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African Tribes Essay

4912 words - 20 pages

THE EARLIEST SOUTH AFRICANSSouth Africa has provided a home for human settlement since very early times. The presence of homo sapiens goes back perhaps 125 000 years. These first South Africans" were followed much later by hand-toolmakers of the Middle Stone Age (probably 40 000 years ago), the so-called Wilton-Smithfield cultural system (small flake tools, weapons, pottery) has been uncovered.There are three reasons for the linkage between these Late Sone Age people and the earliest negroid inhabitants, who may have arrived as early as 8000 years ago. The Khoison (that is Bushman-Hottentot) and Negroid peoples emerge from common gene pools. Before stock-raising and agriculture had arrived, ...view middle of the document...

They lived in small bands of twenty to two hundred persons. They were highly mobile because of their dependence on game, and for same reason widely dispersed territorially. The political organisation was very rudimentary. Chiefs seem to have had ritual importance in rain-making and in various other ways, and they seem to have been respected as leaders of families. San languages have been divided into three main groups, located today in south-eastern Angola, between the upper reaches of the Zambesi and the Limpopo and on the Botswana-Namibian border in the northern Kalahari.The Khoikhoi, numbering at most 100 000 people when the Durch arrived, lived mainly along the Orange. They had a more elaborate social organisation than the San and were distributed in tribes of up to 2500 members and occasionally more. they possessed fat-tailed sheeps and cattle. Before the white man`s arrival it seems they conducted a trade with their Bantu-speaking neighbours in cattle, iron and copper. They also interacted, and to some extent intermarried, with Cape Nguni, Thlaping and other groups. After the white settlement they traded their cattle for the Dutch Company`s tobacco and began to arrange a developing trade between the Europeans and the Xhosa to the east, but the European advance finally cost the Khoikhoi their land, their stock and their trading role. After two battles they lost their identity as a distinct group. Most were driven into the white man´s service, as herdsmen, labourers or militiamen in the Colonial forces or gained admission to one of the mission stations set up by the Europeans from the late eighteenth century onwards. Some withdrew to the valley of the Orange.THE EMERGENCE OF BANTU-SPEAKING CHIEFDOMSThe southward penetration of pastoralists brought Khoikhoi stock farmers to the western Cape, where sheep can be traced to the early Christian era, and cattle to about the end of the first millenium AD. But befor the beginning of agriculture it is necessary to look to the east. The growing of millet, associated with the very early settlements, and (from about 1700) of maize, which required much higher rainfall, limited the main areas of settlement to the summer rainfall regions. There a pattern of mixed farming developed, as settlers acquired livestock and lived as a rule in small villages within rang of pastures up to 1000 metres above sea level.Probably there were major cultural changes at the start of the late Iron Age, though all elements of the later Iron Age were already present in the earlier. Livestock increased, and so did the population. The villages grew in seize, and settlement on the highveld spread. Forms of social and political organisation now became more complex, pottery styles became more localised, stone buildings began to appear, and metal production became linked with trading activities. The distribution of communities on the highveld depended largely on the location of minerals -gold, copper, and above all iron ore- and...

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