Tsoro-o-tso partners UK University to research San community marginalisation

The Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde in the United Kingdom will this Monday embark on a research to investigate the marginalisation of the San Community in Zimbabwe.

The study would be conducted for a period of three weeks, targeting the San communities in Tsholotsho, Bulilima and those settled within the Hwange National Park.

Narratives have always portrayed the San as primitive people, fuelling misconceptions and mistrust between them and other ethnic groups in Tsholotsho and Zimbabwe in general.

In an interview with CITE, Director of the Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust, Davy Ndlovu said due to such misconceptions, lack of representation and platforms, the San have failed to rise up to the challenge to demand respect for themselves.

“Because of stereotypes and categorisation of the San, it has always seemed okay to label them as primitive and unsophisticated people. Even high ranking government officials viewed the San as sub-humans,” he said, giving an example of how the late former President Robert Mugabe during the memorial service of the late Vice President John Nkomo stated: “‘I used to ask John: ‘How are you treating them (San People)?’ He would say: ‘They look after my cattle, but we have tried to get them to the culture of going to school and getting more civilised, but some of them continue to resist.’”

Ndlovu said the purpose of their research “is to try and investigate why the San are so poor. We want to establish if this poverty is result of ethnicity. Most of the San I know here in Zimbabwe and the whole region of Southern Africa are poor, why? Projects have been initiated for the San but still they remain poor. This is what we will interrogate.”

Nldovu noted the trust will work with the University of Strathclyde, who were funding the project.

He added that after the research, the Trust and University Strathclyde would craft a white paper that would be presented to the government, relevant stakeholders and partners to lobby for inclusive development projects.

“The research will look at the cultural assets of the San in the form of rock art and other cultural heritage sites and try to find ways to convince the government to assist the San to start cultural tourism activities within the national parks and also in Tsholotsho,” he said.

This white paper is expected to be ready for circulation in January 2021 during the launch of the Tjwa Language and Culture Narrative Centre.

“The research is going to involve a range of well-defined variable methods of collecting data such as study of textual documents in private and public institutions, interviews, direct observations and collective discussions with the San peoples and conservation officials.

“The fieldwork will also involve visiting San communities to obtain insights into their cultural, social, economic and political lives. It will also involve identifying and visiting cultural heritage sites of the San communities in selected sections of Hwange National Parks, Tsholotsho and Bulilima rock art sites,” Ndlovu said.

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