document | The New Age for the San in Zimbabwe

  • The Tjwa people formally known as Bushmen and various other names including, AbaThwa, aMasili, abaKhwa, are believed to have been the first people to settle to what is known as Zimbabwe today. Most of their drawings depicting their way of life of hunting and gathering can be seen on rocks or caves around the country and most notable the Matobo Hills in Matabeleland South. The arrival of the powerful, armed and militant tribes like the Ndebele and Shona between the 13th and 18th centuries pushed the San people to the drier parts of Matabeleland and subsequently changed their ways of life in the process (Ndlovu, 2013:9). The arrival of the white missionaries in 1890, with their mining and hunting expeditions accelerated the demise of the Tjwa way of life. The expansion of the Ndebele Kingdom to those drier and semi-arid parts of the country after the fall of the Ndebele Kingdom in 1894-6 further reduced the freedom of movement and influence of the San. The San had nowhere to go and had to submit themselves to be slowly but surely assimilated to the Ndebele and Kalanga pattern of life.

    Economically, as part of their survival skills, they practised hunting and gathering, and it was done by both men and women. While men went for hunting, women would also go for fishing and gathering fruits. The establishment of Parks, such as the Wankie Game Reserve now Hwange National Park in 1928 further reduced hunting and gathering space for the San and pushed them to the outer edges of the country, where they now live as landless, impoverished citizens. The assimilation of the San has seen a drastic change in their social way of life. This has meant that they have lost most of their values and identity, most notable their language and culture. The San or Tshwa or Tjwa are viewed as troublesome people and are perceived to be primitive, unsophisticated and are resisting change. Unlike any other ethnic group, the Tjwa people had no political structure. It is also only now that the Tjwa people now have leaders; however, their leaders occupy lower positions such as the kraal head.

  • Category: Academic papers
  • Thematic area: Documentation
  • Call topics: Intergenerational transmission
  • Major objective: Thematic areas: Promotion
  • Area of intervention: Growth and development through elaboration of new knowledge