Eating Christmas in the Kalahari

1096 WordsOct 7, 20145 Pages
Eating Christmas in the Kalahari Eating Christmas in the Kalahari is an intriguing article written by Richard Borshay Lee. In the article, Lee tells of his time working as an anthropologist in the Kalahari and studying the hunting and gathering subsistence economy of the !Kung Bushmen. Lee (1969) writes: The Bushmen’s idea of the Christmas story, stripped to its essentials, is “praise the birth of white man’s god-chief”; what keeps their interest in the holiday high is the Tswana-Herero custom of slaughtering an ox for his Bushmen neighbors as an annual goodwill gesture. Since the 1930’s, part of the Bushmen’s annual round of activities has included a December congregation at the cattle posts for trading, marriage brokering,…show more content…
All the !Kung Bushmen’s eyes were fixed on the ox as that cut through the skin revealed two inches of thick white fat. The !Kung Bushmen had played Lee. They all knew that he chose a great ox, but they would never let Lee think he did. Lee began asking some people why they had insulted his Christmas ox choice. Arrogance was their reply. Lee (1969) writes: “Yes, when a young man kills much meat he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. We can’t accept this. We refuse one who boasts, for someday his pride will make him kill somebody. So we always speak of his meat as worthless. This way we cool his heart and make him gentle.” (p. 4) A couple people confirmed that what he was told by Tomazo was in fact true. Lee (1969) writes: The pieces now fell into place. I had known for a long time that in situations of social conflict with Bushmen I held all the cards. I was the only source of tobacco in a thousand square miles, and I was not incapable of cutting an individual off for non-cooperation. Though my boycott never lasted longer than a few days, it was an indication of my strength. People resented my presence at the water hole, yet simultaneously dreaded my leaving. In short, I was a perfect target for the charge of arrogance and for the Bushmen tactic of enforcing humility. (p. 4) The
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