|Title||Ancient Khoisan (San) Tribe|
|Date released (year)||2012|
|Keywords/tags||Land and people|
|Link to film||http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1NamQj-E9I
|Synopsis||Independent Documentary “Bushman’s Secret” By Rehad Desai.
Rehad Desai travels to the Kalahari to investigate global interest in ancient Bushmen knowledge, he meets Jan van der Westhuizen, a fascinating Khomani San traditional healer. Jan’s struggle to live close to nature is hampered by centuries of colonial exploitation of the San Bushmen and of their land. Unable to survive as they once did hunting and gathering, the Khomani now live in a state of poverty that threatens to see the last of this community forever.
One plant could make all the difference. Hoodia, a cactus used by Bushmen for centuries, has caught the attention of a giant pharmaceutical company. It now stands to decide the fate of the Khomani San.
Bushman’s Secret features breathtaking footage of the Kalahari landscape, and exposes us to a world where modernity collides with ancient ways, at a time when each has, strangely, come to rely on the other.
Evicted from their ancestral lands, forced to abandon their native languages, and left to fend for themselves in a state of brutal poverty on the fringes of South African society, the Bushmen now face further exploitation, since the hoodia cactus (a source of food and medicinal healing) is being taken from their remaining lands by the conglomerate Unilever for use as a dubious weight loss product (ironically, Unilever also claims to be the “world’s largest ice cream manufacturer,” surely a contributing factor to obesity). Despite an agreement signed with the South African government for profits from the harvesting of hoodia, the Bushmen have yet to enjoy any financial returns. Bushman’s Secret serves up a shameful indictment of contemporary South African government, which would sooner kowtow to multinational corporate demands than provide basic services for its own people. Highly recommended.
|Reviews/discussion||Oppression of Khoikhoi
The hunger for land is a central theme of southern African history from the 17th century onwards. It generated conflict, sparked off wars and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
The first Europeans in southern Africa confined themselves at first to the western part of the region, centring their activities on the Cape of Good Hope. Here the Dutch East India Company was established in 1652. Gradually the Dutch colony expanded north and east, displacing, in the first instance, the oldest known inhabitants of this region, the Khoikhoi (referred to by the Dutch as ‘hottentots’).
The Khoikhoi were part of a larger group called the Khoisan, spread across southern Africa, sharing much of the same language. The San branch were hunter gatherers; the Khoikhoi were herdsmen. As a whole, the Khoisan needed large amounts of land in order to hunt and graze their cattle. The Dutch refused to recognise their traditional grazing and hunting rights.
The Dutch both stole and bought cattle off the Khoikhoi. In 1659, the Khoikhoi fought the Dutch over grazing land south of able Bay and lost. Soon the Khoikhoi way of life disintegrated.
The Dutch, who came to be known as Afrikaners (as well as Boers, which means farmers) started to expand their activities. They cultivated land and hunted across large distances. Subsequently, they acquired the title of Trekboers, when they embarked on long journeys or treks to get away from British officialdom in the Cape Colony.
The Khoikhoi often ended up as slaves, either working in the Cape Colony, or as farm labourers for the Dutch. The final blow came to them in 1713 when they fell victim to a small pox epidemic brought on a Dutch ship. The descendants of the Khoikhoi and San can be found in the deserts of Botswana and Namibia today.
|Links to other resources||http://khoisan.org
Nancy J. Jacobs (2003) Environment, Power, and Injustice: A South African History, Cambridge university Press.