Nyae Nyae Development Foundation
Based just east of Tsumkwe, the Nyae Nyae Farmers Cooperative has been established since 1986 with a charter to support and encourage the Ju/'hoansi of Eastern Otjozondjupa to return to their historical lands known as Nyae Nyae.
Historically, this group of Bushmen has been in a difficult position. The South African army (SADF) moved into what was Eastern Bushmanland in 1960, to occupy the region as part of its war against SWAPO and the destabilisation of Angola. It formed a battalion of Bushmen to track down guerrilla fighters – using the Bushmen's tracking ability to lethal effect. Many of these people moved to Tsumkwe; whole families were dependent on the SADF.
This social upheaval, with lifestyles changing from nomadic hunter-gathering to dependence on an army wage, led to social problems amongst the people, including crime, alcohol and prostitution. Towards the end of the war, it was decided to improve their quality of life by taking them back to ground they had come from, a move initiated by the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation and its founder, John Marshall.
So in the late eighties and early nineties the Nyae Nyae Farmers Cooperative focused on grass-roots self-help projects, encouraging the Bushmen to start farming, rearing cattle, and growing their own food. Boreholes were provided, but few made a success of these projects. The Bushmen are not natural farmers or pastoralists. They seem to have a different approach to survival than most other ethnic groups in Africa.
The Nyae Nyae Development Foundation continues to run various education programmes to train teachers for the five newly built schools in the Nyae Nyae area (lessons are in English and Ju/'hoansi). They also run a workshop for mechanics and some agricultural programmes, but their focus has now changed.
In the last few years a craft programme has been set up, which is trying to improve the quality of the locally made crafts, whilst buying them to sell across the country and often across the world. Locally, this combines with a mobile shop, where people can buy food and other basics.
However, perhaps the most interesting project was initiated by the WWF in 1994. This has aimed to set up a conservancy for sustainable utilisation and management of the wildlife in the eastern area of Bushmanland – which was finally put into place in December 1997. This is being administered by the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, who can be contacted in Windhoek on tel: 061 236327; fax: 061 225997, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.