Eating Christmas in Kalahari Essay

1000 Words Nov 1st, 2014 4 Pages
Eating Christmas in the Kalahari
Alec Smith
Ivy Tech Community College
Sociology 111
November 8, 2014

Confusion in Cultures
The perception of foreign cultures can at times be quite peculiar. The article “Eating Christmas in Kalahari” by Richard Borshay Lee, foretells a classic example of cross culture misunderstanding when people from different cultures operate in a culturally unfamiliar environment. Richard Lee, a social anthropologist, explains what he learned living with the !Kung Bushmen, a South African tribe, for three years. This Gemeinschaft community of hunters-gatherers worked together to teach the anthropologist something important to their people, even though he was unaware of their intentions in the beginning.
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He felt like he had ruined their holiday traditions and his own holiday by supplying the people with little to feast upon. Why were they being so ungrateful to Lee's gesture? On Christmas morning it was time to start the slaughter of the ox. Richard soon came to realize that his ox would be more than enough for everyone to have all the meat they desired. He also found out that they were kidding the whole time. After the feast and celebration were successful, he was bewildered about the whole ordeal and how they acted towards him. It said in the article that this was the point when he felt that something important had happened in his relationship with the Bushmen and that the clue lay in the meaning of the joke. As Lee occasionally showed a bit of arrogance in his mannerisms and actions, he is viewed in a negative manner by the bushmen. After talking to several members of the Bushmen, he found the true meaning of the joke. The Bushmen people were trying to teach him a lesson of “arrogance.” They would not accept a person who would boast upon his hunt because they feared that his pride would make a person kill someone one day. Tomazo, a member of the Bushmen, told him that it was to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” He originally was not trying to see their culture from the viewpoint of a native; he was using the eyes of an outsider to try to a put a meaning to their dissimilar practices.
The !Kung Bushmens' intentions were to humiliate Lee so it would