Our friend Clare who is actively involved with the well being of the Bushmen community in the Kalahari region of South Africa, approached Audrey and I to see if we could arrange for a group of Bushmen representatives to meet Vuzamazulu Credo Mutwa the renowned spiritual leader of the Zulu people and High Sanusi. Clare shared her deep concerns about what was happening to the Bushmen. Her perception is that the Bushmen are fast losing their connectedness with spirit and are in need of help to stop the downward spiral brought about by alcohol abuse and the discontinuance of their traditional sacred ways.
Having met Credo during a previous tour with us, Clare felt that he could motivate the Bushmen people to return to these traditional ways. As we have a very close connection with both Credo and the Bushmen of the Kalahari, we undertook to try and arrange this meeting.
When I first approached Credo about it he was immediately enthusiastic as most of his immense knowledge as a Sanusi originates from the wisdom of the Bushmen people. He in fact has a Bushmen blood connection and the grandmother of Virginia, his chief Sangoma assistant, was a full San Bushman. We arranged for a small contingent of respected Bushmen to visit Credo for a few days in October 2003. Audrey and I travelled from Cape Town, stopping en route to visit the Great Mother Cave, a sacred site used by many Sangoma’s (Shaman) and their pupils. Clare drove the Bushmen contingent of Jan, Izaak, Lace, Susanna, Anoret and her baby, from the Kalahari and we all stayed with Credo in the Valley of the Queens in Magaliesburg.
The timing of the visit coincided with the prominence of the Red Planet (Mars) and Credo advised that this was an auspicious occasion and boded well for a transformation to take place. In preparation for the visit, Credo fashioned a beautiful Staff for the Bushmen, the handle of which depicted an Eland, the sacred animal of the San Bushmen, plus some other sacred artifacts fixed to the handle with copper wire. He also painted an Ostrich Egg and made other paintings as gifts.
The first ceremony with Virginia took place in the traditional healing village next to Credo’s home while subsequent ceremonies were held inside Credo’s home.
Significantly, the main prayer ritual, took place on 10 October 2003, full moon and the day that Credo annually lights 7 candles in sacred ceremony. Credo and Virginia were noticeably enthusiastic throughout the whole time the Bushmen were there. It was great to see him so happy. Credo told them many stories of his experiences and connections with the Bushmen people and implored them to resume there sacred dancing.
He asked Jan, the eldest Bushman present, what his name was. When Jan told him he said – no I want your Bushman name. Jan said he did not have one as they mostly used Afrikaans language as their native tongue now. Credo said I have a name for you – it is Jantjie Kohoi. (Pronounced Koo). We were later to understand the significance of this name.
Credo also gave Jan an ancient Bushman Bag he had received 30 years before from an old Bushman healer. On it was a map depicted by tiny rows of shells. Credo said the old Bushman had told him that the map shows the way to where his other Bushmen relatives live throughout South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. While it looked indecipherable to us, Jan knew immediately how to interpret the map on the bag, showing us Twee Riveren where he lived. Credo said it was time for the bag to return to the Bushmen.
Coincidentally, and unbeknown to Credo, Jan had spoken to us the previous day of a planned trip to meet Bushmen family in Botswana. The Bushmen feel it is time now for the various groups dotted around southern Africa to unite.
Credo blessed the Bushmen and lit the Lamp of Peace while he and Virginia sang together. The Bushmen asked if they could sing for Credo in their native NAMA tongue and of course he was delighted. It was beautiful and Credo was so enraptured he asked them to sing it again, saying how blessed he was to hear this ancient language in his home. The ritual ended with the Bushmen singing another song for us all and Credo imploring them to write to him to let he and Virginia know how they were doing.
Before leaving, Virginia presented them with traditional herbal treatments for Aids and handed them a Sutherlandia Plant to grow in the Kalahari.
The next evening, Audrey, Clare and I were invited to share in a dinner celebration around an open fire and the Bushmen cooked for us. As we all ate together, Jan shared his dream of the previous evening. He was awoken by his Grandfather who appeared in his dream, calling him by the name given to him by Credo – Jantjie Kohoi. Then he remembered, it was the name that his grandfather had always used for him as a child. Jan had forgotten.
Yet another coincidence occurred when Linda Tucker, author of “The Children of the Sun God”, a book about the White Lions of the Timbavati, paid a visit and was invited to stay with us. Linda was enthralled by Jan’s stories and knowledge shared of his days as a Lion Tracker.
Clare subsequently told us that each of the Bushmen people present were to receive their own personal gifts from this visit to meet with Credo.
The group were reluctant to leave Credo and return home for they knew the hardships that awaited them. Their concerns manifested themselves in a minor breakdown to Clare’s car when the Timing Chain broke. It was clearly a signal for each of them to make their own decisions as to what they wanted to create for themselves in their lives.
During the time with Credo, we heard that there were a group of Bushmen who were staying on a nearby Game Reserve and Clare took the group to meet with them. It was a case too familiar seen in Southern Africa. Bushmen used as exhibits to attract foreign tourists and exploitation at its worst. Two of the Bushmen women and a baby asked to return with the group to the Kalahari so Clare had a full load when she set off the next day.
We also met a wonderful group of African women and one lady from the USA who works with the Nelson Mandela foundation (they were also staying in Magaliesburg). They are now keen to help Clare in putting a case forward for some meaningful assistance with training and care programs in the Kalahari.
Credo’s last request to me was that he would like to pay a visit to the Bushmen in the Kalahari as he felt that he could help heal their leader. We will try to raise funding for this to materialise.