As a result of the community’s general negative attitude towards the San, also known as Bushmen, Ndlovu was totally indifferent until 2010 when he visited Sanqinyama ward, one of the few remote areas in Matabeleland where they are still found.
“My visit to Sanqinyama ward, which is located near the Hwange National Park, was an eye-opener and completely changed my subjective perception about the San people. All that I had ever heard about them was not true. In fact, what I saw during the visit touched and inspired me to fight for the recognition and respect of this tribe which has been marginalised for a very long time,” said Ndlovu in a recent interview with The Zimbabwean.
Although Ndlovu (49) is of the Ndebele tribe, he has married a San woman and says that their union has created a very strong bond between him and her tribe. He works tirelessly to bring to the fore the many challenges facing the San. Since 2010 he has been involved in a series of awareness campaigns meant to highlight the plight of the tribe.
In 2010 he and two members of the tribe, Christopher Dube and Malaki Tshuma, walked for 114 kilometres from Bulawayo to Tsholotsho as part of an ‘Awareness Charity Walk’ remind the authorities about their existence.
“It is sad that 34 years after independence, nothing has been done to modernise the lives of the Bushmen who are traditionally hunter/gatherers. With the current laws prohibiting illegal hunting of wild animals, their lives have been rendered difficult as they have no other means of survival. These people also do not have basic amenities such as schools and clinics,” he said.
Further determined to ensure the improvement of the lives of members of the San tribe, Ndlovu founded the TSORO-O-TSO SAN DEVELOPMENT TRUST (TSDT) in May this year. The name Tsoro-O-tso means rotten tubers and is also the other name for Tsholotsho in San Tshwao language.
The organisation is made up of the San council of elders, a board of trustees and management headed by Ndlovu and its aim is to preserve the San culture and language and to create livelihood programmes for the tribe.
“TSDT has been very vocal on the importance and need to respect the San culture and their Tshwao language. The trust has already come up with a Tshwao syllabus and literature that we would like to be taught to San children in schools. We have also established early childhood development centres in the area in line with this objective,” he said.
TSDT is also involved in reviving the San culture and tradition. They organise cultural camps in the bush where culture is celebrated through song and dance. At these gatherings Bushmen speakers are given the opportunity to teach children the Tshwao language. People also have the opportunity to taste traditional San dishes such as Swi (crushed boiled meat).
An estimated 1,700 San people live in Tsholotsho in Matabeleland North while a significant number are also found in Plumtree. This ancient people are also found in the Kalahari and Namib Deserts of Botswana and Namibia respectively, where they are famed for their historical rock paintings.Post published in: News