Kalahari Cupid & Other Stories From The San

Last updated: Oct 04, 2016

MJ recently stayed at !Khwa ttu San Culture and Education Centre near Yzerfontein. He had a great time learning about San cultures and relaxing at the lovely Bush House.

How An Arrow in the Bum Would Lead to Marriage

What's romantic about getting shot with an arrow in the bum? Well, for some of the San people of Southern Africa it would probably lead to marriage.

If a young San man liked a young San woman he would try and shoot a small arrow into her bum. If he missed, that would be a bad sign, but if he hit then she'd have to decide whether she wanted to marry him. By holding the arrow to her heart, she'd show the man that she was keen. If she wasn't keen, she'd break the arrow as well as his heart.

Heritage is so important. It connects us across thousands of years with the generations that have gone before us. With increasing homogenisation in our modern world, we need to take care of the many rich and beautiful cultures we have. !Khwa ttu is a San cultural centre where San people from around South Africa are able to come and learn about their unique traditions and languages, and then share that with others.

We recently took a trip up to visit !Khwa ttu, which is about 15 minutes from Yzerfontein on the West Coast.

Upon arrival we were met by Michael Daiber, who runs !Khwa ttu and is very passionate about creating a space for the San cultures to thrive and where people can learn about these unique nations. Everyone we met at !Khwa ttu was very friendly and warm, and Michael sat with us for a while telling us all about the history of the San people and how diverse each San nation is.

The San people are the oldest continuous human population on earth and, because they lived in relative isolation for 1000s of years, their lifestyle and language did not change very much. They lived as hunter-gatherers across Southern Africa and it was really only until European settlers arrived that their way of life was threatened.

In South Africa, the San people were tragically killed in large numbers by European settlers with over 200 000 people killed in around 200 years. This forced the San people into more and more remote regions. As time went on, their way of life was almost impossible to continue apart from a few groups in small, inaccessible pockets in the Northern Cape. For example, the !Kung, who lived in an area called Nyae Nyae in the Kalahari, were able to maintain their hunter-gatherer lifestyle due to the difficult terrain to get there.

During Apartheid, race classifications sought to undermine individual cultures and this was most evident for the San people. Once they had been classified as 'coloured', many people lost touch with their San roots. Still today many San people are only discovering the richness of their ancestry.

At !Khwa ttu San people can come together to learn about their language and traditions and continue the customs that have taken place for many generations.

Visitors to !Khwa ttu can go on a guided tour with San people explaining the San way of life including their story-telling, their links with nature, and their culture. Plus, you'll also get to spot some wildlife on the tour which is always exciting.

You can also go mountain biking, which we did and thoroughly enjoyed. The tracks are well maintained and the views beautiful. There are a few tracks to choose from depending on your fitness and experience with bikes to hire from !Khwa ttu. After the ride, you can go to their restaurant to enjoy a lovely meal.

That evening we stayed over in the Bush House, a lovely two-bedroomed house surrounded by quiet and the bush. This self-catering unit is very well-furnished and decorated with a great outdoor shower and bath. There are a few options to choose from at !Khwa ttu, including Bush Tents and a Guest House.

If you're interested in San culture or are just looking for a getaway along the West Coast, I can definitely recommend a visit to !Khwa ttu.

To book accommodation at !Khwa ttu, click here.