A little more love for the San community

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The Creative Arts and Education Development Association (CAEDA) is currently compiling a comprehensive documentary concerning the lives of the San people known as “bushmen” or “Amasili” who are found in Tsholotsho and other parts of the country amid revelations the community faces extinction and serious challenges, some of them life-threatening.

An estimated population of about 1 700 San is found in Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North alone and other sizeable numbers are found in the Plumtree area of Matabeleland South. The San population is estimated to be over 2 500 across the country.

CAEDA director Davy Ndlovu told NewsDay many people just take the San community as non-existent and mere history. He said his organisation wants to pull them from the depths of obscurity so that they get the assistance they need in the advancement of their livelihood.

Ndlovu said Tsholotsho has San families in wards 1, 2, 7, 8 and 10. For thousands of years San people have lived on hunting and gathering. Game meat and fruits were their staple food.

Starvation is stalking the San community such that last year the CAEDA crew which visited the area found an elderly woman unable to get up because she was complaining of hunger.

Ndlovu said they later gave her something to eat and that is when she managed to tell them of the crisis they were facing as San people in the area.

Ndlovu said what makes the lives of the San difficult were the current laws which prohibit any illegal hunting of animals yet that was their only source of livelihood.

“These people have never practiced crop farming and they find it difficult to adapt to the current trends. They lack knowledge on how to conduct farming that means they need government’s intervention to assist them through resources and knowledge so that they learn how to farm,” said Ndlovu.

The San community faces a serious educational challenge with very low levels of literacy rates. Most children of the San end up dropping out of school due to shortage of funds since most of the parents are not working and have no sources of income.

“The San and their culture in Zimbabwe are real. But it is sad that this is the community which even the government has neglected or sidelined since we got independence in 1980. As CAEDA, we have started compiling a documentary concerning the San community,” said Ndlovu.

“This will enable us to expose the real existence of the San people in Zimbabwe and also show the people that they are not just an imagination.”

He said the documentary would be guided by his book which he wrote in 2010 after gathering some facts about the lives, challenges and culture of the San people. His book is titled, Tsholotsho-Holoyahou Tsorozho — A Journey Into the San, Dlamini and Surrounding Communities.

Ndlovu said the documentary would also expose the challenges the San people face direct from the community itself being captured showing how their lives are affected.

Ndlovu said the San were complaining that since independence in 1980 they had never been given any recognition as a human community but had been sidelined in everything.

Last year in March CAEDA organised a charity walk with the aim of raising funds for the San community in Tsholotsho. The organisation is assisting the San people to pool resources for the construction of their homesteads.

Ndlovu said CAEDA established through its research that the San people had several challenges such as, lack of material possession e.g. cattle, goats, donkeys and ploughs, poor homesteads, no sources of income, no clean water sources and no birth registration documents.

“We are doing a documentary on these people as a way of enlightening many people who doubt that these people exist. This is meant to attract well-wishers and government to chip in and assist these people,” said Ndlovu.

He said the process was now at an advanced stage and the documentary would be ready soon.