To establish their rights to their original lands, and to secure a place in the new South Africa, the San of the southern Kalahari had the challenging task of overcoming generations of fragmentation and invisibility. Even within close families, people had lost track of one another. Colonial pressures and then apartheid had forced them into a brutal and scattered diaspora. Eviction, living from hand to mouth, taking seasonal labour on sheep farms, selling crafts at the side of the road, becoming the cheap labour on farms owned by settlers in the northern Cape, all resulted in the San’s struggle to survive. A powerful way of establishing who the ǂKhomani San were and the links between different parts of their scattered communities, was to work with each person on their family tree. This genealogical research became very important, and was a source of intense interest to all who took part in it. All the genealogical materials, including the first notes and timelines and posters setting out the life story of particular families, are part of the archive.
Every elder in the scattered communities of Welkom, Witdraai, Rietfontein, Rosedale and Swartkop communities put together their family trees. Nigel Crawhall, helped by Magdalena Kassie and Gertrude Saul, assembled the genealogies. Levi Namaseb helped work on the complex spelling of names.