Monday, 14 June 2021

Endangered African Languages Featured in a Digital Collection: The Case of the ǂKhomani San | Hugh Brody Collection

" The ǂKhomani San | Hugh Brody Collection features the voices and history of indigenous hunter-gatherer descendants in three endangered languages namely, N|uu, Kora, and Khoekhoe as well as a regional dialect of Afrikaans. A large component of this collection is audio-visual (legacy media) recordings of interviews conducted with members of the community by Hugh Brody and his colleagues between 1997 and 2012, referring as far back as the 1800s. The Digital Library Services team at the University of Cape Town aim to showcase the collection digitally on the UCT-wide Digital Collections platform, Ibali which runs on Omeka-S." - Proceedings of the First Workshop on Resources for African Indigenous Languages (RAIL) at the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC 2020)

This paper highlight the importance of such a collection in the context of South Africa, and the ethical steps that were taken to ensure the respect of the ǂKhomani San as their stories get uploaded onto a repository and become accessible to all. Read the article here.


The Status of the Kalahari San: Former Hunter-Gatherers in a Globalized World

This article is a few years old but nevertheless provides a clear picture of the recent status of these communities. 

"The San (Bushmen) of the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa have diversified livelihoods that are undergoing significant change. Today, the San and their neighbors face considerable challenges, ranging from poverty, dispossession and social marginalization to climate change, the impacts of globalization and the spread of coronavirus into remote places. Numbers and distribution of San peoples – found in a variety of habitats ranging from savannas to mountains and from wetlands to deserts. They exist in 8 countries. There are over 50 named groups, each with their own languages, customs, and traditions." Read the article here


The Rooibos Access and Benefit-sharing Agreement between the Khoikhoi and San Communities in South Africa


"Riel Dancers' from a community in South Africa   

"On 1 November 2019, following nine years of negotiations, the world’s first industry-wide benefit-sharing agreement was launched in South Africa between the Khoikhoi and San, and the South African rooibos industry. As representatives of the National Khoi & San Council, who represented the interests of some thirty indigenous communities, Natural Justice provided legal support throughout the process. The agreement recognizes the Khoikhoi and San peoples as the traditional knowledge holders to the uses of Rooibos, an indigenous plant species found only in the Cederberg region of South Africa. The agreement is the basis from which the Khoikhoi and San communities of South Africa will have access to benefits as a percentage contribution from the commercialization of Rooibos by the South African rooibos industry." - Natural Justice


Friday, 11 June 2021

Efforts to support Botswana San with their Covid-19 struggles by Natural Justice


"D’kar village has an estimated population of 2000 and is located in the Ghanzi district of western Botswana. For many centuries, it has been home to people of San origin (commonly known as bushmen), which has attracted numerous tourists and foreign visitors to admire their traditional way of life. Visitors are exposed to their unique cultures and their natural talents and skills in art and print works, San rock paintings, craftwork, their production of exotic leather items, wild-food gathering, and particularly, their talents in dance, game-hunting, and game tracking. Despite the potential for economic development, the community has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic. On the 2April 2020, the Government of Botswana declared a State of Emergency for six months and immediately initiated a lock-down for 28 days with an extension of another 22 days." - By Natural Justice 

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Ouma Geelmeid Teaches NIuu

It is estimated that the Nluu, a San and one of the African click languages, is one the oldest language in Southern Africa, and also one of the most endangered. There are only handful of people alive who can still speak the language fluently. One of them is Katrina Esau, also referred to as "Ouma Geelmeid", a name that might not be popular everywhere these days. In effort to make sure this language survives another generation the Centre for African Language Diversity at the University of Cape Town compiled a reading guide for teaching the San the Nluu language. The guide can be downloaded here. Katrina played an instrumental role in putting the guide together and it will most probably be the one only tool of its kind for a long time to come. Using the guide alone might not do the trick as one will need exposure to someone like Katrina that can teach one how to click, and where to put all the clicks. It must be fascinating to say the least.

Kalahari San Photo Essay by Ferdinand Veer Jr


These are a compilation of photos taken by Ferdinand Veer Jr over the stretch of a few years in the vicinity of Ashkam, Hakskeen Pan, Oxford Pan and Xaus Lodge.  

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Dlamini-Zuma tweet over 'dying language' causes a stir!

Ouma Katrina, 86, made news this week after Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma wished her a happy birthday (unfortunately a few months later, or early, since it was in February).
However, the tribute to the elder as a custodian of what Dlamini-Zuma called Boesmantaal (Bushman language) quickly got people talking, with some people pointing out that the minister had used an offensive identifier for the /Nuu language. 

Lost Tongue Trailer

Lost Tongue Trailer from MYA Productions on Vimeo.

Helena Steenkamp, a San woman from the Kalahari Desert, South Africa embarks on a mission to revive the endangered N/uu language of her people. The cultural and spiritual journey battles time as the number of surviving elders diminish. Now, arriving at a pivotal juncture, the community must step in to support Helena’s mission before the younger generation loses the crux of their identity. For this small group that is determined to keep the N/uu language alive, they must struggle against the apathy of their community and government bureaucracy. As one of their leaders is acknowledged as Queen of the Khomani San, will the dawn of her coronation herald a new chapter in their struggle, and will it be sufficient to ensure that neither their culture nor language is rendered extinct?