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N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman

(59 min., 1980, VC 2371)

"Arranged Marriages": an excerpt from N!ai, the Story of a !Kung Woman

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(10 min., 1980, VC 182)
(26 min., 1980, VC 182)

Other Hunting and Gathering Peoples

Nǃai, the Story of a ǃKung Woman
!Kung people

hunting / gathering slides


N!ai Study Guide (.pdf)

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"This film provides a broad overview of !Kung life, both past and present, and an intimate portrait of N!ai, a !Kung woman who in 1978 was in her mid-thirties. N!ai tells her own story, and in so doing, the story of changes in !Kung life over a thirty year period."

"'Before the white people came we did what we wanted,' N!ai recalls, describing the life she remembers as a child: following her mother to pick berries, roots, and nuts as the season changed; the division of giraffe meat; the kinds of rain; her resistance to her marriage to /Gunda at the age of eight; and her changing feelings about her husband when he becomes a healer. As N!ai speaks, the film presents scenes from the 1950's that show her as a young girl and a young wife."

"The uniqueness of N!ai may lie in its tight integration of ethnography and history. While it portrays the changes in !Kung society over thirty years, it never loses sight of the individual, N!ai."

"N!ai was born in April of 1942, the only child of Di!ai and Gumza. Di!ai, her mother, had been married once before to a man named ≠Toma. They had had two children, both of whom died, and ≠Toma was murdered in a fight in 1938. In 1940, Di!ai married Gumza, N!ai’s father, a man from a group across the border in Botswana (then Bechuanaland). Soon after N!ai was born, her parents were divorced, in part because Gumza did not get along with Di!ai’s older sister, a sharp-tongued woman named !U. Di!ai also said she felt lonely for her own people, and so she went home to Gautscha when Gumza returned to Botswana. In 1944, Di!ai remarried, to a man named Kxao. Kxao already had a wife, but because he was considered a steady man, Di!ai was willing to accept the role of co-wife." -- N!ai Study Guide, p. 3


CINE Golden Eagle
American Film Festival Blue Ribbon
Cinema du Reel, Grand Prize
International Film & Television Festival, NY, Best Television Documentary
International News Coverage Festival, Grand Prize
RAI, Highest Film Commendation
Grand Prize, Cinema du RjeZ, Paris

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