In his article, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari 1969” Richard Borshay Lee narrates a story of how he spent his three years with the “Kung San Bushmen” During this period, Richard highlights some of the customs he noted such as how the society celebrated Christmas and exchanged gifts…
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In his article, “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari 1969” Richard Borshay Lee narrates a story of how he spent his three years with the “Kung San Bushmen” During this period, Richard highlights some of the customs he noted such as how the society celebrated Christmas and exchanged gifts. Despite having this aim, Richard failed to understand what Christmas season meant in the Kalahari. For that reason, he was disappointed by what was going on as he had no clue of what Christmas meant to these people and some of the customs practised. His expectations were shattered as the tribe disagreed with his beliefs. The author forgot what he had learnt in his ethnography that people differ in culture and all should be respected regardless of their differences. There were differences of what Christmas meant to each season in that Richard’s culture believed in gift giving while Kalahari people opposed the idea. The author was shocked with the culture differences of what Christmas season meant to his culture and that from Kalahari. From his point of view, Christmas was the time of friendship and exchange of gifts where people appreciate one another after a long journey of twelve months. Suddenly, the culture of King Bushmen appeared unfamiliar and unknown to him as there were many differences from his culture. This occurrence reinforces the idea of cultural relativism whereby by it was difficult for the author to forget his culture and values but easy to misunderstand Kalahari’s culture. ...
In cultural relativism, there is nothing good or bad thus they are all either good or bad culture. Its objective is that no culture is social solidarity or superior to another as all are equally legitimate. In anthropology, one cannot resist to observe differences of cultures in the world in different ways such as dress code, seasons celebration, and food just to name a few. This diversity is elaborated by the subject cultural relativism. The aim of cultural relativism is that there is no definitive aspect of judging culture as wrong or right. The culture misunderstanding made by Richard is an ideal instance of naive pragmatism. He thought that Christmas would be celebrated and viewed in a similar manner to his culture. As stated in the article, Richard believed that Christmas is the best time to exchange gifts but Kalahari’s people felt it is the time to be meek about the gift exchange. Richard thought that these people thought him as stupid in giving gifts, as this was not valued in this culture. His cross-cultural lessons of the Kung are that there were not generous at all. He makes the readers believe that the Kung failed to appreciate his generosity though it was because of his selection of an ox that created confusion of the profound explanation of Christmas season. It looked enormous to offer such a gift and as indicated in the article, these people were surprised of the author three years staying yet he learnt nothing about the cattle. To the author, he believed that choosing the strongest animal is the best gift one could offer which was misunderstood in Kalahari culture. He was shocked to be informed that the society had no interest of his gift and thus requested him to kill and serve it and expect no dancing
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The paper tells that historical studies of various communities provide information about cultural activities of these communities in postmodern period. Historians have explained cultural heritage of various communities by exploring their religious affiliations, war, marriage, and relationship to the environment among other aspect of cultural diversity.
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