This is where to go to learn more about Cape Town’s first people

The nomadic San — the original inhabitants of South Africa — lived on the land for approximately 100 000 years before the arrival of the pastoral Khoi 2 000 years ago. Roughly 70 kilometres north of Cape Town, along the West Coast, you will find !Khwa ttu, a San cultural centre that gives incredible insight into Cape Town’s first people.

Although the San, who were hunter-gathers, were the first people to live in South Africa, there are only a few distinct communities of San left. The San population and their way of life was first challenged by the arrival of the pastoral Khoi 2 000 years ago, then by other African nations travelling south, and finally by the arrival of gun-toting European colonists. Within two centuries, the colonists had decimated the San population.

!Khwa ttu is an initiative of the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) and a Swiss philanthropic organisation. It is a project dedicated to San culture and education.

Guided tours at !Khwa ttu, which are conducted on foot or in an open vehicle, give you a glimpse into the traditional lives and skills of the San. Your guide can show you how the San track animals — a skill they are renowned for — shoot with a bow and arrow, or use medicinal plants. A visit to a replica San village will give you insight into how San communities lived for millennia.

In addition to the guided tour, you can attend a language lesson where you will learn about the “clicks” in various San languages, check out the art and photographic exhibitions, or browse the items in the craft shop, which are manufactured by the San community.