88-year-old Chief Ouma Katrina Esau is the last remaining South African who can speak the ancient San language, N|uu. The language is 25,000 years old.
Ouma Katrina was born in 1933, at a time when the centuries-long suppression of her people and their heritage was accelerating.
She recently published a book in N|uu titled Skilpad en Volstruis Tortoise and Ostrich in May 2021.
Ouma Katrina Esau, author of ‘Tortoise and Ostrich’, demystifying the myth that Africans are a people without writing. pic.twitter.com/iRjmVWdhIF
— National Library of South Africa (@NLSA1) May 24, 2021
In 2014 Ouma Katrina was awarded the National Order of the Baobab in Silver for her efforts, and she is the recipient of several more honours; her community also named her queen of the Western Nǁnǂe tribe in 2015.
This has led to her language school, ǂAqe ǁX’oqe – meaning “Gaze at the Stars” – languishing in recent years for lack of funding, frustrating her desire to teach N|uu to children.