The Dobe Ju Hoansi of the Kalahari Desert is a hunting and gathering kind of people. The Kalahari Desert, southern Africa, is an extreme environment, and in this extreme environment the Dobe Ju Hoansi has developed ways to survive, even flourish, that are invisible to the outsider’s eye, yet complex and sophisticated. These ways are not only technological adaptations to fit the environment, but also cultural adaptations that have evolved as a response to the needs of the Ju Hoan community.
Miles away, half way around the world in the continent of South America lives a tribe known as The Yanomamo. The Yanomamo Indians live in southern Venezuela and the adjacent portions live in northern Brazil. The tribe approximately reaches a population of 10,000 people. Like the Dobe people, their civilization was not known of or studied until 1968 by anthropologist Napoleon A. Chagnon. The Yanomamos are known as the fierce people. This is so because warfare is very significant in this tribe.
Both cultures develop their own spiritual beliefs and handle death in their own cultural way. This often includes rituals, and coping mechanisms that their people have used for centuries.
The Ju/’Hoansi live in an environment that demands adaptation. This they do very well; they have their own ways of life they survive by. Like all cultures, they need their own explanation of the supernatural, death and their own coping mechanisms to deal with the departed. The Ju/’Hoansi in particular have unique ways of handling the ailing and death. Their universe is inhabited by a high god, lesser god, and a host of minor animal spirits that bring luck and misfortune, success and failure. (Lee: 125).
The Ju/’Hoansi believe in a spirit called //gangwasi. This is the ghosts of the recently deceased. Any person that falls ill among the camp is said to be visited by //gangwasi,no matter the severance or cause of the ailment. So in order to protect themselves from...