The Khoikhoi Peoples’ Rooibos Biocultural Community Protocol

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The Khoikhoi Peoples’ Rooibos Biocultural Community Protocol was developed by the National Khoisan Council (NKC) of South Africa, with support from Natural Justice. It provides the story of the Khoikhoi peoples’ journey as traditional knowledge holders to the uses of rooibos, as told by the Khoikhoi for their own community.  The BCP is couched in living customary law. It merges themes of conservation, traditional knowledge, rooibos, restitution and access and benefit sharing.

The BCP journey began in 2012 and became a supplementary process to the Rooibos access and benefit-sharing (ABS) negotiations which were started around the same time. The National Khoisan Council decided to develop a Community Protocol with the objective of articulating who their historical communities are as non-recognised African indigenous communities in South Africa.

Through telling their story, the Khoikhoi have set down in writing who they are as an indigenous community, how they are organised for purposes of Access and Benefit sharing, and how they expect researchers, industry and government to engage them in relation to Rooibos. This BCP holds a particular purpose, which is to supplement the ABS agreement which was signed in 2019 between the Rooibos industry and the NKC (inclusive of the Cederberg indigenous farming communities). It sets out how Khoikhoi people can apply to access the benefits derived from the ABS agreement, as well as the terms of their Community Trust that was established to do this.

The BCP also acts as a cultural resource for the over 40 communities. It restores Rooibos as not merely an agricultural commodity for sale, but re-articulates Rooibos as their customary resource with key properties which holds an intimate cultural connection to the Khoikhoi peoples.

The chapters include the following:

  • The Biocultural Community Protocol
  • The Khoikhoi
  • Stakeholders involved in the BCP
  • Our traditional knowledge to the uses of Rooibos
  • Legal framework
  • Benefit sharing

Please note: This BCP is in both English and Afrikaans. 

For more information, please visit the ABS agreement page here:

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