Elsie Vaalbooi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Elsie Vaalbooi (born c. 1901, died 7 October 2002[1]) of Rietfontein in the Northern Cape was a South African woman who was a member of the ǂKhomani (Nǁnǂe) San or Bushmen and one of the last speakers of the Nǁng language (better known by the name of the primary dialect, N/uu). In the 1990s there was concern amongst the ǂKhomani leadership about loss of the Nǁng language: many of those of the community who could speak a KhoeSan language actually spoke Nama. Linguist Anthony Traill interviewed Vaalbooi in 1997, when she was in her late nineties.[2] The South African San Institute became involved in the pursuit of information on the language and, with the help of Vaalbooi, they were able to trace a further ten people who could speak the language.[3]

Elsie Vaalbooi's work on the preservation of the N/cuu language has been carried forward through a N/uu language school, initiated by Katrina Esau (AKA "Ouma Geelmeid"), in Upington.

Northern Cape Motto[edit]

In 1997 Elsie Vaalbooi assisted linguists and provincial officials in providing a motto for the Northern Cape Province, Sa ||a !aĩsi 'uĩsi (“We go to a better life”), which is in the Nǀu dialect of the Nǁnǂe (ǂKhomani) people.


  • Chamberlin, J. Edward (2006), If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories?, Carcanet, ISBN 1-85754-849-3
  • McDonald, David A. (2004), Environmental Justice in South Africa, Juta and Company Ltd, ISBN 1-919713-66-2