The gods are still crazy
no three seasons of “The Gods Must Be Crazy” could ever prepare Patrick Mettler for the adventure of trying to capture two bushmen shooting a bokkie with his camera.
Mettler, a self-trained cameraman, took up the challenge of his life recently to record footage of the San people’s lifestyle for a Korean documentary.
Armed with only his camera, he slept where they slept, ate what they ate, far from civilisation, without a cellphone, facebook or even the luxury of townlights.
Although his career glitters with days he spent recording personal footage with and for legends like the late Michael Jackson, The Founding Father Dr Sam Nujoma and Hollywood star Danny Clover, he says his stint with the San was the toughest test of his life.
His task was to shoot a bokkie hunt by the San but during his first three days, the cameraman had only a porcupine and a tortoise and no bokkie.
He has, though, the footage of how the tortoise turned out to be a delicacy for the entire village that night.
“They are so optimistic. The San never lose hope, just like we saw them in those hit movies. If they fail to kill they would just say, ah dont worry, tomorrow we will get it. It was so bad though at one point I had to stop all shooting and help them hunt,” he says.
His instructions was to capture how exactly the bushmen’s little arrow penetrates the bokkie.
“It was torture I tell you. . . I had to walk up to 32 kilometres a day,” he exclaims emphasising the San’s excellent eye-sight.
“Those people can see. . .they will point at an animal 1 kilometre away and then fall flat and start crawling until they are at least 30metres away to kill the animal. In the evening while I fiddle with my small torch they walk around as if it is daytime,” Mettler reminisces and explains that the in order to kill the animals the San applies poison made from a tiny worm called Diamphidia locusta.
“This poison is stronger than that of a black mamba and kills small animals almost instantly but the bigger ones like the WildeBeest take a while before they die. What is amazing about these people is that they never leave an animal they have shot. If the arrow went inside that animal they will follow it until it dies.”
He relates how innovative and smart the San are despite common belief and perception by urban people that they are backward.
“You know they discovered that some of the animals would pee to get the poison out of their blood, so they created the Comiphoro Asparagus that makes animals unable to pee,” Mettler recounts.
He narrates how the San would use the same poison as an antibiotic if they got ill after eating the meat of an animal that was shot with a poisoned arrow.
After spending 12 days with the /Khau family, of one man, two wives and 8 children all under the age of 16, Mettler says he misses his adopted San family deep in Tsumkwe.
“Working with the Founding Father was an honour as he is my hero, he would come to my editing suite while I was working at the old State House early in the mornings telling stories like a grandfather,” says Mettler adding that the highlight of his career was when he followed MJ for five days during his visit to Namibia.
“I would never talk to him, he hardly spoke and when he did he would do so very softly. This guy wanted to live like Jesus, he had so much love to give,” Mettler says recalling a time when he sat in the car with MJ when two girls came to the car to see MJ.
“When he reached out his hand to touch them they fainted.”
The man who started Namibia’s first ever free – to – air television station admits that he became a workaholic over the years trying to perfect his skill.
“I can easily work up to four in the mornings, I end up competing with myself and suffered a serious depression,” he says, adding that his dedication to his work made him neglect his family. “ My baby does not even know me, my woman is now complaining.”
Indeed, the gods are still crazy.