More info on San and the region

Who are the San?

The San are some of the earliest inhabitants and the last remaining members of an indigenous hunter-gatherer culture that spread over most of the Southern-African subcontinent. Small groups with distinctly different languages now live in dispersed and isolated locations in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

With an approximate population of 36 000 the San in Namibia make up 1,8% of the national population. Their lack of group organisation, education in their own languages, knowledge of their own human rights and under-representation in local and national decision-making processes, puts them in an extremely vulnerable position.

Who are the Ju/’hoansi (San) Bushmen?

Historically the Ju/‘hoan culture was not based on tribal structures; they had no paramount leader and their ties of kinship were fairly relaxed. They were a loosely-knit kinship culture where decisions were made by universal discussion and agreement was achieved by consensus. Although structures have changed a bit and not all young people participate, most decisions are still make by and for the community as a whole.

Like many indigenous peoples around the world, the Ju/‘hoansi Bushmen are currently experiencing drastic social change, extreme marginalisation and poverty. The Ju/‘hoansi are, however, more dependent on natural resources within their living environment, and still derive much of their livelihood from traditional hunter gathering.  Unlike many other surviving Bushman communities, and partly because they continue to reside in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, the Ju/’hoansi enjoy a hunting concession, which is crucial to the survival of their extremely threatened culture.

Nyae Nyae Conservancy

The conservancy, (9,003 sq/km) located on the western rim of the Kalahari basin, is a vast tract of Kalahari wilderness in north-eastern Namibia, situated south of Khaudum National Park, lying along the western side of the Botswana border. The combined area of Khaudum National Park and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy represents 12,800 square kilometres of free range wilderness.

It is an important region, and represents the last stronghold of 3,000 to 4,000 Ju/’hoansi living on ancestral land with the rights to utilise wildlife and other natural resources. The formation of the conservancy provides a unique opportunity to explore strategies for community upliftment through the sustainable use of natural resources, integrating indigenous knowledge and skills adapted to survive in the Kalahari Desert ecosystem with modern forms of natural resource management.

More information on the San and the region can be found in the Nyae Nyae Village Schools Project Proposal.