oa Alternation - By What Authority?' presentations of the Khoisan in South African English poetry

Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



A quotation especially useful to this essay is found in Megan Biesele's recent study of the Kalahari Ju/'hoan people's oral art. She writes: There is a kind of cultural rumination endlessly going on there, a milling process that brings the unseen into harmony with the seen, the old with the new; all aspects of the ongoing life of society are its grist. In the region of 'special realities' lies a huge reservoir of adaptive potential for our species since images of reality ... can encompass immense change (Biesele 1993: I 92f, e.a.). This is reminiscent of the simpler Achebean reference to 'Art ... in the service of man' (Achebe 1975:19). If Biesele's comment is meant to explain, in the first place, the unique integration of the practical and the spiritual in a living San or Bushman community, it would seem to mediate also towards the type of use a society much in need of mending (like our own) might make of the records, retentions and art of the KhoiSan people who lived here for so long before the present-day South Africans; both in our social and political strategies and in the art-work we in turn produce.

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