Meeting the Mantis: Searching for a Man in the Desert and Finding the Kalahari Bushmen

In the 1962, in a college anthropology class, John Ashford was introduced to the Kalahari Bushmen. Their peaceful way of life and John’s childhood memories of listening to field recordings of chants by indigenous cultures resulted in a life-long fascination with these people.

Years later, in the 1990s, John and his wife, Gen, find themselves in Botswana as Peace Corps Volunteers and middle-aged adventures. Toward the end of their service in the Peace Corps and restless about returning to the States, John discovers he is eager to resolve his lingering questions about the mysterious Bushmen. An article in a Botswana newspaper about an elderly white man named Freddy Morris, who has lived with the Bushmen for over 70 years, has sparked John’s curiosity, and he persuades Gen to set out into the vast Kalahari to find Freddy. Encounters with locals and African wildlife weave in and out of their journey. A prominent activist working on behalf of the Bushmen speaks with them, and John soon finds himself receiving a whirlwind education about the life of the Kalahari Bushmen in the modern world.

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