The San ‘Bushmen’ also known as Khwe, Sho, and Basarwa are the oldest inhabitants of southern Africa, where they have lived for at least 20,000 years. They are hunter-gatherer peoples of southern Africa. Genetic evidence also suggests the San Bushmen are one of the oldest peoples in the world. Their home is in the vast expanse of the Kalahari desert.
Independent Documentary “Bushman’s Secret” By Rehad Desai. Rehad Desai travels to the Kalahari to investigate global interest in ancient Bushmen knowledge, he meets Jan van der Westhuizen, a fascinating Khomani San traditional healer. Jan’s struggle to live close to nature is hampered by centuries of colonial exploitation of the San Bushmen and of their land. Unable to survive as they once did hunting and gathering, the Khomani now live in a state of poverty that threatens to see the last of this community forever. One plant could make all the difference. Hoodia, a cactus used by Bushmen for centuries, has caught the attention of a giant pharmaceutical company. It now stands to decide the fate of the Khomani San. Bushman’s Secret features breathtaking footage of the Kalahari landscape, and exposes us to a world where modernity collides with ancient ways, at a time when each has, strangely, come to rely on the other. Evicted from their ancestral lands, forced to abandon their native languages, and left to fend for themselves in a state of brutal poverty on the fringes of South African society, the Bushmen now face further exploitation, since the hoodia cactus (a source of food and medicinal healing) is being taken from their remaining lands by the conglomerate Unilever for use as a dubious weight loss product (ironically, Unilever also claims to be the “world’s largest ice cream manufacturer,” surely a contributing factor to obesity). Despite an agreement signed with the South African government for profits from the harvesting of hoodia, the Bushmen have yet to enjoy any financial returns. Bushman’s Secret serves up a shameful indictment of contemporary South African government, which would sooner kowtow to multinational corporate demands than provide basic services for its own people.