Eating Christmas in the Kalahari

Eating Christmas in the Kalahari

Eating Christmas in the Kalahari

Abstract

Richard Borshay Lee was a social anthropologist that had lived with and studied the southern Tswana tribe In Eating Christmas in the Kalahari Richard Borshay Lee introduces us to some very useful techniques in social science What he decided to do was take part in an ox Christmas festivity Mr Lee felt he had to give a gift because the tribal community thought he was a miser this was due to the fact the Mr Lee had been there for quite some time and never shared his food Being Christmas and both sides believing in this spiritual holiday he felt obligated to share Ultimately his beliefs does not coincide with the Kung people and we witness the power of socializing agents

Even though Mr Lee had lived with and was engaged in every part of the Kung peoples lives he was still an outsider and alien to the society It seems after Mr Lee decided to attend the ox Christmas festival he felt it would be a nice gesture to buy an ox to eat at the celebration Among the Kungs the slaughtering of an ox is a custom After choosing the ox to bring to the festival the Bushmen started complaining and calling the ox old and skinny To Mr Lee the ox looked big fat and perfect for the Christmas celebration and the reaction of the Kung Bushmen people leave him very insulted His feelings and how he perceived the Bushmens reaction was likely founded on his own culture where people are supposed to appreciate other peoples generosity no matter the outcome But to the Bushmen giving an ox was no more than what they usually do every day and was nothing special After consulting with cultural experts Mr Lee discovers the natives viewpoint In the kungs culture things such as gifts and generosity are appreciated However it is not easily shown and always behind closed doors Their cultural belief is that it will cause more harm to praise any individual even for a job well done They believe by boosting someones ego it will eventually swell his pride to the point where he may kill someone The Kungs survival is based on their awareness of the environment around them and how people act and think in the society This I think would be a good thing as long as people were not taken for granted

Why did the kung peoples insult bother Mr Lee so extensively I feel the anthropologist thought he had gone through so much to choose and buy the ox for the Kungs just to be ridiculed for his efforts Lee finally received the message of what the Kungs were trying to put out and this was the concept that there is some motive behind every gift and somehow someway the gift will be repaid However I must disagree with this concept and disagree with the Kungs

This is supported by the fact every day I see many charitable acts and the people that are giving have no intention of receiving praise or anything in return There are many cultural rules about gift giving in our society Gifts in our society are given in celebrations and special occasions Usually in our society the amount spent on the gift is based on the rareness or the size of the event taking place Mr Lees views brought on by his own cultural beliefs left him feeling inadequate and insulted But to the Kungs it was an everyday occurrence and reaction

To understand the kungs is to understand and accept people of different cultures This is dually noted in the above paragraphs The Kungs who live in the Kalahari were raised quite differently than someone who grew up in the society we live in today In accepting gifts in our country we always say thank you and how much we appreciate it This praise gives us a feeling of arrogance knowing that the receiver really likes our gift In different cultures there are different guidelines The people of the kung tribe think badly of individuals that show arrogance To eliminate these characteristics in the children they were raised to mock and make fun of others while doing things such as hunting and viable activities And by telling Mr Lee that his

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