At a point in time when indigenous people exist in the margins of society and their language is almost entirely forgotten, Barbara Raats’ living museum is a story of restitution and restoration that offers a sliver of hope for society.
Boesmanrus Grasshut Accommodation in the Kalahari Desert in the Northern Cape, near the Kgalagadi National Park, was created as a sustainable business offering travelers to the region an authentic Bushman experience.
The Khomani San, one of the oldest African tribes, reached a historic land settlement agreement with the South African government and SANParks in 2002. The Khomani World Heritage landscape restored a large tract of land to the communities that had once roamed there freely, including Barbara’s people, the Jagers. “Our people were forcibly removed, so my business on this land honours my oupa Frikkie and my ancestors who were removed from the park,” says Barbara.
“My husband and I built grass huts so that guests can stay according to our tradtions,” Barbara explains. Boesmanrus depends on other small businesses within the community to add to the overall experience of guests. “I wanted to grow my business so I applied to the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme,” she said. Since starting on the programme, her business has grown by a whopping 60%!
Small business owners wanting to grow their business are invited to apply to the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme today. Entries close on 26 September at 12 noon.
Fetola mentor, Anton Ressel, praises her commitment: “Barbara is determined to improve her business knowledge. She acquired a laptop and taught herself the IT skills needed to manage her communications and basic business processes. Her taking charge of her business in this way is remarkable considering her remote location and limited access to technology historically. She is a true entrepreneur at heart.”
Bridgit Evans, Director of SAB Foundation, said the programme’s priority is to provide opportunities for people in the rural areas who do not have ready access to support offered by those in large cities. “Boesmanrus is a living museum that gives visitors a real time experience of the Khomani San history as well the contemporary culture and creative arts.”
“Guests go on a guided walk, tracking animals, learning about plants, and observing how we made beads and necklaces using treasures from the veld like eggshell, porcupine quills, and kameeldoringpeule,” Barbara elaborates.
“Our cultural dance, our songs, our language – the !Nu language, is dying out… but we have a small school with a teacher that teaches the little ones. And this is how we teach them to speak the language and to sing the traditional songs. I’m also learning!” says Barbara.
The late Mrs Elsie Vaalbooi was one of the most famous Khomani San. Before she died in 2002, she gave the Northern Cape its new motto: Sa ||’a !ainsi uinsi (We are going to a better life). Barbara is following in her footsteps, aiming to improve the life of those in her community. If you want a life-changing experience, Boesmansrus should be top of the list when planning your next trip.
For more information about Boesmanrus, contact Barbara Raats at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 078 328 0578.
If you are a small business owner in a rural area who is looking to gain more business insight, grow your business while getting expert mentorship then apply to the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme today. Entries close on 26 September at 12 noon.