donkeys, some with dogs, could be seen leaving the village to go hunting. The hunting area was a day by donkey and three hours by 4X4. They returned a few days later, their dogs sometimes following in the days after that. Donkeys might carry water containers with the hunters walking alongside. Though hunting was clearly in evidence while we were there in 1995, the village was littered with rusting tin cans and decaying cardboard packaging. Our hosts always seemed a little surprised when they saw us burning and burying our rubbish.
Up to early 2000, the community lived on hunting, gathering, state handouts, a meagre income from those who had obtained work elsewhere, and from the odd visitors like us. By 2001, the women no longer gathered balanced nutrients; they just prepared porridge. In February 2000, the KD/1 area was declared a conservancy and SBB allocated a concession. This was a joint venture tourism project, involving the three villages, the Safari Company and the Trust. All travellers were button-holed by earnest looking gate guards as they passed through the villages, required to pay transit fees, and write their names into a book. Initially, I was irritated, and then I thought of the endless and opportunistic tollbooths which dot the South African national road system, which similarly charges users. Perhaps the South African system is just that much more sophisticated?
The Ngwatle villagers were required to cede their hunting quotas to the Trust, which then sells them to the Safari operation. Initially SBB directly delivered meat to the villagers, but in 2003, we learned that two-thirds of the meat from any kill was given to the Trust, which was called by radio to collect it, with SBB paying the petrol. The Trust was then assumed to distribute it amongst the three villages. At Ngwatle, people complained that the Trust actually charged between P10-15 for a piece of meat, and that the necessary rations were not provided when the hunting season closed.
The San hunter in Botswana is now mainly a fiction on TV, though subsistence hunting does still occur. The two American women at Kaa were very impressed that SBB then distributed half the meat to the camp’s workers and half to the villages. We explained that the game was owned by the government and licensed to the villagers for a fee, that the Trust had given permission for the meat to be hunted by SBB clients provided that it was distributed amongst the local population. Food delivered to the door, killed by someone else, made for easier, less dangerous living. But as one of the cleaners at the camp told us, when there were lots of tourists it was sometimes difficult for SBB to find the time to distribute the meat evenly between the three very dispersed settlements. In 2001 at Ngwatle, the community was expecting their delivery on the Sunday, but nothing had arrived by the time we left the following Thursday. The emerging political economy of the KD/1 area might be more efficient in extracting dollars from the tourists, but the Ngwatle community were not yet entirely integrated into the new set of relations.
Periphery and centre: Reversing the relationship
While traveling through this vast area [Northern Cape] you can enjoy wine tasting at the 2nd largest co-operative wine cellars in the world … visit private game parks, saltpans and the last remaining San tribe in Southern Africa.
(Kalahari Tours and Travel brochure 1991, the motto of which is ‘Satisfied tourists never complain’)
Are cultural studies really concerned with power relations and their often-negative consequences for the less powerful? While the post-LitCrit strand celebrates resistance behaviour of ‘mall rats’ in shopping centres, as well as the liberation of ‘the body’, how can cultural studies offer any real solutions beyond the Western world and the pleasure of reading? Explanations are offered aplenty by this kind of cultural studies, but social action is rarely evident. This is not so in the Third World, which, as Starfield (2000) amongst others has suggested, should be praxis-based. For those located in Ngwatle, the degree of liberation could be measured by a constant water supply, the restitution of their hunting grounds and domicile rights, the return of water holes and, consequent upon all these, food, education and jobs. Jon-Jon did say that a clear benefit of the SBB-operation was steady work, delivery of meat, and the purchase by tourists of artefacts. But without food and water the liberation of the body in Western feminist and masculinist terms means little.
Cultural studies in the Third and Fourth Worlds obviously must incorporate the First and Second World theoretical trajectories, as the processes they explain clearly impact the worlds in which some of us are working. But the scrambled development periodisation in these less-developed countries imposes largely different responsibilities on cultural studies approaches. As Wright (1998), and African and Latin American scholars insist, these are partly to be found in action-oriented praxis long pioneered on these two continents. The most important statement made by Stanton (2000: 259), is that much Western cultural theory derives from fieldwork in the Third and Fourth Worlds. The First and Second Worlds, however, have largely failed to pay their dues to these non-European sources.
Off-roading: It’s all in the image
The really old Land Rover driver has either never driven a coil spring Land Rover or is a fanatic who likes spending his weekends on his back being rained on by oil and dirt.
(The psyche of 4X4 drivers)
It’s late Sunday, five days after we broke down. Anthea returns to the motel from the garage and tells us that the engine is looking ‘more holistic, that it’s taking shape’. We then push and pull the vehicle onto the Bosal lift so that we can replace the engine. Jeffrey tells me that his father was a taxi driver, with a car that broke down every day. He wishes now that he had spent more time with his father learning how to fix cars. I tell him I could once strip my 1948 Willy’s Jeep and repair anything that went wrong with it, that I and my fellow students spent many a weekend fixing the damn thing and camping on traffic islands in remote towns, looking for spares in rubbish dumps and local farmers’ garages. But these new and very expensive 4X4s are much too complicated for amateurs like us. In 2003, we worried about the diesel consumption of Nelia’s new 4.7 Land Cruiser. The SBB manager told us that it wouldn’t handle the sand, and that we needed to take a different route from Kaa to Ngwatle.
The South African-made Nissan Sani was still largely mechanical, until the new Japanese holding company of the South African operation unilaterally terminated its production in 1999. The Sani can be fixed in the bundu (countryside), but the modern range high-end market 4X4s are so cluttered with computerized technology, flashing lights and beeping gizmos that they cannot even be jump-started without blowing up their electronic systems. This is Africa, modern computerized motor technology, like the taps at the Mokola Lodge, coexist uncomfortably, often in reverse signification, with ways of life which have little need for them. In the 30 June – 06 July edition of Mmegi (the only daily, independent newspaper in Botswana), I read about the Mitsubishi ‘Pajero re-invented’, which ‘tames the wild’ in ‘quality and comfort’. ‘The Pajero owner sees himself as the master of the universe … The Pajero … is the equivalent of the Red Ferrari in a man’s world’, comments St. Pierre White on the Sani website. I also read about the launch of a new South African-designed and made utility vehicle in which one can ‘Fly to freedom in your new go-anywhere do-anything Toyota Condor’. The No. 11 issue of the South African Adventure Leisure, sold at the Jwaneng Gift Shop, has a high angle shot on its front cover with two Toyota Condors offroading in Maputoland, South Africa. Walking towards the camera in single file alongside the two vehicles, which shields sight of their occupants, are three smiling traditional Zulus, two bare-breasted women and a man.
After our return to Durban in late July 2000, I saw an advert for a Land Rover Freelander in Time (November 27, 2000: 11-13). The advert covered three pages, beginning with a single full-page photo (p. 11) of a bare-breasted woman of seemingly Himba appearance.[lii] She is alone in long shot, with her eyes, and breasts bizarrely airbrushed at an angle that look towards the lower right-hand edge of the page. A dust haze covers the lower third of the desert picture to just above her knees. On turning the page one encounters a full-page spread depicting the Freelander whizzing past. On the left page the caption ‘The new more powerful Freelander’ is written in the sky above the desert. The right page, which continues the panorama, hosts the vehicle leaving behind a trail of dust stretching back to p. 11. The Himba woman’s breasts are thus now understood to be blown by the wind generated by the speed of the passing vehicle (Van Eeden 2003). Apart from being in bad taste, this advert also juxtaposes wheel-less pre-modern wo/man with an unseen jetsetter. This advert was photographed at a Pan near to where the ≠Khomani live. Where in the Condor advert the ‘primitive’ Zulu people carry on walking untouched by passing ‘civilization’, the Freelander advert symbolises the ability of this other postmodern tourist dimension to impact on the very body of a person depicted as living in pre-modernity through whose time and place it is travelling. In Namibia, tour guides now tout the Himba as the oldest tribe in Namibia, displacing the Bushmen for this honour. While the Himba woman’s breasts are elongated in an asexual way, and her open-mouthed expression is one of scepticism/defiance/amazement/indignation, the usual direction of the gaze has been inverted in both adverts: the gaze is by the women towards the 4X4, not the Western Same’s gaze at the exotic Other. 4X4s are usually depicted as the ultimate luxurious time-machines safely taking their unseen occupants back to a primitive ‘past’, indicated by the remotely located unclothed Other, jungles, deserts and swamps. The vehicles and their drivers are simply passing through time – free of spatial/sexual/temporal/normative restrictions. The Freelander advert drew the wrath of South African feminists, and was reissued without the Himba woman, with Land Rover blaming their advertising agency for the problem.
