!Khwa ttu’s founder, Irene Staehelin
In 1998, the Working Group for Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) decided that the San needed assistance in unlocking potential tourism opportunities and showcasing San culture to the world. They turned to Swiss anthropologist Irene Staehelin, who agreed to help.
In 1999, guided by her own vision, and inspired by heritage centres in the USA and Canada, Irene bought an 850 hectare wheat farm, north of Cape Town on the West Coast of South Africa for the !Khwa ttu project. Irene later set up the Ubuntu Foundation in Switzerland, to help guide and support the project.
!Khwa ttu opened to the public in 2006. In the following decade, inside the now restored farm buildings, it steadily developed its tourism offering and San training capabilities. Outside, the land was carefully rehabilitated and wildlife reintroduced.
In September 2016 Ubuntu committed a substantial portion of the funding needed to build !Khwa ttu’s San Heritage Centre. This paved the way to fulfilling the dreams of many, and launched the next exciting stage of !Khwa ttu’s development.