CNN’s Inside Africa explores how South Africa is celebrating its First Nation people

This week on Inside Africa, CNN International travels along the roads of South Africa to meet the First Nation People who are on an expedition to celebrate those who first inhabited the lands.


South Africa – Wearing skins in honour of their ancestors, the group walks along the highways of South Africa to celebrate the earliest inhabitants of the land – the Khoi and the San, the Khorana, the Nama and the Griqua peoples. Khoisan activist Clinton ‘Strandloper’ Trimm tells CNN why they take part in the walk.

“The ancient law and the ancient cultures, and the footprints of ancient men is what we’re trying to maintain here… By walking every year, just the walk itself is a ritual, just the walk itself is an activity, you know, without speaking without doing anything by just walking, we already paying homage”.

Gillian von Langsdorff, another activist, was born in Cape Town before she emigrated with her family to Canada. Since then, she has returned to South African to reconnect with her roots and learn about the First Nation People.

She explains how she first get involved in the walk: “I found the indigenous liberation walk purely by accident, I then got quite interested in trying to place myself and my people within this group. [I meet] with displaced groups of indigenous people who have lost the culture, language and, and whatnot through persecution over the centuries”.

Many of those walking can trace their heritage back to South Africa’s earliest inhabitants. For them, the walk is a way to reconnect with their cultural roots that have been eroded over the centuries. Covering 50 miles a day, the group interacts and are encouraged by people they meet along the way.

Von Langsdorff explains how: “We will walk from one community to the next, we try to keep it as organic as possible because we don’t really know what we’re going to address once we get there. The directive really is to reach not only the children but also the elders, the elders, importantly, because they carry the oral history of the Koi sign mountain Khurana people”.

The walk, also known as The Indigenous People’s Liberation Walk, also works to build awareness and promote what they believe to be their authentic culture. Trimm tells Inside Africa why this is important: “Our people in South Africa have roots, they have a culture, one of the oldest cultures in the world, the most ancient cultures in the world, the most studied the most researched culture. Yet some people still don’t know so there’s lack of identity”.

Each year the walk ends at South Africa’s oldest surviving building, The Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town, where Khoisan activists like Bradley van Sitters tell the story of the colonial invasion through the eyes of those who once lived there.

Van Sitters tells CNN how he was inspired by the first liberation walkers: “When I saw them, they walk what we call the Bushman line, and that was very powerful. And when they came close to me, they said, take your place in the line, and it was [like] I found my place, my own people. So, I’ve carried on the torch, and the walk will take on different shapes, we hope that the walk will also grow in its way also that spark off other walks… The walk is part of making people aware”.

Trimm tells the programme how there is a growing trend around the world of people finally accepting their past: “I think in the world now there is a huge uprising in awareness for First Nation people because people have realised that we know of the old times”.

‘Inside Africa’ airs on Friday 21st June at 18h30 SAST on CNN International. The show also airs at the following times:

  • Saturday 22nd June at 09h30 SAST, 14h00 SAST and 19h30 SAST
  • Sunday 23rd June at 00h30 SAST, 17h30 SAST and 12h30 SAST
  • Monday 24th June at 05h00 SAST
  • Tuesday 25th June at 10h30 SAST

Sources: CNN Inside Africa 
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