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University of Toronto (1982)

THE KUA OF THE SOUTHEASTERN KALAHARI : A STUDY OF THE SOCIO-ECOLOGY OF DEPENDENCY

VIERICH, HELGA INGEBORG DORIS

Titre : THE KUA OF THE SOUTHEASTERN KALAHARI : A STUDY OF THE SOCIO-ECOLOGY OF DEPENDENCY

Auteur : VIERICH, HELGA INGEBORG DORIS

Université de soutenance : University of Toronto

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 1982

Résumé
This study explores the process by which relationships of economic inter-dependency and dependency arise between different groups. The Kua San of the Southeastern Kalahari Desert are a hunter-gatherer people who have lived on the fringe of a pastoral and agricultural economy for centuries. Prior to the 1930’s, the only permanent villages in the region were to be found around the few year-round springs and hand-dug wells. These settlements were occupied primarily by a Bantu-speaking people, the BaKgalagadi, whose economy was predominantly pastoral and agricultural. The advent of a mechanized well-digging technology in the 1930’s dramatically increased the number of locations in the Kalahari where permanent settlement was possible. Thus, today, the frontier of permanent settlement, agriculture, and cattle-based pastoralism is penetrating deeper into the Kalahari. The Kua have accommodated this greater encroachment of livestock and farming activities by becoming employees of the BaKgalagadi. Much of their employment is seasonal and does not appear to represent a permanent shift away from hunting and gathering. Since their contact with the pastoral-agricultural peoples appears to predate by some centuries the most recent expansion of the frontier, it is suggested that the current adaptation of the Kua to the new wave of encroachment is consistent with their previous economic strategy and social organization, as this would have also remained viable throughout periods of contact in the past. Before borehole drilling, the major causes of pastoral-agricultural expansion into the Kalahari would have been cycles of high rainfall years and the introduction of hand-dug wells. The data presented in this thesis suggest that the degree of their involvement in the rural labour market has in some places increased in recent decades to the point of dependency. It appears that at least some of the Kua have jeopardized or lost their options of falling back on hunting and gathering when employment opportunities are eliminated by drought. Thus, through a combination of environmental degradation and social breakdown within the Kua society, an outcast minority is being created.

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