Healing Land: A Kalahari Journey

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9780007291793: Healing Land: A Kalahari Journey

Brought up on stories and myths of the Kalahari Bushmen, Rupert Isaacson journeys to the dry vast grassland -- which stretches across South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia -- to find out the truth behind these childhood stories. Deep in the Kalahari, Isaacson meets the last groups of Bushmen still living the traditional way, caught between their ancient culture and the growing need to protect and reclaim their dwindling hunting grounds. Little by little he is drawn into the fascinating web of ritual and prophecy that make up the Bushman reality. He hears of shamans who turn into lions, sees leopards conjured from the landscape as though by magic. He attends trance-inducing dances and witnesses incredible healings. But he also sees the heart-wrenching social problems of a dispossessed people. What follows is an adventure of an intensity he never could have predicted. The Healing Land records Isaacson's personal transformation amid these extraordinary people, and his passionate contribution to their political struggle. It captures his enchantment with the character, corruption, kindness, and confusion of a place that has wrenched itself from the Stone Age into the new millennium.

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About the Author:

Rupert Isaacson was born in 1967. He has written guide books to many African countries and is about to publish a guide to outdoor adventure in Britain. He writes for the Telegraph, the Independent on Sunday and does features for Radio 5.

From Publishers Weekly:

The son of a South African mother and a Rhodesian father but raised in London, travel writer Isaacson felt a longing for the Bushmen of his mother's stories and of Laurens Van Der Post's The Lost World of the Kalahari. Things are different today; in postapartheid South Africa, the question of the survival of the Bushmen is framed by their struggle to gain back their land. Dispossessed from their wide roaming areas by a series of foreign invaders over the course of the 20th century, Bushmen have gradually been moved to reservations where they can't hunt or heal in traditional ways. Alcohol abuse and domestic violence have become common. At first, Isaacson looks for the mythical Bushman, who rises before dawn to track and kill wild animals, stops for a reflective pause in the shade to offer spiritual parables and caps the day by a campfire barbecue with singing and dancing into the small hours of the night. But as Isaacson struggles with drunk villagers, broken-down vehicles and petty scamming by people accustomed to living off the stupidity of tourists, he loses his na‹vet‚ and finds his real Bushmen, eventually forming his own bond with them. This isn't spiritual tourism; Isaacson's account is too funky and too honest about the very human weaknesses of real-life Bushmen. Still, readers come away with respect for the struggles of all indigenous people, coupled with an awareness that they may not live particularly pretty lives themselves.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Isaacson, Rupert
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