SASI was founded in 1996 as a South African support structure to the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA).
Influenced by the different projects and activities, SASI has over the years grown into a bigger San family. Today, SASI is one of four indepen-dent members of the family, following a collaborative model based on equity.
In the beginning SASI’s activities were mainly focused on providing legal advice for the land claim of the ‡Khomani San. Since, SASI’s focus has shifted to community develop-ment and livelihood projects.
Most recently, SASI has engaged with academia to promote ethical research with indigenous communities. Click here for more information.
Scroll down for a summary of SASI's history.
The ‡Khomani San land claim
SASI’s initial mandate was to assist the ‡Khomani San, the San of the Southern Kalahari in the North of South Africa, with lodging a land claim.
This lengthy and complex process included legal advice and representation as well as in-depth research to provide evidence that the land claimants were of San origin and born in the claimed area.
The claim took three years and was successfully finalised in 2002. Five farms in the region around Askham were allocated to the ‡Khomani San and officially handed over by former president Thabo Mbeki.
Capacity building and community development
Since the land claim, SASI has included community development into its activities. In trying to assist the San to bridge the gap between their traditional life and the influences of western society, SASI has conducted many years of capacity building to support the San’s independence and self-reliance.
In a large number of different projects conducted over the years, products such as ceramics, various textiles, art prints, jewelry and traditional hunting tools were being produced and are, amongst others, being sold in the shop of Wildebeest Kuil Centre close to Kimberley.
Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre
On the Wildebeest Kuil farm close to Kimberley, land owned by the San, a Rock Art Centre was opened in 2001 in a joint venture with the McGregor Museum Kimberley.
Visitors can view about 200 images engraved in rock. The engravings are estimated to span a period from perhaps a few hundred to possibly several thousands years ago. The images show a greater emphasis on mammals such as elephant, rhino and eland as well as a considerable amount of geometric shapes.
In 1998 SASI and WIMSA became increasingly aware of the San’s exploitation through their exposure to tourism. Consequently, the idea of establishing an own tourist centre was born and in 2000 the San Culture and Education Centre !Khwa ttu, meaning ‘water pan’ in the extinct language of the ǀXam, was established.
Located approx. 70 km north of Cape Town, !Khwa ttu today is its own entity and an independent member of the San family.
The declared goal is to provide training to the San, protecting cultural heritage and educate the public about the San.