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Bushmen of Chrissiesmeer

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The most exciting evidence to emerge lately is that of Lake Bushmen who literally live inside the reed pans or lakes which dot the area. Signs of the construction of a floating platform of reeds on which these Bushmen lived and which have now become small "Islands" are indication of the extent to which the hidden history of these ancient African people is now being unravelled. How they lived in or on the lakes is quite simply an adaptation of an ancient African theme evident throughout the varied histories of Africa's people: survival. How better to protect yourself from an enemy then simply to disappear into the water.

African myths would have stopped any enemy from entering any large body of water. In other words, the platforms were a safe haven for the Bushmen and a place to live where few were prepared to go. The floating platforms consisted of reeds piled on top of each other and these reeds which then grew through the bottom were used to weave a rudimentary type of shelter. These platforms later took root in the bottom of the lake and have subsequently become island where trees have taken root. Minor excavations on one of these islands in Riet Pan between Chrissiemeer and Carolina have revealed a treasure trove of artefacts, arrow tips and large stone used as hearths. One eye witness tells of an expedition to the north of the African continent where game was plentiful and hunting easy during the early portion of the 1830s.

This intrepid hunter reported hearing a high-pitching keening noise and a rhythmic clapping which ended abruptly as he topped the rise overlooking a large lake. Small yellow-skinned people like elves disappeared almost immediately into the water and within seconds all movement in the lake stopped. Reporting to the rest of the expedition, he was laughingly told he had to much African sun and suffered from fever. Later archaeological reports by Murray and Elzabé Schoonraad confirm the existence of these elusive: "Lake Bushmen". On closer inspection on some of the farms around Chrissiemeer one finds a handful of people with distinct Bushman features.

They shyly inform inquisitive visitors that they regard themselves as Bushmen or Amabushmana. They point to their short stature and slanted eyes which distinguish them from their Swazi neighbours. Unfortunately there is an acute sense of loss of their original cultural identity and way of life. A deep sense of nostalgia and sadness is evident among these last remnants of the San.

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