In the movie The Gods must be Crazy , a « Bushman* » tribe made a modern-world discovery –  Coca-Cola bottle, thrown down from a plane. The fact is that Bushmen or Khoi and San people have had contact with western civilisation for several centuries.

These indigenous people who speak unique click languages, still exist in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa today. They would have been living there for at least 27 000 years.

San people (« gatherer » in the Haillom dialect) would be, according to the latest scientific  studies, the oldest people on earth – those from whom entire humanity is descended.

Although traditionally hunter/gatherers, San people are widely settled and are not more than about 100 000 in number at the present time, living essentially on the harsh land of the Kalahari Desert.

The San have come down through the millennia, thanks to their thorough knowledge of their natural environment, for example : hunting mainly antelope with a bow, but above all living from gathering fruits, berries and desert roots.

This nomadic life inspired them to painting many rock artworks. often scenes of deities, rituals or hunting that we can admire in completely natural surroundings at numerous sites around South Africa including in the Cederberg nature reserve a few hours north of Cape Town.

In May 2002, ‡Khomani San (a group belonging to San people), reached a historic land settlement agreement with the government of South Africa and South African National Parks (SANParks) which restored 50 000 ha of land to the communities that had once roamed or farmed this area, within the boundaries of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Whereas SANParks is responsible for environmental conservation, the communities received funds to build a tourism facility owned and managed by the two community :!Xau Lodge.

After early contact with Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries, many Khoi and San people were killed by diseases such as smallpox to which they had no immunity. They were also often regarded as vermin animals by European settler farmers who hunted them.

Article écrit pour le blog XO Africa – 2014-2015

* Although the term « Bushman » is still used by some people, many consider it derogatory and prefer the terms Khoi and San.

Picture: Arri Raats, Kalahari Khomani San Bushman, Boesmansrus camp, Northern Cape, South Africa – Crédit photo : South African Tourism