South Africa's First People

National Khoe and San Heritage Route

National Khoe and San Heritage Route

At a virtual cabinet meeting on 10 June 2020, the South African government approved the setting up of a heritage route to identify, highlight, conserve and promote the heritage of the Khoe, Nama, Griekwa, Khorana and San peoples of South Africa. This is a national legacy project that will go some way to acknowledging neglected and marginalised chapters of South African history.

Welcoming the proposed heritage route, Khoe and San from around South Africa have recommitted themselves to preserve their heritage for future generations. Stanley Peterse of the National Khoisan Council says “We, for the first time, can tell our own stories to the world. We can have our own kiosks. We can have our own small museums.”

The !khwa-ttu San Heritage and Education Centre on the west coast, near Cape Town.

The !Khwa-ttu San Heritage and Education Centre, on the West Coast a few hours drive from Cape Town. Here San people are given a training in the hospitality industry, while at the same time being able to interact with visitors who come to learn about San heritage.

The idea for a heritage route to commemorate Khoe and San history in South Africa was first raised in 2004. Sixteen years later this is welcome news indeed. San and Khoe communities have long since suffered an inferior position in South Africa’s histories. A National Heritage Route will go a long way to addressing this imbalance.

Not only will this initiative benefit existing museums and centres such as the !Khwa-ttu San Heritage and Education Centre and many archaeological sites around the country, it is clear the Khoe and San communities will be actively involved in the promotion of their histories.

One of the many displays in the !Khwa-ttu San Heritage and Education Centre.

The many faces and voices to San heritage today at !Khwa-ttu.

San as first people in South Africa.
Rethinking hunters and gatherers in South Africa's history.

For more on this welcome development for the Khoi and San people of South Africa, see the South African Broadcasting Corporation website: Khoi community elated as Parliament approves National Khoi and San Heritage Route

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As further details about the heritage route become available, we will update this page. Visitors wishing to explore the heritage of South Africa’s First People will certainly be interested to know what centres, museums and sites are included. We will do our best to add this information as soon as these details are publicly available.

Archaeology Travel | National Khoe and San Heritage Route | 1

The Linton Panel

The featured image at the top of this page is an example of San rock art, for which southern Africa is particularly well known. The enigmatic depiction is part of a larger panel that was removed from its site in 1918 and now in the South African Museum, Cape Town. A male human figure from this panel has been adapted an forms part of the South African Coat of Arms. Read more about this national emblem and the Linton Panel >>

Rock paintings of Elephants from the Southwestern Cape, South Africa.

World Rock Art Guide

The First People of South Africa created some extraordinary rock art traditions. These include finely executed rock paintings, finger paintings and engraved images that were pecked or incised. As collective tradition they are amongst the finest rock art traditions in the world. Visitors to South Africa can visit a great many sites. We have started collecting these and other rock art sites around the world in our World Rock Art Guide >>

People of the Eland display at !Khwa-ttu.