Khoi community elated as Parliament approves National Khoi and San Heritage Route

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Cabinet’s approval of the National Khoi and San Heritage Route, which is a national legacy project, is widely welcomed by the Khoi and San community in the Eastern Cape.

It also gives effect to the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act, which provides for the recognition of the Khoi and San traditional leaders.

The National Khoi and San Heritage route will identify places of cultural and historic significance for the various communities.

It will also identify, highlight, conserve and promote the heritage of the Khoi, Nama, Griekwa, Korana and San communities.

With the milestone worth celebrating, there was burning of imphepo, showing gratitude to the ancestors.

For the Khoi people, this is an achievement in the ongoing campaign to be acknowledged as the first indigenous South African people, and the language recognised as an official language.

Khoi and San activist, Christian Martin says the approval comes as a package for the community.

“We are very elated and we are happy for this moment of the legacy project of the government. If you look at it, it comes as a package actually for us. From last year (2019), when the traditional Khoi and San Leadership Bill was signed into Act 3, that was great news for us. That was not only recognising, but it’s truly showing, acknowledging the existence of the Khoi and the San. So, for us, we are grateful for that.”

The Khoi and San people still want to be included in the land reform process and their language taught at school.

Khoi Chief Jan Bekkies says they are excited about this latest development.

“I got no words to explain my excitement because now, for the first time, we will be seen as a nation.”

Khoi Chief Marcelo Florus says the fight needs to go on from here.

“The kids are the future and some of the chiefs here have mentioned great leaders and people who led this fight. It needs to go on from here, but it will start with those children and just by having this act, this will be a valuable tool to bring the people closer to the culture.”

There are several rock art sites in the Kimberley area. The various Khoisan communities were also involved in many battles as they tried to protect their land.

Many history books remain silent on those. It’s hoped the route will throw more light on these wars.

!Kora Hennings, Goaxoab, says the land issue is sensitive.

“For me, land is a very sensitive thing. This is the reason why we are actually starving today, because we don’t have the ability to provide food for ourselves. That’s why like the Chief said ‘a chief without land is like a rhino without a horn.’”

The Khoi and San custodians recommitted themselves to preserve their heritage for future generations.

Khoi and San communities in the Northern Cape have welcomed the proposed National Khoi and San Heritage route.

Stanley Peterse of the National Khoisan Council says this will allow them to tell their own stories. “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 route was first conceptualised in 2004. The communities hope its development will be faster.

In the video below, Khoi and San community welcome Parliament’s approval of the National Khoi and San Heritage Route: