While in the small town of Ghanzi, Botswana, photographer Chanel Sophia Oosthuizen had the opportunity to meet with a group of traditional Bushmen. She observed their peaceful lifestyle and semi-nomadic ways with the help of guide named Robert, who was himself a descendant of the Bushmen and a dedicated advocate of their culture. She also became aware of their hardships.
The unavoidable increase in tourism, governmental pressures and skewed presentations of Bushmen life in the mainstream media have all taken their toll on this old culture and in certain cases, elements of their lifestyle has been corrupted. One particular tribe in Gope, Botswana were forced from their ancestral homes when diamonds were discovered beneath the land. Forced into resettlement camps outside the reserve and unable to hunt or access their water supplies, the Bushmen of Gope now rely on government handouts and many suffer from depression and alcoholism. Other tribes in other areas have been relocated to make way for high-end Safari camps.
Oosthuizen believes that the peaceful Bushmen culture has a lot to teach us and should be preserved. There are 100 000 Bushmen in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Angola. They are the indigenous people of southern Africa, and have lived there for tens of thousands of years. The tribes are known for their deep connection to the land and their immense knowledge and understanding of the natural world, with which they have managed to maintain a gentle balance for thousands of years.
Oosthuizen's debut photo exhibition is a tribute to the Bushmen and to the guides who helped her get to know their way of life. It also aims to raise awareness for the charity Survival International, which helps tribal peoples all around the world fight for their rights.
To see the full exhibition visit Spin Street House.