!Khwa ttu is a San Education and Cultural Centre, situated up the West Coast, 70km from Cape Town. This 150 hectare small game reserve is home to a training facility that teaches the modern day San how to earn an income through responsible tourism. Maybe better known as Bushmen, these are the indigenous hunter-gatherer people of Southern Africa. Between them, the San speak 13 different languages and in modern times, the San are no longer hunter-gatherers. In order to maintain their identity an organisation has been set up with a trust to ensure their survival and sustainability and to give them access to land, education and health.
The onsite training centre has an annual intake of San students and over a period of 8 months they are taught various subjects and gain practical experience. This intense accredited course will give them the skills they need to become tour guides in their own regions. They learn about archaeology, astronomy and ethno-botany. The practical experience will come from working at !Khwa ttu where there is a restaurant, craft shop, conference centre and various forms of accommodation from luxury guest houses to basic tents. They also offer guided tours and walks, mountain bike trails and hunter-gatherer tours. These generate an income to support other projects. One of these is the museum which will showcase all of the research that has been done into the San. Conservation of animals and plants is important and to highlight this, we were taken on a walk by André to learn more about the local fynbos and what it is used for, and to see how the San people lived.
There would be 3 to 4 people in a hut, and the huts would be in a circle around the main fire. The fire would be maintained by the women, while the men went out to hunt. No part of the hunted animal went to waste, with shoes being hand crafted from the hide. While not looking after the fire, the children or doing chores, the women would make jewellery and decorate loin cloths with shells. Married women would be more demurely covered than single women and the men would show their love intentions by shooting a small arrow at the young lady they fancied. We were shown how to make a fire, and given wild mint tea to drink.
After our walk where I picked some wild mint, bucchu and wild wormwood to take home with me, we went to enjoy a meal that Jane had prepared for us. She is the chef at !Khwa ttu, and entertained us with her description of each dish we would be enjoying. We started with a cheese soufflé made with local Darling cheese, served with pears poached in red wine. This was paired with a glass of the Ormonde Semillon Ondine. The juice has a lot of contact on the lees and this results in a fruit forward wine with a long finish. There is litchi and very fresh green apple on the nose and bucchu on the palate. The main course was game that is grown and ethically hunted on !Khwa ttu. This free range meat was served as a potjie sharing meal, made with field mushrooms and wild herbs and cooked in wine. It was accompanied by mashed potatoes, buttered baby carrots, green beans and cauliflower, all locally grown. The Ormonde wine for this course was the Chip Off The Old Bloc Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 which has been aged in French oak. It is dry with ripe dark fruit on the nose and cherry with a hint of chocolate on the palate. It has a great soft finish and went down very well with the meal. We were then served a lemon ice palate cleanser that was yoghurt based before we were presented with a dense 2 level chocolate mousse that had a sponge base covered with grape jelly and a liqueur cream. This was paired with the Ormonde Theodore Eksteen 2008 Shiraz-Granache Rhône style blend which is fermented in open casks. It was smooth and had black currant and ripe raisins on the palate and white pepper and red berries on the nose. And if that was not enough, we were served home made limoncello with biscotti and I had a single espresso to go with that.
Before we left we were introduced to the students. The San introduce themselves by stating their name, and which group of the San nation they represent. So, I would say “hello, my name is Tandy and I represent the English speaking people”. It was wonderful to meet the students and to learn more about the San.
Disclosure: I was invited to this media event by Carmen Lerm of West Coast Way. I was not asked to blog about my experience. This post is in line with my blogging policy.
What I blogged October 21:
- two years ago – Strawberrylicious Cup Cakes
- three years ago – Winners Announced For Three Competitions
- four years ago – Chicken Cashew Curry
- five years ago – Roasted Red Pepper Bread Rolls