There’s a vigorous musicality in the language of the Khwe Bushmen. Picture the scene …. there’s a woman weaving a basket round the fire, talking to her husband and nephew. The homestead is surrounded by a high grass fence, painstakingly maintained as and when the grasses become available. There are various utilitarian items scattered around the yard; a wooden grain stamper and the traditional “poitjie” cooking pot, kept clean by the chickens that roam freely around the homestead. The atmosphere is gentle and their talk is positive. They are hunter-gatherers, agriculturalists and fishermen (they still get 25%-50% of their food this way)

The Bushman population in the regions of Caprivi, Angola, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia totals around 8000 people.
They are also known as Barakwena, Barakwengo , Khoe, Kxoe, Kxoedam, Mbarakwena , Water Bushmen , Xun
The dialects are ||Xo-Kxoe, ||Xom-Kxoe, Buma-Kxoe, Buga-Kxoe.
There are minor dialect differences within the Khwe. Related to ||Ani, Naro, Nama but is quite distinct from each of these and not mutually intelligible. Many non-Khwe learn Khwe for interaction with the Khwe. They also use English or Afrikaans in some instances.

An example of how bushman baskets are made. It is a seasonal craft – so once the rains have come, and the grasses have grown, they are harvested and then dyed using various dried roots which are ground down and then put into water. The grasses are then soaked in this water to get the different colours. Once this has been done, the business of weaving takes place. A basket can take up to a week to make – watch how she twists the various grasses to get them in place…… Enjoy!

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Beautiful Khwe woman with one of her baskets.


The younger Khwe generation are catching onto the weaving idea

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Khwe woman, Northern Namibia

Khwe woman elder, Northern Namibia


A Khwe woman in the early stages of weaving a basket