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There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world's population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest. They speak an overwhelming majority of the world's estimated 7,000 languages and represent 5,000 different cultures.(source: united nations). Khoi; Nama and San people belong to these groups.

Despite the fact South Africa's motto, written on the SA coat of arms is a /Xam phrase: !ke e: /xarra //ke, literally meaning: diverse people unit, very little is known about the different dialects of South Africa's San people, as most of these beautiful, ancient languages were never recorded.

Indigenous peoples often have much in common with other neglected segments of societies, i.e. lack of political representation and participation, economic marginalization and poverty, lack of access to social services and discrimination. Despite their cultural differences, the diverse indigenous peoples share common problems also related to the protection of their rights. They strive for recognition of their identities, their ways of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources.

It is on the above reasons that Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) decided to pay special attention to the indigenous peoples by hosting a conference to look at their struggles for recognition.

The theme of the conference is: Indigenous Peoples Language Conference: #Language First

Business Purpose
The San have a rich oral history and have passed stories down from generation to generation but their languages remain undocumented and undeveloped. The ambition of this initiative is to map strategic direction that is meant to facilitate the development and use of Khoi; Nama and San languages.

This is in line with PanSALB’s mandate as enshrined in section 6(5)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.    


The initiative will have the following objectives:

  • To establish the status of the development and use of Khoi, Nama and San Languages
  • To map strategic direction that is meant to facilitate the development and use of Khoi; Nama and San Languages
  • To accelerate implementation of the development and use of Khoi; Nama and San Languages
  • To establish, map and implement the strategy that is meant to facilitate the presence of Khoi; Nama and San Languages in the media.
  • To determine the possibility of establishing an epicentre for the Khoi; Nama and San Languages
  • To create awareness of Khoi; Nama and San  Languages

Alignment with Strategic Plan
The above objectives are aligned to Programmes 2: Language Development, Use and 3: Public Engagement and Stakeholder Relations.

Proposed Solution
In order to achieve the above objectives, PanSALB is proposing a three-day conference with relevant stakeholders focusing on four Strategic Priorities:

  • Education;
  • Media;
  • Epicentre 
  • Language Development and Use