/Xam folktales

as cautionary rememories

in the face of extinction


ESSAY HERE              

H Jonathan Klijn

Harvard ES

Expository Writing E-42A

Dr. Elizabeth Sharp McKetta

May 2020

I’d like to make a confession. 

It was only in the wildest reaches of my imagination that I thought writing a paper on fairytales for Expo 42-A would be THIS illuminating.

I should have known better. 

What started out as a frustrated tête-à-tête with "The Little Mermaid" for a weekend, ended up in a commitment with a /Xam writer, !Kweiten-ta-//ken, a feisty storyteller if ever there was one. I’ve been aware of her presence for a while.

I was inadvertently doing what so many had done with her and the  /Xam nation for so long.

Not really taking notice.

Dismissive of the reach and integrity of the work.

Always looking around for better—classic FOMO move, that. 

After accepting that there was in reality precious little that I could bring to alleviate the woes of a girl with flippers, I felt compelled to take a deep dive into the arcane but afflicted world of the Bushman. It has proven to be a rewarding and redemptive undertaking: the slow-burn of the writing process has encouraged me to evaluate not just the original texts and data, but also much of the rhetoric around the /Xam storytelling tradition. Synthesis of my academic research, information already known to me, and the results of my next-level sleuthing, provided a framework from which I could comfortably construct a story which is largely unknown outside of a select group in South Africa.


It opens a tantalizing portal to explaining the gravity of the fight for human rights as well as the promotion of restorative justice. It goes to the heart of understanding a connectedness of us. And the value of atonement.


This is proving to be an examination that has to be undertaken with one eye open for new research and opinion from impeccable sources with unimpeachable narratives. 


I have started to work on outlining the following chapters for what will form the projected book called, The Bushman Susurrus

The First Susurrus. Adapt, or Die. “The Lion and the Young Man”

The Second Susurrus. Hottentot Venus. “The Broken String”

The Third Susurrus. Black Boys Can Grow Up To Be Lawyers. “/Xam Premonitions”

The Fourth Susurrus. I Speak, Holding Up Your Heart. “Death on the Hunting Ground”

The Fifth Susurrus. A Gun Takes Care Of An Old Man. “//Kabbo’s Intended Return Home”

The Sixth Susurrus. Hurting In The Head. “The Mantis and the Wildebeest”

The Seventh Susurrus. Death is a Part of Life. “A Litany of Death”

The Eighth Susurrus. Blood is your Badge of Honor. “The Shelter”

The Ninth Susurrus. Your Body Is a Wonderland. “The Maiden and the Rainbull”

The Tenth Susurrus. I Sat Beside a Black Man. “//Kabbo’s Journey in the Railway Train”

These raw, soft susurrus are, to borrow heavily from Kahil Gibran, the sighs and whispers— the sound—of life’s aching for its own fragility.

Every reflection is another piece of an origin narrative, and occasionally, it’s a rough-hewn love story to humanity itself.

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© 2020 by boyoyoboy.