The word was used in the late 19th century by the Xhosa people of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. It was recorded that, from the middle of the 19th century, glass beads and other items were traded by the earliest European settlers in exchange for cattle and other provisions. These beads, especially the largest red ones, were highly valued and were initially worn only by the chiefs and their wives. These beads were called ‘tamboo‘, meaning ‘something special and valuable’. Although rare, examples of those earliest beads may be seen in African Art collections around the country.
The word is related to the Nguni word ‘tambo’, which means ‘head of cattle’. In traditional African society, cattle are a primary resource for physical wealth, emotional health and spiritual well-being. They play a part on every level of an integrated material and ritual life. ‘Tambo’ is thus something that is both tangibly manifest and at the same time a symbol and an expression of higher values.
We believe that the various workshops, lectures, teachings and practices that are offered under the umbrella of “tamboo” are also something special and valuable. Although rare, authentic conscious living is also both physically manifest and at the same time allows for the expression of our highest spiritual values. “Tamboo” offers a comprehensive and extensive programme of learning the art and practice of living consciously.