The attitude of many 4X4-drivers, who do take their vehicles into the bundu (bush), remains as alienating as they are suggested to be in advertising. In 2002, at the Molopo Lodge, two Isuzu’s circled our campsite – surrounded as it was by Nelia’s Toyota Prado, the Sani, a 4X4-trailer and three tents – wheel-spun and kicked a storm of sand into our faces as they sped for the exit. These drivers have no qualms about wrecking the environment they have come to experience. Although they are literate and educated, they would not understand the Botswana Code of Conduct even if they did read it. As Carter commented, doctors, lawyers and businessmen in their personal aircraft are as utterly contemptuous of the desert ecology as are rough and drunk bikers (interview, July 2001).
Four-wheel-drive vehicles are taken off-road mainly for advertising and promotional purposes. The Botswana Department of Tourism however states: ‘One of the fastest growing adventure sports in Southern Africa which has been made popular in recent years by the advent of custom designed 4X4 recreational vehicles, GPS equipment and the desire of owners to experience the wilderness area of Africa’ (Bajanala n.d.: 10). I remember a relative declining to join my family on a trip to the Okavango Swamps because he feared damaging his Land Rover Discovery – or even using it on the tar, ‘because that’s building mileage’. A colleague actually sold his Mitsubishi Pajero and bought a 1992 Sani because he could not afford to take the Pajero off-road. Nelia Oets tried to buy back her Prado because the Land Cruiser, which replaced it, cost too much to tempt off-road damage. Our 4X4 Nissan web wag observes of the Prado driver, ‘He’s confident his vehicle will cope and every time he takes it off-road he apologises for its inadequacy’. These little snippets of 4X4 folklore may hold more truth than is realised. In Maun 2005, I watched in bemusement as Oyvind Mikalsen went from one spares shop to another, including informal street traders, looking for cheap spares for his Sani. Eventually someone who knew someone else who had worked at Nissan and who had the part was able to install a fan clutch, saving Oyvind over P200. No one was telling how the clutch came to be in the hands of this unemployed mechanic who did the job under a tree, in the sand, on the side of the road. Those who own expensive 4X4s rarely take them off the tar – the prime market for Sani’s were businessmen ‘driving to the office’ was what I was told by a Nissan Sani representative. Those who really need 4X4s use donkeys, horses and oxen on tracks that can be hardly called roads. The world is indeed back to front.
In the Kalahari, Toyotas are king. Few other makes survive the rugged terrain.[liii] Of all 4X4s and vans, however, only Nissan has tried to link its advertising to African cosmologies. The 1997 South African TV-advertisement is a metaphorical play on ‘hard body’ [an old man, a black bakkie (‘van’)] and the African’s ancestors, land and heritage. This metaphor is worked through the leathery black man who survived apartheid and who is now putting the finishing touches to his house in a rural area. At last he has a stake in the country. He also has a stake in his own land, his own house, his own identity and his lineage. The old man says he is going to leave his ‘hard body’ (that is, the van) to his son, thus setting up associations of symbolic succession: religious, psychospiritual, and personal, via the land in which his ancestors are buried, who talk to him via indigenous healers or sangomas.[liv] These metaphors are linked to independence (personal, racial, spiritual, economic) and political liberation. They cohere metaphorically in a TV-commercial that marries the political, the cosmological and the mobile via the bakkie. The product is a ‘hard body’ van, not dissimilar to my Sani station wagon. This is the mixing of the sacred and profane for commercial purposes. My Michigan anthropology students in 1998 were mystified by the advert, though one accused it of being politically correct. Wafula, however, tells me that our plight has been a Godsend for him, that this is the first proper job he has had since arriving in Botswana eight months previously, that it has given him a new sense of purpose, meaning and motivation – he’s gotten his hands dirty again, and found some friends in a strange and alienating country where the people are unfriendly, inhospitable and remote. He seems to be undergoing a metaphysical reawakening in working on my Sani, and describes it as ‘mechanical spiritual journey’. I have, however, learned that my Sani, despite the advertising hype, is mortal after all, (it was, however, resurrected by Nissan West for the 2001-2005 trips, and gave few problems) though the self-styled 4X4 psychologist describes Sani drivers as ‘disappointed people’.
Theoreticism and essentialism: Being unAfrican
The two youngest in our group, Caleb and Anthea, get cabin fever on Monday. They hitch to Gabarone, the capital city, to where I should have, in priceless hindsight, had my Sani towed. There they meet a Rastafarian who claims to be a Bushman. I worry about their safety. Jeffrey says not to worry, ‘They are too exotic not to get a lift’. In this country we (white) South Africans are the Other, different, and easily identified. Caleb is especially easily identified for his earring. He has already been asked by a Botswanan at the Lodge if he is a ‘lesbian’. A press report in The Mirror reports on some school children in Selebi Phikwe who think it is unAfrican for men to wear jewellery, that this connotes homosexuality (11 July 2000: 13). In Zimbabwe, homosexuality is illegal, where they are considered by President Robert Mugabe to be ‘less than dogs’. Thus is the Same now othered as unacceptable, as being behavioural imports, as being unAfrican. In contrast, homosexuality has constitutional protection in South Africa – for how long I wonder? Caleb is neither homosexual nor lesbian, but he does read the I-Ching (Wilhelm et al. 1951) on both the 2000 and 2001 trips, making copious notes.
His father, Derek, a physicist, prescribed this book when he co-taught a course on ‘Science as a Cultural Expression’ with another physics renegade, Don Bedford, in our Centre during the late 1980s (Wang and Bedford 1985; Tomaselli 1989). In his first seminar, he would throw the bones and ask students to discuss issues of method and interpretation, causality and appearance. This course was received with some bemusement by the Science Faculty, which found its abiding positivism now being thoroughly questioned in a Faculty more open to critical debate. Derek would tell our students, ‘Beware of actors wearing white coats pretending to be doctors and scientists in TV-commercials’. In response to a query from the head of the Physics Department, we had indeed found an external examiner who was a scientist, and who also had a graduate degree in cultural studies. She later visited the University and gave a very basic lecture on cultural studies and science in the Science Faculty. Some senior academics in the audience had trouble keeping up with her. Hers was not the kind of science that made much sense to scientists. The basic problem is one of paradigm: Derek and Bedford learned that Humanities students with no maths, calculus or science education scored well because they could construct arguments, whereas the physics students doing the course were more adept at solving conceptual problems, and were unable to develop arguments to the same degree. Perhaps our paradigms are really just different kinds of arguments preferred by users and readers in the same way that soap operas, sitcoms and serious dramas draw different kinds of audiences needing to assuage different kinds of reception needs?
