!Habesi, or "roots" in N|uu - a Khoe language on the brink of extinction is the name of our indigenous land rights project. We chose to name our work !Habesi because roots make reference to land, to a source, cultural and ethnic origin, plants, descendants, family, settling down, and places of belonging – all themes that our work intends to creatively explore.
The Land Rights Act in South Africa has a 1913 cut-off date, which precludes the San/Khoe people from claiming the land that they had been dispossessed of from as early as 1657. This disconnection from land has led to a series of challenges, such as the displacement of our people, the disconnection of our people and nature (which directly impacts sustainable living), the loss of shared identity/culture/traditions, loss of sustenance, and the loss of ways of life that hold nature in reverence.
We interviewed Ouma Katrina, a living legend and Khoi activist, on what she envisions the future of her community may have been without colonial interruption or the erasure of apartheid – capturing this re-imagined future creatively.
We travelled Upington and the Kalahari, which are Ouma's present home as well as where she grew up respectively. Ouma shared a lot of her journey, her passion, her vision and her presence with us. Our creative team then interpreted these lessons into visual art/paintings, poetry, photography, and augmented reality.
With this art work |Kx'am intend to bring awareness to Khoe land rights, Khoe indigenous knowledge systems, Khoe history, Khoe art and culture, Khoe relationships with nature and its impact on sustainable ways of life.
We also creating and celebrating Khoe art, which for too long has been associated with cave paintings, the Khoi people are not dead, we are alive and continue to create, and this bridge between our art and new media/augmented reality, is an opportunity to have Khoe art be seen in a new light.
!Habesi will be exhibited and performed at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town on the 25th of March 2023 in keeping with the theme of Human Rights month.