The San People are the ancients of southern Africa, believed to have a genetic lineage dating back some 80 000 years. It’s without a doubt that the humble hunter-gatherer San people are the oldest inhabitants of Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa. The hunter-gatherer communities found within various regions in southern Africa pre-dated the arrival of other humans, and over centuries they were eventually forced to live a more modern lifestyle. To date there are many direct descendants of the Bushmen dwelling within certain pockets of wilderness in southern Africa, where they either live as close to their original lifestyle as possible or spend time educating and introducing others to the original San way of life. At Tuskers Bush Camp we now offer a Bushman experience that introduces guests to the traditional Bushman lifestyle.
The San Bushmen possess an expansive comprehension of the bushveld. It’s astounding just how far their wisdom extends. What other group of people in the world have such insight into how to use the natural world to their advantage? Coupled with their wisdom of the wild is their survival skills, which certainly put Bear Grylls to shame.
The San’s innate knowledge of the wild is embedded in their ancestry and their genes. The younger generations ensure this way of the wild is kept alive by living as naturally as possible in their communities and introducing others to the authentic Bushman lifestyle. Their stories of surviving in remote, harsh conditions and resourcefulness in the wild needs to be carried through the generations and kept alive.
Unfortunately, modernity has meant that the Bushmen can no longer live a 100% semi-nomadic and natural lifestyle like their ancestors did. Modern generations now mix with locals and live in various pockets of wilderness in communities on the outskirts of where they once thrived on ancient landscapes.
A couple of the local guides at Tuskers are descendants of the San community in the area. Their wisdom and respect for the harmony of the wild is admirable. The Bushman experience is a 2 – 3 hour walk through the wilderness that provides an immersive, educational and humbling experience. For centuries, the San lived off the land, utilising various berries and leaves for medicinal purposes, hunting for food, making fire and learning how to dig for water during periods of drought. Skills that are present today with our San team at Tuskers.
Armed with this arsenal of knowledge, the friendly locals at Tuskers love nothing better than to share their knowledge of the natural world with passionate guests. While Teagan Cunniffe was on assignment at Tuskers, she learnt plenty of useful skills from the locals when she went bush tracking.
We don’t want to delve too much into what you might learn from your Bushman experience at Tuskers, but here are a few examples of how the San people profit from nature.
- During the drier winter season, groups would erect structures close to waterholes. These structures were more permanent than their summer shelters, because they’d return to these spots during winter.
- The women foraged for berries and edible plants, while the men hunted for meat. Both men and women were treated as equals.
- Ostrich eggs were eaten and the empty shells used to collect and store water.
- It’s quite common to dig down deep for water roots and squeeze out the water.
- Some Bushmen communities use the toxins in beetle larvae to coat the tips of their arrow for hunting.