Our approach

The !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre provides a platform for San to share and explore San history and culture among both San community members and local and international visitors.  

At !Khwa ttu we gather and disseminate information recorded about San to San, and we encourage all to engage in sensitive learning about San culture and the ancient and recent history of the San. Our historical exhibitions draw particular attention to the longevity of San history and its links to human origins, issues of colonial genocide and discrimination against San. Our community section deals with San resilience and development initiatives across the San. Our ‘Way of the San’ building sees visitors step into the heart of ‘traditional’ San life in the Kalahari.

Looking back; thinking forward

At the heart of our heritage centre lies recognition that to really understand San lifeways, we must move away from traditional, colonising museum approaches toward new and innovative curation strategies. It is our aim to remind visitors that there are different, yet ultimately familiar, ways of being in the world. Not so long ago everyone’s ancestors were hunters and foragers. We wish to stimulate ways of learning, knowing and being that are unfamiliar in classroom settings, thereby bringing visitors towards a better understanding of both the San and who we all are as human beings.

Sustainability

A further pillar in our strategy entails flagging environmental concerns and issues of sustainability. 12,000 years ago everyone lived by hunting and foraging. With the recent change in our subsistence strategy we risk the end of humankind and the end of our planet. We believe that if anyone can teach us how to live in a sustainable manner it is the San, with their low impact lifestyles, their minimal need of material possessions and their abilities to live in extremely challenging environments.

!Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre is a collaborative enterprise that brings together a diverse !Khwa ttu San Consultation Group, our !Khwa ttu San Community Pioneers, input from San community members and a variety of South African and international academic, museum and exhibition design experts. The process is co-ordinated by the Director, Dr Chris Low, in close co-operation with Joram |Useb, !Khwa ttu Heritage Coordinator. For further information please contact Chris Low.

Professional curatorial assistance

 
  • Annette Hoffman

  • Lorenz Homberger

  • Petro Keene

  • Isabell Schneider

 
  • Irene Staehelin

  • Jos Thorne

  • Paul Weinberg

  • Roger van Wyk

Collections

!Khwa ttu is not a collections museum, but we do hold a limited collection of special, endangered and otherwise appropriate San artefacts, artworks and archival documents.

Alongside a small selection of wider material !Khwa ttu is very grateful for the donation of:

  • the Kalahari People’s Fund and Dr Megan Biesele for the Megan Biesele San Collection

  • Axel Thoma, for his personal collection of assorted San cultural items

  • Iselda Mellet-Pocock, for her personal collection

We are very grateful for loaned collections from Iziko Museum, the UCT Department of Archaeology and Darling Museum, as well as the generous conservation support of Iziko Museum. 

For collections enquiries please contact Joram |Useb.

!Khwa ttu training

Through our current mentorship and training programmes, !Khwa ttu educates and develops skills for up to 30 San annually. This benefit touches some 150 dependents from remote communities in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. 

!Khwa ttu has long experience of working with groups and school groups of all ages. For more information please contact Ri Vermooten.

Digital resources

!Khwa ttu is in the process of assembling an online database of our holdings and wider archival material. We are simultaneously exploring ways of setting up San digital archives within specific San communities as an integral part of our ‘San Satellite’ initiative. For more information please contact Joram |Useb.

Useful Research Links

Research Policy

Visitors are encouraged to engage with our research and collections and our San tour guides will be delighted to answer your questions. Currently, we do not have facilities for intensive use of our resources but will do our best to accommodate requests.

!Khwa ttu adheres to the San Code of Ethics. The code has been developed by the San to protect themselves from exploitation in research. You can read the code here.

It is written into !Khwa ttu’s mandate that !Khwa ttu is a ‘research free zone’, meaning that !Khwa ttu seeks to provide an environment where San at !Khwa ttu will not be opportunistically approached by researchers for research on San matters. 

!Khwa ttu kindly requests that if any formal research is intended enquiries should first be formulated with reference to the San Code of Ethics and then forwarded to Michael Daiber for consideration by our research committee.

 Photographic policy

Visitors are very welcome to take photographs of our exhibitions and facilities. We kindly request that professional photographers and film crews make prior arrangements with Michael Daiber

 The !Khwa ttu Heritage Centre team is working alongside: