The !Gubi Family

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The !Gubi Family are a group of traditional musicians and dancers from the San people of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia, keepers of the ancient musical traditions of their culture and among the last thousand speakers of their language. Their home is Corridor 18, in the Sands of the Kalahari Desert, Namibia, one of the least developed and most isolated areas of the country, where there is a single tap for the whole community, no electricity, very limited access to health and educational facilities, a very basic diet and no source of financial income.

The San are one of the originators of trance dance and their music is specifically designed to evoke an altered state of consciousness through the rhythms and beats, enabling the musician to enter into trance, commune with their ancestors and with the spirits of the animals with whom they share their desert home and perform healing on both individuals and the tribe.

The !Gubi Family traditionally sing and dance throughout the night, playing the mouthbow, the Gau Gau, a handheld four stringed instrument, and a bow that is beaten with a stick while tapping on a biscuit tin. The three young men, occasionally joined by some of the elders, dance while accompanying the rhythm using leg rattles made from moth cocoons, while the rhythm is also kept by a Djmebe drum.

Their first UK tour, in 2008, saw the !Gubi Family visit of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, including appearances at The Edinburgh Mela Festival, The Orkney International Science Festival and in village halls and schools across the region.