Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman – Chuko

Since Shostak focuses her book mainly on the lives of the !Kung women,
Nisa’s mother, Chuko, plays an especially important role. Chuko’s behavior sets
an example for Nisa in many ways, from the expected (pregnancy, childbirth,
child rearing) to the unexpected (the taking of lovers). Many of Nisa’s early
memories concern maternal events, such as when she witnesses her mother giving
birth alone or when she sees her mother with a lover who is not her husband.
Indeed, Chuko is inevitably an integral part of Nisa’s own life story,
particularly in its early stages, since !Kung children are brought up in almost
constant contact with their mothers. While a small female !Kung child would not
ordinarily be allowed to follow her father on a hunt, for example, she would
certainly be able to accompany her mother on a gathering expedition, either
walking on her own or carried by her mother. Nisa expresses poignantly her
closeness to her mother in describing the intensity of her mourning following
Chuko’s death.