• Indigenous peoples in South Africa

    Indigenous peoples in South Africa

    South Africa has voted in favour of adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but has yet to ratify ILO Convention No. 169.
    The indigenous San and Khoekhoe peoples of South Africa were previously known as “coloured”. Now they are exercising their right to self-identification and identify themselves as San and Khoekhoe or Khoe-San.

South Africa

The San and Khoekhoe Indigenous Peoples of South Africa were previously known as "coloured". Now they are exercising their right to self-identification and identify themselves as San and Khoekhoe or Khoe-San.

South Africa has voted in favour of the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but has not yet ratified ILO Convention No. 169.

The San and Khoekhoe African Indigenous Peoples are not formally recognized in terms of national legislation as a customary community. However, this is changing with the pending Law of Traditional Leadership and Khoisan Bill, which is intended to be presented to parliament in 2017.

Indigenous Peoples in South Africa

The total population of South Africa is around 50 million, of which it is estimated that indigenous groups represent approximately 1%.

Collectively, the various African indigenous communities in South Africa are known as the Khoe-San / Khoisan, which comprises the San and the Khoekhoe. The main San groups include the San Khomani who reside mainly in the Kalahari region, and the Khwe and Xun, who reside primarily in Platfontein, Kimberley.

The Khoekhoe consist of the Nama who reside mainly in the Province of the North Cape; the Koran mainly in the provinces of Kimberley and Free State; the Griqua in the provinces of Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal; and Cape Khoekhoe in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape, with increasing pockets in the provinces of Gauteng and Free State.

In contemporary South Africa, the Khoe-San communities exhibit a variety of socio-economic and cultural lifestyles and practices. The socio-political changes brought about by the current South African political system have created a space for the deconstruction of racially determined social categories of apartheid, such as "colour".

Progress: indigenous knowledge and leadership projects of Khoisan

The "Law on Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Systems" of 2014 establishes the protection, promotion, development and management of the communities' indigenous knowledge systems. The bill provides for the establishment and operation of a National Office of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the management of the rights of holders of indigenous knowledge.

The Indigenous Knowledge Law Project establishes how to access indigenous knowledge of local communities. In addition, the bill describes the process to register, accredit and certify indigenous knowledge professionals. The second version of this bill has been developed on the basis of the first round of entries, and this new second version was opened for public consultation in December 2016.

The South African Parliamentary Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has presented the Traditional Leadership and Khoisan Bill (formerly the National Traditional Affairs Project) before parliament in 2016. This project seeks to recognize that the historic Khoi and San communities are at with the recognition already granted to other African customary communities within South Africa.

For the first time in the last 300 years, the bill could potentially provide formal recognition and open opportunities for access to justice for the historic communities of Khoi and San. In addition, the bill would allow Khoi and San to be included in the governmental administrative processes within the various ministries and allow these ministries to make specific provisions for the social, economic and cultural priorities of the Khoi and San communities.

In 2017, the community tenure bill establishes the transfer of communal lands to their communities.

 

Human remains repatriation: a museum curator’s perspective

BY DEBATES INDÍGENAS

The repatriation of ancestral remains is a vital act of cultural revitalization and reclamation of heritage for many Indigenous communities around the world as it provides them an opportunity to reconnect with their ancestors, strengthen their cultural identities and heal from historical trauma. It is also an act of respect and acknowledgement of the rights of Indigenous Peoples, correcting past injustices and promoting a more equitable future. In an interview with IWGIA, Annelize Kotze, an Indigenous rights activist, Social History Curator at the Iziko Museums of South Africa and archaeology Masters student at the University of Cape Town, highlights the importance of raising awareness and encouraging discussion, particularly with youth, about the scientific and ethical considerations of human remains collection and their repatriation to home communities.

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Lesle Jansen: “In today’s South Africa Indigenous women are invisible”

BY NIKITA BULANIN FOR DEBATES INDÍGENAS

Lesle Jansen, an environmental lawyer and Indigenous Peoples rights activist from South Africa is a member of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. She belongs to the Khoikhoi Indigenous community of South Africa and has dedicated over 20 years of her professional life to the promotion and defence of the rights of Indigenous and local Peoples in South Africa and the southern Africa region. Lesle spoke to us about the situation of Indigenous Peoples of South Africa and especially about the situation of Indigenous women.

Photo: Lesle (front) at a Khoisan Indígenous community consultation in Free State province. Photo: Ivan Vaalbooi

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The Indigenous World 2021: South Africa

South Africa’s total population is around 59 million, of which Indigenous groups are estimated to comprise approximately 1%. Collectively, the various African Indigenous communities in South Africa are known as Khoe-San, comprising the San and the Khoikhoi. The main San groups include the ‡Khomani San who reside mainly in the Kalahari region, and the Khwe and!Xun who reside mainly in Platfontein, Kimberley. The Khoikhoi include the Nama who reside mainly in the Northern Cape Province; the Koranna mainly in Kimberley and the Free State province; the Griqua in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal provinces; and the Cape Khoekhoe in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, with growing pockets in the Gauteng and Free State provinces. In contemporary South Africa, Khoikhoi and San communities exhibit a range of socio-economic and cultural lifestyles and practices.

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The Indigenous World 2022: South Africa

South Africa’s total population is around 59 million, of which Indigenous groups are estimated to comprise approximately 1%. Collectively, the various African Indigenous communities in South Africa are known as Khoisan, comprising the San and the Khoikhoi. The main San groups include the ‡Khomani San, who reside mainly in the Kalahari region, and the Khwe and!Xun, who reside mainly in Platfontein, Kimberley.

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Indigenous World 2020: South Africa

South Africa’s total population is estimated at around 50 million people, and Indigenous groups make up approximately 1% of this figure. Collectively, the various African Indigenous communities in South Africa are known as the Khoe-San/Khoisan, comprised of the San and the Khoekhoe/Khoi-Khoi. The main San groups include the Khomani San who mainly reside in the Kalahari region, and the Khwe and Xun mainly in Platfontein, Kimberley.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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