CNN’s BizAsia is being transmitted on one of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) channels when I return to my Jwaneng Lodge room. On the edge of my consciousness I hear that Nissan Japan has sold one of its companies to an American firm. What does this mean for my Sani, I wonder? The channel switches to the SABC News and I hear that 14 people including two children were killed in the Harare soccer stadium on Saturday. Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe blames the Parliamentary Opposition (sic). The spectators were waving the party’s open-handed salute and brandishing small plastic squares, to symbolize ‘giving the red card’ to Mugabe. The International AIDS Conference in Durban is told that South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe have such high infection rates that a negative population growth rate is expected by 2003. I read of rape in the Botswana press and I again worry about Caleb and Anthea. The South African President who opened the Conference doubts the link between HIV and AIDS, and his Health Minister still refuses state hospitals anti-retroviral drugs now to be offered at no charge to Third World countries. A German pharmaceutical company makes this offer the day before the opening of the Conference. The Minister questions the company’s timing and motivation. Are we now truly stuck in reverse? The President formulated his views on AIDS from the Internet, one of the few outlets where the ‘AIDS dissidents’ can still get published. We must keep the dialogue open, he argues, Africa is different; AIDS is caused by poverty (is it a Western plot?). He reiterates this in the face of 20 years of unprecedented international empirical research into any virus at any time in history.
African scientists are key contributors to this research. Thus does an entire government legitimise a debilitating theoreticism. How many at Ngwatle and Witdraai will die from AIDS, I wonder? No one will ever know, as ‘Bushmen’ are barely accorded their constitutional rights by the health services of either country. I recharge my electric razor, thinking of the TV-advertising song, ‘What did you do with your Philips today?’. Use value is replaced by consumption value. Where and who am I? I grieve for those denied anti-retroviral treatment. I was the ‘media expert’ who had been tasked by the South African Department of Health to draw up the Guidelines for its national media and educational ‘Beyond Awareness’ campaign strategy (1996-2000). This was done against sometimes incredible bureaucratic odds, government mismanagement of the pandemic, and opportunistic politicking. ‘It belongs in the dustbin’, says Mbeki’s representative, responding to the ‘Durban Declaration’ signed by 5,000 scientists asking Mbeki to reconsider government policy on AIDS. He later died from an unspecified ailment, and the press speculated on the cause. The government berated the press for not letting the man die with dignity. When will our government realise that they are now a government, not an oppositional liberation movement?
On Wednesday after an all-night stint in the workshop, the two mechanics and the students arrive triumphantly at 4.30 am at the garage manager’s small and sparsely furnished house, where we are staying for the night, sleeping on a carpeted floor still wet from a plumbing accident the previous day. His loud music wakes us all at dawn. In his lounge is a Bible studies book, Witnessing: Turning the world upside down. Is this the conclusion of our liminal story? Revising this paragraph reminded me of the JFP’s insistence that the Bushmen migrated south from Egypt (cf. Schapera 1930), rather than having migrated from the south through Egypt to India, Polynesia, Australia and North America, as argued in the National Geographic documentary, A journey of man (2004).
If this chapter is a theorised view of our stay in Jwaneng, what of our arrival trope in Ngwatle? Will the Sani break down again in the next 600 kms? Jeffrey has in jest invited Wafula to join us to Ngwatle. Gibson had had to return home from Jwaneng, which leaves one space. Wafula comes with us in exchange for food, a sleeping bag, and the ethnographic experience. He later fixes a front shock absorber at the Viljoen crossroads trading store, where workshop facilities are available. Joe Viljoen tells me that he hates Sani’s as their wishbones spew up sand all over the engine. I remember, on the 1995 trip, spending an hour de-hosing the sand off the top of the engine at his facility, and being astonished that none of it had gotten into the air filter.
On finally reaching Ngwatle we realise that massive changes have occurred in but one year in this remote village, and the area as a whole. We learn from Keith Viljoen that there is now a camping site, which he built, at the request of the community. It is one of six in the KD/1 area. On arrival late at night, we are taken to a ‘gate guard’, who recognises us, and kindly agrees to let us camp where we have always camped, close to the community. The new campsite is at the other end of the Pan, well away from the community, fitted with a boma (‘enclosure’), shower and drop toilet.
The next day we are greeted by the gate guard who carries a padlocked money box, a book in which to record our stay, and a request for all kinds of payments. This development involves two agencies: SBB, which secured a concession in February 2000 to manage tourism and environment, and the Nqwaa Khobee Xeya Trust. Being short of ready cash, most of it having been used to pay the Lodge and garage in Jwaneng, we ask for leniency at these unexpected payments. We explain that we have come as friends and researchers, not as tourists, and that we also have about 500 items of clothing to distribute in exchange for camping, as well as a new soccer ball. We agree to donate the clothing to the gate guard and her kgotla (council), who will be responsible for the distribution.
JFP in 2004 identified Kaaitjie, the previous SBB gate guard, as having ‘leadership potential’ and had invited her to volunteer to translate religious videos screened at night on the large screen, and to teach Bible studies to the pre-primary school children. The missionaries are keen to foster an alcohol-free and moral environment. After a hot day at Masetleng Pan with Kort-Jan and Johannes, videoing yet more footage with Matt, we go to the Ngwatle drinking place. The shebeen queen is none other than the self-same irrepressible Kaaitjie, who conducts business from her hut, with the walls adorned with large religious pictures overlooking her double bed. Mary comments tongue-in-cheek, ‘The alcohol and the spiritual life are one and the same. All leads to enlightenment’. The contradictions are many and wonderful, I reflect. Kaaitjie certainly is ahead of the rest when it comes to seizing her opportunities.
Abstracting one week in Jwaneng
Where is the (reading/textual) pleasure in our experience? I stand accused by some of my colleagues of caricaturing literary studies, and I am informed that some of my writing on the state of the discipline of communication in South Africa, in which my colleagues and I have questioned the appropriation of communication studies into the Post-LitCrit paradigm, is causing some consternation. Of course, I told them that this is a global debate (cf. Windschuttle 1997; Hartley 1999), which is only now finding its feet here. They were unimpressed.
I remind myself that I am an African in Africa studying Africa and Africans. As Ian Player, the renowned conservationist, told Malcolm Draper and I in 1999: ‘A wilderness experience is an inner and outer enlightenment of man’s position in the world’. Unless I understand this multiple location of identity, place and space, I cannot really understand the significance of our week in Jwaneng and the many weeks spent with different communities in different parts of the Kalahari Desert. The periphery (e.g. Jwaneng), as Stanton (2000) implies, often offers the empirical fodder to the theory developed at the centre, where the source of this theory is often erased in its subsequent appropriations, abstractions and rearticulations. However, we still have to get to the edge of the periphery, Hukuntsi, before we can return to the centre (Durban and its links to First and Second World scholarship) and write up further articles. It is in this transition that the voices in the field are abstracted into theories at the metropole. The concrete quotidian orality of the San is developed into the theory, which now silences the very people/informants whose knowledge, information and voices provide the raw data for the finished product. Those ‘there’ write up the concrete experiences of their subjects ‘here’; while those ‘here’ don’t always appreciate that for those ‘there’, their conceptual questions may have moved in different directions to simply writing about a single concrete issue, people or activity. Thus, for them ‘here’, the published works seem not to embody their contributions accurately, understandably, or even visibly. They are thus deeply disappointed and become antagonistic towards academics whom they thought were ‘on their side’; perhaps working on their behalf, and who may have been seen to have become an extension of the observed’s community. The researchers, however, know that theirs is a temporary sojourn, geared to achieving aims not necessarily consonant with their subjects’ expectations. Blaming one academic blames all for any and all misfortunes experienced by our sources.
Observers (academics, filmmakers, journalists) live in trajectories of mobility, change and difference, while those they observe, film or write about – the ‘natives’ – are more easily identifiable because they are relatively immobile and therefore knowable and reproducible in all kinds of texts. Local cultural knowledge can be understood by readers, as books (and films) which are meant to be read beyond the cultures in which the author is located or about which s/he is writing. This is another transaction that further distances observers from observed. Writers and academics live between ‘here’ and ‘there’ – where travelling becomes a mode of dwelling between themselves as observers and the subjects who are observed and who are relatively static. When researchers return home, they do so with new knowledge that is valorised in the academy and the multinational publishing industry which is subsidized by it.[lv]
Remodelling the Cultural Studies 4X4
The Hilux driver is very proud that he is tough enough to take the rough with the smooth (smooth?!) … he is less proud however, and never lets on, about the kidney belt in the cubby hole and silent wish for a Defender that is half as reliable.
