THE LAST SAN ROCK ARTIST
Scientists have determined that the tradition of rock painting in Southern Africa is at least 25 000 years old. Some of the more recent rock art portrays European settlers with their wagons, animals and tools. It’s said the last rock artist in South Africa was a San man who was shot in the Drakensberg in the 1850s. He was carrying horns with pigment when he was killed.
The reason why a lot of South Africa’s rock art is so well preserved is because of a bitter irony. The San people were hunted and forced to flee by Europeans, Zulus, Basotho and other groups because of their belief that animals, including livestock, belong to everyone. The other groups considered this to be stealing, and the San were driven into the remote Kalahari Desert and Drakensberg mountains where their art remained untouched.
Experts agree the San’s rock art is some of the most sophisticated in the world. That’s why the places where it’s found have been declared National Heritage sites and are protected by law.