Our social investment aim is to spread our supportive net wide to contribute where we can to local communities and through encouraging care for our living earth.
We harvest our salt from the Kalahari Desert and perhaps our most poignant responsibility is to the San communities from the Kalahari Desert.
The Khoisan, as they are known today, are one of the most misunderstood and marginalised people in South Africa. The name Khoisan is actually a blended name for two separate groups of people: the Khoikhoi and the San who shared languages and culture, yet had very different ways of living on the land.
The Khoikhoi led a nomadic, pastoral life and were skilled in agriculture, maintaining large herds of cattle. The San were skilled semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, moving seasonally to new regions when water or animals became scarce. The San are considered to be the aboriginal people of South Africa. Their heritage reaches back over 20 000 years and their genetic origins are thought to extend back over one million years. Recent anthropological research suggests that the San are very likely the oldest genetic stock of humanity today.
It is a measure of their marginalisation that these two distinct first people cultures, have had to accept their individual identities being subsumed into one common name: Khoisan.
Originally, the San were people of very few personal possessions; being nomadic meant travelling lightly. They are not governed by any leaders, not even a Chief in the sense understood by other African tribes. One or two related families would live in a loose community and each individual could live as they pleased. If there was a disagreement, the group simply split up peaceably and went their separate ways.
We have much to learn from the original San lifestyle which was inseparably attuned with nature. It could be described as the perfect sustainable and ecologically responsible life-style, producing no waste that couldn’t be immediately subsumed back into the land, and taking from Nature only what was needed, when it was needed in the way of shelter, food, weapons, medicine and clothing.
They were extremely skilled in sourcing food and water from plants in the desert as well as plant medicines and poisons. The San were also well-known for their superb tracking and hunting skills and physical endurance.
Most notable is that the San economy was a gift economy. The San would gift each other regularly, rather than trading, or buying goods and services from each other.
All this changed when the San encountered Western culture.
There is nothing primitive about the original San culture. It has a complex intelligence and understanding of the world that is radically different from any other global culture and how we understand technological development.
If we lose the San language, their stories and culture, we lose a spiritual intelligence and unique contribution to cultural diversity and tolerance of difference in the world.
!Xaus Lodge is 4-star graded and Fair Trade Tourism certified, located in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Born out of the !Ae !Hai Kalahari Heritage Park land claim settlement of 2002, it’s owned by the local ǂKhomani San and Mier communities.
Read more about our ongoing relationship here: www.Xauslodge.co.za/blog/11894
!Xaus Lodge is the winner of the Most Compelling Sustainability Story for the WTM Africa Awards 2020 inaugural African Travel Week Travel & Tourism Awards.
The International Dark Sky Certification campaign led and developed by !Xaus Lodge for the !Ae !Hai Kalahari Heritage Park resulted in the Park’s certification as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary – the only one in Africa.
While the stars are all around at night, keeping perfectly dark skies is increasingly difficult in the world of power generation. The area around !Xaus Lodge has a SQM (Sky Quality Measure) of 21.89 – out of a maximum possible score of 22, making it one of the darkest places on the planet and a highly sought after tourist destination.
We believe in contributing to marginalised communities. A percentage of our monthly turnover is donated to the ǂKhomani San and Mier communities who own !Xaus Lodge helping in a small way to support a new future for the San culture.
We do not have to recreate the past or keep it frozen in time; we do need to acknowledge the past and transform what is good, beautiful and relevant into creating our future.
In Paul John Myburgh’s profound and moving memoir The Bushman Winter Has Come, he reflects on the 7 years he spent living with ‘the last of the first people’, the /Gwikwe Bushmen. He says; ‘What is important is that we remember, that we honour that which came before us, that we take forward the knowledge…so we might live and go forward with a clear vision of who we can be.’
Myburgh’s book can be purchased online here.
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