(The psyche of 4X4 drivers)
In some ways, cultural studies may have partly become the discipline in which a discursive struggle over who generates the most quotable quotes predominates. In analogous terms, the conspicuous consumption of top-of-the line 4X4s – which are often less reliable than their cheaper competitors – is more important than the ability of these vehicles to get their wheels and chasses dirty. The little homilies of cultural studies’ good sense offered ad infinitum by a growing cadre of authors are shown to be sometimes seriously deficient in the empirical testing and application (Tomaselli 1998). Similarly, other than the Hilux, off-road vehicles are sold more by their slick advertising images than by any actual owner need for the vehicle.
Theories, like luxury 4X4s, often bracket out the mess, smells and contradictions of everyday life and struggle. Theories sometimes eliminate the notion that some people are simply not coping, and are committing slow communal suicide, as is the case with the ‘traditional bushmen’ at Witdraai. Concentration on one variable or topic only, such as tracking, language, or lineage, forgets the conditions under which people live – and which they want publicized and resolved. Academics can be single-minded about their often paradigmatically narrow objectives.
Inopportune development strategies and lack of training on how to manage both small and large sums of money cover up a litany of serious health, psychological and developmental failures. The question often asked by our informants is just who is benefiting from the development-NGOs. The answer is usually implied in this rhetorical question: NGOs often seem to service their own needs first before any significant trickling down reaches those most in need. Our informants themselves complain that the NGOs seem to think that they ‘own’ the bushmen, and that they should necessarily act as intermediaries between observers and observed, between tourism capital and the objects of their gaze, and between businesspeople and communities. ‘What about personal choice?’, asked Belinda Kruiper.
It takes a car to get to the Witdraai Tentepark, but a 4X4 to get to their impermanent village on the other side of the dune (unless one is walking). It takes a lot more resolve to exit the farm, having to fend off intoxicated individuals at the gate, begging us for food, money, and telling us their hard luck stories, parading their children for effect, and blaming us for everything that went wrong in their lives. Staying at the Witdraai camp in 2001 was an act of will, not an accident, though we were well looked after by Abraham Meintjies, who seemed to be working on his own to keep the tent park going. He told us in 2001 that he asked the community not to visit us; we suspected that he was trying to conceal their alcoholism. Caleb and Darryn realised that the elaborated friendliness and story being told to them by an old woman, was nothing more than a ploy to extract further payment from them. Meintjies tells us that the ‘traditional’ ≠Khomani want to keep their old ways, that the only places of employment for the traditional ≠Khomani are at the Witdraai cultural village, Kagga Kamma, and Mabilengwe. That’s why cultural tourism is so important for them.[lvi] Is this the new nomadism? Instead of hunting and gathering in wide open spaces, the traditional ≠Khomani travelled between cultural villages/tourist sites in the western and Northern Cape, the Northern Province and, until a labour dispute, in Namibia. This economic principle aimed at maintaining language,[lvii] culture and traditions, however, fails to take cognisance of other factors, such as incest. Dawid Kruiper insists that the traditionals only marry within the clan. Models of cultural tourism, like most academic models, simply do not take these and other factors like communal alcoholism, communal psychology, and historical circumstances into account.
Conversely, accidental circumstances such as in Jwaneng provided us unanticipated empirical opportunities to write theorised diaries of sorts – not easily possible in the increasingly commodified practices, output orientations and top-heavy bureaucracies that universities have become – especially in South Africa. We need to make cultural studies subversive again, just as Starfield and her colleagues have done. Is it not coincidental that Vista University where she worked was merged with others in post-apartheid educational restructuring? The radical origin of cultural studies in Birmingham during the 1950s was an attempt to recover democracy through critical engagement of articulations of socialism, critiques of power relations, and via a critical rereading of social, anthropological and political theories (Johnson 1981; Hall 1981). There is nothing better than experiencing a few days of hardship in the field to ensure that cultural studies does not absorb the fundamental stasis associated with any form of ideology, paradigm fundamentalism or assumptions about just what is ‘popular’, or the conditions under which people assigned to this category have to do to survive. Writing critically about arrival tropes and other experiences should be just one way of linking practice to theory and back again. Having to deal with morose students who refuse to put up tents in the middle of the night (preferring the local pub) because they are jaded by but one week’s camping and travelling, is methodologically instructive indeed.
In short, cultural studies should provide ways of analysing power, text-context relationships and media-society relations, and engaging these for democratic outcomes. The power brought by the SBB Land Cruisers and their hunting guns to the KD/1 area is just one example of how a fundamental change in political economy can occur almost overnight. New sets of relationships are thus generated, resulting in both anticipated and unanticipated effects. The growing plethora of academics, filmmakers, missionaries, NGOs and other agencies all involved in the KD/1 area (and the Kalahari generally) adds to the complexity and the confusing noise. Where once a small floating community like at Ngwatle coped irrespective of these outsiders, now it has to negotiate with them, almost on a daily basis. Books like this one additionally place them inexorably within international networks of discussion and debate. Power, and those who now have it, is visible where it was previously invisible, where it was working quietly within community networks mostly beyond the view of development agencies, filmmakers and academics.
The power relationships at Ngwatle have been fundamentally altered, not only in terms of community-SBB relations, but also internally. Those employed by SBB are the new power brokers, they controlled the ‘roger roger machine’ (one of three SBB-supplied two-way radios previously managed by the gate guard in each of the three villages). The gate guards largely decided on how incoming donations to the community would be distributed.
Jeffrey and I immediately notice, on the day following our arrival in July 2000, that the community is better dressed than before. Clearly, more regular resources are now coming into the community as a result of the SBB-presence. A number of people led by Miriam approach us independently to request a different distribution procedure with regard to the clothes, which we offer to hand over to the gate guard for allocation within the community. Past experience has suggested to them that donations tended to be rather narrowly distributed. Four hours of very difficult negotiations on how to allocate the clothes ensue. A Hukuntsi man who also worked for the Council, and who owned the only spaza (informal shop) in the area, assists. He is visiting us as he had found one of my two spare wheels, which unbeknown to us had come off my Sani as we bounced over the track between Hukuntsi and Ngwatle the night before. (We later discovered that we had also lost two gas containers and a 25 litre water bowser, which we found the next day when retracing our route). We set up an ad hoc distribution committee consisting of the Council worker, the gate guard and Pedris to distribute the clothes on an equal basis to each of the thirty families. The entire community turns out to receive the clothing. Even with this care in devising a fair distribution mechanism, the gate guard manages to play both distribution committee member and recipient. Having outmanoeuvred our distributive mechanism, however, the committee is challenged by the other recipients who realise that they are again being disadvantaged. The recipients of handouts do have power and use it when necessary (cf. Katz et al. 1997: 147-52). Indeed, Kaaitjie told me in 2004 that she owns a 4X4. Why does she position herself so prominently for handouts we wondered? A few days after the 2004 distribution, we noticed that she was wearing clothes given to other people.
In 2002, we were told that although the community was happy with the distribution mechanism, the remaining problem was that the community did not share. It had been agreed that family recipients of randomly handed out items would trade with each other after the donation: families with children would swap with recipients who had received children’s’ clothing for example. This did not happen – everyone hoarded what he or she got, irrespective of its utility. Thus does another myth disintegrate about the Bushmen and sharing. In 2003, we modified the distribution by separating out the boys and girls, men’s and women’s clothes for distribution to individuals rather than families. Everyone got something, except those who arrived late. A nurse in the mobile clinic stopped to find out where all his patients went, and he told us that we were ‘empowering the people with cash’, on observing our purchase of crafts from the community. A small group of enterprising men were rapidly sewing a waistcoat as the transactions occurred. They sold it to one of our party. In 2004, we separated the men, women and children, and allocated clothes directly to each based on size and gender. Because of this transaction, the community permitted us to camp free of charge.
