Monday, 7 April 2014

The Khwe/!Xho San of Platfontein

Platfontein is a community located in an arid region of the Northern Cape Province, 15km outside the town Kimberley  The community consists of two San tribes, the !Xun and the Khwe who have endure much hardship as the result of being relocated during the 70's from Angola to Schmidsdrift also near Kimberley, and from there to Platfontein. The community of Platfontein also consists of other ethnic groups that complicates the San’s struggle for recognition and self determination. They found themselves between a rock and a hard place so to speak.

Young people are caught up in their struggle to come to terms with their past while at the same time facing integration into a society that do not suit them ideally, or maybe not at all. They have to face abuse, be it when they speak their language or dress in a more traditional manner. This pressure forces young people to fit in rather than to embrace their own culture. Alcohol abuse amongst young people are a growing problem. Teenagers with no job prospects or aspirations turn to alcohol to pass the time. Many spend their days idling and drinking to keep amused. Due to a lack of educational activities many young people are left with little to do. Government social services are inadequate and the quality of housing is substandard. As a result, many houses inside Platfontein are left abandoned. With very few job prospects for young Bushmen, being able to grow and provide for a family is proving harder than ever before. Their situation is not much different from other San communities in Southern Africa.

The photos below are taken from the website of Daniel Cathbert who is a documentary photographer. He managed by his photos to accurately capture the hardship these people are facing on a daily basis. We have also included some of his captions with his photos.

"Teenagers with no job prospects or aspirations turn to alcohol to pass the time. This has led to a heavy drink culture in the youth, with many spending their days idling and drinking to keep amused. ‘Why not, I love being drunk. It’s better than sitting around doing nothing. We have nothing to look forward to’".

Young Khwe Bushmen in Platfontein prefer western fashion for inspiration, over more traditional ways of dressing. Often the abuse they receive as Bushmen, be it when they speak their language or dress in a more traditional manner, pushes the youngsters to fit in rather than embrace their culture.


Teenagers showing how they still try and keep in touch with their past, with a painting done by a friend depicting a more traditional way of Bushman life. ‘We can’t live the old way anymore but having images like this reminds us what our ancestors lived like’

 



“I want to work. I want to see outside of Platfontein but I can’t. I’ve tried to work away but feel the city is too big sometimes. I have my schooling but it is no use.” With very few job prospects for young Bushmen, being able to grow and provide for a family is proving harder than ever before.

1 comment:

  1. Hi I'm trying to get hold of my old friend Simau, a Bushman Cpl who may be living in Platfontein, we were on the border in 1984 - 1985,I was a medic at the time. My cell is 082 7444920 and email is abreakey@webmail.co.za. Any help in locating Simau would be appreciated. Kind regards. Anthony Breakey

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