Munanai is an organisation in South Africa working with rural Khoikhoi First Nation communities, involving both youth and elders in its activities.

Munanai works to challenge the Kakapusa (erasure) of the Khoikhoi First Nation communities in South Africa. It seeks to reclaim its ancestral tongue, Khoikhoi, and to create space to heal on the land, and reconnect to their ancestors and their garubes (stories), which provides great strength. Different voices are critical in their work as it was the case with their ancestors and part of their work is to recognise this and harness this power.

Munanai’s founder states: “We know how easy it is to erase a people when their languages are forgotten, when the words they use belong to another, when the words they use no longer ╪khai╪khai (wake up) their aboxan (ancestors) within themselves, when their gagas (spirits) are in the cages of the words and sounds beaten onto their tongues.”

So far Munanai has:

  • Created South Africa’s First Khoikhoi book, a collection of useful Khoikhoi words and phrases compiled by the collective and our Khoikhoi elders.
  • Had numerous Khoikhoi language gatherings on the land and online, using our language as a tool of healing and regeneration
  • Ensured that spaces are created for women and LGBTQ+ people, who are often marginalized from the broader conversation and support those in the collective doing restorative work in various Khoikhoi communities.
  • Participated in both local and international conversations around language loss and the work needed to reclaim and revive.
  • Partnered with both local and international institutions to kaikai (amplify) an erased First nation language like Khoikhoi and our /garubes (narratives)
  • 2023
  • Ancient and Indigenous Wisdom Award
Photo: Munanai

Project information