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San heritage lauded

San people from far and wide descended on !Khwa ttu, the San Education and Culture Centre near Yzerfontein, on Monday 24 September for the official opening of its new heritage centre, and to celebrate having a place to call their own after a struggle of two decades.

This new facility aims to provide South Africans and others with a deeper understanding of the heritage of the South African San people.

Located on the R27 West Coast Road near Yzerfontein, the !Khwa ttu Heritage Centre will also function as a training and cultural centre, offering visitors a genuinely enriching experience of the San culture and heritage while uplifting the existing San community.

“!Khwa ttu brings back the pride in the people, it brings back the dignity in the people, because they are telling their story in their own way,” Leana Snyders, Director of the South African San Council explained in a press release. “It comes from within them.”

With its immersive, multimedia “egg” room, digital archive, engineering, geothermal temperature control and essentially contemporary architecture, the Heritage Centre depicts old wisdom combined with new technology for a sustainable future.

Its focus, however, is on heritage conservation and providing training and adult education – including skills in tourism, entrepreneurship and community-based development for rotating groups of the San youth.

Said Snyders: “Through the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (Wimsa), the San’s regional lobbying and advocacy NGO, San communities throughout the region expressed the desire to learn more about their history, to practise their traditions and to promote their culture and languages.

“They wish to give their children the chance to revitalise traditional life and access the necessary skills to enter the modern workforce and live in dignity. They see tourism as a means to these ends.”

Activities offered at !Khwa ttu go some way towards making it self-sustaining, but more importantly they give the San trainees invaluable exposure and experience in the tourism industry.

Whether one is a visitor to the Cape, or a local, looking for a solitary retreat, or a hiking/mountain biking weekend with friends or your family, a visit to !Khwa ttu promises to be have a profound effect. For the San’s story, according to curator Dr Chris Low, is one of human origins, beginnings. Visitors, he says, will therefore see it as their own story too.

For more information on !Khwa ttu or its new Heritage Centre, email info@kwattu.org, visit its website www.khwattu.org or call 022 492 2998.

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