Eland Experience


One of the first days in Capetown, in the National museum i saw this rock panting by the San people, dating a couple thousand years back.    It was the first thing I saw here that took me off my feet. Even with the obnoxious TV sounds and reflections in the glass i stood there mesmerized for quite some time.  It is still a vivid image in my mind.

The San people have always interested me.  They were traditionally an egalitarian, hunter gatherer society with the one of the highest genetic make-up diversity among human population.  They are one of 14 known population clusters from which all the modern humans have evolved.  I always admired and looked up to that culture.

For completely different reasons we took a trip to a farm in Sutherland, which is an area in the Karoo. Pretty much a desert with a vast open landscape.  There are workers at the farm and some of them were San.  In the 1950s due to the government modernization program the San have been switching to farming.  At the farm they were poor people that seemed to have made a deal with the owner for a piece of land and some pay.  Their houses were just boxes without electricity or water.  As I understood some stayed for generations. They were getting paid a salary above the minimum wage.  On the last day of our stay on Sutherland farm the San worker was skinning the same animal as in the painting.  The farmer shot him for the first time after living for 50 years on the same land.  I guess the Eland never really come to this territory.  I found it odd that it happened the same day we were there.  I guess, I never came to this place either.

I showed the picture of the painting on my iPhone and asked him if it was indeed the same animal.  He reassured me that it was and while turning back to his task he paused for a second. I don’t know what he thought about.  A moment later he went back to work.

Leonid Tsvetkov


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