Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Where the Bushmen Used to Live (The 19th Century)

This map, depicting the distribution of the San language groups, was created by Dorothea Bleek during the late 1930’s after extensive research undertaken by her in Southern Africa. Her father had completed the enormous pioneering task of recording the language and folklore of the /Xam and the !Kung in the late 19th century. Dorothea continued the work of her father in recording and documenting the San languages of Southern Africa and published books and articles as a result of their combined research and work. Unfortunately, her books are out of print. Her most important work, published after her death, was A Bushman Dictionary.

This map, and photographs taken during her research and travels, can be viewed online in the
Bleek and Lloyd Collection in the Manuscript and Archives Department at the Library of the University of Cape Town. Dorothea identified three language groups, the southern group (/Xam) which is identified in blue on the map, the central group identified in  red on the map and the northern group identified in yellow on the map. The southern group could be found in large areas of South Africa. Today they are mostly extinct apart from a remnant in the Tankwa Karoo. This remnant is referred to us the "Karretjie People". There are still small communities of the central and northern group left in Botswana and Namibia.  Dorothea contributed significantly to an understanding of the different San language groups. Her books are still used as reference works.

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