Khoisans Essay, Research Paper
(Black Hunter-gatherers and Pastoralists In Southern Africa)
South Africa is situated in the southern region of African continent also known as “Land Of The Blacks”.but in South Africa we will find many white people along with the blacks.To me being white or black does not matter but the white people in South Africa used to rule over black people and considered them as their slaves. Modern South Africa is composed of many peoples who, as a result of the country’s history, fall into four main race-based categories: indigenous Africans or Blacks, Europeans ,Whites, Asians or Indians, and Coloreds.
The African majority consists of three main cultural groups: the Khoikhoi, the San or Khoisan people of the Cape region and the Bantus. The so-called Coloreds are mixed of African (mostly Khoisan), European and Malay descent.
Together these groups constitute nearly 80% of the South African population. The rest of the population consists of immigrant groups and their descendants. Whites, at 11%, are the largest immigrant group followed by Asians at three percent. Asian presence in South Africa is traceable to 17th century slaves from the Malay peninsula, brought with other slaves from East Africa and Madagascar beginning as early as 1657. Much later, indentured laborers from India
(1860) and China (1902)arrived to swell the Asian population.
Population (1998): 42 million. Composition–black 78.3%; white 12.7%; colored 8.8%; Asian (Indian) 2.2%
When someone or something is the first in anything, and you don’t know much about it, you are obliged to look into it, so I did.I did a little research on the khoisan people. The ancient people who has been living in this region for thousands of years.
Thousands of years before the Europeans ever showed up on Africa’s shores, most of southern Africa was inhabited by small groups of hunter-gatherers who adapted their way of living to survive. These were Khoisans.And this term paper is all about Khoisans .
Khoisan is the name by which the lighter skinned indigenous peoples of southern Africa, the Khoi(Hottentots) and the San (Bushmen) .These people dominated the sub-continent for millennia before the appearance of the Nguni and other black people.
. When the colonists arrived, these people became known as the Hottentots and the Bushmen, terms which eventually took on racial meanings in the late 19th and 20th centuries. While many different groups developed among the Khoisans, each with their own names,
languages and dialects, they generally shared common patterns of kinship, territorial organization, rituals and religious beliefs.
As you would expect, the introduction of European colonization impacted these people in important ways. Many of them lost control over their lands, many were killed in wars, many died from diseases such as smallpox, and many of the survivors were drawn in to colonial society as servants, laborers, and industrial workers.
Some were able to maintain some level of independence and live on the land in traditional ways, but by the mid-20th century there were only a few groups left dependent on hunting and gathering for the livelihood, and many descendants who had assimilated into much of South African society.
I found one description of the Khoisan as follows:
“(They have) short, slight bodies, small hands and feet and
yellow-brown skin that wrinkle early. The women tend to
store fat in their buttocks and have sharply hollowed backs.They move in small clans, each with its clearly defined territory. The women gather wild melons such as tsamma – a source of food and water, roots and edible berries. The men hunt with wooden bow and arrow and use clubs and spears if necessary. The arrowheads are tipped with poison made from insect grubs. It acts slowly on the victim’s nervous system.”
I found another example where they are described as “the Stone Age people” who have for the most part disappeared as a people. In fact, we then learned that during the apartheid years, the Khoisan were seen to have been less than human or even from a side-branch from the rest of humanity. There was some thought that they were a different species of creature. According to a recent
article by Helize van Vuuren (1995), in 1913 the Cape Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church “had an intense debate on whether the Bushmen should be seen as human beings or animals”.
The Bushmen, known for their stamina, may sometimes have to pursue their prey for a great distance before the animal finally drops, ready for a kill. They are superb trackers and may follow a herd for many days before getting close enough to use bow and arrow. After such a kill, the whole group joins in the feast, singing and dancing in a trance-like ritual around the fire. When game is scarce, the
group splits up into smaller parties to search for food. In severe, prolonged droughts the women chew the bark of a particular tree which acts as contraceptive, so preventing an increase in the number of mouths to feed.Snakes, lizards and even scorpions are eaten.
The clan system of the Khoi was somewhat more regulated than that of the San. Each group had a chief. Their dwellings were beehive-shaped huts made with pliable sticks. Long mats, the strips sewn together by the women covered the frame, leaving an opening at either end. Doors made of a narrower mat to roll up or down was hung over these openings. The huts could be dismantled quickly and transported on the back of oxen as they moved on. These mat-covered huts can still be seen in Namaqualand.
The Khoi (Hottentots) are much like the San in appearance, but slightly taller. The essential difference between the two peoples is in their respective traditional
lifestyles. Originally both semi-nomadic, the Khoi kept . flocks of sheep and herds of oxen. Some planted crops
and established semi-permanent settlements. They
developed the craft of pottery making.
Family of languages spoken byKhoekhoe, San, and other non-Bantu peoples of southern Africa. The languages of the family are usually divided into three groups: North Khoisan (also called Northern San),which includes !Kung and //Kh’au-//’en; Central Khoisan also called Khoe), which includes the Khoekhoe languages, among which are Nama, !Ora, and Griquaand Afrikaans.
BBC recently reported that there are about one million or two percent of the population who are Khoisan descendants. Very few of them live in the traditional way. Historically, they were essentially dispossessed by the colonialists, oppressed by the apartheid regime, and they now charge they are being marginalized by present-day South Africa. Few speak any of the traditional languages or maintain a traditional lifestyle. Their pride, however, has not been shattered. They want to preserve their indigenous culture, they want their culture and language protected by law, and Mr. Zuma seemed to oblige them, telling them, “You have taken charge of your own heritage and your own destiny.”
Let me show you three views of the modern day Khosian I am able to discover from my desktop research on the Internet to do this paper.
I want to conclude this report by underlining what we see as the most major lesson to be learned here. We really do have to beware of our penchant to label people. In the case of the Khoisan, we have seen in our short study that they have been labeled as Stone Age people, Bushmen, and creatures of another species, not human. Eddie Koch says it well in an article in the 1998 guide to South
African arts, culture and heritage:
“The Khoisan peoples of Southern Africa are unique in at
least one respect: more myths and misunderstandings have been held about them than any other of our planet’s
populations … Against the background of South Africa’s
recent history, it is most important that great care be taken
when labels such as Khoisan are applied to segments of the population. During the apartheid era, the entire life and
destiny of everyone in South Africa was determined by an
artificial, arbitrary and totally unscientific system of race
classification. South Africa occupied a unique position in the world, in that it based its Constitution, legislative system and practically every other phase of life on differential treatment of different sections of its population. These groups of people were spoken of as ‘races’. Under the suffocating mentality of apartheid, all aspects of life came to be dominated by the classificatory status of every man and woman.”
I would simply take these words and extrapolate them to a more global application. We must stop labeling people. People are people.
. Genetic studies subsequently showed the general sub-Saharan African affinities of Khoisans……
It is now known that Bushmen share a number of allelic frequency patterns with southern African Negroes and with other sub-Saharan Africans.
An extensive process of acculturation and Europeanisation has resulted in the incorporation of the descendants of Khoisan people into nearly all levels of society throughout southern Africa. Since the extensive political and social changes in South African and Namibian society began in the 1990s, some people of Khoisan origin have been vigorously asserting new forms of identity in an attempt to revive their cultural heritage.