The Cape Bush Doctors (CBD) are currently trying to raise funds for a project that will use digital technology to record the threatened and vastly disappearing oral traditions of the San healers and ‘shamans’ in their own words.
The Cape Bush Doctors/Kaapse Bossiedokters main objective is the formalization, protection and restitution of Southern African indigenous healers and their unique indigenous knowledge.
They focus on the formalization and protection of Khoi and particularly San medicinal practitioners, their knowledge of indigenous medicinal plants and traditional health and spiritual practices. They also aim to integrate our members into the broader community through their various projects.
Currently, the CBD’s most urgent project for which they are raising funds is called the San Bossiedokter Indigenous Knowledge Ark. This project will use HD audio visual digital technology to record the most threatened and vastly disappearing oral traditions of the remnants of the San healers and ‘shamans’.
The CBD act on a collective sense from their healer members, that there is a great urgency to create an opportunity for their knowledgeable San elders to record and preserve their knowledge, ensuring that it is passed on before it is too late. They therefore aim to facilitate this process and ensure that the archives are easily accessible to their future generations.
The archives will also be made available for scientific research and development, while ensuring that terms and conditions for access, as stipulated by the participants, will channel benefits towards the socio-economic development of the families and communities of the knowledge keepers.
The Org family proudly refer to themselves as the last “Wild Bushmen” of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, a title reserved for the last few indigenous people born and raised in the wilderness according to San customs and traditions.
A brief history of the Org family:
- They were the last Bushman family to leave South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP).
- They lived under the leadership of the patriarch Jan ‡Khomani, son-in-law of the legendary Makai who also fathered Regopstaan Kruiper.
- All Jan ‡Khomani’s children were born in and around the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, in South Africa and Botswana.
- They grew up in the wild as nomadic hunter gatherers.
- They remained inside the KGNP until the early 1970’s before relocating to an area bordering Botswana’s GNP, now known as “‡Khomani se Kop”. They stayed there until the mid 1980’s when they were once again relocated – this time to Struizendam, only a few kilometres from the South Africa/Botswana border and just outside the newly established Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.This brought to an end their age old traditions and in many ways criminalising their cultural practices.
- Their lives were thrown into turmoil as they struggled to adapt to a modern society that had them pinned down in one place, separated from nature and their traditional nomadic existence of following the rain and animals. They had to become economically active in a remote area that has very little infrastructure, resources or opportunities.
- Due to the geographic separation from the Kruiper side of the family, which had remained in South Africa after leaving the KGNP, they have been excluded from work opportunities and most benefits resulting from the ‡Khomani San Land Claim.
What makes this family so unique?
- They have first-hand experience of growing up and living sustainably in the wilderness.
- They have an unique knowledge of the indigenous veld of the Kalahari.
- Their knowledge of traditional San medicinal plants and their uses is part of an oral tradition that has been passed down to them through the generations.
- Jan is widely considered to be one of the Last Bushman Shaman.
- They have a collective memory of the oral traditions and storytelling by their elders.
- They have a deep understanding of the traditional ways of Bushmen and their spiritual relationship with Nature – being part of Nature and not in conflict with it.
- Only 5 of Jan ‡Khomani’s children are still alive today.
- Their stories, experiences and medicinal veld knowledge are still unrecorded.
- Due to the harshness of their environment and abject poverty they live in, the looming extinction of their traditional culture is a reality they have to face daily.
- When these last remaining “Wild” Bushmen die their unique knowledge and wisdom will disappear with them.
- They know the true value of their knowledge and culture and wish to preserve it from extinction.