A selected Khomani San video:
Ms Helena (Luce) Steenkamp, Mr Jacobus (Blade) Wiitbooi, Mrs Phillipa Holden
The ‡Khomani San (Bushmen) are descendants of southern Africa and the world’s first people. After many decades of genocide, denigration and neglect, the people finally regained ownership of and access to parts of their ancestral land in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, after a democratic government came into power in South Africa in 1994. Their goals are to manage and develop their ancestral land in a manner that enables the people to maintain ancient knowledge, customs and values in a modern system, whilst ensuring that the objectives of biodiversity conservation are achieved. In pursuit of this, the people have developed a ‘veld’ (bush) school on their land in the Park, where elders engage with youth and convey matters of importance, without ‘outside’ intervention. Younger members have been trained as rangers and use cybertracker/GPS technology to implement the people’s own monitoring system to ensure sustainable harvesting of plant and animal species of importance. A portion of the returned land outside of the proclaimed Park has been developed as a commercial game ranch, where hunting experiences are provided to fee-paying clients, in order to generate income and employment for members of the community, etc. The co-management of the Heritage Park, development of hunting and ecotourism ventures, and efforts to preserve and pass on ancient knowledge, are described and shared.
Helena (Luce) Steenkamp
Luce is a ‡Khomani descendent, living and working close to the place of her birth in the Northern Cape of South Africa. She was chosen by the community to assist in the establishment of the Bushman Council (Khomani San Park & Traditional Committee) office in 2009, and has managed its affairs for the last three years. Luce administers various initiatives, including the veld (bush) school where traditional knowledge is passed on from the elders to younger generations, the community’s ecotourism ventures, training and capacity building programmes, as well as managing the Bushman Council’s finances. Luce also provides administrative support to the Joint Management Board of the !Ai !Hae Kalahari Heritage Park.
Jacobus (Blade) Wiitbooi
Blade is a ‡Khomani descendent, living and working close to the place of his birth in the Northern Cape of South Africa. Blade is currently the head ranger for the community owned game ranch Erin, where he oversees a team of field rangers responsible for wildlife and infrastructure management on the farm. He is also the hunt master for the farm, guiding commercial hunting activities that earn an income for the community. Blade is an accomplished traditional craftsman and has recently been involved in the design of a new limited edition gold coin for the South African Mint, depicting Kalahari creatures.
Phillipa is a freelance ecologist working in the sphere of protected area planning and management, biodiversity conservation, NRM, land use planning and rural development, with a keen focus on the role and rights of local and indigenous communities, customary and traditional management systems and the retention of indigenous knowledge. Phillipa has a strong sense of environmental and social justice. She has worked with the ‡Khomani since 1998, providing technical guidance and support on a spread of advocacy, land use, developmental and social issues. Phillipa studied at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and holds an MSc in Quantitative Conservation Biology. She is a member of the IUCN: WCPA and TILCEPA.