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Some Notes on the so-called Heitsi-Eibeb Graves in Namibia: Ancient Heaps of Stones at the Roadside

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Title

Some Notes on the so-called Heitsi-Eibeb Graves in Namibia: Ancient Heaps of Stones at the Roadside

Description

When the early European settlers and travellers in South Africa looked for traces of the religion of the indigenous peoples they did not find any temples or altars or religious services. They only observed how the Khoekhoen (whom they called Hottentots) and the San (Bushmen) threw stones or branches on certain cairns when they passed by and showed obvious signs of reverence to these places. When the people were asked why they did this they said that this was their custom yet they could not give any further explanation. During the 19th century it became known that such a cairn was the grave of their deity but that, as there were many of such “graves”, he was not actually buried in them. In Namibia the heaps of stones were and still are called “Heitsi-eibeb graves”. They seemed to offer the clue for learning about Heitsi-eibeb and the old Khoe and San (= Khoisan) religion(s). Therefore particular attention has been given to this Southern African special characteristic and the number of references is immense; the following collection of notes is but a random selection made over more than 50 years.

First three basic topics have to be discussed: Heitsi-eibeb, common graves and, in more detail, Heitsi-eibeb graves. Later I shall add my own observations, mainly based on interviews in 1981 at various places in Namibia when I tried to learn somewhat more about Haiseb. I quote Dutch, Afrikaans or German references in my English translation.

BAB Working Paper 2014:03
Presented at Basler Afrika Bibliographien, 8 July 2014

Creator

Sigrid Schmidt

Publisher

Basler Afrika Bibliographien

Date

2014

Contributor

Bernard C. Moore

Rights

© The author © Basler Afrika Bibliographien 2014

Format

PDF

Language

English

Type

Working Paper

Files

Citation

Sigrid Schmidt, “Some Notes on the so-called Heitsi-Eibeb Graves in Namibia: Ancient Heaps of Stones at the Roadside,” Namibia Digital Repository, accessed November 16, 2018, http://namibia.leadr.msu.edu/items/show/211.

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