How can power relationships be negotiated to the benefit of all parties in the encounter? This is one of many difficult, uneasy and unclear questions we kept asking ourselves. Perhaps cultural studies scholars should ask them more often than they do. In writing this chapter Waldron constantly – and correctly – challenged us on our motivations, objectives and imperatives. The people of Ngwatle asked him about us. We asked the Ngwatle community about SBB. We wondered to whom Waldron held himself accountable – his relationship with the community is based on a deep friendship with specific individuals; our relationship with Ngwatle is less clear.[lviii] In 2001, there were far more cattle than ever before – a clear indicator of a shifting economy- brought by the Kgalgadi incomers, who we were told were using all kinds of parasitic strategies to exploit the donor sympathy for the Bushmen, in attempts to find grazing and water for their cattle. Afrikaans was in decline as Petrus had died prior to our 1996 trip, and Tswana and other dialects were now displacing !Kung and Afrikaans. (In 2003, the incomers had gone, the drought having driven them elsewhere.) Miriam was looking for a better place for her daughter. Charlize had been her friend, now a memory, and a link to an assumed better life,[lix] notwithstanding South Africa’s huge poverty levels. Analysis of structure reveals these kinds of processes; analysis of culture and communication identifies the angst experienced in negotiating structures beyond one’s control. The deep Bushmen identity identified by Anthea, Jeffery and Gibson from their previous trips in 1999 and 2000 was already under threat barely a year later. The !Xoo men were drunker than usual for longer than usual, they were openly pejorative of the Kgalagadi inkomers, and they were much more open with us than during any previous visit. The Kgalagadi and their cows were largely gone after 2002, and the drinking was less evident, but we did find the local shebeen a hive of industry (crafts making, drinking, etc.). In 2001, we were indeed ‘friends’ and not merely and only a resource, though at the start of our 2002 visit, we were again viewed primarily as a resource. This changed dramatically however when Charlize performed a fire dance, derived from aboriginals in Australia. We were still ‘friends’ who could be trusted with information not previously made known to us, told to us on our travels to and through the hunting grounds, and afterwards more directly by the Kaptein himself. Ngwatle, not having a clear status, does not have a clinic, a primary school, or a sense of permanency. But also, they do not beg, tell us in drunken states of their hard luck stories, take without giving, or blame us for their predicament. Unlike with the Kruipers, exchange relationships are clear and consistent. In 2004, for example, some of the men offered to trade their spears for shoes that we had brought with us, but had not distributed because of the dissension being caused.
The variety of NGOs working on San issues from Cape Town to Windhoek, have varying and often difficult relationships with the communities with which they are working. ‘Where are the benefits (from the work of these agencies)?’ is a frequently heard question, asked by our Northern Cape sources. Malnutrition continues, dependency deepens; no one cares for the old and for those in ill health. Carter’s provocative question is: ‘… show me one hole dug in the ground by an NGO?’ Both Lodge managers told of what they considered to be potentially workable joint business proposals, allegedly shot down without thought by SASI, Land Affairs and their consultants. At Witdraai, the Lodge could have been a key player in employment and development. Yet development proposals aimed at empowering both the Lodge and the ≠Khomani, we are told, failed to receive sympathetic hearings from those who have influence over the ≠Khomani. Every developmental mistake, described in hundreds of thousands of pages of academic literature drawing on experiences across the globe, are seemingly squandered by agencies which, while claiming to represent the beneficiaries, allegedly fail to spend any real time with them, preferring the luxury of the Lodge. These are all allegations made by a variety of sources, both ≠Khomani and other, and ironically, it was the Lodge managers, who would have derived the most financial benefit, who pointed this out to us. Time, input-output, outcomes, are the problems. ‘There’s no hanging out’, as Belinda Kruiper might say. This is just too costly, and bookkeepers don’t understand it.
For researchers to negotiate all these – sometimes competing and antagonistic – networks is difficult enough, as John Marshall discovered after 45 years of work amongst the Ju/’hoansi in Namibia (Barnard 1996; see also Biesele and Hitchcock 1999). Trying to unravel the power relations that underpin interactions between all these agencies, individuals within agencies, fieldworkers, consultants, advisors, state agencies and all manner of academics, is a task of extraordinary complexity – but a very necessary one.
Some CCMS-colleagues in July 2004, who had not met the JFP-missionaries, were dismissive. Charlize, Mary and I, however, saw the missionaries’ presence (and sophisticated video equipment) as an opportunity to show our Ngwatle videos on the big screen, to a much larger audience than was otherwise feasible. We hoped that the missionaries might have also learned something about the personalities that they were trying to influence. We had wanted Miriam’s family and her toddler, Patience, to see her on screen, and to take heart and strength from their own way of life, their own spirituality, and their own deep sense of identity linked as it is to the place of Ngwatle, as recorded in ‘I am, You are?’ (Sætre 2003). We realised that JFP, with its projected three visits per year, might provide some continuity, further resources and some protection from resettlement. We also know that local individuals seize their opportunities when they come. Missionaries are not that different from development workers; they both largely apply top-down strategies and externally derived solutions. Their supposed beneficiaries know this and act accordingly. Just think of Kaaitjie’s entrepreneurial flare. She milks each and every opportunity for her personal benefit, thereby rendering services to the community, which no one else does.
The next chapter continues this story.
[i] Charlize is known at Ngwatle and in some published works as ‘Catherine’, her original first name. She added Charlize by deed of poll in 2002, and now prefers this name.
[ii] On our return two weeks later, grandmother asked Charlize how she had fared. Charlize replied that going to the toilet was a complicated business: one walks roughly a hundred meters from the camp, preferably unsighted at night. Using the lantern for light, you clear the sand to remove scorpions and you check for the odd snake. Then dig a hole. Care is required: ‘Going to the same place twice can get quite messy’. In July 2002, Mary Lange once returned to camp complaining that she had ‘lost her tree’ – the one with her makeshift lavatory seat hidden behind it. She was concerned that someone might have been watching her and stolen it. She found it later where she had originally put it. In 2004, the missionaries showed us a patented fold-up chair with a hole in the middle called a ‘Super Duper Pooper’. As for the snakes, well, when we struck the tents we found that Charlize and the three female students had been sleeping on top of a partially hibernating baby puff adder. Some children immediately killed the snake, while we watched with paralysed bemusement.
[iii] Boreholes were sunk in 2001, but neither a pump nor piping was provided at Ngwatle. In 2003, we learned from the villagers that the two boreholes sunk in 2002 near Ngwatle, were not for people, but for animals. The act of withholding water becomes a form of social control.
[iv] For a discussion of a different kind of academic celebrity, see Lewis (2001).
[v] During the early 1990s, some US- and UK-visitors to Durban wanted to participate in the thrill and romance of anti-apartheid revolution. They were disbelieving that going underground for a few hours was inadvisable. On occasion when visits to war zones found our party in the middle of conflict, they became extremely angry at being put in danger, notwithstanding their incessant nagging to actually visit these locations. We quickly learned that revolution for such tourists was understood in terms of some kind of sanitised text, and not as a dangerous, bloody and disturbing reality with real life-and-death consequences.
[vi] Donkey carts are made from the back wheel axels of scrapped bakkies (small trucks). They are used all over Africa, even on main roads. Carts drawn by two donkeys are called 2X4s and those with four donkeys are 4X4s.
[vii] Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies is a peer review, interdisciplinary journal devoted to analysis of the relationship between cultural studies, cultural critique, and interpretative, methodological inquiry.
[viii] When proofreading a chapter on the political economy of the South African film industry, my co-author and I picked up another version of this kind of linguistic/stylistic/cultural imperialism. Where we had cited The Sunday Times (a Johannesburg paper), the book’s US editor had fastidiously inserted ‘New York’ for ‘Sunday’. Such is the parochialism of the publishing industry: clearly records in the Third World were thought not to exist by this editor.
