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  • Aaron Millar

The Last Dance of the San Bushmen with Documentary Film Maker Ben Cole



Travel to the Kalahari Desert, in Namibia, where under the shade of a Baobab Tree, eight San elders are gathering to perform their traditional healing dances one last time before they pass on. The San are among the oldest continuously surviving tribes on Earth. They have lived among the plains of Southern Africa as hunter-gatherers for at least the last 20,000 years. And for all those long years, they have been dancing. The San are a dancing culture. For them, movement and music is more than ceremony and celebration. It is the way they connect with, and understand, the world, and the spirit. It is also the way they heal. But without apprentices to pass on their practices, the sacred knowledge of their ancient dances was in danger of being lost forever.  The elders asked Ben to come and film them in the hope that one day their great grandchildren would be able to retain this wisdom. Ben has travelled the world. He has filmed the Aboriginees of Australia, the Pygmies of the Congo, and was nominated for a Grammy for his cinematography on the groundbreaking 1 Giant Leap DVD. This, he says, was the adventure of his life. Travel with him now, deep into desert plains of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, to witness the last dance of the San Bushmen.  What he discovers when he gets there is that this ancient knowledge is vital not just for the San, but for us too. Human beings have been dancing and making music since we first set foot on the Savannah. Every religious and spiritual tradition on Earth has some form of movement or music as part of its practice. It is who we are. The message the San have for us is that dancing is not just a frivolous bit of fun. It is a gateway to the spirit and a powerful means to heal our mental and physical ails. Ben went to Namibia for the sake of the San, but what he brought home might just have the power to save us all.


Highlights include:

  • Witness one of the most ancient dances in the world, with original audio recorded in the field courtesy of Ben Cole

  • Learn about the San people and their beliefs about the power of dance to heal our mental and physical ailments

  • Ben is a world-class storyteller, and former actor, and brings to life the culture and landscape of this incredible country ... including a possible origin story of the Cupid myth!

  • Be inspired to get your own dance on, whether that's in a club or just in your own front room. You may never think about dancing in the same way again!

Find out more about Ben Cole's documentary work on Facebook: @bencolecinematography and at www.bencolecinematographysite.com. Ben, and his wife Caroline, also run Middle Earth Medicine Ways, which uses the power of dance and movement to facilitate a deeper connection with yourself, your spirit and the world around you. It's fun, they're lovely and you can find out more at www.middleearthmedicine.com.

Thank you to Juggernaut Wines for sponsoring this episode! This is one of my favourite wines, absolutely gorgeous and perfect for that after trail drop. Head over to www.buyjuggernautwine.com and type in the code ARMCHAIR20 for a 20% discount, delivered straight to your door. Help support the San through David Bruce's charity (Ben's family friend who he recorded the film with), which builds new schools in the region that will teach young San children in their native tongue, close to their homes in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy. Find out more at: www.villageschoolsnamibia.com


Photos

Check out some of the amazing images from the film on the slideshow below.

All images (c) Ben Cole


Videos

Ben has kindly allowed us to put up some highlights from the film he made below. If you like what you see, please reach out to him and let him know - Facebook: @bencolecinematography

All videos (c) Ben Cole


Books

Here's the book I recommend in the show - if you want to find out more about the San people and the way they use dancing as a means to connect more deeply with the world and spirit, this is the book for you. The great Kuntabo, who features heavily in the episode, is quoted inside too. Heads up, I get a small affiliate commission from Amazon on this link. It doesn't cost you anything extra and it helps support the show


Book this trip

Support the show by booking your next trip through my adventure travel agency, which specializes in sustainable and regenerative adventure itineraries and trip planning - all done personally by me. While Ben's adventure was unique and a one-off it is possible to visit the San people and experience something similar first hand. I've got some great ideas. Get in touch, I'd love to make your dream trip come true.

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