eyes4earth joined the Language of the Wilderness Foundation Trust (LOWFT) in their eco-heritage education programme titled, ‘How the elephant became a rain animal’. The day-trip took place on the Xkagodisan Farm near Joubertina in the Baviaanskloof Mega-Reserve and gave youth the chance to connect with their local landscape and heritage.
Rodger and Natasja (from LOTWFT) facilitated the day which was based around a largely unknown San Bushman story interpretation. The story of how the elephant became a rain animal was animatedly told to the teenagers in the shade of a Bushman cave with well-preserved paintings and signs of past habitation.
This story set the scene. For the rest of the day, the teenage group explored the wilderness and visited sites and landforms which actually featured in the story: the tortoise head, the rain cave and the majestic elephant amphitheatre. These places are both impressive and steeped in an ‘overwhelming aesthetic aura’ (as Rodger describes it). Natasja interprets the Bushmen paintings for the group and leaves participants wondering about the past purposes, activities and events which have transpired here.
At the end of the day, participants were asked about their experiences and what they remember most. It’s never easy to get teens to talk but amidst the jokes (probably making a bit of self-consciousness), it was clear that, for a group that doesn’t get much exposure to nature in everyday township life, the opportunity to venture out and learn was appreciated. It is hoped that the day was a small step in helping the youth awaken an interest in KhoiSan life, foster pride in their heritage and engender respect for their environment with which the KhoiSan had an intimate relationship with. The next trip might take a closer look at how the relentless spread of black wattle in the area may threaten this rich cultural heritage and the ‘aesthetic aura’ which this remarkable landscape holds (or once held?).