Tchai is the word used by Ju/’hoansi to describe getting together to dance and sing; n/um can be translated as medicine, or supernatural potency. In the 1950’s, when this film was shot, Ju/’hoansi gathered for “medicine dances” often, usually at night, and sometimes such dances lasted until dawn. In this film, women sit on the ground, clapping and singing and occasionally dancing a round or two, while men circle around them, singing and stamping rhythms with their feet. The strength of the songs is their n/um, or medicine, thought to be a gift from the great god. N/um is also in the fire, and even more so in the “owners of medicine,” or healers.
A film by John Marshall from the !Kung series