Remembering Their Ways
“I tell my children it is important for us to always keep our culture. We are always telling stories about our culture to pass those down to our children and grandchildren and so on, just as our fathers and our grandfathers have passed down to us for generations. Every day we sit around the fire and tell these stories.” - Xhoeta, Bushmen hunter and elder.
For the last 9 years, Dr. Nicole Apelian and Jon Young have been collaborating with this community of San Bushmen in Western Botswana. They have been working on effective strategies in the field of restoring and supporting connection to nature, to self and to other people.
They also support cultural and natural history ecotourism with this community in ways that have caused a re-shifting of cultural identity and confidence due to an increase in pride, value, and self-determination, and keep the lines of intergenerational knowledge transfer flowing in their community.
“I could see that it was very touching for a lot of these [modern] women to be experiencing a village of Bushman of all generations living together... Grandmothers were carrying grandchildren, and all ages were represented and interacting in the kind of familial way that people who are raised in Western society often only experience perhaps a few times a year on holidays when families come together.” - Athena Gam
In Jon’s 36 years of working with cultural mentoring models and Nicole’s 20+ years of working in Botswana, they see the San people as both the ancestors of this modeling and the "grand masters" of connection. In short, the Bushmen know things that we all need to relearn! And fast.
This San community is a mixed language group that has formed an intentional community to avoid various forms of danger to themselves, their children and their culture that they are exposed to in the settlements. They are clear that they wish to have self-determination, to lead cultural and natural history tourism, and to raise their children with their culture. They do this now in their village with the self-facilitated governance structure they have put in place there. This is not possible in the "settlement life" where they cannot practice their culture.
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