The San Bushmen Hunters and Gatherers

Some historical studies reveal that the people of San Bushmen have lived in the Southern part of Africa for the last 20000 years and are thus the region’s oldest inhabitants. The name San is commonly used to convey a meaning of a diverse group comprising of hunters and gatherers who inhabit the Southern part of Africa. The San people are also known as the Bushmen, but the term is no longer used to refer to this group because it is perceived to be derogatory. It is the Dutch who named the San people as ‘Bushmen’ to give a tag to them of ‘outlaws’ or ‘bandits’. There are many sub-groups of the San people that do not have a collective name for themselves. They were named Bushmen during their long struggle with white colonialists. The group has an unfortunate history of social rejection, poverty, discrimination their rights, and decline in their cultural identity (Sybona Africa PTY ltd, n.d).

The group has no centralized body of political system nor a system of social hierarchy. Some studies show that the San Bushmen do have a formal chief or authority figure to be in charge of the group’s political leadership. However, the group has resorted to group consensus in order to govern themselves. The community disputes are managed and resolved through thorough and lengthy discussions. Everyone who is involved in a discussion is given an opportunity to put their points across and make their thoughts and ideas heard. Participants are allowed to freely express their views with an aim of finding an adequate solution to the discussed problem. This discussion lasts until all the members of the group reach some sort of consensus and provide a ruling.

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The outstanding members of the San community are given leadership opportunities due to their excellent work. For example, an individual who is highly gifted in the field of hunting assumes a leadership role in the community so that he can lead others and achieve better results for the community. The same applies to individuals who are successful in the field of gathering. Moreover, individuals who are excellent in performing healing rituals are given an opportunity to lead the community in matters pertaining to rituals. However, the community does not allow such leaders to assume positions of general power or influence. This type of leadership confused the white colonialists when they were trying to establish communication with this people.

Leadership in the San community consists of those people who have resided within the community for a very long period of time; people who are known to have good character as well as people of old age, which is a respectable characteristic in the community. The basic political model of the San group is made up of kinship bonds. Membership of people in a certain group is strictly determined by their residency. A person may enjoy membership of a group as long as he or she lives on the group’s land. However, an individual must obtain permission from the senior members of the group or the owners of the land.

This means that all decisions relating to the affairs of the community are handled through consensus of both male and female San adults. There are times when children are also involved in communal matters. In circumstances where consensus has not been achieved, the San people usually consult more senior members of the community. They seek opinions of older members because, in the eyes of the younger members, they have lived long enough to have the necessary wisdom to solve the communal issues and disputes. When judjing a particular issue, the ruling may be invoked if there is an apparent tie between the members of the panel giving their opinions. In such a case, controversy is usually resolved in favor of an individual who is named after a clan member who is more elderly. This means that age is a determining factor in the San Bushmen leadership. They value older people because they considered them wiser. It is for this reason that community members named after prominent members of the community are favored during a ruling.

The Yanomamo Tribe

The Yanomamo tribe, also spelled as Yanomami, is a group of about 35000 indigenous people living in approximately 200-250 villages located in the Amazon rainforest on the international border between Brazil and Venezuela. The name was coined by anthropologists from the term ‘yanomami’, which means ‘human beings’.

The group has a unique political system. Some historical studies reveal that the group’s political system cannot be compared to any other. The group has un-centralized political system with the village head being the most dominant political leader in the community. However, the village head is different from other types of leaders, such as those who were common in Europe. An individual has to earn the position of leadership by being known throughout the village. The group’s political system does not allow inheritance of leadership positions and thus one becomes a political leader based on merits throughout the community. A person must earn support from all the sub-groups in order to become a political leader. The village head helps the community to make crucial decisions and to settle disputes within the community. However, the group does not rely solely on the village head for making key decisions that affect the community. The village heads play a crucial role in solving the existing disputes between individuals in the community. The head may also solve tribal disputes between the allies and their enemies. Therefore, the main role of the village head in the Yanomamo group is to ensure peaceful coexistence through conflict resolution.

