Who would’ve known that San rock art shelter paintings as old as 10,000 years are still able to surprise us with something new?
Kaoxa Bush Camp is famously known in this area as the only place in Southern Africa where you can find three locust depicted amongst 200 other paintings they have on display. This fact makes the site incredibly special, and this is why Mopane Bush Lodge is so privileged to be able to take our guest to this ancient place of wonder.
I regularly visit the paintings at the shelter with guests, as it forms a part of our tour. I thought that I have seen and experienced it all until I recently went to the shelter with a group of students and a young America woman which is writing her doctoral thesis on the shelter itself. Instead of me being the interpreter and pointing out the paintings, she was actually doing the tour for me.
I was quite surprised to discover that the three famous locusts are actually part of a group of fifteen others that can only be seen on closer inspection. According to Ed Eastwood, a researcher who dedicated his life to interpreting the rock art at Kaoxa wrote, “Locusts must have been a welcome source of protein for hunter-gatherers, rather than being seen as a plague or swarms being able to devastate large tracts of grassland and strip trees of their leaves, driving herbivorous animals away. Aside from its culinary uses and potential to damage plant life, the locust played a significant role in San thought.”
As to their mystical reverence he also stated, “The San also believed that the locust had supernatural powers, and children were not allowed to throw stones at them, and were told to ‘eat them nicely’ and not play with them, for locusts had to be respected because of their magical powers.”
Still to this today the magic of those locusts rubs off on both me and the guests, reminding us that there is yet more to discover and learn from these extraordinary paintings if one searches deeper.
Brigitte, Senior Field Guide