San Dancers from Botswana on the Peace Corps World Stage at Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2011
The San are a people native to the Kalihari Desert of southern Africa whose territory covers parts of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. Alternately referred to as “Bushmen”, Kung, Sho, Barwa, or Khwe, the San were traditionally nomadic foragers who lived in small bands. In recent decades, the roughly 100,000 remaining San people have transitioned from hunter-gatherers to settled farmers.
The traditional dances of the San have been performed by the San/Basarwa/Bushmen people in southern Africa for tens of thousands of years, and are used in social, religious, and healing contexts.