Lizot reveals that the Yanomamo people do not have a central form of power because they do not consider themselves a single unit. Rather, they have multiple branches of individual units. It is for this reason that they do not have  a central form of power. Each sub-group of the Yanomamo people belongs to a particular kinship. Therefore, the people in those kinships abide only by those suggestions and decisions that were made by their village heads, but not by any person they consider an outsider. The group lacks formal sanctions because there is no existence of real leadership in the community. Research shows that the group would still find it difficult to enforce formal laws, even if such laws existed, because of a poor leadership structure. However, the group still believes in formal sanctions, despite the fact that they cannot enforce them.

The group employs a political system that encourages formation of alliances based purely on kinships. The system of forming political alliances has enabled them to from a strong system of trading and feasting. The group’s political alliances are formed through trading and they use the alliances during conflicts. The group makes alliences with other villages within the kinships as well in to ensure that they receive backup in dealing with their enemies. The Yanomamo people are known to be very aggressive individuals who are prone to engaging their neighbors in fights. The people found it necessary to form tribal groupings as a way of consolidating support in order to tackle various communal issues. Forming alliances meant that a given group’s strength would be reinforced should they face an opponent. Alliances played an important role during conflicts because an alliance with a lot of tribes would be a decisive factor of winning or losing a battle. For instance, they fight with other neighboring tribes in order to achieve their goals and objectives. They believe that the strongest tribes in the community should completely out-muscle the weaker ones. The tribal alliances are also used to gain support when passing key issues touching on the community governance. An alliance with many tribal groups can easily make its agenda heard due to the large number of people involved in the decision making process. Massive alliances can persuade the village heads to consider the presented issues. For example, tribes could form alliances in order to persuade the village head to listen to their demands as opposed to a small group presenting the same issue to the village head.

The People of the Ancient Hindu Town

The Kondha People

The group occupied territories in the Rayagada, Kalahadi, and Koraput districts of India. They are  concentrated primarily in the blocks of Bissam Cuttack, Muniguda, and Kalyansinghpur. They are known as the dwellers of donger or the Dongoria. Some studies show that the group lives in the higher altitudes due to the economic demands of its people. These people refer to themselves as Jharnia to mean people living by the streams. The tribe has a total tribal membership of 2970 people. Almost half of its population lives on the reservation. The group operates its own tribal government that oversees one million three hundred acres of the trust The group enjoys the perennial streams, which flow from the Niyamgiri hill. The group is utilizing the streams by setting up villages along them to make the most out of their agricultural activities. The group depends on a subsistence economy for their livelihood. They main practice hunting, gathering, and foraging. However, they mainly depend on subsistence agriculture to boost their economy.

The people believed that any individual who breached any religious conduct would be heavily punished by the gods. They believed that disobedience was a way of attracting wrath of the spirits in the community. Religious leaders demanded that such individuals offer cocks and buffaloes as sacrifices for appeasing the communal spirits. They lived in scattered villages throughout the hills in the Southern part of India. They strongly believed that they had the right to cultivate the slopes of the Niyamgiri because of their tribal link with Niyam Raja.

Apart from the religious leaders, the tribe had tribal chiefs to run the political system of the community. Chiefs were selected from honorable families within the community. An individual had to command respect from the rest of the community to be chosen as a chief. The chief was meant to oversee the smooth running of activities in the community. They made key decisions that touched on the welfare of their respective tribal groupings. The chiefs were the key pillars of the tribal groups that ensured peaceful co-existence by organizing meetings for resolving disputes between tribal groups in disagreement. For instance, a chief from one tribal group within the Kondha group would meet with his counterpart from another tribal grouping to foster peace and unity in the community. They ensured that any arising conflict was amicably solved to promote peace and harmony in the community. It was the duty of the tribal chief to negotiate with other tribes on behalf of his people. During such negotiations, the tribal chiefs were advised by a council of imminent elders who had rich knowledge on different matters affecting their communities. The tribal chief also led his people during conflicts to ensure they prevail in war.