The history of //Nhoq'ma
Kaece G/aq'o was the head of the extended family living at Nhoma. He was estimated to be in his 80's and was an adult before he saw white people for the first time. G/aq’o died in 2011. The village was called Kaece and was situated just below the present site where they obtained water from a well. They would move to the Mangetti forests in the rainy season to collect Mangetti nuts. Lorna Marshall shows the village as 'Chassis' in her book, The !Kung of Nyae Nyae. Kaece was a great hunter that likes to tell the lengthy tale of how he hunted an Eland bull by running it down for days.
In 1993, Arno Oosthuysen, a Namibian born in Windhoek, built Tsumkwe Lodge which he used as a base for his tours in the area. As a young boy he used to travel with his medical doctor father to all the remote areas in Namibia, visiting clinics and learning the ways of the wild. In 1999, he was asked by the community of //Nhoq’ma to bring tourists to their village as they were left without any income and were living from the bush only. Arno built a temporary tented camp near the village which is 80km from Tsumkwe to serve as a base for his guests: Nhoma Safari Camp. The activities at //Nhoq'ma center around the activities of this community at //Nhoq'ma: hunting and veld food gathering, traditional games and crafts and the all important healing dances.
The son of the village elder, Kaece G/aq'o, known as Bertus, has proved to be an excellent guide.
In 2017, Arno wished to retire and a long administrative journey started to transfer the Safari Camp to Flora and Moritz. Flora has been working with the community since 2015, on a sandal making project, reviving the ancient craft of hunting sandal making. The project is running up to day. Moritz is a Namibian born in Windhoek, who worked several years in the tourism industry, as a safari guide and on lodges as a sustainability and permaculture consultant.
As a couple, they unite their skills to collaborate with the Nhoma community in ecotourism. Despite the pandemic, they decided to buy Nhoma Safari Camp in 2020 and move to the site permanently.
Nhoma Safari Camp is not a project, but it is also not a large commercial operation. Since working with this community in 1999, it has grown considerably. The people of N//hoq'ma are called by others "the people who eat meat". Because of tourism they have been able to stay on their land. A village school came to be because of our intervention, we wrote letters to get a new borehole drilled, we wrote letters to the Ombudsman to have the Kavango cattle post removed. It is easy to say that the Bushmen are not traditional anymore and that cultural tourism is dead. However, enough of their tradition and skills are left to make cultural tourism viable. If the children are to have any future it is essential that their parents have a source of income. Tourism is not necessarily a permanent solution, but a way of utilising the land and creating skill-based work opportunities. It is most important that they do not lose their land to cattle owners of other tribes. Besides jobs in tourism, we established jobs in several side projects, including craft making, traditional sandal making etc.