International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

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2024 Date9 August 2024
2025 Date9 August 2025

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples in
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International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is a significant global observance that aims to promote and protect the rights of indigenous communities worldwide. The day seeks to recognize the unique cultural contributions, achievements, and challenges faced by indigenous peoples. This observance has distinct importance for South Africa, as the country is home to several indigenous communities such as the Khoi, San, Nama, and Griqua peoples, among others.

The United Nations General Assembly first proclaimed the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on 23 December 1994. The day was chosen to coincide with the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations held in August 1982. Within the South African context, indigenous peoples have been significantly affected by colonization, land dispossession, and loss of cultural identity. Recognizing and celebrating the day is essential to raise awareness about their rights, protection, and well-being.

International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed in South Africa through various events and programs. The South African government, non-governmental organizations, and civil society come together to highlight indigenous peoples' rights, showcase their cultural heritage, and engage in constructive dialogues to address the pressing challenges they face. International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed annually on August 9th. The day serves as an opportunity for the country to reaffirm its commitment to promoting the rights, welfare, and cultural preservation of indigenous communities.

Facts about Indigenous People

  • Indigenous languages are dying at an alarming rate. UNESCO warns that at least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered.
  • Indigenous peoples often have lower life expectancies than the general population in their countries due to higher rates of diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and alcohol addiction, often stemming from stress, poor sanitation, malnutrition, lack of access to clean water and medical care.
  • Despite their historical ties, Indigenous peoples have legal ownership of only about 10% of the world’s lands. Land rights are a major issue for indigenous peoples, as many of their difficulties are directly connected to their displacement from their ancestral lands.
  • The Khoi and San people are considered the earliest inhabitants of South Africa, dating back over 20,000 years. They are also known as the 'Bushmen' or 'First Peoples.'
  • South Africa’s total population is estimated at around 50 million people, and Indigenous groups make up approximately 1% of this figure.

Top things to do in South Africa for this observance

  • Donate to Survival International. All funds donated are put towards the survival and protection of indigenous peoples rights. They help to defend their lands and lives and help them determine their own future.
  • Watch the official UN International Day of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples webcast. It is hosted in the ECOSOC Chamber at the UN headquarters and you can watch it online.
  • Participate in community-based tourism projects, such as the Wupperthal Community Tourism Initiative, where visitors can engage with the indigenous community and experience their traditional way of life.
  • Support indigenous-owned businesses and markets, where you can buy authentic and sustainable products made by local artisans and farmers, such as handmade jewelry, pottery, or organic produce.

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