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This address held special significance as one of the first official recognitions of Khoisan communities in the history of modern South Africa.In a similar way to that in which Chief Hendrik ' Hennie' van Wyk has more recently come to assert his identity as a Khoisan leader, Khoisan identity in a wider sense has undergone a revival in recent years, most notably since the end of apartheid in 1994.Traditionally, the Khoi Khoi were largely pastoralists, whilst the San lived primarily off hunter-gathering, and hence the differences in their livelihoods, culture, languages and identity make for some significant distinctions between Khoi and San peoples, despite their having some common ancestry and cultural commonalities.Increasingly, some San communities, claiming the ultra-marginalisation of their people, even in comparison to the Khoi Khoi, are beginning to assert a distinct identity, encouraging the use of ‘Khoi and San’ as opposed to ‘Khoisan’ or ‘Khoi-San’ in official references to these populations.In addition to this, Khoisan communities also underwent a sharp decline in population with the arrival of European settlers, largely due to warfare and diseases such as smallpox which arrived with the colonialists.The Khoisan had no natural immunity to these imported diseases, and were hit hard by epidemics.In 1713, for example, an estimated 90 percent of the Khoisan population is thought to have been wiped out by smallpox.
However, the issue of Coloured registration and identity is a complex one.
This is due to the fact that Khoisan communities were dispossessed of most of their land uring the earlier colonial era, especially in the early nineteenth century, and hence the 1913 Native Land Act did not make any mention of Khoisan land confiscation.
A tradition Khoisan ceremony - ' Princess Vlei cleansing ceremony'.
However, with the arrival of European settlers from 1652, and the establishment and growth of colonial settlements over the ensuing two and a half centuries, the Khoisan peoples lost many of their claims to land, land which largely has never been restored to them.
Since the Land Restitution Act of 1994 does not make provision for land which communities lost before the assigned cut-off date of 1913, with the proclamation of the ‘Native Land Act’, land restitution in the post-apartheid era has held little benefit for the Khoisan peoples.