[ix] Debswana is a joint venture between De Beers and the government of Botswana.
[x] Castle Lager is brewed by South African Breweries (SAB), which in 1998 became the world’s fourth largest brewer, and number two in 2002, after it bought Millers in the USA. The Botswana beer is ‘St Louis’.
[xi] Botswanans, we think, tend to be very aloof. The difference in attitude between the Botswanan and the South African border passport officers is a point of discussion every time we cross over to Botswana.
[xii] The site is serviced by running water and a flushing toilet drawn from a large tank next to the village, 300 meters from the campsite. The heating is obtained by means of a ‘donkey’, a 44-gallon drum fitted with plumbing, and heated by a fire from underneath. It only provides hot water if the fire is continuously maintained. In 2002, the lavatory bowl had been stolen, but was replaced in 2003, when two grass huts were also built. In 2003, the site was advertised at the entrance to Erin, by a makeshift yellow and black road sign, with a cell phone number. The site is isolated, unserviced, and not very attractive in comparison to the Molopo Lodge campsite with its electricity, lights and general access to the Hotel’s amenities.
[xiii] When we visited a small private game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal in August 2001, we asked the driver of the open game-viewing Land Rover what the management meant by ‘harvesting’ of animals. Her response was that this meant culling, so what better way than to get some ‘idiot hunter’ to pay for the privilege. Thus is the visitor charged for doing work, which the Park staff would previously have done.
[xiv] When my parents built their swimming pool in 1964, the degenerate white supervisor, who did no work at all, sent a black labourer to get ‘his’ tea from the ‘madam’. My mother’s response was to make tea for the labourers and deny him. Much confusion resulted as the black labourers merrily drank their tea while the supervisor complained.
[xv] Hall’s (1981) model proposes three forms of reception: i) transparency, where the message is understood and accepted as intended by its utterer; ii) negotiation, where the message is understood, but its meaning is debated; and iii) rejection.
[xvi] See Buntman (1996a; 1996b) for an analysis of how the San are imaged in print advertising.
[xvii] The same template was used for the 2001 calendar, but with two Bushmen inserts in the western and southern sections of the country.
[xviii] TV was inaugurated in Botswana in 2001, but most Botswanans with access to electricity, solar power and/or generators were MultiChoice subscribers. Signals are received via satellite from the South African company (see Boloka 2001). The advert intrigues me as I had been asked by the University in the late 1980s to comment on the feasibility of a media studies department. The US consultant was paid the equivalent of my own Faculty’s total annual supplies and services budget (17 departments), to write a totally unrealistic proposal that assumed state of the art production and computer studios. Is this perhaps reverse accounting?
[xix] ‘Bra’ is a slang word for brother.
[xx] Consider the impact of observer-observed relations, the effects that emanate from them, and the way they are appropriated into indigenous folklore. A good example is the Marshall footage of Ju/’hoan children playing with ‘autos’ they had carved from the likeness of the 1950s Expeditions’ vehicles, Jeeps, and Dodge Power Wagons. These hand-carved toys were made from wood or oblong sardine cans. They have turning wheels; one has tyre treads on the wheels, headlights and a driver. The autos are on long sticks and can be pulled or pushed. These carvings contain their own narratives on the nature of the encounter and can be seen as symbolic appropriations of the visiting culture’s sources of mastery over the terrain, distance and the seasons. While they seem innocuous on the surface, these appropriations implant the idea of a more powerful external Other (Tomaselli and Homiak 1999). The province of KwaZulu-Natal has witnessed the increasing prevalence of similar, but painted hand carved wood branded 4X4s made by Zulu crafters, sold at roadside stalls. What was once cultural appropriation is now sold as a souvenir. In January 1999, Jeffrey and I found a few looking like and sporting Toyota and Nissan Patrol names. In August 2001, the following makes had joined the list: Jeep, Prado, Colt, Mazda; some pulling Honda-named speedboats. These imitations reflect the return to South Africa of Jeep and the importation of other expensive luxury models. Prior to 1994, the only 4X4s made locally and easily available were basic Toyota, Isuzu and Nissan models. If the souvenir ‘mediates the dialectic between Same and Other’ (Love and Kohn 2001: 7), then on the highway between Durban and Mozambique, the Other, the Zulu crafters, have turned the tables on the Same-Other relationship. By domesticating and absorbing 4X4 culture and imagery, these crafters are able to sell these to the wealthy consumers who introduced the brands in the first place. The toy vehicles or souvenirs produced from wire by poor rural black children are now being mass-produced in factories. Thus does capital appropriate what were once poor objects of domestic individual creation, turning them into an object of production and mass consumption. At the Molopo Lodge the manager in 2003 told us that he was going to revamp the campsite to meet the needs of families who arrive in luxury 4X4s, towing mobile kitchens (known colloquially as ‘Kalahari Hiltons’) and other accessories worth another R100,000.
[xxi] A week later, we were guests at Blinkwater. No one charged us for our friendship, and Vetkat and Klein Dawid made up songs about us, which they sang till midnight. Just get the ‘truth out,’ Belinda implored us, ‘record anything you like’ (24 July 2001). In 2002, the Witdraai ≠Khomani had accepted us to a much greater extent and were less insistent about being paid for interviews and talk. While in July 2003, only Dawid, on seeing my daughter’s video camera when she went to a roadside stall to purchase crafts, demanded that she make a film of him and that she pay him for the privilege. At the time, he did not know who she was. Charlize, a brash straight-talker at the best of times, told Dawid that she was not interested in making a film of him. Earlier that morning, in a chance encounter at Elias Festus’ house, Dawid had told me how much he appreciated my sending him our articles and interview transcriptions. Charlize told Dawid that she was ‘Prof. se dogter’ (the Prof.’s daughter) to quieten his incessant chatter about her making a film of him. This incident recalls an encounter she had with Silikat the previous year when a more interesting banter of who owned the spot on which Charlize was standing was negotiated (Dyll 2003).
[xxii] To address the problem I engaged in a frustrating round of discussions with the University’s Finance Division to get my salary repackaged to include a car allowance, which would also result in a tax deduction on official research travel. I was told that this was not possible and that no other academics had the same problem as me. Divide and rule, you are on your own, was the usual tactic used by this Division, which failed to understand that we academics are its end users, its client base. On checking with the University’s Research Office, I learned that it, too, had been negotiating a solution for a lot longer; also to no avail. My personal tax consultant sent me half a page explaining how my salary should be restructured. I sent it to the Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) of Research who passed it onto the Finance Division. I then faxed all the documents to the DVC (Finance) who had been unaware of the problem. He was about to take three months leave, but resolved the problem in ten minutes. It had taken me three months of negotiation with the Finance Division to be compelled to agree to a legal resolution suggested by the Receiver itself. The Deputy Finance Officer nevertheless issued me with a veiled tax warning about my not using my Sani sufficiently for field trips. I think about Roger Carter’s observations of how the Witdraai community restricts individual initiative. A similar attitude seemed at the time to prevail in a so-called service division at my own institution. The geographical margins are not that different – the restrictive discourse of ‘it can’t be done’ – reminds me of Darryn’s astonishment in Ngwatle, when he was told by a !Xoo man that they could not become pastoralists because Bushmen don’t know how to look after cattle.
[xxiii] Waldron was creative director of an advertising company in Johannesburg and wildlife documentary filmmaker. We met in late 1993. Klatzko and Waldron have not exploited the mythical image of the ‘Bushman’ in their advertising campaigns, as have many others (see Buntman 1995). Yet Waldron is probably the only advertising executive to have a personal and comprehensive knowledge of Basarwa groups and individuals, their locations and lifestyles. Waldron’s video, Hunt or Die, on changes in Basarwa tracking techniques, made with the help of the Ngwatle hunters, won an award at an Italian Film Festival in 1999.
[xxiv] No one claimed ownership of these animals, as this might have affected their eligibility for destitute rations.
