The San are one of the last hunter-gatherer societies left on earth.Their ancient way of life, their languages, and their culture are under grave threat from disenfranchisement, climate change impacts, and a widespread lack of understanding of their way of life.|
The San are one of the most documented people in the world.
Libraries, archives, museums, and private collections across the globe hold literally thousands of books and papers written about the San, alongside San artefacts and photographs, film and music.
There are an estimated 130,000 San living across six countries in southern Africa.
But only a handful of San know of the existence of these materials.
!Khwa ttu is a culture and education centre near Cape Town whose mission is cultural restitution.
It’s a pioneering initiative that embraces the principle of community curation, where information is gathered about San, by San, for San.
Where members learn about their culture, the ancient and recent history. Where they are reclaiming and sharing their heritage.
Watch the San tell their own story (1.17 mins)
The Heritage Centre is a great deal more than a collection of artefacts and historical photos.
It’s a pioneering initiative where exhibits show San resilience and draw attention to the longevity of San history and its links to human origins, as well as issues of colonial genocide and discrimination.
At the heart of the centre lies recognition that to understand San lifeways, we must move away from traditional, colonising museum approaches toward new and innovative curation strategies.
Watch respected scientists answer the question whether the San are the First People, and why The San genetics story so special.
What else !Khwa ttu offers to the public are San-led trails and guided experiences, designed to engage body and senses, as much as the mind. The intention is to demonstrate the skills and knowledge of San from across southern Africa, while also telling the archaeological story of the origins of the modern mind on the southern African coastline.
They remind visitors that not so long ago everyone’s ancestors were hunters and foragers – and that there are different, yet ultimately familiar, ways of being in the world.
!Khwa ttu’s approach is: ‘’Looking back – thinking forward’’.
It’s a non-profit company directed jointly by members of the San and the Swiss-based Ubuntu Foundation that seeks to redress the deep disadvantages they have experienced by providing jobs and practical residential training for young San from clans all over southern Africa.