N!xau

Bushman who gained fame in 'Gods Must Be Crazy'

The world’s most famous Bushman, N!xau, star of the film “The Gods Must Be Crazy” has died “at home” in the bush outside Tsumkwe in northern Namibia.

N!xau was found dead in the bush on July 2 after he failed to return from an excursion to search for wood. He was believed to be 59, but was unsure of his exact age.

N!xau was catapulted to international fame in the 1981 film by Jamie Uys as the Bushman who threw a Coke bottle over the edge of the world after the unknown object thrown from a plane caused consternation among his nomadic San tribe.

“The Gods Must Be Crazy” is the highest grossing South African film of all time, with BO takings of $70m. It is still being shown at some theatres internationally and has been released on DVD.

After the film’s international release, the world fell in love with N!xau and he was feted during tours to the US, France and Japan, where he was such a hit that a doll was made of likeness.

He reprised his role in a 1989 sequel and in three Hong Kong action comedies. Though he knew little of the modern world when he was cast in “The Gods Must Be Crazy,” he learned enough to demand hundreds of thousands of dollars for his appearance in the sequel so that he could get a house and a water pump for his family.

But N!xau remained untouched by his fame and the material wealth it brought, preferring to sell the house the producers of the film built for him in exchange for cattle and return to the nomadic bush life he loved with his San people. Expensive gifts given to him in Japan such as a Rolex watch were later found abandoned in the bush.

Mireschen Troskie-Marx of producer Mimosa Films said N!xau was a “natural star” and loved acting but remained completely unaffected by the trappings of fame, staying himself through everything. “Even when we toured, he preferred to sleep on the hotel floors”.

N!xau will be buried on July 12 in a traditional ceremony in Tsumkwe, which Troskie-Marx said would be attended by international media and film representatives.

More Scene

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content