Young San (Khwe) Cultural Group

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The Young San Cultural Group of Omega, Namibia was created in 2005 out of the need to keep the Traditional San Cultural Way alive. During the set up of the National Park, the Khwe tribe’s culture was somewhat impacted when they had to stop some traditional practices such as hunting.

The concept of  Khwe Cultural Group was to instill the cultural and traditional aspects of life to the younger generations and to remind them of their roots. At the moment the group is involved primarily at singing and dancing where they perform a mixture of  traditional or bring a new edge to the  ‘traditional’ songs. This has also given room to the younger members to explore their creative side and express themselves by composing their own songs.

The Young Khwe Cultural Group consists of members ranging from 9 to 16 years of age. They are the second generation of Khwe youth to go through this project. An important goal for the group is to connect the young Khwe with the elders. The elders are of the last generation to have lived the ‘Traditional Way’. The elders will share how they lead their lives and would also infuse advice through storytelling. This is to ensure that the knowledge of the Khwe Traditions will not be forgotten.
Another underlying goal of forming this group is to give young Khwe an outlet and provide activities to combat the problems of alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy within the community. These are just some of the challenges that young Khwe face today. Boredom is also often related as to how the young Khwe turn to alcoholism and teenage pregnancy.

The village of Omega where the group is based is located 70 kilometers from any semblance of a town and activities that other ‘city youth’ have access to. One of our main strategies to overcome boredom is to take the group out on excursions to allow them the opportunity for new experiences which will broaden their knowledge and hopefully be a source of motivation for the youth to make better life choices. The excursions are not only geared towards a trip away from the village, but are also tied to performing their Khwe Culture in other areas within Namibia. It is not only to promote the culture but also to bring recognition to the Khwe – San residing in Namibia.

Some of the future plans for the group is to develop a traditional Khwe San homestead area which will be used as a cultural center where visitors may be able to see how the Khwe lived during the ‘Traditional Way’. It will also be a place where the elders can connect back to how they used to lead their lives during younger days. This will surely motivate them to share their knowledge with the youth.

Another plan is to expand the area of travel for the group into other further parts of Namibia. The travel areas include destinations such as Etosha, Gobabbis, Tsumkwe and other various areas where other San Tribes are located. The purpose is to provide culture exchange within the several different San Tribes themselves. This will give the Khwe youth the chance to see how their San brethren are living and make attempts that will bridge gaps.

The group has a 100% rate of school participation and to support their education, the plan is to acquire 1 or 2 computers that would allow them to ‘catch up’ with the students attending city schools. The students at city schools have a distinct advantage as they have access to resources that will allow them to thrive within the work force in Namibia. The village students generally lack these resources and the divide between the possibility of taking ‘their place’ as opposed to ‘city youth’ in a new Namibia, is virtually zero. This scenario also results in discouragement and again a tendency to escape to alcoholism

In conclusion, the Young San Cultural Group of Omega was founded for the purpose of keeping ancestral traditions alive even in the modern way of life that the San are struggling to embrace today. This group has given opportunity to the youth to know their roots while they continue to transit smoothly into the big world.

Thank You

David Mushavanga