Who Are the SAN?

In their mythology, God created all of southern Africa for the San (Bushman).

Then he created the San, then he created the San's animals for and even from the San. God left them to guard it all, which they did for eons, until we more 'advanced' people arrived. These are the world's oldest surviving pragmatic environmentalists.


What's His Future With Out Land?


The San are some of the last nomadic hunter-gatherers on earth. We have too soon forgotten that 10,000 years ago, before the start of the Agricultural (or Neolithic) Revolution, all humans were hunter-gatherers. Then, the population of our earth was a mere 10 million! The Agriculture Revolution entailed humans first discovering or being introduced to the technology of domesticating plants and /or animals. A profound results was mankind becoming more sedentary vs. nomadic. This led to the significant increase in our population growth. We reached 250 million by the birth of Christ, 2 billion by 1930, and near 6 billion today. It is estimated that world population will double to 11 billion by about 2020! As we post-Agricultural Revolution humans multiplied we took the land from the nomadic family clans of hunter-gatherers. It happened again and again; Africa, North and South America, Australia, in recent centuries, earlier in Europe and Asia.

At the start of the Agricultural Revolution, the San had all of Africa up to the southern edge of the Sahara, except for the Pygmies occupying what is now the Congo (old Belgian Congo, then Zaire), and the Bantu blacks having only westernmost west Africa (their black cousins the Nilo-Saharans were then in the eastern Sahara). With the belated arrival of the Agricultural Revolution technology south of the Sahara, the blacks expanded East across Africa, and as land demands increased with population growth, south, along with the Nilo-Saharans.

The majority of the San were 'ethnically cleansed' for their land in South Africa by the Dutch who landed in 1652, invading from the south, and by the Zulus and other blacks migrating from the north. By the time of Custer's last stand (1876), no later than Wounded Knee (1890), the last of the San had been exterminated in South Africa, leaving only their haunting rock paintings, and a few of their genes in the South African 'coloureds'.


The 'last' of the San survived into the 20th century only in the world's fourth largest desert, the Kalahari (Botswana, Namibia), despite a bounty on their heads into the early 1900's. This was simply because it was an inhospitable thorn-and-thirst land avoided by all others. The San learned to live there despite there being no surface water. The 70,000 or so Kalahari San that survive today are in Botswana (40,000), Namibia (30,000), and a few in Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia. They are landless (except 2,000 in Namibia's Bushmanland), facing despair and 'death by dispossession'.


Why Should We Care?

Scientists have convincingly proved that the cradle of man is Africa.

Africa is where we ALL came from either in dim prehistory, or more recently. UC Berkeley in 1989 through DNA blood sample 'fingerprinting' indicated that the San are the oldest survivors on mankind's family tree. Thus whether we are black, white, red or yellow, the San can be likened to our oldest living relatives. But out of sight, out of mind in the remote Kalahari, the last kind gentle San are quietly dying out while the media et al focus on rain forests, global warming, spotted owls, snail darters.


Bare But For An Ostrich Egg Chip Necklace,
The Kalahari Is His Sand Box, A Tasama Melon His Only Toy.

The San's demise equates to the ecological destruction of an important ecosystem, the fragile Kalahari, where the San and his God-given animals lived happily since before the dawn of time. Environmentalism is (was) their very religion and universal occupation. They were not afflicted with the post-Agricultural Revolution human vices of MATERIALISM and GREED.


What's the Problem?

Environmentalists recently pressured their government to eject the San from their only dedicated land in Botswana, a 32,000 square mile reserve specifically created for them in 1961 by the British leading up to Botswana's independence in 1966.

Worse, they have lost their land outside the reserves to environmentally destructive cattle. This is encouraged by the World Bank but especially by the European Community (EC) thru their 'sweetheart' beef contract with Botswana. Texas sized Botswana is 80% desert unfit for domestic cattle. Yet it has one of the highest ratios of cattle per capita in the world. The recently arrived Tswana who now rule the country are historically cattle herders. Bride prices in Botswana are in head of cattle, not the local currency. Unfortunately it is a few high government officials who line their pockets from the beef subsidies.


Draped Game Skin Kaross Carries
Gnu Tail Trademark As Clan Gathers 'Veld' Food.
San Find Life Sustaning Tasana Melons
Only Far Removed From Destructive Cattle.


