!Khwa ttu Digital Archive

Ancient wisdom from the past ... for a better future

!Khwa ttu | San Spirit Shared | !Khwa ttu San Spirit Shared
!Khwa ttu | San Spirit Shared | Khwattu digital archive

From the past, for the future

Cultural restitution is at the core of !Khwa ttu's purpose. 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. However only a handful of San know of the existence of these materials.

!Khwa ttu's digital archive seeks to address this. By bringing together the vast number of digital files about the San that already exist, and making them accessible via a single internet portal, this tremendous resource can be available to everyone.

!Khwa ttu Conversations

Oral history project

The San world has changed enormously since the 1960s. To help us understand the history and consequences of that change, !Khwa ttu has begun a process of recording interviews with key participants, both San and non-San, starting with some of the elders who have dedicated their lives to San issues.

The interviews are informal meetings co-ordinated by the !Khwa ttu heritage team. They are an opportunity for younger San who are part of our heritage network to put questions to the elders, with technical support and  additional input from Chris Low, !Khwa ttu’s Heritage Consultant.

The interviews will lay the foundation for an oral history archive that  will  be held  at !Khwa ttu in addition to being shared and co-created with other institutional partners and stakeholders. Our aim is for this oral history archive to complement !Khwa ttu’s wider initiatives towards developing locally available community archives.

The Kalahari People’s Fund at Toronto, November 17-18, 2023

In the 1960s a small number of academics started working with Ju|’hoansi San in the northwest Kalahari, in Botswana and Namibia. In 1973 a number of these academics, key among whom were anthropologists based at Harvard University, established the Kalahari Peoples Fund (KPF https://www.kalaharipeoples.org), a non-profit organization formed for the benefit of the San and other people of the Kalahari.

To commemorate 50 years of KPF, founding members of the organisation gathered with many other colleagues at the AAA (American Anthropological Association) / CASCA (Canadian Anthropology Society) 2023 conference in Toronto. The  commemoration provided a rare opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the KPF. 

Eyeing an opportunity, !Khwa ttu (with kind sponsorship of the Ubuntu Foundation, Switzerland) attempted to send Festus Soroab, a Hai||om, Ju|’hoansi speaking San school teacher from Tsumkwe, to interview the select group of KPF founding and current  members  gathered for the commemoration. Unfortunately, time was not sufficient for Festus to obtain a Canadian visa. As an alternative, !Khwa ttu’s Heritage Consultant,  Chris Low, livestreamed Festus into the KPF meeting and facilitated interviews around the event.

The interviews represent a great way to ‘meet’ key anthropologists in the San world and hear about their background, work  and views from a personal perspective.  The topics cover a history of KPF, the history of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, the  Nyae Nyae Village Schools Project and some of the personal  hopes, dreams, fears and insights of  KPF members.

Our thanks to Festus Soroab and all those interviewed who gave their time so graciously.

Favourite quote

Megan Biesele
(12:21, 33 Seconds)

“We saw the living example of a group of people who were the most long tenured human beings who had lived on our planet with the same kind of culture, the same technology and most importantly the same kind of social relationships, the sharing, the respect, the mutual giving and the care for each other that made group survival possible”