On our way up to Namibia we stayed 2 nights at a bush camp an hour from Cape Town. What is special about the camp is that it is not solely for tourism but it is most and foremost an educational center for the San people.
San are the indigenous inhabitants of Southern Africa and as a matter of fact their ancestors were the first men in general; so we all actually originate from them! Unfortunately the San were long time considered even lower as the black people in Southern Africa and have been chased from their territories for the resources in their grounds,especially diamonds in Namibia, or in order to build game parks so tourist can watch animals or hunters can shoot them. The San were relocated and often offered money as compensation but mainly they were forced to fit into our materialistic system when all they really wanted is to live happily the way they used to for hundreds of years: hunting and foraging and living in harmony with nature.
Due to their relocation most San cannot really identify themselves anymore with the region they live in and most of them have lost their heritage, customs and language.
This is why the project of !Khwa ttu (the ! has to be pronounced by clicking your tongue :D) was born. They take small classes of about 12 students from different San tribes in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Angola and they teach them the history of the San and how their ancestors used to live, hunting and gathering plants for food and medicine. They also teach them skills that will help them finding a job later; waiting, being a guide, welcoming tourists or how to work with a PC. They stay for 7 months and then !Khwa ttu tries to help them finding a job, supporting them in the application process. Sometimes students stay longer as trainees or even to work as guides around the natural reserve of the camp.
The centre also features a museum and art gallery where students and tourists alike can learn more about the San people and their history and traditions.
The General Manager Michael is one of the most passionate persons I have ever met and he was super happy to show us around and introduce us to the staff and some of the students.
If you are staying in the area I encourage you to pay them a visit or better stay there (the tourismrevenue covers about 50% of their expenses) as it’s truly an experience different from the usual guest houses, hostels or hotels. By talking a bit longer with Michael he also confirmed us that he’d happily welcome people who’d like to teach a few lessons to his students – maybe one day we will be back to teach some hotel related skills 🙂