Animals in Bushman Medicine

An ESRC funded  project 2005-2009

In this 3 years project I travelled extensively through Namibia, Botswana and South Africa investigating both the relationship between current Bushman healing practices and animals and what we can pick up from ‘Bushman’ rock art, which ranges from the 1800s back as far as 27,000 years ago.

Charts that summarise recent uses of animals are found below:




                                                                              Paul Howabeb

                                                                   Profile of a Hai||om Healer

                                      This section provides a brief introduction to one of the healers I have met, Paul Howabeb

Paul passed away some years ago. When I last saw him he confirmed that he was happy for me to share this material.

Paul’s healing strategy juggles many of the shamanic and ‘supernatural potency’ ideas and practices found amongst the better known Ju|’hoansi Bushmen, among other groups. His style of healing is typical of many healers Hai||om healers. This video and biography raises significant questions concerning the cultural relationships between different KhoeSan groups and their neighbours and by implication how old and how distinctive or hybridised Kalahari Bushman healing might be.


The two 6 minute videos featured below are excerpts taken from, firstly, a 15 minute beed reading in which Paul established the cause of a  woman’s sickness and, secondly, Paul’s healing dance. His dance typically  lasted about 2 ½  hours. Both films were taken in 2001.

                                                         Massage among the KhoeSan

Massage is a primary health care strategy of the KhoeSan.
Prior to my study conducted as part of my DPhil, massage had barely been mentioned in any documentation of the KhoeSan.
Below are a selection of videos that relate to more details found here