In the Gods Must Me Crazy from Jamie Uys, Nǃxau a real life bushman from Namibia, played the lead and was a member of the San, also known as Bushmen. You might have encountered a real life Bushmen on your way to the Kgalagadi without knowing it. South Africa’s oldest inhabitants reside in the Askham, Mier Municipality in the Kalahari.
The Khomani San are truly the oldest inhabitants of Southern Africa where they have lived for at least 20 000 years. There are some 80,000 San scattered across Namibia, Botswana, Angola and South Africa. They were dispossessed of their lands by white settlers and black tribes who steadily pushed southwards from central Africa. In 1994 they won an historic land claim under the leadership of Dawid Kruiper. This book takes you on a 2 year journey which started when I took my photography students (2014) on a field trip to the Kalahari, Speedweek at Hakskeenpan.
As a social documentary photographer I am drawn to projects that involve different cultures and traditions. I received a grant from ANFASA (Academic and Non Fiction Authors Association of South Africa) which is sponsored by the Norwegian Government. The grant helps to get the project started and only covers part of the cost. The project is in collaboration with the San Council and they receive 10% from every book that gets sold.
The Khomani San live in very harsh conditions in the Kalahari and rain is not a given during summer and they do not get enough social support from the government and they rely on their traditions and heritage to teach the young ones the skills of the elders. These are stories of hope, progress and preserving the ancient traditions for their children, who do not know the San culture. Ancient languages that are only spoken by a few and the main language is Afrikaans. Although all interviews are in Afrikaans, the book is in English due to the grant. The stories interact with the infamous Kruiper family, a 90 dune ride in the Kgalagadi to !Xaus Lodge which is run by San Parks for the community. There are a cultural village at !Xaus lodge and you can go on a walk with a San guide in the red Kalahari dunes. BUT you do not have to go to !Xaus to walk with a Bushman guide, you can do this at Askham, Witdraai region or at Boesmansrus. All of this is covered in the book.
As a full time lecturer in Photography, I had to choose specific times during the 2 year period to get access to the Park, set up interviews, questionnaires, shooting schedules and driving there and back. Sleeping at one stage in a Kraal on one of the Farms with a full moon and some Blue Wildebeest for company. I also used the opportunity to take my students to walk with a San Bushmen at Erin Game Farm, to learn about their culture.