[xxv] Lorna Marshall told me that the Marshalls had chosen to travel the Nyae Nyae area because it was one of the last unmapped places on earth. They placed a world map on the floor in the lounge of their house in Cambridge and they looked for unmarked areas on the map. The Kalahari was one such unmapped area. So they decided to go there (10 March 1996). We marvelled at the courage of the Marshalls, as we are very apprehensive about travelling into uncharted territory barely a few kilometres off the beaten track.
[xxvi] Being illiterate, he did not know how to spell his name. Jon-Jon is one of Kort-Jan’s sons, who in 2002 and 2003 became a key informant, along with Vista Jan and Johannes, Kort-Jan’s adopted ‘son’ (who seems to be as old as Kort-Jan himself).
[xxvii] I do wonder at the tendency towards romance in Chamberlin’s writings. They make no mention of the problems besetting the ≠Khomani, especially those who retain their tracking skills, the ‘rose-tinted’ version as Carter explains it.
[xxviii] While I was making a promotional movie for a safari company in the Okavango Swamps in the summer of 1975 the three US travellers experienced withdrawal symptoms from the lack of ice cubes. The only fridge, which was carried by the two Land Rovers, was reserved for vegetables. This became a major conflict during the ten-day-trip.
[xxix] John Grierson, the father of the 1930s British documentary film movement, was another. He described the vigorousness of the political debate of the early 1950s, though he always understood that apartheid’s life would be limited (Tomaselli 2000).
[xxx] In June 2005 a huge cattle truck modified for living driven by drunken hunters crashed its way through trees in the campsite before parking right next to the ablution block. They were sent to the other side of the property by management, away from the families of campers. That night they downed more liquor in the pub, had their heads shaved in the barber’s chairs and one of their number stole the R2000 they had pooled for drinks.
[xxxi] To her credit, Roome has secured a number of international publications on South African sitcoms from her base in the United States.
[xxxii] Lawrence Grossberg, Stuart Hall and Meaghan Morris proposed to a number of publishers, a book series on cultural studies in the non English-speaking world. They would be series editors and contribute introductions, thus lending the combined weight of their respective extraordinary international reputations to the marketing process. They could not find a single taker; cultural studies for the English-speaking world are American, English and Australian, where the markets are.
[xxxiii] I failed to develop an indigenised theory of political economy, but later, working with my students and some colleagues, we forged fragments of theory of the media sourced to our respective personal experiences in various parts of Botswana, including Ngwatle (Boloka 2001). See also Kerr 2001; Donnelly 2001; Simões 2001.
[xxxiv] At Blinkwater on 11 July 2003, I found a young boy wearing a CCMS T-shirt, which we had given Belinda the previous year when she was in Durban. Other children were sporting Legambiente shirts and caps, given by three Legambiente members staying there. Giorgio was wearing a T-shirt, which stated on the front, ‘Africa Excursion’, and on the back, ‘An assault on the senses’. He offered to sponsor the art community at Blinkwater, as he was drawn to the idea of art, identity and Bushmen cultural recovery. Legambiente made a glossy colour calendar of Vetkat’s art to raise funds to establish an art centre at Blinkwater, which was inaugurated in August 2004.
[xxxv] Bows and arrows are now made to fit into tourist suitcases. Rock art fits into a handbag, and is no longer painted on large slabs of stone. While tourists require miniaturisation, the service is not always followed through. On buying a rock painting I asked the ≠Khomani vendor to package it against chipping and breakage for the long trip back to Durban. He had already lost interest, having secured the sale, and told me that it needed to be wrapped in some toilet paper. He not only expected me, the customer, to use my own toilet paper, but also to wrap it myself. While this artist told me he felt ‘gebruik’ (used/abused) by Kagga Kamma and other cooperatives, he was completely oblivious to the need for after-sales service. In contrast, in Kisumu, Kenya, I bought some very delicate paper mâché hanging birds from a disabled artist/vendor who located himself outside my hotel. When I told him I needed the item to be packaged for three air flights home, he obliged without question and then told me about his export operation. Tourists to the Northern Cape have been sworn at when they don’t buy from road stalls, and sometimes roadblocks force them to stop. In 2002, tourist agencies warned their clients not to stop at the side of the road. Unlike the rules of hawking in most parts of the world, prices are rarely negotiated, though the prices in the northern Cape are twice what they are at Ngwatle, for similar items of lesser quality.
[xxxvi] Bimbo’s is a South African fast food chain located at Engen filling stations. Jean Lamprecht, who owns Bimbo’s also owns the Molopo Lodge. In 2002, the Lodge was much cheaper, better run, and more fun, than it had previously been. It had replaced its labour, and did not, as when Carter was the manager, consider itself as something of a support mechanism and facilitating network for the adjacent ≠Khomani communities. When we arrived in 2003, we noticed five large brown wooden figurines welcoming us along the driveway. In the Lodge itself, ostrich egg light shades are found in the dining room, and a huge wooden hippo with a cupboard door welcomes new guests with glasses of sherry. Unfortunately, as Charlize complained, the chips (French fries) served in the dining room were no longer made the Bimbo’s way. The Bimbo’s chips are, in fact, frozen McCain’s product. The Sísen craft shop had moved in next to the bottle store, now much more accessible than before, tucked away as it was next to a makeshift open-air car workshop and a pre-primary school. The craft shop was doing so well in its new location that its craft makers were battling to keep it supplied.
[xxxvii] Tropical heat is a Canadian TV-series, partly shot in South Africa, with SABC as a production partner.
[xxxviii] The Jesus Film Project screened The Lazarus phenomenon in July 2004, with simultaneous translation offered over a microphone. Kaaitjie (previously the SBB gate guard), Independence and Sophie were now volunteer Bible teachers for JFP at the Ngwatle pre-primary school. The South African-made film offers a Biblical interpretation, read through science, of near-death experiences. Notwithstanding this topic, the JFP missionaries were extremely concerned with the extent of ancestor worship, which they considered ‘wrong’.
[xxxix] The director of a museum in Durban who had asked Mary Lange to identify the people depicted had found the photograph use for teaching at Durban schools. Looking much like an old American plantation photograph, we constructed our 2003 research around this photo, interviewing the Kruipers. All told the same story. Lokkie Henning, the white man in the centre, was both saviour and rogue. The picture was shot in the early 1980s for marketing purposes, to promote Henning’s Bushman tourism venture. He later disappeared with ‘millions’ after the making of Red scorpion, they told us. Thereafter, they moved to Kagga Kamma, where they performed for tourists until June 2003, when their contract was terminated.
[xl] In 1995, Miriam Motshabise was 16 years old, part Basarwa and part-Tswana. She completed Form 2 (Grade 9) in 1995 and wrote matric in 1999 at a school in Hukuntsi. Motshabise told Jeursen (1999) that there were thirty-four, mostly Tswana, students in her Form 2 class. About fifteen people shared her sister’s dwelling in Ngwatle, a cross between a traditional Bushman skerm (grass hut) and a Tswana homestead. Miriam had five brothers and sisters, one of whom, Pedris, acted as a translator for us during our 1999 and 2000 visits. Miriam’s Tswana name is ‘Masebene’.
[xli] Miriam spent a lot of time with Charlize, who was then 11 years of age. Photographs and a video showed them teaching each other folk dances and songs. This expressive intercultural interchange occurred during the two mornings after we arrived in April 1995. As the week drew on, Charlize and Miriam spent less time dancing and more time talking to each other (Jeursen 1999). Charlize visited Ngwatle again in 2002 when she re-established her friendship with Miriam, but had to leave the 2003 visit because of an exam in Durban. Sadly, we learned that Miriam had passed away in April 2004, two months before Charlize’s third return to Ngwatle.
[xlii] The issue is important in the light of mythical Western media perceptions of the ‘Bushman’. The exploitation of this image in advertising and the media generally, and in light of the numerous philanthropists who couch their visits in the expeditionary discourses of ‘saving the Bushmen’, ‘vanishing’ and ‘disappearing cultures’, ‘cultural recovery’, etc. (cf. Perrott 1992).
