Roots and Routes: Karretjie People of the Great Karoo

The Marginalisation of a South African First People

By Michael de Jongh

The lives of a previously 'invisible' and forgotten 'first people' of South Africa come to the fore in this carefully researched study. The 'Karretjie People' (Donkey Cart People) of the Great Karoo are direct descendants of the /Xam (San/Bushmen), who were the earliest inhabitants of much of the Karoo interior. Today, as itinerant sheep-shearers, the Karretjie People roam the arid expanses of the Karoo in their donkey carts in search of a possible shearing opportunity, sleeping on the roadside in their make-shift overnight shelters. This unique book is the result of several decades of original research into the lives and community of these gypsy-like wanderers, and it highlights the plight of this marginalized South African community, the 'poorest of the poor.' The ingenious adaptation of the Karretjie People to particularly trying circumstances and their challenging environment is illustrated by their unique way of life. In a reader-friendly narrative, the book not only makes the story of the Karretjie People accessible to the general reader, but offers a deeper insight into the early history and environment of the Great Karoo. Besides offering a colorful portrait of a community neglected by both government and NGO agencies, this book contains rich sociological data, which should bear important implications for policy-makers in the spheres of education and development, as well as in the domain of political decisions. *** "Anthropologist de Jongh describes a people who are an integral part of the socioeconomic structure of the Great Karoo in the southwestern part of South Africa, yet are markedly marginalized. There are 13 case studies, informative maps, and beautiful large photos. Recommended." Choice, January 2013, Vol. 50 No. 05

240 pages

Publication Date: 3/19/2012
Format: Paper
ISBN: 9781868886654