But then comes the final 'nail-to-the-coffin'. To protect the beef they don't need (Europe exports a surplus of beef) from the possibility of importing to Europe the wild game's hoof-and-mouth disease, the EC insists on the installation of hundreds of kilometers of cordon fences that kill tens of thousands of migrating animals, especially when driven by the all too frequent Kalahari droughts.

Botswana's wildebeast (Gnu) population is estimated to have declined from 500,000 to 3,000 in recent years due to the cardon fences. Greenpeace has labeled all this 'Financing Ecological Destruction'. If there is not a drastic change, the world faces a dust bowl Kalahari, strewn with the bleaching bones of the recently introduced cattle, the displaced wild game that survived there for eons, and the San themselves, mankind's oldest living legacy.


The Clans 'Supermarket' Is The Wide Open Bush.

Please note that SAVESAN's thrust is in Botswana where the problem is most acute. The scope of SAVESAN's 'action' does however include Namibian and all other San.


Is There a Solution?


Botswana is the size of Texas, but with a population of only 1.3 million compared to Texas with 18 million. 

Botswana is lucky to have first diamonds then copper-nickel as their first two foreign exchange producers (making it recently the second richest per capita country in Africa). Beef comes in third at only an insignificant 4.5 % of the top three. Tourism is fourth but rising and the real future with some 17% of Botswana (the country), set aside in reserves. This includes the Okavanga Delta, the largest inland delta in the world, teeming with exotic African game. and Chobe where President Clinton visited for a safari on his early 1998 African trip.

Once having it all, the San warrant some of their land back, along with self determination. But their government unfortunately looks down on them as 'pests', and 'stone age embarrassment'. It is suicidally shortsighted to destroy the Kalahari by introducing cattle in light of Botswana's other export 'assets'.

If SAVESAN were 'king for a day', we would:

  1. Get the EC and World Bank to stop the misguided and counterproductive beef subsidies.

  2. Pull the environmentally destructive cattle back out of the desert 80% of Botswana.

  3. Remove the killer 'cordon fences'.

  4. Reintroduce the 'environmentally friendly' wild game into the Kalahari regions.

  5. Harvest some of the game (redundant males) in a sustained yield operation, as in now being done by Botswana's neighbors, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and in Kenya, reversing environmental decline and the extinction of wild game.

  6. Let the Bushman be involved in the remote area 'game ranching'


Setting A Snare,

Living In Tune With Nature.

But simultaneously rededicate significant 'useless' Kalahari land to the San, giving them a viable choice between:

a) staying nomadic, or

b) transition into a more sedentary 'mixed economy' around well spaced 'family clan' wells with some planting, game farming, hunting part time, or

c) take those who would so chose to town and teach then Setswana and English, transition them into the 'modern world', to act as spokesmen for their own people.

Give the San real viable choices. Let them decide their own fate.

What will cause this to happen? The problem becoming exposed; the outcry from environmentalists, humanitarians, and the general public influencing drastic change in the current polices inside and outside of the Kalahari affecting the San and the ecosystem. In a complete turnaround, the Australian Aborigines reacquired land through the political process in 1972, after almost two centuries of genocide then neglect. The Inuit (Eskimos to laymen) were belatedly given 20% of Canada in 1990. It can happen!


How is Save the Kalahari San Involved?

A visit to the remote Kalahari in 1998 led to the author-founder of SAVESAN writing "BUSH FOR THE BUSHMAN", Need "THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY" People Die?, a sequel to the movie telling the rest of the story of the San's plight. This was after sixteen years in Africa in a 35 year engineering-construction career which involved living and working on every continent but Antarctica.

The book was first available in August of 1992. By year end 1993, 290 media appearances /events had occurred to focus attention on the San's dire situation, all financed privately by the author as the Bushman's 'ghostwriter'. This included attending the Rio 'Earth Summit' and to a recent first ever convention in Botswana to focus on the 'Bushman problem'. It included appearances on CNN's International Hour, Monitor Radio International, and articles in major newspapers across America (and numerous other radio and TV slots).

SAVESAN's aim is to get the world's attention and effect a turn around like 'GORILLAS IN THE MIST' did for the mountain gorilla in Rwanda, or 'THE SERENGETI SHALL NOT DIE' did for the creation of that world class Tanzanian Wildlife Refuge.

SAVESAN is a 'low-overhead-action-orientated' effort on the SANS's behalf. To Save the San and their Kalahari habitat is no small order, but where there is a will there is a way.


Book sales go 100% to SAVESAN activities.  Send your tax deductible donations to be passed on to finance aid to the beleaguered San.