[xliii] Mary Lange runs workshops for Durban schools. Charlize narrates the videos, sometimes presents the videos, and answers questions for white, Zulu and Indian pupils.
[xliv] ‘Bajanala: A tourist guide to Botswana’, tells us that the Kalahari Desert is perhaps the ultimate 4X4-challenge.
[xlv] One student had independently, but unsuccessfully, approached Camel to help finance his participation in one of our field trips. This approach raises a number of pertinent questions: the first concerns the questionable values of this company in relation to the research we were doing, and the history of corporate, visual and academic exploitation of the San. How would the research funding agencies and University have reacted, especially in terms of their respective legal positions, and in terms of the research team’s obligations to its subject communities? What if Camel had wanted to use our experience and this student’s photographs in its PR? This use might have occurred in direct contravention of the proscriptions and considerations placed upon us by our trusting subjects. How much payment, if any, to our subjects would have occurred in such an instance? How would such exploitation/association have impacted our access to the Ngwatle and ≠Khomani communities? The fact that most San and their small children seem to chain-smoke tobacco is not the issue. The issue is one of ethics and also of the social contract we have established with our subject communities over a five year period (cf. Tomaselli 1996). On learning of the approach to Camel, Caleb mischievously retorted that ‘we should have been sponsored by Boxer’, the brand smoked by the San.
[xlvi] The three Italians did not give the hunters anything to eat or drink during the full day’s visit to the Masetleng Pans. We provided apples, meat, potatoes and tea. Eventually, they realised their error, and made a plate of Parmesan cheese and savoury meat snacks available, items certainly not part of the hunters’ cuisine!
[xlvii] The Molopo Lodge manager (2002) told us that he had offered to make a soccer field available to the ≠Khomani, behind the Lodge. He would provide water for the grass, but on the condition that the ≠Khomani plant the grass. They refused, unless they were paid to do so. Abraham Meintjies, who single-handedly ran the Tentepark, told Caleb and I that he got no help from anyone on the communal land, but that everyone living there wanted to benefit from the proceeds. They want to be paid to work on the communal property, but did little to facilitate income of any kind. Thus, dependency relations become a culture of entitlement – we must be paid because we are ‘special’ – we are the Bushmen! This explanation/criticism was heard both from within and beyond the ≠Khomani.
[xlviii] Our informants, who feel used and abused by academics, often express real and sustained resentment to us. They believe that their communities should: i) benefit materially from such impartation of knowledge via donations to schools, clinics and so on; ii) be adequately thanked and written into the published outcomes; and that iii) an archive of all this information should be set up in South Africa. The Kwa !ttu Museum has been established for this purpose. They are looking for due recognition as much as anyone else.
[xlix] Photographers like Paul Weinberg have very different relationships with the ≠Khomani. However, we have learned that some of his subjects, when they discovered such photos, claimed they were reproduced out of context, or with the wrong names, to illustrate stories that have nothing to do with the pictures (Mlauzi 2002). They somehow felt violated, and resented not having the ability to control the context of the syndication and reproduction.
[l] Carter, too, located himself as advisor, friend, and educator. Others, we were constantly told by all and sundry, were ‘helping’ the ≠Khomani while ‘coining it’. This charge was levelled at the SASI-supported craft workshop. Mass production methods have killed the market in Cape Town, said Belinda Kruiper, and art was not being made, commented Silikat. Mass production is a requirement of development, and opens up new market niches, rather than closing more organic individualistic art production. Vetkat has since become an internationally acclaimed artist.
[li] ‘On the whole, therefore, the evidence seems to indicate that at a very early time the Bushmen occupied the hunting grounds of tropical East Africa, perhaps even to the confines of Abyssinia. That they are no longer to be found in this region may be ascribed to its extensive invasion by later Hamitic and Negro peoples. Harried by the encroachment of these more powerful races, the Bushmen, where they were not exterminated or absorbed, must gradually have passed southwards, keeping along the more open grasslands of the eastern mountainous zone, where they could still preserve their hunting mode of life, until, when the written history of South Africa commences, they were roaming all over the territory south of the Zambezi River … It is certain, judging by what is known of the history of the later invading peoples, that the Bushmen came into the country well over a thousand years ago, but at present no more definite or even approximate date can be assigned to their immigration …’ (Schapera 1930: 28, 29).
[lii] The Himba are nomadic pastoralists who inhabit the Kaokoland area of Namibia.
[liii] The Botswana 4X4 Code of Conduct insists that a minimum of two vehicles drive in convoy, that travellers take all the water, food, spares, and fuel. Its most stringent criterion, however, is for drivers to respect the environment and carry their rubbish with them (Banajala). Carter told, however, of the Desert Run, an annual bikers’ jamboree, once hosted by the Molopo Lodge. The racist white bikers humiliated the drunken ≠Khomani selling artefacts at a specially constructed sales stand – one farmer drove over it, injuring a ≠Khomani individual. Their wheelies destroyed some sand dunes. At the Upington Air Club meeting these well-heeled aviators gave drinks to the ≠Khomani, and then deducted the cost from their wages (for cultural performances). Carter, who said that he was appalled at the behaviour of both groups, facilitated both events. He later got the blame from the ≠Khomani anyway, when the damage was assessed.
[liv] A sangoma is an African traditional Zulu healer, often a woman, claiming supernatural powers of divination.
[lv] Only rarely do academic authors get paid royalties, and the taxpayer via university salaries and national research bodies, has more often than not sponsored the research, which underpins the publication. Publishing companies thus do not bear the full cost of innovation and production. Just where the grassroots informants’ copyright fits into these relations is anybody’s guess. This is one of the reasons they so often feel exploited. Universities want the patent rights to inventions made by our engineering and science colleagues, but they are more than happy to sign away the intellectual property of Humanities and Social Science researchers.
[lvi] Amongst the activities advertised at !Khainses are ‘An unforgettable Kalahari experience’ – visit a cave surrounded by legend; take a closer look at nature and some safari veld plants while following the spoor of wild animals; a night under the stars; and listen to old bushman stories around the fire while enjoying traditional asbrood (‘bread’); traditional rain dance. Each of these activities is additional to the camping fee. But only two or three campers a month are hosted, most of the business coming from film companies employing ≠Khomani as actors. Where tourists paid R5-10 per hour per dancer for the rain dance, film companies were charged R500.
[lvii] Mostly Nama and Afrikaans, though a pre-primary school at Witdraai is trying to resuscitate N/u among pre-primary school children.
[lviii] In the Northern Cape, we felt that expectations that we could ‘do something’ were unrealistic. The Kruipers modified this expectation when they began to understand our research objectives and methodologies. Other agencies hold the purse strings to development funds, education, health, and skills learning. It is to these agencies that the community must address their requests. Belinda Kruiper, however, after a few years here, is more realistic; ‘getting the message out’, she feels is just as important, especially as the politicians and NGOs are not always listening. ‘We don’t want electricity, but self-esteem, appropriate technology, and services, which do not put people into debt. The answers to our problems are so simple; why can’t they understand?’ The irony is that the academic literature on participatory research, and social action research is easily attainable. Why don’t the development NGOs and government agencies read this material we wonder? (cf. Dyll 2004).
[lix] When we screened Kalahari Fires on the missionaries’ big screen in July 2004, Charlize dedicated the film to Miriam, when introducing it to the audience of about 50 people. Previously we’d played this and other videos to the community via a small TV-set and VCR brought by us. Miriam is survived by her toddler Patience, Pedris, two other sisters, and Action, a cousin who lives in Zutshwa.
You May Also Like
Where Global Contradictions Are Sharpest ~ 'Dit is die Here se Asem’: The Wind, Its Messages, And Issues Of Autoethnographic Methodology In The Kalahari
Ads by Google