• 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.
  • People

    1 per cent of South Africa’s population said to be indigenous. 2 new bills related to indigenous peoples knowledge and leadership.
    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.
  • Politics

    The Khoisan Revolution, a new political party, won one seat in the Nama Khoi Local Municipality in the Namakwa District, Northern Cape Province.
  • Rights

    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.

Indigenous peoples in South Africa

South Africa' total population is around 50 million, of which indigenous groups are estimated to comprise approximately 1%.

The various First Nations Indigenous groups in South Africa are collectively known as Khoe-San, comprising the:

  • San
  • Khoekhoe

The San

The San groups include the: 

  • ‡Khomani San- residing mainly in the Kalahari region

and the:

  • Khwe- residing mainly in Platfontein, Kimberley
  • !Xun- residing mainly in Platfontein, Kimberley

The Khoekhoe

The Khoekhoe include the:

  • Nama residing mainly in the Northern Cape Province
  • Koranna mainly in Kimberley and Free State Province
  • Griqua residing in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State and Kwa-Zulu-Natal provinces
  • Cape Khoekhoe residing in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, with growing pockets in Gauteng and Free State Provinces

Deconstruction of Apartheid Social Categories

In contemporary South Africa, Khoe-San communities exhibit a range of socio-economic and cultural lifestyles and practices.

The socio-political changes brought about by the current South African regime have created the space for a deconstruction of the racially-determined apartheid social categories such as the "coloured".

Many previously so-called "coloured" people are now exercising their right to self-identification and embracing their African heritage and identity as San and Khoekhoe or Khoe-San.

San, Khoekhoe and Khoe-San are used interchangeably depending on the context.

No Formal Recognition of Indigenous Peoples

First Nations indigenous San and Khoekhoe peoples are not formally recognized in terms of national legislation; however, this is shifting with the pending National Traditional Affairs Bill 2013, which is intended to be tabled before parliament in 2015.

South Africa has voted in favour of adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

South Africa has yet to ratify ILO Convention 169

Yearly Update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in South Africa to learn about major developments and events during 2015.

 

 

About IWGIA

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

Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for indigenous peoples worldwide. Download here.

Contact IWGIA

Prinsessegade 29 B, 3rd floor
DK 1422 Copenhagen
Denmark
Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
E-mail: iwgia@iwgia.org
CVR: 81294410

NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you do not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand