This paper reviews the movie “N!ai” emphasizing on its relevance to the current society. The authors of this movie are John Marshall and Adrienne Miesmer .It was published in United States of America. The movie talks about the way of living of the Kung people while comparing the past and present lifestyles. It elaborates on the various changes in the Kung life over a period of thirty years with the life experiences of N!ai, a Kung woman. N!ai explains how they behaved before the arrival of the white people in their community (Marshall & Miesmer, 1980). The director of the movie is trying to portray changes in the Kung society within a period of thirty years, focusing more on the life history of N!ai. It explains the life and changes of a group of people in the society personified through the strand of actuality of one person, N!ai.
The movie begins with the explanation of N!ai early life, showing the way of living of the !Kung people in the past. It was that of hunting and gathering, shown by how she had enough knowledge about the bush life. With the elaboration of how she used to follow her mother when going to pick berries, roots and nuts while seasons changed showed that women had specific roles to play in the society, while men had the roles of hunting game meat for the family. The Kung people also encouraged early marriages to the ladies, exemplified by the dissatisfaction of N!ai to her husband of whom she was married to at the age of eleven (Marshall & Miesmer, 1980). The movies goes on to explain that N!ai eventually accepts her husband at a later stage of their lives when he becomes a healer in the society, showing a sign of changes in occupations and ways of living in the community.
The second part of the movie explains the changes in the Kung community upon the arrival of the white people. With the formation of government structures and administrations, they are restricted to live in sedentary camps formed by the governments of the day. The habit of hunting and gathering is prohibited, and they have to find alternative means of living. Their eating lifestyles changes from berries, fruits and game meat to maize meal, and they earn money from tourists who take their pictures upon visiting the community (Marshall & Miesmer, 1980). The men are forced to look for employment opportunities in the South African army, and they are forced to respect and remain loyal to the white men in the army since they really need food and money for their families back home. N!ai on the other hand because of her fame, and the quilt of not contributing anything in the family, is very ready to be paid by those who take photos of her. Other opportunities like healing are available, N!ai explains that she was comfortable with her husband when he became a healer.
The movie shows a community trying to adopt modernity while at the same maintaining their tradition, same as what is elaborated in the “Umgidi” movie. Despite of the men agreeing to live a sedentary life, they still have the desire for hunting which necessitates the use of horses. But since the officials argue that the use of horses while hunting causes harm to wildlife, they are restricted from doing that. It also shows the existence of social stratifications upon the arrival of the white people (Marshall & Miesmer, 1980). The white army employees are seen as superior or of a different class compared to the !Kung army employees. It is elaborated from the fact the white army employees were respected by the Kung who feared that they would lose their sources of income, if they disagreed with their seniors. The aspect of culture change is also elaborated in the movie. The Kung people have abandoned their past culture due to the influence of the white man. Roles for both men and women have changed due to the elimination of nomadic lifestyles and introduction of sedentary lifestyles. Due to the fact that they have to feed on maize meal, they have to practice crop farming.
Comparing this movie with the “Umgidi” it is seen that they have some similarities and differences. It is evident that the communities in both movies were influenced by the occurrence of colonization in Africa, and experiences changes in their cultural practices (Schuttle & Singiswa, 2011). Due to the colonization, and visiting of the white people, both communities encountered culture changes. The differences is that for the Xhosa people in the “Umgidi” they accepted the modern lifestyles but still practiced some of their cultural beliefs like circumcision despite the influence from the white man. The Kung people in the “N!ai” on the other hand completely left their behind their cultural practices with their past and adopted the white man’s culture.
In conclusion, it evident that changes in culture had more positive impacts to the African communities than the negatives, and that it promoted the level of growth and developments in the various communities.