coverISBN 0-15-653706-0

Found this book when I was planning for a training trip to South Africa. I was told this was a book that inspired the movie “The gods must be crazy” (can anyone verify this?). The book was written in 1958 (copyright renewed in ’86). Very readable. Literary style somehow reminds me of Tolkien (p. 3.):

“I was born near the Great River, in the heart of what, for thousands of years had been great Bushmen country. The Bushman himself as a coherent entity had already gone, but I was surrounded from birth by so many moving fragments of his race and culture that I felt him extraordinarily near. I was always meeting him afresh on the lips of living men.”

Writings like this, esp. the last line, inspires me to write poetry.


  • The vanished people (on the Bushmen’s physique, lifestyle, Music. Art)
  • The manner of their going
  • The pact & the random years
  • The break-through
  • The shadow in between
  • Northern approaches
  • The swamp of despond
  • The spirits of the slippery hills
  • The hunter at the well
  • The song of the rain (describes the tribal dance & falling into trance, bushman courtship literary with bow & arrow like cupid’s, p277 custom on how they treat the dying)

My impression is that  Van Der Post is someone who, as a White, laments the interference of the European on the African landscape.

“If one is truely ready within oneself & prepared to commit one’s readiness without question to the deed that follows naturally on it, one finds life & circumstance surprisingly armed & ready at one’s side.” – p72. (sounds like W.H. Murray’s quote)

p272 – fav passage: Nxou the bushman was asked to act out a courtship ritual. He explains his reluctance, that he knows the husband all his life & while the husbands said he didn’t mind, Nxou knew his friend would be hurt to see his woman pretending to be of another. Laurens wrote: “He stood there resolute, naked, his skin stained with dust and the blood of many an animal, a smell upon him that was too strong for most civilized noses, but to me, at that moment, he seemed truly clothed in manly value and delicacy.”