Sacred Texts  Africa  Index  Previous  Next 

Specimens of Bushman Folklore, by W.H.I. Bleek and L.C. Lloyd, [1911], at


1. It is the Blue Crane's story which it sings; it sings(about)its shoulder, namely, that the"krieboom" berries are upon its shoulder; it goes along singing--

The berries are upon my shoulder,
The berries are upon my shoulder,
The berry it[1] is upon my shoulder,

[1. Its name is one; they (the berries) are numerous; its name is (still) one. The "krieboom" berries are many; the name of the berries is one. It appears as if its berry were one, (but) they are many.

The word |gara is the same in the singular and plural, viz., |gara (or |gara tsaXau) a !kwai, "one |gara berry," and |gara (or |gara tsaXaiten) e |Ukwaiya, "many |gara berries." The |gara is a part of the ||na, or"krieboom", the berries of it, as far as I can understand. They are said to be round, white, and "hard" (i.e., they have something hard inside them). The outside flesh is sweet. They are eaten by the Koranna and the Bushmen. The women go to the "krieboom", pick the berries, put them into a bag and take them home to eat, first mixing them with other berries. They do not eat them unmixed, on account of their teeth, as they fear that the sweetness of the berries might otherwise render their teeth unfit to chew meat well.]

The berries are upon my shoulder.
The berries are up here (on its shoulder),[1]
Rrru are up here;
The berries are up here,
Rrru are up here,
Are up here;
The berries Rrru are put away (upon)it(its shoulder)."


(When running away from a man.)

A splinter of stone which is white,[2]
A splinter of stone which is white,
A splinter of stone which is white.


(When walking slowly, leaving the place [walk of peace].)

A white stone splinter,
A white stone splinter.


(When it flaps its wings.)

Scrape (the springbok skin[3] for) the bed.
Scrape (the springbok skin for) the bed.

Rrrru rrra,
Rrru rrra
Rru rra!

[1. ||kabbo cannot explain why the berries do not roll off; he says that he does not know. This is a song of the very old people, the "first" old people, which was in his thoughts.

2. ||kabbo explains that the bird sings about its head, which is something of the shape of a stone knife or splinter, and has white feathers. He says that Bushmen, when without a knife, use a stone knife for cutting up game. They break a stone, knocking off a flat splinter from it, and cut up the game with that. The Grass Bushmen, ||kabbo says, make arrowheads of white quartz points (crystal points, as far as could be understood).

3. The Bushmen make beds (i.e., skins to sleep on) from the skins of springbok and goats.]


Next: The Old Woman's Song.