How the Group became Mantis
To the Bushmen or San people of Africa it was particularly significant; so much so that the early White settlers in Southern Africa, noting the fascination of the Bushmen with the praying mantis, called it “The Hottentots God”. Laurens van der Post, the great writer of Southern African stories, who rose to prominence as an author storyteller, explorer, soldier, and mentor to the Prince of Wales, had a life-long affinity with the Bushmen.
His various books tell their story. He noted once that the Bushmen loved the praying mantis because it was small. As people small in stature themselves, they appreciated this little insects’ place in nature. They recognized all the animals and believed that whenever they walked on the African landscape “the animal eye was upon us”. They consciously returned the salutation to the elephant, giraffe, rhino and other large mammals. But, it was the small mantis with which they conversed and wove stories about, seeing everything through the eyes of the praying mantis, learning to value the little things in life.
So it is with our own Mantis group. We began with two thousand acres of eroded and abused land, a small insignificant piece of valley Bushveld, and from this grew Shamwari Game Reserve, which is now 25 000 hectares in size and has seen the re-introduction of all the large game that once occurred in the Eastern Cape and now hosts visitors from all over the world and proudly shows them what has been brought back to the wild lands.]
We emulated this model at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve in the Western Cape (54000 hectares) which has great examples of San art and was named after then ‘San’ the Bushmen people and ‘Bona’ their vision.
The Mantis Group has now spread its wings across the globe. Our philosophy has always been to take care of the small things knowing that if we get them right, the “big things” will be taken care of automatically. So we are now the Mantis Group and in being so, we honour the Bushmen, San and all the early people who revered the earth and served each other with true humanity and humility – an example all of us in the modern world would do well to emulate.
Dr Ian Player, friend and mentor of Adrian Gardiner, was the author of the Mantis name, and the above words explain his thoughts.