Panasonic Lumix GH5
12/04/2017
The view from the top of Lookout Pass in the Cederberg.
Adventure Bike Safari to the Tankwa Karoo
16/04/2017
Show all

Unravelling the Mysteries of the Hidden World

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving) of a South African giraffe or Cape giraffe (Giraffa giraffa giraffa). Northern Cape. South Africa.

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving) of a South African giraffe or Cape giraffe (Giraffa giraffa giraffa). Northern Cape. South Africa.

I never enjoyed history at school. It was all rather dull and boring. Admittedly is was a while back and things could very well have changed, but for me, it was all about dates and rather bland facts – really not the sort of stuff that would appeal to a teenager who preferred being out in the wilds with a camera. But as time has gone by, I have changed, influenced by wonderful story tellers like the late David Rattray of Fugitives Drift Lodge who brought history alive, with characters, and people, and emotions… This is the sort of stuff that appeals. So what’s been happening over the years is that I try to put myself in place of the people of the past, and try to imagine (or work out) what it must have been like – who was involved, what they were like, and what they felt – what their emotions were.

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving) of a common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) and a rhinoceros. Northern Cape. South Africa.

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving) of a common warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) and a rhinoceros. Northern Cape. South Africa.

This occurs even when I have no facts at all. We photographed these rock engravings at a remote location, somewhere near Hotazel in the Northern Cape. I know very little about them but they are significant because one or two of them are images of lions and, at the time, we were working on a book called In Search of the African Lion. Much of the photography had been done and we were sitting there, Pat and I, waiting for the light to fade so that we could do some evening shots and I got thinking… (this is not always a good thing!)

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving) of a lion (Panthera leo). Northern Cape. South Africa.

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving) of a lion (Panthera leo). Northern Cape. South Africa.

Who had made these images, these rock engravings, or to use their technical term, petroglyphs. Sure, it was probably a member of a San or Bushman clan. But who? Was it a him or a her? And why here in the middle of nowhere? Although, of course it probably was not in the middle of nowhere for him – he (or she) must have lived nearby, in a little grass shelter… Did he have a wife? Children? And did he love them very dearly? And why a giraffe, a lion, a warthog, a rhino (looks like it could be a black rhino) and lions? Why them and not springbok which must have been very plentiful. And why are some just strange lines.

And as the light fades, and the barking geckos and jackals start to contribute to the evening sounds, the mind wanders down even more paths, some happy, some melancholy, some even funny.

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving). Northern Cape. South Africa.

San or Bushman Petroglyph (rock engraving). Northern Cape. South Africa.

What an evening we had there on that rocky outcrop. So much to think about. So much to imagine… Time travel! Arn’t we lucky?

Leave a Reply