In the presence of Bushmen
While visiting Jacks Camp in Botswana, I had the opportunity to meet the Bushmen of a nearby village. Although I believe that the bushmen lifestyle is fading into the history books and that this meeting was commercialized, I felt a brief connection to the San people of the past. These people were not hired actors, they were Bushmen of the Kalahari, I just wish I could have met them in their village in a more natural way.
Although the interaction was scheduled and I’m sure the events over the next two hours were pre planned, I got a glimpse into the lives of the Bushmen. It was exciting, walking across the salt pan with them, seeing them move with grace. I watched everyone in my group trip over the countless rocks while the San people move over the irregular surface without disturbing a single rock. They didn’t dare trudge over the pan the way we did, they were wearing very simple kudu skin sandals, one kicked rock would cost them a broken toe. We learned about animal tracks, movement and even age from just their tracks.
One of the bushmen I met was Cobra, the famous tracker of Jack Bousfield, who started tracking for Jack when he was a teenager. Cobra now wears western style clothing and he seems to have lost the spark that you see in his eyes, in so many pictures with Jack. I wish I could have met him 20 years ago, before pressures from the outside world pushed in on the San people.
The meeting started out at Jack’s Camp where roughly a dozen San people came to meet our group, from there they took us on a short walk across a salt pan to learn of their culture and the local flora and fauna. It was interesting learning from them about tracking animals, how to build a fire, plants used in medicine and a couple games they like to play.
I really enjoyed the time I spend with the Bushmen, my favorite part our time together was when they got together to play a game similar to rock, paper, scissors. That is an oversimplified explanation but you would have to see it to understand. They had a very rhythmic tune they sang while they threw hand and arm gestures. They laughed and played, kicking up the dusty pan they sat upon, never once looking up towards the tourists. They were playing a game they loved and they were happy in the moment.
The San people are beautiful, happy people.