Bushman Art Rocks!
The Bushman people were the original inhabitants of much of southern Africa before the southward Bantu expansion — coming down the east and west coasts of Africa — and later European colonization. They have nearly all been exterminated over the past two centuries by genocide and the loss of land rights. The detailed paintings they left behind are crucial to understanding southern Africa’s history (maybe even the history of the human race). In the past these rock paintings were misinterpreted as merely something the Bushman would do out of boredom, luckily with new research we are finally beginning to unravel some of the cultural significance and meaning of these paintings.
There are over 500 Rock Art paintings found in the Uniondale area ranging from 1500 to 6000 years old. The rock art of this region has a very deep spiritual dimension. We now know that the paintings were done by their spiritual leader, the Shaman, who was believed could foresee the future, cure the sick, make rain and even bring success to the hunting expedition. They would have a feast with communal dancing, in which the shaman would enter a “trans”, where he would be given advice by a “guardian spirit” how to cure the sick or where to hunt. The Shaman would then draw what he saw while he was in this state.
Studies are now being done to find the connection between the Bushman, the Inuit (Eskimos), the Red Indians and the Australian Aborigines who all left us these remarkable drawings. They all lived more or less at the same time, all used the same rituals of “trance-dances”, all had Spiritual Leaders (or Shamans) who did drawings of what was seen while in this altered state of consciousness. How could these four diverse cultures, living worlds apart, all be using the same rituals and methods? Even more bizarre is how shockingly similar some of these drawings are!
Join us on a journey to this fascinating world, see the art from these ancient cultures around the world, explore the Bushman caves with us and learn more about where the Bushman came from, how they survived in the caves, their hunting methods and off course the importance of the Shaman.
(Submitted by Corne Edwards, Mountain Pastures Game Reserve August 2009)