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Ancient Khoisan (San) Tribe

 

Title Ancient Khoisan (San) Tribe
Director(s) Rehad Desai
Date released (year) 2012
Production company InternalizedConflict
Length 64mins
Location South Africa
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.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1NamQj-E9I

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.

Expansion

 

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’).

Tradition denied

 

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.

Defeat

 

Not wide enough for both of us

“They objected that there was     not enough grass for both their cattle and ours. ‘Are we not right     therefore to prevent you from getting any more cattle? For, if you get many     cattle, you come and occupy our pasture with them, and then say the land is     not wide enough for us both! Who then, with the greatest degree of justice     should give way, the natural owners, or the foreign invader?‘” – Jan van Riebeek     describing the Khoikhoi objections to the Dutch invasion of their pastures,     quoted by Kevin Shillington in History of Africa.

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.

Subjugation

 

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.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/specials/1624_story_of_africa/page23.shtml

Links to other resources http://khoisan.org

 

Nancy J. Jacobs (2003) Environment,   Power, and Injustice: A South African History, Cambridge university Press.

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