Many Haiseb stories have been collected but mainly in text and not using film and sound.
Stories carry more than words from the past.
Here we experience storytellers demonstrating how Haiseb moves and sings.
It is impossible to know whether or not young people will continue to keep the spirit of Haiseb alive. When his signs are not recognised, his presence felt and his ways not known, Haiseb’s movements and sounds may well be forgotten.
Haeseba ||ō, !huba ǂha
Haiseb is dead, the land is free
Handrethe (Gaoxas) Guriras and Lisa Gorabes Masura with Suro Ganuses. At Kamanjab.
Handrethe: My grandmother told me that Haiseb put rocks under ǂhuis trees [Bechamia] and he made for himself death when still alive. The people said “no, we the people thought him dead and we buried him there”. The people say we cannot eat the berries here [under this tree] because we buried Haiseb here, so the people moved to another side.
When the people moved Haiseb woke up and they heard the sound of him eating berries. “Who could be eating?” they said. When Haiseb heard the people talking he crept back in his hole.
Because Haiseb is death the people were pleased with his death. “Haiseb is death the land is now free for us” they sang.
Suro: People were under the pressure of Haiseb. He was a KIng and they were under him.
Handrethe:Haiseb told the people “I am sick. Don’t touch me. I don’t know if I live or die. Bury me under the tree. We cannot eat the berries close to Haiseb or we get sick”. During the day Haiseb ate the berries and in the nights the people were singing and clapping hands:
Tita Haise da ||o tsî ǂûna mû tsî go ||ō !nada
Haeseba ||ō !huba ǂha
Haiseb go ||ō freyba he ta go Haiseb go ||ō
We are pleased at Haiseb’s death. The land is now free.
Elsie Tjihahura, at Kamanjab
Note the bent arms and pointed fingers and the flick of the skirt at the end – all characteristics of Haiseb dances.
Ellinck ||Naobeb telling a story of Haiseb and the bees. Near Uis.
The story in the film is an excerpt from the lightly edited version translated below.
It is an adaptation of a well known story about Haiseb and the Bees. It ends with Haiseb pretending to be dead and being buried under a tree, but he is not really dead and climbs out at night and dances and sings under the fruit tree, at which point he is discovered.
The singing and dancing around the tree is what features in the film above. It is a theme that reoccurs in films on this site. In ‘the Bees’ Haiseb gives away his identity by rejoicing in his deception.
When telling this story Ellink ||Naobes began with a different brief story that mirrors the typical Bees story in the way Haiseb covers his sore and festering scalp with a cap. This brief introductory story seems to be about Haiseb bringing trouble on himself because of his silly shyness. It speaks of wider forms of correct household behaviour between men and women.
Erika Ganuses and Suro Ganuses (bottom right) of Sesfontein demonstrate some of the sing-song elements of Haiseb tales. Suro has been a great friend and the translation and knowledge behind my research for many years.