The !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre opened it’s doors on Heritage Day 2018, and is the only heritage centre in the world dedicated to the San. 20 years in the making, the dream to build a self-sustaining centre started in 1999, when Swiss photographer Irene Staehelin bought a derelict farm, where it was slowly converted into a place where the San can teach their culture to younger generations.
The !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre
The new building at !Khwa ttu is an extraordinary space. Co-curated by San communities, it serves as a vibrant demonstration of culture and beliefs and articulates previously untold indigenous experiences. It is a must-see for all South Africans.
The building is an intriguing structure, which has been embedded into the land lines of the ridge looking towards Yzerfontein and the Atlantic Ocean.
The tour of the San Heritage Centre includes a San Guide who shared stories with me as I made my way through the centre. I don’t want to give too much away, because I think it’s really important for all South African’s to experience it themselves. However, you can expect an immersive, multimedia room, a variety of artwork, digital archive, and personal stories of the San.
“The !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre is a great deal more than a collection of artifacts and historical photos. It’s a pioneering initiative that embraces the principle of community curation, led by San consultants from across Southern Africa and academics. The exhibitions, San-led trails, and guided experiences are designed to engage the body and senses as much as the mind,” explains Michael Daiber, general manager of !Khwa Ttu.
Connect with your past. Change the future
The San are among the world’s last living hunter-gatherers. They are descendants of the pre-colonial communities once found throughout southern Africa. Life has changed very rapidly for the San, rarely in ways of their choosing.
They are now largely excluded from the benefits of modern life and disconnected from the digital world. Today’s population number around 130,000 people, scattered over six countries.
!Khwa ttu is a non-profit company that seeks to redress these disadvantages. They strive to restore dignity and cultural pride while navigating a practical path between the old ways and the new world.
The San have remarkable attributes, skills, and knowledge. Understanding our shared history reminds us who we are.
!Khwa ttu San
© 2018 Dominique in the City – All Rights Reserved
Please do not use my content without my consent. You can contact me here.