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San (Bushmen)

The San (Bushmen) people are found in the Northern Cape in South Africa and parts of Botswana, Namibia and even southern Angola. They are one of 14 known remaining “ancestral population clusters” (to whom all known modern humans genetically relate).

The southern group living in the Kalahari is Khomani San and is the last remnant of the extensive indigenous San of South Africa.

In the last century many of the San were dispossessed of land or had their movement as hunter-gatherers curtailed by modern borders and the proclamation of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (today’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park). However, in 1995 they lodged a claim for the restituation of land within the Park.

As a result, the San community was awarded a number of farms in the Mier municipal area (just south of the park) as well as 28 0000 hectares of land within the southern area of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. This is known as the Heritage Park and members of the SANParks, Khomani San and Mier communities jointly manage it.

The Living Museum within the Park is an open-air museum where guests can learn about the traditional culture and original way that the San people lived. They can also participate by trying to shoot an arrow, take part in a craft of play a traditional game. Nature walks and medicinal plant tours are offered.

Hunting with a bow and arrow, which has been a way of life for Bushmen for thousands of years, is a dying art due to the restricted access to traditional hunting grounds, new laws and a change in culture. Although hunting has never been seen as a sport by the San but rather a key elemet in their survival, currently it is possible to undertake a hunt with experienced San hunters, on the farm Erin or in the traditional conservation area adjacent to the park.

A Veld school (bush school) was established by Oupa Dawid Kruiper as a means of ensuring that indigenous knowledge and skills are transferred to the younger generations. Deep within the dunes of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the pupils of this school are taught in the traditional manner and environment.

As the San people integrate with modern society, they take pride in sharing their skill as crafts people by producing articles such as beads made from ostrich shell, skin and leather bags, paintings, walking sticks and bone pipes to sell.

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