´WE ARE MAKE HISTORY. ONE TRACK AT A TIME
At the beginning of December, we had the privilege to bring the Hai//om and the Ju/´hoansi San people together for a week of tracking training at the Hai//om resettlement farms.
22 Hai//om, men and women joined the tracker training led by /Ui, /Ui, !oma and Dam, the Ju/´hoantracker teachers from the Nanofasa’s Barefoot academy in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy.
They have never met each other before, they speak different languages, but they both understand the language of tracking as well as the same core love for nature, and the same interest in conserving the culture and knowledge that is disappearing.
Day 1: The journey for the 5 tracker teachers started early morning when they left Tsumkwe heading for Etosha where they were told we were going to camp for the entire duration of the workshop. But we had a little surprise awaiting them thanks to Ongava Game reserve who had generously offered accommodation for the tracker team at Anderssons Camp.
When the guys arrived they quickly became the center of attention, to some guests it must have looked like celebrities had just arrived in the way all the staff were flocking around the San trying to get to know them and dance with them. Two Fantas and three cokes later the guys had finally settled in and were enjoying viewing the animals at the waterhole. But for a traditional hunter, watching game for an hour definitely awakened their appetite and food became the next point on these guys’ agenda. But this time they did not have to run, track or dig for it, it was served to them by the friendly staff at Andersson’s camp. They even had to make a choice between lamb or pork. And they laughed and admitted that it’s not often mother nature gives them two options at once. They chewed away at the pork/lamb and pretended it was the fatty zebra meat that they had seen drinking at the waterhole earlier.
After an evening of hunting stories, laughter and conversation we all went to bed excited for what the next day will bring.
Day 2. We woke up with the sun, gathered some coffee and hunted some eggs and beacon from the breakfast buffet, stocking up on energy for the game drive and long day ahead. The amazing guide Shilongo brought us on a game drive to show the guys all the animals on Ongava. The trackers surprised Shilongo with their amazing tracking talents and it did not take long before 10 lions stood before us.
After a morning of observing game and wildlife it was time to head over to the Hai//om resettlement farm and meet the team of tracker students and the old Chief David.
We had initially only asked if there was maybe 5 or 7 people that would be interested in doing a tracking training, but when we arrived there were around 20 Hai//om guys ready and excited to move into the bush.
We set up camp together, cooked for 40 people, told stories around the fire, and slowly but surely the two san groups became more aware of how much they have shared both historically and traditionally without having ever met before. Then the time came for the tracker teachers to share the procedure and program for the tracker training days, and everyone was quiet and listened as Dam shared some of their teaching methods.
Xaga, the San girl travelling with Nanofasa, made sure to make a mention to the old chief of the Hai//om that they must not forget that “San women and men always used to be equal, and that gender equality is something that has been introduced with western system, and that they must please bring some women along for the training tomorrow”
Four Ju/´hoansi men, 20 Hai//om men and 4 Hai//om women standing together strikes you with a moment of wondering whether the sun rises on its own, or if we make the sun rise.
One by one their names were called by the mentors, and each student was tested on several tracks. The sun was burning, the ground dry and hard, but no one gave up, and the Ju/hoansi teachers nurtured and watered the students with knowledge, inspiration and patience. 60 tracks later we called it a day, and it was time to get that pot on the fire, share stories from the day and later announce the 4 best Hai//om trackers that will get the chance to go to Nyae Nyae the land of wild and untamed at the beginning of 2017 to get a proper tracker training.
And the best tracker students of the day were… Drum roll….. 3 guys and one girl.
The teachers Dam, /ui, /ui, éoma thanked their students for a great day, and mentioned that tracking is like dancing and that they must never doubt the fact of having rhythm, but that it does take time, hard work and practice to get the steps and the rhythm to move in harmony. The Hai//om shared their gratitude through a few traditional songs and some dances and then we all allowed the moon to tuck us in for the night.
We woke up feeling grateful for such a successful tracking workshop, but it was time to head east. The Ju/hoansi guys had never been to the park before, and thanks to Mushara Bush camp who offered us accommodation on the other side, we could go for a slow and magical game drive through Etosha national park.
What an adventure! It is not often one can say that one has experienced unity, understanding, inspiration and hope all in 2 days. But we did and for that we are thankful.
Sharing the percpective of the young San girlXaga, who came with us.
Xága Loneli Fernandu feeling thankful.
I am so excited; it will be so weird for my grandma but she will understand. I went for animal tracking ‘training but I didn’t past it so next time. wow, good one. once I will tell her she will go like, what that is why you dont get husband you useless girl….lol I so miss our chat
I really had unforgettable adventure that no other san girls has ever experience. It was so different weird and fun. I went like what? What makes it more interesting and make me proud was our lectures were San people, people from home. They know all animals foot prints. They know everything about the bush. yes most of our people are not advance to technology but we know the nature better than anyone else.
We (San) are not incapable, irresponsible, childish, drunken etc what reports from LAC and other people reports said about us. we are opposite of all that.
I don’t know how to thank NANOFASA especially Aleksandra Orbeck-Nilssen for inviting me to this trip, this was such an adventure for me. We young people of this generation don’t know what we are missing out, what we are forgetting what we are losing. The world want to gain back that. what they have lost but we still have it all.
We are looking so much at the dark side of everything but we don’t see the other side of the darkness. I have learned so much during this trip, I lost so much hope in everything but the light just come and shine on my face.
I am so proud and thankful.